Frequently Asked Questions
What are reasonable modifications?
Students with disabilities must meet or exceed academic standards with or without reasonable modifications. Under no circumstances should any modification result in a fundamental alteration to the course.
When should students request modifications from their instructors?
What if the student’s modification requests differ from what a verification letter recommends?
What should instructors do when students say their disabilities limit attendance or meeting deadlines?
However, flexibility with attendance and deadline policies may not be reasonable if class participation is determined as an essential component of the class.
Instructors do not have to grant retroactive modification requests from students.
When requesting extended deadlines, students must to notify the instructors before the due date and make arrangements with the instructor to determine the new due date. The extended deadlines should not compromise the integrity of the course.
Instructors determine policies about make-up work, missed quizzes or exams. The instructors have the right to hold to their academic standards and are not required to lower or modify essential course elements to provide modifications to students with disabilities.
Discussion between the instructor and the student is essential. Disability Services coordinators are available to participate in such discussions.
What do instructors do when a student asks for a note-taker in class?
An example of the announcement is: “A student with a disability is looking for a volunteer note-taker in this class. The note-taker will receive a stipend of $30 in UMoney per semester from Disability Services. Please see me after class for more information.”
How do instructors or departments request Sign Language interpreting or captioning services?
What if a classroom is moved?
What if a student misses class because of an elevator breakdown?
Are modifications fair to other students?
A student, with writing or typing limitations, may be an excellent writer even though he/she cannot print or type the letters and words. Thus, the physical act of writing is a non-essential task. The student's mastery of language and course material must not, under the law, be judged by his/her ability to manipulate a pencil or to use a keyboard. Providing a scribe to record the student's essay responses permits the student to show whether he/she can write effectively, and if the student has acquired the information and critical skills the instructor wished to convey in the course.
No unfair advantage over nondisabled peers is gained by the use of a scribe. In using this auxiliary aid, the student must communicate clearly to the scribe the words and structure of his/her answer -- including punctuation and spelling. Even with extended time on an essay exam to compensate for the additional time of dictating to the scribe, the student can only hope for equality of access.
How do instructors challenge a modification that they feel unreasonable?
If you are uncertain about a modification request, you can challenge the student's request in a number of ways. First, ask the student to provide a verification letter from Disability Services to ensure that the modification is recommended by Disability Services. If the letter does not mention a requested modification, please contact Disability Services.
Students may request modifications that have not been discussed with Disability Services. This does not always mean that the request is unreasonable under the law. Contact Disability Services if a request seems to be unreasonable. We will work with instructors to suggest other alternatives to the student.
If you decide to deny a request as unreasonable, consult your colleagues in your department and inform the student clearly of your reasons for the denial of the request. If you have discussed this with Disability Services already, refer the student to his/her coordinator for further clarification.
What do instructors do to deny students' modification requests?
The University is responsible for providing modifications unless they fall under one of the following five categories:
Disability Services recommends that denials of modification requests be decided at least at the departmental level and not by an individual instructor. Instructors and their departments should feel free to negotiate modifications that best fit course expectations. Contact Disability Services for further information.