Center for Academic Success & Records

For Faculty

Welcome to the Faculty Info Page for Disability Services

Below you will find info that is pertinent to faculty with regard to accommodations and students with disabilities.

Obtaining Accommodations | Reasonable vs. Unreasonable | Common Accommodations

 Obtaining Accommodations

Here is a brief overview of how students obtain accommodations.

  1. The student meets with the Assistant Director of Academic Success (AD) at the start of each semester to review documentation of the disability, discuss how the disability impacts the student academically.
  2. The student and AD develop an individualized package of accommodations to provide the student with equal access to learning opportunities at our institution.
  3. The AD sends email notifications to professors, including information about what (if anything) needs to be done on the part of the professor.

To protect privacy, the nature of the student’s disability is not generally disclosed. However, there are exceptions and the AD is able to share information that is academically necessary.

If professors ever need or want help or information about working with a student with a disability, feel free to contact the AD. Similarly, please contact the AD if you feel that your department would benefit from a workshop on academic accommodations and/or creating an accessible learning environment.

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 Reasonable vs. Unreasonable Accommodations

Academic accommodations are not optional. The law distinguishes between “reasonable” and “unreasonable” mainly by providing guidance about how to determine what is unreasonable. If an accommodation:

  • presents a health or safety risk,
  • gives an undue advantage,
  • fundamentally alters the essential elements of the course/curriculum, or
  • creates undue administrative or financial burden,

it may fall into the category of being unreasonable. If any of those limits of reason can be mediated to allow for provision of the accommodation, then it may still be considered a reasonable accommodation.

The Center for Academic Success is here to help professors administer accommodations. Our goal is to have accessible classrooms and learning methods for all students. If, upon receiving an accommodation request, the professor feels the accommodation meets one of the limits of what is considered reasonable, the steps for requesting a review of the accommodation are as follows:

  1. The Assistant Director should be notified in writing about: 1) which accommodation is of concern, and 2) how the accommodation is unreasonable.
  2. The Assistant Director will consult with colleagues and Disability Services professionals who are familiar with both statutory requirements and pedagogical implementation to determine whether the accommodation is unreasonable.
  3. If it is determined that the requested accommodation is not appropriate, alternate options for accommodating a student will then be explored in conjunction with the professor and staff at CAS.
  4. If it is determined that the requested accommodation is appropriate, it should be provided to the student with no penalty assessed for using the accommodation.
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 Common Accommodations

Below are some major points of interest regarding some of the most common accommodation requests.

Exam Accommodations:

  1. It is the student’s responsibility to meet with you to discuss his/her exam accommodations.  Students who need to take their exams at CAS must submit an Exam Accommodation Form (paper format available here).  Students with exam accommodations are not required to take their exams at CAS; you are more than welcome to make alternative arrangements with a student in order to provide the accommodations.
  2. The Exam Accommodation Form includes information to assist CAS in properly administering the exam for you. This includes whether a student is allowed to take anything in the room with them, how the exam will be delivered and returned, and whether the student is taking the exam at the same time as the rest of the class. Please be sure to read over this information carefully and notify the Assistant Director of any errors or areas of concern.
  3. No students are allowed into a testing room with their backpacks or cell phones.
  4. Students are not allowed to have “unlimited time” exams.
  5. If a student is caught cheating or violating a testing center rule (e.g. as having a cell phone with them during the exam), the exam will be taken up and returned as is with a message to the faculty member about the violation. The issue will then need to be resolved between the student and professor directly.
  6. Taking an exam on a different day (or having more time to study) is not an accommodation. The only time CAS allows for taking exams at different times/days than the class is when there is a schedule conflict (back-to-back classes, labs, etc.) or a predetermined need for flexibility based on a student’s disability.
  7. CAS will never move an exam without a professor’s permission, even if the student is sick. CAS will always tell the student that explicit professor approval is needed for any exam scheduling changes.

