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 disabled student might encounter due to his or her disability. Because the learning environment is designed with the non-disabled student's abilities in mind, disabled students are sometimes placed at an initial disadvantage when they enter the classroom. Reasonable accommodations must be made to put disabled students in the same starting position as their non- disabled classmates. Accommodations will not be considered reasonable if they violate the integrity of the program or fundamentally alter an essential requirement of a course or program.

If reasonable accommodations are not evident, effort must be made to look for accommodations. The Office of Disability Services, in addition to the disabled student, can be an invaluable resource to faculty and instructors 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.
  • Providing alternative ways to fulfill course requirements
  • Developing and implementing innovative teaching techniques.
  • Providing adaptive technology.
  • Tailoring course requirements to individual needs.

More specific examples are given later in the handbook for certain types of disabilities.

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-free room may also be a request. A test should ultimately measure a student's achievements and not the extent of the disability.

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 Coordinator of Disability Services 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 Coordinator of Disability Services.

Who verifies a student's disability?

A: The Coordinator of Disability Services should be called to verify a student's disability if a student self-discloses their disability to an instructor. Please make sure that they come to my office, if they have not already, before they receive any accommodations.