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Assisting Students

Generally, most accommodations are simple to implement and require limited effort. In most cases, it is the responsibility of the instructor to provide the accommodations. However, Disability Services offers technical support for accommodations that include text conversions, captioning of videos, and similar accommodations. Disability services welcome all questions about accommodations.


Classroom Accommodations

Preferential Seating

This accommodation is provided for several different reasons including, but not limited to, visual impairment, hearing impairments, attention difficulties, or psychiatric concerns. Usually, students with ADHD or similar attention difficulties might request front row seating to minimize distractions while students with other health conditions may request back-row seating or seating near a door to minimize disruption in the even they need to leave class unexpectedly. Additional seating accommodations may be necessary for a sign language interpreter or other instructional aid for a student.


Note-Taking Assistance

Note- taking assistance is one of the most-used accommodations on campus. Most often, the instructor is requested to announce the need for a note taker, explain that the position is paid, and ask those interested to meet with the instructor briefly at the end of class. The instructor should then introduce the note taker(s) to the student making the request.  Instructors should not announce the name of the student who needs note taking assistance or the reason why. In some cases, we may also request that the instructor provide PowerPoint slides in advance for a student to assist in note taking.

New technology has also made it possible for some students to use electronic devices to assist with note taking. Devices you may see utilized in class may include SmartPens, Ipads, note book computers, or similar electronic devices. Any concerns with use of electronic devices in the classroom by a student with a disability should be referred to the Coordinator of Services for Students with Disabilities.


Recording Lectures

Some students may be allowed to record lectures and class discussions. Students with this accommodation are informed that they may not share recordings with other students or other entities on or off campus and those recordings should be destroyed when they are no longer needed.



Some students have health impairments which could interfere with class attendance. This will be noted on the student’s AR Card. Faculty should discuss expectations for class attendance and participation with the student and whether participation, or lack of participation due to disability-related absences could affect the final grade. While Disability Services will not grant a blanket exemption from having to attend class, faculty should exercise extreme care in determining whether to lower a student’s grade because of attendance if all other course objectives can be met successfully. If attendance is a concern, please consult with the Coordinator of Services for Students with Disabilities.


Testing Accommodations

Testing modifications are one of the most utilized accommodations on our campus and can take many forms. Most test modifications are arranged through the Testing Center or by Project Success, but some exams may also need modification for a student.


Extended Time

A student may be granted extended time on an exam to account for difficulties related to a learning disability, a visual impairment, or a health condition that affects stamina or writing ability.


Distraction Reduced Environment

Most students who need distraction reduced environments will utilize either Project Success or the Testing Center for testing purposes. However, alternatively, a faculty member may choose to have a student take an exam in his or her office or a quiet meeting room available to the faculty member. The aim is not to provide a completely quiet environment, but rather a setting that minimizes distractions from people shuffling papers, moving about in the room, or minimizes noise from hallways.


Test Modifications

In rare cases, exams may need to be modified to enable a student to effectively demonstrate his or her mastery of course content. This might include any of the following:

  • oral exams
  • essay exams instead of multiple choice
  • computer assistance
  • alternative format


Adaptive Technology or Assistance
Adaptive technology is the use of technology resources to aid in access to print or other course materials. Adaptive technology may include software solutions, hardware solutions, or a combination.

Assisted Listening Device
Instructors may be asked to wear an FM transmitter and lapel microphone connected to a receiver and ear buds worn by a student who is hard of hearing. This device is available to be borrowed by the student from Disability Services. Hearing Loops have been installed in some locations which transmit directly to a student’s hearing aid, if so equipped. In these cases, suitable microphones will be provided. Currently, hearing loops are installed in Sage Hall, The Reeve Ballroom and the Reeve Theater.

Electronic Course Materials
Course materials, including E-Reserves or documents distributed through D2L should be in an accessible format for use by students with learning disabilities or visual impairments. The best format is in RTF or Word document format, but PDFs can also be made accessible by scanning or saving them as a text document rather than an image. Learning Technologies (phone, website) can assist instructors in properly formatting electronic documents.

Course materials may sometimes need to be enlarged for students with visual impairments. In most cases, increasing the font size to 24-28 point font and using a standard type font such as Arial or Times New Roman will suffice. Other handouts such as charts, pictures, and similar materials may also need to be enlarged. In most cases, Document Services (phone website) can assist in producing these materials for you.

Sign Language Interpreting and Captioning
Some students may be accompanied to classrooms and related activities by a sign language interpreter or a captionist. The student and captionist may need to sit in a particular location to have access to a power supply. When addressing a student who uses a sign language interpreter or captionist, always look at and talk directly to the student. Do not talk to the captionist or the interpreter.

Movies and Videos
Whether used in class or online, all videos should be close-captioned for the hearing impaired. When selecting new videos for classes, please purchase editions with closed captioning already installed and functioning. Disability Services or Learning Technologies can assist in captioning existing videos.

Other AT Devices or Examples
Braille note taker: This device resembles a laptop computer, but converts written notes to Braille or an audio format instead of standard text.

Optical Devices
Some students may use adaptive software and hardware to access computer workstations or access computer-based content. Learning Technologies staff will assist in setting up necessary equipment or software in classrooms as necessary.

Lab Assistance
Some students may require additional assistance to complete laboratory classes such as biology, chemistry, or geology. The assistant should not do the work for the student, but instead follow the student’s instructions to obtain the same lab results or experience as other students.

by Rivera Valdivia, Claudia I. last modified May 30, 2012 07:53 PM
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