It is important that every student be given equal access to materials and information presented in class. This should not be reduced by personal limitations.
Common in-class accommodations
This accommodation is provided to students for many different reasons. A student with a visual impairment may request preferential seating at the front to better see the slides, overheads, or chalkboard. Students with hearing impairments may request this to better hear the instructor or to accommodate their Sign Language interpreter. A student with anxiety may request preferential seating at the back of the room for easy access to the door should they have a panic attack. Students with limited mobility may need access to a specific row or wheelchair accessible table.
Notetaking, Copies of Overheads, Recording Lectures
Students may require assistance obtaining materials presented in class because of limitations resulting from their disability. These accommodations include requesting copies of the overheads presented in class, the ability to record lectures, taking pictures of the board, use of a computer, and a peer notetaker. For most students with disabilities these accommodations are meant to supplement the student’s own notes. Examples of students that may require these accommodations are students with learning disabilities or physical impairments. An exception would be Deaf students or students that are hard of hearing that completely rely on note takers since they are unable to watch their Sign Language interpreter and take notes at the same time. The student’s accommodations letters describes these requests as follows:
- Copies of Power Points – Copies of lecture materials provided to student. This includes materials such as instructor’s overheads and PowerPoint presentations. These materials are for the student’s personal use only. Specific guidelines about sharing lecture materials are available at https://u.tamu.edu/SharingMaterials.
- Pictures of Board/Presentation – Student may take photographs or screenshots of the board, PowerPoints, and other overheads as needed. These images are for the student’s personal use only. Specific guidelines about sharing lecture materials are available at https://u.tamu.edu/SharingMaterials. If there is a concern about the student taking photographs, please contact the student’s Access Coordinator to discuss.
- Audio Record Lecture by Student – Student may audio record lecture. These recordings are for the student’s personal use only. Specific guidelines about recording are available at https://u.tamu.edu/RecordLecture. If there is a concern about the student recording lecture, please contact the student’s Access Coordinator to discuss.
- Notetaking technology – Use of technology, such as a laptop or tablet to assist with notetaking.
- Peer notetaker – Use of copies of notes from a peer notetaker, when available. Disability Resources will attempt to recruit and identify a peer notetaker in the course when the student follows the process to make a specific request for a Peer Notetaker. If a peer notetaker cannot be identified, the student should work with their Access Coordinator and the course instructor to identify alternative notetaking support options.
More information about Auxiliary Aids and Services for Postsecondary Students with Disabilities from the Office of Civil Rights (OCR).
When students are approved for these accommodations Access Coordinators discuss and share specific guidelines for using this accommodation:
Modified Attendance & Deadlines as an Accommodation
Federal law requires colleges and universities to consider reasonable modification of attendance policies and deadlines if needed to accommodate a student’s disability. In making this determination, two questions must be answered:
- Does the student have a documented disability that directly affects his/her ability to attend class on a regular basis or submit work on time? Disability Resources will make this determination based on a review of documentation from the student’s physician or other qualified provider and provide verification in a letter the student presents to the instructor.
- Is attendance an essential part of the class? Would modification of attendance policies or deadlines result in a fundamental alteration of the curriculum? Instructors make this determination in consultation with Disability Resources.
The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has provided the following guidelines to assess if attendance is an essential part of a class:
- Is there classroom interaction between the instructor and students and among students?
- Do student contributions constitute a significant component of the learning process?
- Does the fundamental nature of the course rely on student participation as an essential method for learning?
- To what degree does a student’s failure to attend constitute a significant loss to the educational experience of other students in the class?
- What do the course description and syllabus say?
- Which method is used to calculate the final grade?
- What are the classroom practices and policies regarding attendance?
Disability Resources requires that students with a disability-related need for flexibility in attendance and deadlines meet with their instructors to discuss the extent to which modification in attendance policies and deadlines may be reasonable for a particular class. Following this meeting the student and instructor should have a clear understanding of what accommodations can be made for disability-related absences. To facilitate this discussion the Modified Attendance & Deadline Agreement should be reviewed and completed to clearly set out expectations. Disability Resources staff is available to consult with instructors and students on issues concerning disability and attendance and can facilitate the completion of this Agreement.