Q: What is a Reasonable Accommodation?
A: “Reasonable accommodation” is the term used by the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act for modifications made to the learning environment which eliminate to the extent possible, physical and/or instructional barriers to learning which a student might encounter due to his or her disability. Because the learning environment is designed with the nondisabled students’ abilities in mind, students with disabilities are sometimes placed at an initial disadvantage when they enter the classroom. Reasonable accommodations must be made to put students with disabilities in the same starting position as their nondisabled classmates. Accommodations which violate the integrity of the program or fundamentally alter an essential requirement of the course or program are not considered to be reasonable.
If reasonable accommodations are not evident, effort must be made to look for accommodations. The student with a disability and the Disability Services Coordinator are invaluable resources to faculty and staff looking for accommodation techniques and strategies. Examples of accommodations that may be necessary to ensure equal access to education include, but are not limited to:
- modifying testing procedures to ensure accurate measurement of a student’s academic abilities and not his or her disability
- developing and implementing innovative teaching techniques,
- providing adaptive technology, and
- tailoring course requirements to individual needs.
Q: What if students with disabilities require accommodations during an examination?
A. A student may need an accommodation in order to successfully complete a course exam. This may mean that a student be allowed to give oral rather than written answers. Extended time on the exam in a distraction-reduced room may also be a request. A test should ultimately measure a student’s achievements and not the extent of the disability.
At the beginning of the semester, a student who has requested testing accommodations should present their instructors with a Disability Accommodations Request Letter. If you choose to have the Student Success Center proctor testing, the student is responsible for making an appointment at least three days in advance of the test. Once a student schedules an exam, the Student Success Center will request a copy of the exam and a completed Exam Proctor Form.
Q: Who makes the decision on what accommodations are to be received?
A: With documentation, interviews with the student, and consultation with the faculty member, the Disability Services Coordinator is responsible for making this decision. The University cannot require that a student use an accommodation even if this would help him/her succeed in the classroom. On the other hand, faculty are not expected to conduct personal services for students. If a faculty member has a question about an accommodation, they are encouraged to call the Disability Services Coordinator. If faculty and/or students are not satisfied with the decision of the Disability Services Coordinator, they may contact the 504/ADA Compliance Officer (see Administrative Memorandum No. 5-01, November 26, 2001, ADA Student Grievance Procedures).
Q: Who verifies a student’s disability?
A: The Disability Services Coordinator (DSC) should be called to verify a student’s disability if a student self-discloses their disability to an instructor. Students must provide documentation to the DSC, if they have not already done so, before they receive any accommodations.