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Commonly Asked Questions by Faculty

Q: How will I know if a student needs accommodations?

A: A student requiring accommodations will present a Letter of Accommodation (LOA) from the Disability Resource Center (DRC) identifying the accommodations for which he/she is eligible for the duration of the semester. LOAs are dated when the request is made, but accommodations are not in effect until the instructor receives the letter.

Q: Can I provide accommodations to a student who does not present a letter?

A: If a student asks for an accommodation but does not present a written document from the DRC verifying eligibility for accommodations, it is strongly recommended that you ask the student to contact the DRC. If a student asks you for an accommodation, and that specific accommodation is not listed in the LOA, you are not obligated to provide it.

Q: Do I have to provide accommodations listed in a letter if they do not fit with my philosophy or style?

A: Yes. Federal law requires that students who are registered with the DRC are entitled to the accommodations listed in the LOAs. Providing accommodations is a shared obligation of UIC faculty and staff. The accommodations should not compromise the essential elements or objectives of the course.

Q: What accommodations are appropriate?

A: The DRC grants accommodations to students with documented disabilities based on the recommendations of medical or mental health professionals and based on the needs of students. These accommodations should not compromise the essential elements or objectives of the course.

Q: If I receive a student’s LOA in the middle of the semester, am I obligated to provide accommodations?

A: Yes, accommodations are in effect once you receive the LOA. However, accommodations are not retroactive and only apply upon receipt through the end of the semester.

Q: If I receive a student’s LOA dated from a previous semester, am I obligated to accept this?

A: Students are required to request new LOAs from the DRC every semester. Please have the student contact our office to request LOAs for the current semester.

Q: Can I talk to students about their disabilities?

A: The decision to disclose disability information is made by the student. Some students may wish to keep specific disability information confidential and others may choose to openly discuss their diagnoses and related information with you. You can ask students about their needs related to learning and fulfilling the requirements of your course, but you should avoid asking specific questions about their disability. Please be respectful of the student's disability and accommodations and understand that there are hidden disabilities that are not obvious or easily identified.

Q: How can testing accommodations be arranged in the classroom?

A: There are advantages for students to take the exams with the rest of the class or within the department. If only extended time is required, students can either come before or stay after the rest of the students. If that is not possible, you can arrange to have the exam proctored by you or your TA in your office or a separate room. Please be mindful of the confidentiality of students when making arrangements.

Q: Does extra time for exams apply to take-home exams?

A: Yes.  Extended time on take-home exams should be agreed upon by the student and instructor when the take-home exam is given, and the DRC recommends that the extension be put in writing.

Q: What if I am unable to proctor the student's exams?

A: If you are unable to proctor the students’ exams because of their need for accommodations, alternative testing arrangements can be made with the DRC. Students are responsible for setting up a testing time prior to each exam they need to take in the DRC. You are responsible for submitting the exam and the Exam Proctoring Form to the DRC prior to the scheduled exam time.

Q: How do I accommodate a student who has occasional missed classes as an accommodation?

A: The DRC encourages students to meet with their instructors to discuss how these absences can be reasonably accommodated. Students should not be penalized for lack of participation on days they are absent. If a student exceeds a reasonable number of absences and these absences have not been discussed with you, please contact our office so we are aware of the situation and can assist you in how to proceed. If the student does not complete the coursework or does not meet the course expectations after accommodations have been put into place, they should be graded accordingly.

Q: If a student has note taking accommodations, do I have to give them notes when they are absent?

A: Instructors and note takers are not obligated to give students notes for the times they are not in class unless prior arrangements have been made. Note takers should not take notes for a student if they have missed more than two consecutive classes, unless this has been previously discussed. If the student has occasional missed classes as an accommodation, we recommend they talk with the note taker at the beginning of the semester to make arrangements for those days' notes. Some students may choose to contact their instructor to get a copy of their notes or overheads for those missed days.

Q: How is an instructor involved in the note taking process?

A: When the instructor receives a LOA with a note taking accommodation, there will be a note taker announcement enclosed. The instructor should read this announcement to the class and pass around the sign-up sheet, keeping the identity of the student confidential. The instructor should return the filled out sign-up sheet to the student after class, and the student will contact a couple of volunteers. If there are no volunteers, the student may ask for a second announcement to be made. If there are still no volunteers, please contact the DRC as soon as possible.

Q: How does an instructor accommodate the need for a scribe or reader?

A: It is the instructor's responsibility to try and locate a TA, upperclassman, or someone within the department to serve as a scribe or a reader for a student. If the student takes their exams in the DRC, our office should be notified who will be working with the student on the day of the exam. Scribes and readers should not assist the student with course content and are only used to either write what the student says, or read the exam questions aloud. If you are having trouble finding someone to scribe or read for the exam, please let our office know as soon as possible. 

Q: How do Document Conversion services work?

A: Students who need their course materials converted to alternate formats (Braille, large print, electronic, and others.) need to provide our office with those materials 7-10 days in advance.  We ask for instructors’ cooperation in ensuring that students are able to meet this deadline.  If a student requires course documents in a larger font size, instructors can either have the DRC convert these materials, or the instructors can choose to do so on their own.  In these cases, materials must be provided to the student on standard-sized paper (not legal or ledger size).

Q: How does new technology impact accommodation needs?

A: The US Department of Justice, Office of Civil Rights and the US Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights have issued a joint letter regarding the use of electronic book readers.  The letter outlines the issues related to emerging technologies and ensuring equal access to individuals with disabilities.  The letter specifically states, “Requiring use of an emerging technology in a classroom environment when the technology is inaccessible to an entire populations of individuals with disabilities – individuals with visual disabilities – is discrimination prohibited by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) unless those individuals are provided accommodations or modifications that permit them to receive all the educational benefits provided by the technology in an equally effective and equally integrated manner.” Therefore, all information – regardless of the method of distribution – must be made accessible to all students either through document conversion or other procedures.

For more information or for assistance in implementing any of these suggestions, visit our website (drc.uic.edu), call us at 312-413-2183, send an email to drc@uic.edu or stop by our office in the Student Services Building.