FAQ: Accommodations

This section is designed to provide basic information and address some common questions. Please do not hesitate to contact Abigail Nelson, Assistant Dean of Accessible Education and Student Support, with questions or concerns at any point in time.

What is a reasonable accommodation?

Accommodations exist to remove barriers and ensure equal access for students with disabilities. When a barrier exists, for example in course design or the built environment, modifications or adjustments to a course, program, or activity must be made to ensure an equitable experience for all students.

An accommodation is generally considered reasonable if it: does not alter the essential elements of a course, curriculum, or program; would not result in an undue burden for the college; and does not pose a direct threat to the health and safety of the student or others.

How are accommodations approved?

Students must make all formal accommodation requests through the Office of Accessible Education and Student Support and follow a consistent procedure. Students meet with the Assistant Dean of Accessible Education and Student Support to discuss their disability, experienced or anticipated barriers, any past use of accommodations, and current accommodation requests. Information provided by the student is generally reviewed in conjunction with disability-related documentation and requests are considered in the context of what is reasonable based on the essential program or course requirements. All accommodation requests are reviewed on an individual and case-by-case basis. Some accommodations may be approved on a provisional or semester basis when more information is needed or if a disability is temporary or may change over time.

The procedure for requesting services and information on documentation guidelines can be found on our website.

How are instructors notified about approved accommodations?

Instructors will receive a Letter of Accommodations by email with the student copied. The letter will verify that the student is registered with the Office of Accessible Education and outline accommodations for which they are approved. Accommodations may be approved at any point in the semester, however they are not retroactive.

What if a student asks me for an accommodation but I have not received a Letter of Accommodations?

Many times, instructors provide flexibility, on an individual basis, to students  who are encountering any type of barrier to learning or participation. Of course, this should be provided fairly and equitably.

When disability related accommodations are requested, you should feel free to have a conversation with that student about the perceived barrier and what may be helpful. In conjunction, please encourage them to connect with Accessible Education to make a formal accommodation request. This will help ensure that all students go through the same  process, that there is consistency across courses and instructors, and that the student is aware of related resources.

Instructors should also feel free to reach out to Abigail Nelson for consultation in these instances.

What if I believe an approved accommodation fundamentally alters the nature of my course?

Please contact Abigail Nelson directly if you have concerns about an accommodation. You are the expert in your course and learning objectives and we may need to collaborate with you in an analysis of whether or not an accommodation would compromise essential requirements.

What should I do if I am concerned about a student and suspect they may have a disability?

As you would with any student who is struggling, explore with the student if there are any ways or resources that may help to support them. A student may disclose a disability to you, in which case it would be appropriate to encourage them to access services through the Office of Accessible Education. Legally, you cannot ask a student if they have a disability. However, you may explore available support options including Accessible Education, Academic Resource Commons, and Health Services, for example, as you would with any student.