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Student Disability Access Center

Frequently Asked Questions - Faculty and Staff

I just received an accommodation letter from a student. What do I do?
Students are encouraged to meet with faculty members individually to discuss the recommended accommodations. The purpose of this meeting is to work out details regarding the provision of accommodations by discussing how they should be used (e.g., for extended test taking time – when the student should take the exam, etc.). If you have any questions regarding how to implement or the appropriateness of certain accommodation requests please contact us at 434-243-5180.

I am concerned that the requested accommodation violates the integrity of my course. What do I do?
We invite you to contact us to discuss your concerns. Academic accommodations are to be reasonable and are neither to alter the core components of a course nor to undermine academic integrity. We will work with you to find a mutually agreed upon compromise that protects the integrity of your course while also meeting the disability based needs of the student.

A student presented me with an accommodation letter requesting extra test taking time for the first time five minutes before an exam. What do I do?
Under University policy, you are entitled to 5 business days’ notice prior to any exam accommodations. If a student has been approved for accommodations at a mid to late point in the semester, it is our policy to inquire about any upcoming exams and to offer to contact that instructor personally.

A student who delivers an accommodation letter five minutes before an exam has procrastinated or forgotten; but then these are things that we all do. The accommodation letter indicates that the student has a documented need, but (for whatever reason) the student has not followed University policy. If you choose to grant the extended time accommodation that would be a kindness, but this is not a legal obligation. You are welcome to refer the student back to the SDAC if there are any questions.

I have several students with approved requests for extra test time and a reduced distraction environment. I don’t have the space or time to offer this.
If these requests would be a burden, you can tell the student to contact us to schedule proctored administration of your exams here at the SDAC. We have limited available space here in the Student Health building and we stress to students that they need to give us at least 5 business days’ notice to schedule an exam here. If you wish your students to use this service, please give them ample notice so that they can schedule the exam with us.

A student presented me with a letter that says she has "weaknesses in attention and concentration." Don’t all students struggle with this?
The difficulties you mention are on a continuum. While many students struggle with some facet of them, they do not typically escalate to a level that becomes disabling. All students who receive accommodations through SDAC have had their documentation reviewed to ensure that (a) they have a disability – i.e., they suffer from significant functional limitations; and (b) that accommodations are necessary to ensure that the student has equal access to the learning environment. The accommodations are not an advantage; they are an equalizer.

I have a student in my class who I think has a disability. How do I refer them to the SDAC?
This can often be a sensitive topic and it is important to be attuned to both the student’s needs and personal values. For students who continue to struggle despite what appears to be their best effort, you might simply suggest the SDAC as a possible resource. You should not approach the student by saying, "I think you have a disability." The best approach is to be supportive, non-directive, and to speak to the student in a situation that respects his or her privacy.
If you are unsure how to approach the situation, please feel free to call us for consultation.

Should I change my grading requirements for students with disabilities?
No. The purpose of accommodations is to "level the playing field" and not to provide an advantage. If you have concern about grading or any other matter, please feel free to call us for consultation.