Office of Disability Services (ODS)

Faculty Guide: Accommodations in the Classroom

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Some disabilities require accommodations in the classroom. Accommodations that instructors may encounter in the classroom might include: audio recording lectures, using a laptop for notes, class materials in alternative format, admitting an ASL interpreter or C-Print captionist to class, professor wearing a microphone, peer note taker, reader/writer in class, lab assistance, and requests for adjustable tables and seating modifications.

If a student ever approaches you regarding an accommodation that you are not sure how to effectively implement in your course, please contact the student’s ODS case manager.

Classroom/Equipment Modifications
photo of a student working in a lab

In order to ensure this accessibility for persons with disabilities, the Office of Disability Services (ODS) offers consultation and recommendations for classroom modifications and adjustments.

Any person with a documented disability who has concerns about the location of a class or the equipment in academic spaces is encouraged to contact the ODS Office. Modifications to classrooms may include installation of accessible tables or chairs, modifications to blackboards, and room reconfigurations to ensure accessibility. Classes and programs may also be moved from inaccessible to accessible locations upon request and when deemed appropriate by an ODS professional.

Students who may need location modifications or adjustments for a course should request a review of class locations and equipment by contacting the ODS at least one month prior to the beginning of the course. If registration in the course occurs less than one month prior to the start of the semester, then the individual requesting a review should contact ODS upon registration. If students identify classroom equipment needs to faculty, faculty are invited to contact ODS for recommendations and guidance.

Accessible Table/Chair

Students who use this service require the use of an accessible table and/or chair in the classroom. This may include adjustable height tables, adjustable or bariatric chairs, chairs without wheels, etc. Alternative furniture can be requested from Classroom Technology Support, and is delivered to the classroom by CTS. Instructors are asked to please ensure that these requested items are available for the student registered with ODS.

Why might a student need these accommodations?

This service is generally offered to students who can participate in class more effectively when they have a non-standard table or chair that is easily accessible to them. Students who use this service generally have physical disabilities that affect their mobility and stability.

Classroom and Laboratory Assistance

Students who use this service will be accompanied to class/lab by an assigned ODS student employee, who assists the student during courses that take place in labs or other non-traditional learning environments.

Why might a student need these accommodations?

This service is generally offered to students who have disabilities that limit their abilities to interact with active learning classroom technology or lab equipment.  Students who use classroom/lab assistance generally have physical disabilities that affect their mobility, dexterity, and/or vision.


Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services

Students who are Deaf or hard of hearing have the choice of a few services; depending on their preferences and needs, they may use a combination of the services described below.

Interpreters and captionists are university contractors (currently Interpreters of the Deaf) who come to campus upon request. Students can schedule all class sessions at the beginning of the term.

If instructors plan to require any class activities outside of regularly scheduled class sessions, please list those requirements/expectations on your syllabus, as they must be scheduled separately. If requirements are not on the syllabus, please provide the information to the student as soon as you receive their request for accommodation. Interpreting and C-Print requests should be submitted with a minimum of 24 hours’ notice to fulfill the request.

Sign Language Interpreters

Students who use this service will be accompanied to class by an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter, who signs spoken content during class for the student. This may include lectures, class discussions, group work, etc. Interpreters are not to be used in place of providing captions on movies played in class. Occasionally, the interpreter might ask the instructor for clarification to ensure accurate translation.

Why might a student need these accommodations?

Students who receive this service use American Sign Language as a primary form of communication; they are usually Deaf or hard of hearing. This service allows the student to process verbal class material in real time, and actively participate in class.

C-Print: Real-time Captioning

C-Print is a real-time speech-to-text captioning service, provided by contractors employed by the university. Students who use this service are accompanied to class by a C-Print captionist, who provides the student with a real-time transcription on a laptop (provided at the beginning of each class session).

Transcriptions may include lectures, class discussions, group work, questions and answers, etc. Captionists are not to be used in place of providing captions on movies played in class. Occasionally, the interpreter might ask the instructor for clarification to ensure accurate transcription.