Note Taking Accommodations:

Students with disabilities may request a note taker as part of their academic accommodations. When a note taker is requested for a class:

  1. Professors are notified by the Assistant Director of Academic Success that a student in their class will be receiving notes.
  2. The professor is not responsible for finding a note taker. Center for Academic Success manages the entire note taking system, and only contacts professors if no note takers are found.*
  3. To find a note taker, an email request is sent out to all qualified students in the class in blind carbon copy. The request lists the criteria for being a note taker, which includes a minimum of weekly note uploads and neat handwriting or typed notes.
  4. Center for Academic Success conducts an orientation for the selected student. This includes information about the note uploading process and confidentiality.
  5. Notes are uploaded to Moodle via a created “class” for each semester. Only students requesting notes and the note taker have access to the “Notes” class for upload and download purposes.  
  6. The identity of the student requesting the notes and of the note taker is not disclosed to any student in the class, at any time. All note-takers are required to sign and abide by the Volunteer and Confidentiality Agreement.
  7. For classes where no note takers can be found, students are offered alternative options such as the use of a digital recorder to record lectures, use of a laptop to take their own notes in a more efficient way, or a copy of the professor’s notes. 

*In the event that no student responds to the request for a note taker, the professor may be contacted by the Assistant Director for a recommendation of a student in the class who could be a potential note taker. Good candidates for recommendation might include students with very good attendance records, or students who participate regularly, and/or students who actively take notes during class. The recommended student(s) would then be contacted directly by the Assistant Director. 

Attendance Accommodations:

Due to the episodic and unpredictable nature of certain disabilities, some students qualify for flexibility with attendance and/or deadlines.  Attendance accommodations need to be established in advance by the Assistant Director (AD) of Academic Success, and cannot be applied retroactively.  Once attendance accommodations are deemed warranted by the AD, the student is responsible for talking to each professor about course attendance and participation requirements, notifications of absences, and make-up assignment and test policies.

Regardless of approved accommodations, however, the student is still responsible for fulfilling the essential requirements for the course. The Office of Civil Rights has developed the following questions to use as guidelines in determining whether or not attendance is an essential requirement for the course:

  1. Is there classroom interaction between the instructor and students, and among students?

  2. Do student contributions constitute a significant component of the learning process?

  3. Does the fundamental nature of the course rely upon student participation as an essential method for learning?

  4. To what degree does a student’s failure to attend constitute a significant loss to the educational experience of other students in the class?

  5. What do the course description and syllabus say?

  6. Which method is used to calculate the final grade?

  7. And what are the classroom practices and policies regarding attendance?

Faculty should review these questions and make a determination for each class to determine whether attendance is an essential requirement for the course and what flexibility is permissible in discussing the issue with the individual student as needed. In order to meet the obligations to the student who has been granted flexible attendance as an accommodation, faculty members need to be able to show that an interactive process with the student occurred in addressing the student’s request for flexible attendance in a particular class. The AD is available for consultation in these matters. Once the faculty member and student have discussed the issue of attendance and the faculty member has determined and communicated to the student the appropriate level of flexibility for the class, the student is responsible for complying with the attendance plan established. The student is responsible for following up with the faculty member if the attendance plan requires adjustment.  Students and faculty are encouraged to complete the Flexibility with Course Attendance/Deadlines Agreement together to ensure clear communication of responsibilities and expectations.

In the event that a student with attendance accommodations is unable to attend class, he or she must notify each professor (or have CAS staff send a notice to all of his or her professors). The student should make every attempt to deliver or have delivered any work that has been completed and is due to the professor. It may not be appropriate to discuss make-up work at the time the student notifies the professor of the need to be absent. The student is responsible for initiating conversation with the professor once he or she is able to determine what work or participation needs to be made up and how it will be completed.

If you have suggestions of content that you feel would be beneficial to faculty, please contact Jennifer Smull to suggest or request info you’d like to see on the website.

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Contact us:

Center for Academic Success & Records
Southwestern University
P.O. Box 770
Georgetown, TX 78627-0770