Student Accessibility Services

Reasonable Accommodation Deliberation Process

Reasonableness of an Accommodation

In determining accommodations, Student Accessibility Services (SAS) has knowledge of the student’s accessibility needs yet likely has limited knowledge of your specific course design. As a result, it is possible an already approved accommodation listed in a students' Course Accessibility Letter may not align with course activities or may fundamentally alter the course objectives. In these situations, SAS welcomes questions or concerns regarding the accommodation(s) by contacting SAS staff as soon as possible at (319) 273-2677 Relay 711,, or ITTC 007.

To determine whether a reasonable accommodation fundamentally alters the nature of a course, SAS will be asking instructors to engage in the interactive accommodation process with SAS staff. What does this mean? Although the student is a key piece to the accommodation process, when there are questions about the reasonableness of an accommodation, it is required that this conversation happen between the instructor and SAS staff, not the student. This is due to the inherent power dynamic between instructor and student. Once an agreement between SAS and the instructor has been made, the instructor and the student will discuss any further logistics regarding how the approved accommodation will be applied to their class (e.g. when and where the student will take their exams). 

Determining Fundamental Alteration of a Course or Academic Program

Together SAS staff and instructors will:

  • Identify the essential academic standards of the course (i.e. course requirements that go to the very nature of the subject matter or that are of the utmost importance in achieving the course objective);
  • Articulate specific requirements that the instructor believes are fundamental to teaching the course;
  • Discuss the unique qualities of the course in relation to its overall objectives and any program in which the course is required;
  • Engage in "reasoned deliberation" as to whether the accommodation, as it applies to that specific course would change the fundamental academic standards;
  • Determine whether there are any options to the fundamental requirements of the course; and

Instructors Should Be Prepared to Answer the Following During the Reasonable Deliberation Process

  • Why is the standard that the faculty member believes will be lowered important to the course?
  • Is the standard the only way to achieve the desired academic objective?
  • Will the requested adjustment lower academic standards of the course (or the program if applicable)?
  • Can a different method/requirement that will not be altered by the adjustment achieve the desired academic/pedagogical result?
  • If not, why not?

Academic Freedom and the ADA

Academic freedom does not allow an instructor to refuse to reasonably accommodate a student with a disability. 

On the Rare Occasion that SAS Staff and the Instructor Can Not Come to an Agreement

Our first goal is always to work directly with the instructor to resolve the matter. Our preference is to engage in this conversation through in person or telephone communication. If a point of resolution can not be reached, SAS staff will involve the applicable department head to assist. If the reasonable deliberation process continues, SAS staff will reach out to the applicable Dean and if necessary the Associate Provost for final deliberation. It is our goal to resolve these matters as soon as possible, which at certain times may require the engagement of multiple levels of staff at one time.