How do students request accommodations?
- The student discloses a disability and requests accommodations.
- The student provides documentation of a disability.
- The student meets with a Disability Specialist to discuss the impact of their disability in the academic setting.
- The student and Disability Specialist work together to determine reasonable accommodations, which are outlined in the Letter of Accommodation.
- The student will share with faculty members their Letter of Accommodation and discuss important details.
You received a Letter of Accommodation from us, what happens next?
- You have received an email copy of a student’s Letter of Accommodation (LOA) from Disability Resources and you might be wondering what to do next. The simple answer is you do nothing until you receive a follow-up contact from the student or Disability Resources. The LOA is a basic notification informing you of the student’s accommodations. This also gives you the opportunity to share any questions or concerns about the accommodations.
- The most common follow-up contact will be from the student. We encourage them to meet with instructors during office hours to discuss their accommodations. Sometimes you will receive an LOA from a student and they never do the follow-up contact. This could happen for several reasons but it is the student’s responsibility to complete the next steps after the LOA.
- You are not required to contact the student about their LOA or accommodations; we understand you may want to, but please do this over email or in a private setting due to confidentiality. Sometimes you will also receive follow-up contact from Disability Resources and this will have specific information regarding accommodations that require more follow up.
- Reasonable means the accommodation will never lower standards or waive essential class requirements.
- Accommodations cannot fundamentally alter course objectives or diminish course standards.
- Accommodations are never meant to be retroactive and begin from the moment the student requests their LOA be sent out implementing them.
Accommodations are provided on a case by case basis and consider the student’s strengths, limitations, and nature of the classes selected. Disability Resources welcomes all requests for accommodations. However, please keep in mind that it is the student’s responsibility to make accommodation requests in advance of their need, as accommodations are not retroactive.
- Test accommodations: extended time or quiet environment
- Reading accommodations: audio books, e-text, text to speech software
- Note taking accommodations
- Classroom accommodations
- Assistive Technology
The accommodations listed above include common accommodations approved by DR staff. However, there are times when a student’s documentation supports a more individualized accommodation. These accommodations would be determined and approved by the assigned Disability Specialist.
Faculty Responsibilities around Exam Accommodations
- Exam Delivery to DR: As indicated in our Instructor Responsibilities resources, in order for us to provide the service of proctoring exams in our office, we need exams uploaded to the Faculty Portal at least 24 hours prior to the exam time. Our staff needs time to set up accommodations (this may include scanning, altering text size, setting up adaptive technology, etc.) and prepare for many exam takers at once. Instructor cooperation in this matter is crucial to our ability to continue proctoring the instructor’s exams. If you are unable to meet this deadline, instructors will be asked to proctor exams independent of our office.
- Notification/Reminders: Instructors receive LOAs as soon as students request accommodations in our office. They have access to the Faculty Portal, which indicates all requested accommodations, including exam times, 3-4 days ahead of the scheduled exam time, instructors will receive a reminder to upload the exam to the Faculty Portal.
- Returning Tests to Faculty: Completed exams will now be returned to instructors via scanned documents sent to email or uploaded to the Faculty Portal.
Commitment to access: The University of Minnesota Duluth values diverse identities and experiences, and honors disability as an important aspect of human diversity. Disability Resources works in partnership with students and guests to eliminate or minimize barriers and facilitate inclusion on campus. Trends in disability access shift over time, and you may have observed that more students are requesting disability accommodations. Additional information on disability access trends and steps for creating a welcoming classroom environment are available listed below.
Accommodations: Disability accommodations continue to be available for any student who experiences barriers to access, regardless of the teaching modality. Students who disclose a disability and want to request accommodations should be directed to the online Request for Accommodations form.
Faculty Portal: Disability Resources is excited to introduce a portal that allows faculty to view - by class - all students requesting accommodations and their associated accommodation letters. Take a moment to login and explore, and let us know if you have questions about how to navigate the portal. Don’t forget to bookmark the faculty portal link so you can easily access it throughout the year!
Universal design: To make online courses more accessible to all students, consider implementing these simple strategies:
Record all online livestream video content and make it available on the course website. Consult the Zoom recording guide for instructions.
Turn on auto-captions for all video lectures or meetings. See the Zoom live transcription guide for instructions.
For more information on remote teaching practices, visit the Faculty Resources section of the Disability Resources website and the Keep Teaching website.
Disability Resources continues to be your partner in ensuring access. Please connect with the Office of Disability Resources for support and consultation around any student access concerns that may arise.
The University of Minnesota Duluth values diverse identities and experiences, and honors disability as an important aspect of human diversity. To fulfill our obligation to provide access to all participants, UMD has designated Disability Resources to work in partnership with students and guests to eliminate or minimize barriers and facilitate inclusion on campus.
Disabilities can be apparent and/or non-apparent, which can include mental health and chronic health conditions. Institutions of higher education across the country are seeing increased numbers of students with mental health conditions using disability accommodations.
Like us, you may be receiving questions like the following:
“Why are there so many students with disability accommodation letters?”
The answer is simply that more students, including students with non-apparent disabilities are acknowledging disability and seeking services. Ten years ago, Disability Resources served 353 students. In the 2019-2020 academic year, Disability Resources served 543 students.
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES, 2019) reports that 19.4% of undergraduate students report disabilities and 11.9% of graduate or professional students report disabilities. With almost 47,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students enrolled at the University of Minnesota, we can expect many more students who have disabilities to seek accommodations.
“What is the process for determining disability accommodations?”
As required by law, Disability Resources gathers information from the student with the disability including information from medical and other qualified providers. Disability accommodations are determined based on the barriers and impacts of the disability in the learning environment, taking into account course and program requirements and expected learning outcomes. Instructors are therefore also an important player in considering whether accommodations may change the nature of the course or learning outcomes. More information on this process may be found on the Disability Resources website.
“How can I make my class or service more welcoming for students with disabilities?”
Two ways to do this include incorporating the syllabus statement in your print materials and reading it out loud to the class, and also inviting students to connect with you about access barriers to any activity or event. Suggested language for the syllabus statement can be found on the Disability Resources website; other tips for advancing inclusion and access in your classroom or service area can be found here as well.
“I have questions about the content in a student’s accommodation letter. Who do I contact?”
Instructors are encouraged to contact the Disability Specialist whose contact information is listed on the bottom of the student's disability accommodation letter.
For other questions, including how to refer students to the Disability Resources, contact us by calling 218-726-6130, or emailing [email protected].
If you require individualized consultations on disability-related issues, contact us by calling 218-726-6130, or emailing [email protected] to further discuss your needs and concerns.