Working with Students' Accommodations

This page discusses how to teach and work with students who have presented you with accommodations.

What does "accommodation" mean?

Accommodations are services supplied to students with disabilities, which fulfill the needs of those students according to all ADA recommendations and guidelines, in order to ensure "equal opportunity" to participate in all programs of the university. These services may include modifications to structures, changes in classroom procedure, or special assistive technology or furniture.

Why are accommodations made?

According to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, "No otherwise qualified person with a disability in the United States... shall, solely by reason of... disability, be denied the benefits of, be excluded from participation in, or be subject to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 guarantees persons with disabilities their civil rights. The ADA upholds and extends standards of compliance set forth in Section 504, and ensures that students with disabilities remain free from discrimination, and have equal opportunities in all areas of postsecondary education.

Both these civil rights statutes were designed to prevent discrimination against individuals with disabilities. In accordance with these guidelines, Disability Services ensures that ISU remains in compliance, and that students with disabilities are provided with the services they need. Students with disabilities, with appropriate accommodations, have the same right to succeed or fail as any other student.

How will I, as an instructor, know if a student has a disability?

When a student contacts Disability Services for services, he/she is required to furnish official documentation of a disability from a qualified professional. This documentation is then evaluated by Disability Services and the student is provided with accommodations according to the nature of the disability. A "Letter of Accommodation" outlining the suitable adaptations for the student is then given to the student. It is the student's responsibility to make copies for each instructor. This letter should be presented to you as soon as possible, and the student should discuss the letter with you, so that both understand what is to occur throughout the semester.

Disabilities are not always visible to the eye. Some students may have hidden disabilities not apparent to the people around them. A student may choose to reveal his/her disability to you within the course of a discussion, but is in no way obligated to disclose this information. By self-identifying with Disability Services, and providing the required confidential documentation, the student has proven his/her eligibility for accommodation. Disability Services maintains strict confidentiality, and will release no personal information on any student without that student's written permission.

So, what are my responsibilities as an instructor?

Communication and compliance are important keys to accommodating students with disabilities. According to ADA guidelines the letters of accommodation provided by Disability Services list accommodations which are appropriate for an individual student's particular disability. It is important that you take the time to read the letter carefully, and make sure you understand what each of the accommodations means. The student and instructor should discuss the accommodations in order to learn what the student feels he/she may need out of the class. Some accommodations may not be utilized but are there in case they are needed. Also, some accommodations may not be appropriate in clinical settings. By remaining in communication with the ADA student, you will gain a better understanding of what he/she may need, and how you can help meet those needs.

Some accommodations are provided by Disability Services, such as specialized equipment, transportation, readers/scribes, and seating requirements. Others may require permission, special arrangement, or specific adjustments on the part of the instructor. Some of these may include enlarged copies of handouts, extended testing times, and alternative testing areas. The student should be able to explain what action these requests entail.

For more information about Disability Services' academic-related policies, including policies for specific accommodations (like extended time for testing, or a reduced), please see the Academic Policies page.

For information about interpreters in the classroom, see the Deaf Services page.

For students taking tests in Disability Services, please note:

  1. Remembering to send the test to our office in a timely manner is critical to the success of your students with disabilities .
  2. The student will be responsible for contacting you prior to taking the test to make sure you have a Testing Accommodation Form and to remind you to send the test and the form to the ADA office.
  3. In order to more efficiently expedite the return of the test and the security of the test, PLEASE FILL OUT the Testing Accommodation Form. This form is your control for testing.

If you find that you have any specific questions, or suggestions, you may call Disability Services at any time, and we will be glad to discuss them with you.

For more information about using the Testing Room and testing policies and safeguards, please see the Using the Testing Room page. For more information about Disability Services' academic-related policies, including policies for specific accommodations (like extended time for testing, or a reduced), please see the Academic Policies page.

Again, if you have any questions, concerns or are simply curious, please call the Disability Services anytime, and we will be glad to help.