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Provide Accommodations for Students

  • Inclusive & Equitable Teaching
  • Accessibility

Last modified: December 1, 2023

Accommodations are necessary for many students to be able to fully participate and succeed. Read on to find out how instructors can provide reasonable, meaningful accommodations to help their students.

Accommodations vs. Accessibility

Creating accessible courses is the goal of any institution that wants to be inclusive and welcoming of diversity. Accessible courses provide materials that have been created with intentionality so that all students can fully access those materials. However, sometimes it is necessary to add accommodations so that a student can access what is accessible to others.

Accessibility is done by adhering to design standards that anticipate the needs of a diverse population by captioning videos, creating accessible documents, and alternative means of communicating information. Accommodations are created for unanticipated, individual needs.

For example, a video that is not captioned or an image-only PDF creates an access issue because it creates a barrier for students who cannot access that information due to physical or situational reasons. However, a need to test alone in a quiet room is an accommodation issue. Your test is accessible to the student, but because of individual needs, the student requires accommodations to be be able to fully use that access.

Disability services will communicate with you when there is an accessibility or accommodation issue that you need to be aware of. Accessibility issues should be fixed permanently since they are required regardless of whether you have students with acknowledged disabilities in your course or not. Accomodations apply only to a specific student and do not require permanent changes to your course.

Visit Disability Services' web pages on accommodations for more resources.

Common accommodations and how to provide them

  • Note-Taking Assistance - Peer/Electronic
    • If you provide notes for your lectures this will help students with note-taking difficulties. 
    • You might also consider adding a component of communal note-taking to your course as a way of helping other students who have difficulty taking notes, but aren't diagnosed or don't feel comfortable requesting help.
  • Reduced Distraction Environment
    • This refers to an alternative testing environment with minimized auditory and visual distractions.
    • Work with the testing center and/or Disability Services to provide an appropriate location.
  • Flexibility with Assignments and Deadlines
    • This can be a challenging accommodation for both students and instructors because students can potentially fall behind and get overwhelmed and instructors can become frustrated with the nebulous nature of this accommodation.
    • The key is to work with the student and Disability Services to set realistic expectations (such as the student contacting the instructor if an extension is needed, the typical grace period for an extended deadline, etc.) and communicate those expectations in writing so that all parties have access to the agreement.