Student Accessibility Services

Course Accessibility Letter & Student Meeting Assistance

What does it mean to electronically sign a Course Accessibility Letter?

For both students and faculty, electronically signing a Course Accessibility Letter is only an acknowledgment that you have received and read the accommodation(s) noted in it. It does not mean that you are agreeing to or approving the student's accommodations. Accommodations are legally effective based on the Course Accessibility Letter being sent.

What if I have concerns about what is in the letter (i.e., a student's accommodation(s) and how it would apply to my course)? Do I still electronically sign?

Yes. Instructors electronically signing a Course Accessibility Letter are only acknowledging that they received and read the student's access plan. Student Accessibility Services (SAS) will work directly with instructors to resolve questions and concerns regarding students' access plans and their application to the instructors' courses.

How do I report my concerns?

In determining accommodations, Student Accessibility Services (SAS) has knowledge of the student’s accessibility needs yet likely has limited knowledge of the instructor's specific course design. As a result, it is possible an already approved accommodation listed in a student's Course Accessibility Letter may not align with course activities or may fundamentally alter the course objectives. In these situations, instructors should direct questions or concerns regarding the accommodation(s) by contacting SAS staff as soon as possible.

Instructors can complete the Instructor Feedback Form, and a member of the SAS team will reach out to them to provide more information and support. They can also connect with SAS at (319) 273-2677 Relay 711, accessibilityservices@uni.edu, or GIL 118 to engage in the reasonable accommodation deliberation process.

I received a student's Course Accessibility Letter and electronically signed it. What is the next step in the accommodation process?

Students are required to schedule a meeting with each one of their instructors to discuss their access plan in order to use their accommodation(s). It is important that the student schedule a meeting with you at a mutually agreed upon time to discuss the logistics of their accommodation(s) in your course. The meetings should be scheduled during your office hours or a separate appointment time - not before or after class. Students are reminded that some accommodations require time to implement or advanced scheduling (e.g. proctored exams). Same day or short-notice (i.e., less than one week) accommodation use may not be able to be fulfilled. Advance notice is required.

Guidance for Meeting with a Student to Discuss Their Access Plan

The following are some "Suggested Dos and Don'ts" regarding your meeting with a student and implementing their accommodations in your course from the American Psychological Association's DisABILITY Resources Toolbox (DART) II: Legal Issues - ADA Basics:

Do: Confer with the student with a disability as to how their approved accommodations will apply to your course.
Don't: Make assumptions about a student’s ability to work in a particular field. Most often, concerns that students may not be able to succeed are based on fears and assumptions, not facts. Remember too, that employers are also required to comply with the ADA.

Do: Treat students with disabilities with the same courtesies you would afford to other students.
Don't: Engage in philosophical debates about “fairness” to other, nondisabled students, or whether providing accommodations somehow violates your academic freedom. These arguments are unavailing for several reasons. First, philosophical debates about whether and how equal educational opportunities are provided to students with disabilities are legally meaningless. Congress has determined how we as a society should address equal access to education by passing federal civil rights statutes protecting the rights of persons with disabilities, without adversely impacting those without disabilities. Congress has been joined in this effort by most state legislatures as well. Second, academic freedom is not preemptive of federal civil rights statutes.

Do: Respect the privacy of students with disabilities. They need not disclose their disability to fellow students. While they must disclose disability to a designated official at your college in order to access accommodations, this does not require disclosure to everyone. Treat disability information which has been disclosed to you as confidential.
Don't: Decide not to provide reasonable accommodations, or the academic adjustments which have been approved by the institution’s designee. You may subject your institution or yourself to liability.

Do: Assist students in following the university’s policies, such as possible requirements that all requests for accommodation be lodged with the Disability Services office and not individual faculty members alone. This protects students, faculty and the institution by ensuring consistency and takes much of the burden off individual faculty members, who are often ill-equipped to determine whether an accommodation is appropriate or how to provide it. Violations have been found in cases where faculty members have not followed institutional policies.
Don't: Refuse to permit students to tape record lectures as an accommodation. General policies which permit instructors to refuse the use of tape recorders, without providing for their use by students with disabilities, are legally insufficient.

Don't:

  • Refuse to provide copies of handouts, or orally describe information written on the chalkboard, or face the class when referring to something written on the chalkboard, etc., if these accommodations have been determined to be appropriate for a student.
  • ​Refuse to provide extended time for tests on the mistaken assumption that doing so would require that all students be given additional time.
  • Refuse to provide accommodations until you have personally evaluated a student’s documentation of disability. Eligibility for services under the ADA is the job of the disability services personnel, not the faculty.