Frequently Asked Questions

We've listed questions that are frequently asked by instructors.

Civil rights laws require reasonable accommodations of non-essential elements of academic programs in order to ensure access. The accommodations only change in the learning environment that permit students with disabilities to have equal educational opportunities.

Students with disabilities must meet or exceed academic standards with or without reasonable accommodations. Under no circumstances should any accommodation result in a fundamental alteration to the course.

We encourage students to request accommodations for the class early in the semester. Students are also advised to provide their verification letter and make an appointment with the instructor in advance. However, be aware that this is not always the case; some students may not request accommodations timely. Instructors do not need to honor retroactive accommodation requests.

Please contact the student's coordinator for clarification. You can find the name of the coordinator in the verification letter the student provides.

Class attendance and assignment policies are set by faculty or departments. When the functional limitations of the disability affect a student's participation in their classes, the student's coordinator may recommend flexibility with attendance and deadline policies as a possible reasonable accommodation.

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 requests from students.

When requesting extended deadlines, students must 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 and 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 in order to provide accommodations to students with disabilities.

Discussion between the instructor and the student is essential. Please contact the student's coordinator for questions.

Students with disabilities, who qualify for the note-taking accommodation, will ask a classmate to share notes with them. However, if the search is not successful, the students may ask you for your assistance by making an announcement in the class.

An example of the announcement is: A student is looking for a volunteer note-taker in this class. The note-taker will receive a stipend of $30 in UMoney per semester from the Office for Disability Equity. Please see me after class for more information.

Contact Denise May, Lead Sign Language Interpreter, at For more information, go to Interpreting/captioning services for campus events.

Classrooms may be moved if the room is inaccessible to a student registered for the course. Whenever possible, a student may be moved to another section of the same course at the same time if that section is scheduled in an accessible location. However, not all students with severe mobility limitations, who may require room changes, have visible disabilities. A hostile learning environment could be created when questions are posed regarding a room change for a student with a disability. The Office of the Registrar notifies instructors before any classroom changes are finalized.

Elevator breakdowns constitute temporary access barriers for students with mobility limitations. Most elevator breakdowns last only a few hours, but some have lasted several weeks. Students may miss critical course information, be unable to take scheduled exams or pop quizzes, or be unable to give required presentations. This is a no-fault situation in many respects, but the University still assumes the responsibility of equal access. In such circumstances, the student should contact the instructor as soon as possible and request some assistance in obtaining course notes or rescheduling an exam or presentation. The student's attendance record should not be adversely affected.

Civil rights laws for people with disabilities are founded on the assumption: the same treatment does not always fairly measure. The laws protect students with disabilities from being subjected to the arbitrary measure of what is best for others, except in cases of safety to others. The assumption of the law is that modifying non-essential tasks should give students with disabilities an equal, or fair, chance to demonstrate their ability by minimizing their functional limitations to the greatest extent possible.


The student, with writing or typing limitations, may be an excellent writer even though they 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.

No unfair advantage over non-disabled 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 their 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.

If you are uncertain about an accommodation request, you can challenge the student's request in a number of ways. First, ask the student to provide their verification letter from the Office for Disability Equity to ensure that the accommodation is recommended by us. If the letter does not mention the requested accommodation, please contact the student's coordinator.

If an accommodation request may cause fundamental alteration, undue hardship, administrative burden, personal services, or threat to self or others, the request is considered unreasonable and may be denied. See When accommodations are not provided.

Students may request accommodations that have not been discussed with us. This does not always mean that the request is unreasonable under the law. Contact the student's coordinator if a request seems to be unreasonable. We will work with instructors to suggest other alternatives to the student.

If you decide to deny the student's 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 already consulted the Office for Disability Equity, refer the student to their coordinator for further clarification.

The University is responsible for providing accommodations unless they fall under one of the following five categories:

  • Fundamental Alteration

  • Undue Hardship

  • Administrative Burden

  • Retroactive Request

  • Personal Services

We recommend that denials of accommodation requests be decided at least at the departmental level and not by an individual instructor. Instructors and their departments should feel free to negotiate accommodations that best fit course expectations. Contact the student's coordinator for consultation.

It is not possible to accommodate disruptive behavior on the part of a student with a disability. Students with disabilities are expected to adhere to the Student Conduct Codes like any other student. If disruptive behavior occurs, the instructor should give the student a fair warning. Contact the Community Standards or Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT) for questions or concerns.

Only service dogs are allowed in public places such as classrooms. If you are unsure whether the animal is a service animal, the following inquiries are permitted: 1) is the dog required because of a disability? and 2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform? 

A service animal must be under the control of its handler/owner. If a service animal is out of control and the owner does not take effective action to control it, you may request that the animal be removed from your classroom. 

Contact ODE for further guidance. 

We are a resource for faculty members, staff, departments, and schools. We are available for consultations on accessibility in the curriculum and on teaching and interacting with students with disabilities. We can meet individually, or provide a presentation to a class, departmental meeting, or a larger group. To request a consultation, contact our office at or call at 406-243-2243.

ODE does not provide testing accommodations for non-disability-related reasons. It is up to the instructors' discretion on whether to grant extended test time or other test accommodations to English language learners. Additionally, instructors are responsible for the administration of any exams they wish to extend or accommodate for English language learners.