After class, the text is emailed to the student to supplement their class notes. Students make an agreement with ODS not to share transcriptions with any other students.

Why might a student need these accommodations?

Students who use this service are usually Deaf or hard of hearing, and may or may not use ASL, hearing aids, cochlear implants, FM systems, etc. This service allows the student to process class material in real time, and review material they may have missed.

FM/IR Amplification Systems

Some people who are Deaf or hard of hearing use personal FM systems to help them hear more effectively, such as in public or noisy settings. An FM system consists of a transmitter microphone worn by the speaker (e.g., an instructor in the classroom) and a receiver used by the listener. The receiver transmits its signal to a headphone, or directly to a hearing aid or cochlear implant.

Why might a student need these accommodations?

Students who use this service are usually Deaf or hard of hearing, and may or may not use ASL, hearing aids, cochlear implants, etc. This service allows the student to hear auditory content more clearly, allowing them to engage fully in class. Personal FM systems are useful in a variety of situations, such as in a lecture hall, in a group work session, or on a class field trip.


Reader/Writer Services

Students who use this service will be accompanied to class by an ODS student employee, who assists the student with printed or written assignments in class. A reader/writer may read materials aloud for the student and/or write/type as the student dictates. The role of the reader/writer is not to take notes, but rather to assist the student in completing in-class writing or active learning assignments.

Why might a student need these accommodations?

This service is generally offered to students who have disabilities that limit or impede their abilities to read, write and type.  Students who use reader/writers generally have physical disabilities that affect their mobility, dexterity, and/or vision.

Out of class reader/writers are not provided by the Office of Disability Services, but ODS staff can assist students in seeking and hiring out of class reader/writers.


Testing Accommodations

Some students qualify for accommodations during tests; many are available, and the approved accommodations vary according to disability type. As appropriate, the Test Proctoring Center (TPC) is available for faculty to use for the majority of tests and exams that can be scheduled during the ODS hours of operation.

Faculty members may choose to facilitate their students’ approved testing accommodations themselves. Instructors have the option to offer alternative testing opportunities within the classroom, a departmental office, or another acceptable campus location, unless the student's disability cannot be reasonably accommodated in that environment. Online exam sessions can be extended only by the faculty member. For assistance in extending Pilot exams, contact the Center for Teaching and Learning.

There are rare occasions when ODS cannot fulfill a testing accommodation request, due to space limitations or technological requirements (such as specialty software). When this occurs, the students and instructors should notify ODS immediately and an ODS staff member will work with all parties to ensure accommodations are provided in the most effective way possible.

Test proctoring accommodations are one of the most commonly used accommodations in ODS. Testing accommodations provided by ODS may include but are not limited to the following:

  • extended time
  • testing environment with reduced distractions
  • assistive technology (devices or software)
  • test proctors, who monitor the test or provide reading and/or writing assistance
  • assistive technology or software (word processor for essays, dictation software, screen reader) 
  • materials in alternative formats (Braille, image enhancements or enlargements, etc.)
  • use of a calculator (if appropriate)
  • white noise machine
  • breaks during testing

Why might a student need these accommodations?

Students with all different types of disabilities qualify for testing accommodations. Students who have ADD/ADHD, learning disabilities, and autism spectrum disorder often qualify for extended testing time and a testing environment that has reduced distractions. Students with severe physical disabilities may qualify for a test reader and/or writer, who may sit in the testing room with the student and read the test aloud, fill in a Scantron, or type the responses dictated by the student. Other students may not require a person to assist them, but use a device or software to complete exams, like a word processor or dictation software.

When a student with a disability qualifies for testing accommodations, they should discuss their requests with instructors, and discuss the format and logistics of the exams, quizzes, and tests throughout the course. The student will complete a testing accommodations request, and also schedule each individual exam via the AIM portal. If the tests will be taken at ODS, the instructor will enter instructions in AIM for their exams, including delivery instructions for testing materials.

If the instructor chooses to administer exams with accommodations themselves, they will need to communicate with the student and ODS staff to ensure all approved accommodations are provided.