Accommodating Students with Disabilities
If you have questions, please contact CLAS Undergraduate Programs.
Policy Purpose and Description
As required by the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, instructors must provide reasonable academic accommodations for qualified students with disabilities who present an official SDS Letter of Accommodation (LOA) to the instructor about such accommodations.
Students also have obligations related to accommodations. It is up to the student to present the official letter of accommodation to the instructor. Accommodations are not granted without this letter and begin only after this letter is presented. Accommodations are not retroactive. Accommodations are only granted if listed in the letter. Many students have more than one accommodation listed on the official letter. For more information about accommodations, see the SDS page: https://sds.studentlife.uiowa.edu/accommodations/. Students asking for accommodations but without a letter should be referred to SDS.
In some rare cases, accommodations may fundamentally change the nature of the course and its learning objectives. In this situation, it may be better for the student to enroll in a different course. The student must be informed of this as soon as possible. As questions arise about these types of courses and situations, please consult with the CLAS Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education and with SDS.
More information on student and instructor responsibilities and rights may be found on the Student Disability Service website, as noted below:
Required Syllabus Statement
A statement about SDS accommodations must be included on the course syllabus. The statement below is recommended by the College and is linked in the official CLAS syllabus template, available for any instructor to use.
The University is committed to providing an educational experience that is accessible to all students. If a student has a diagnosed disability or other disabling condition that may impact the student’s ability to complete the course requirements as stated in the syllabus, the student may seek accommodations through Student Disability Services (SDS). SDS is responsible for making Letters of Accommodation (LOA) available to the student. The student must provide a LOA to the instructor as early in the semester as possible, but requests not made at least two weeks prior to the scheduled activity for which an accommodation is sought may not be accommodated. The LOA will specify what reasonable course accommodations the student is eligible for and those the instructor should provide. Additional information can be found on the SDS website.
Instructors should announce in class at the beginning of each semester the procedures for arranging for official accommodations as approved by SDS. Remind students that they must present the official Letter of Accommodation (LOA) from SDS that lists the student’s entitled accommodations before accommodations are arranged. This is the student's responsibility. Please note that additional information about the accommodation is not included in the letter. For more information about accommodations and options, see the SDS website or the list below.
Accommodations begin after the presentation of this letter and are not retroactive.
Accommodations and SDS status should be handled discretely, keeping in mind the importance of a student’s privacy as required under FERPA. Remind students that because of privacy concerns, the meeting to discuss accommodations will occur during office hours rather than before or after class. A student may reveal the nature of their disability or its cause if the student wishes to do so, but instructors should never inquire about these health issues or ask for details. This is private information and is protected by law. The instructor should listen respectively, with the focus of the conversation returned to accommodations when feasible.
Faculty and students together should discuss and implement an accommodation plan for the accommodation in the student's official letter.
Students without an official letter from SDS but who are asking for disability-related accommodations should be referred to Student Disability Services Office for further help.
Facilitating Extended Time for Exams
Instructors are encouraged to work with their academic department for assistance in providing exam accommodations, as many students with disabilities can take their exams in the usual manner (50% Extended Time and/or reduced distraction environment). Exams can also be proctored virtually. Please see Tips on how to provide testing accommodations remotely for suggestions on ways to provide accommodation virtually.
In cases where instructors need assistance with proctoring an exam with accommodations, campus resources are available depending on the accommodations requested.
For non-asterisked exam accommodations, Distance and Online Education (DOE) offers proctored exam support for instructors through the Request Proctored Exam tool on ICON. Instructions on how to schedule with Distance and Online Education (DOE) are available online at Request Proctored Exam Support. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, (319) 384-4800, if you have questions about enabling or using the portal or the North Campus Test Center.
Reminders for both DOE and SDS Exam Services support:
Instructors must initiate the process of requesting proctored exam support.
Instructors must submit the exam materials in the appropriate format in a timely fashion.
Facilitating Accommodations for Disability-Related Absences and Deadline Modifications
Some students are granted accommodations for disability-related class absences and for related deadline modifications if the absences interfere with the completion of an exam, other assignment, or activity.
These accommodations for disability-related absences and deadline modifications can be complex; to aid in communication, a form has been created by SDS for instructors and students to fill out together to ensure clear communication between the two parties. The information on the form will be used to resolve any differing perspectives about the accommodation if questions should arise. Those who find the form helpful are encouraged to use it; the form, however, is not required.
The form may be found at the top of the SDS website under the title of DRADM (Disability-Related Absence and Deadline Modification Agreement) or at https://sds.studentlife.uiowa.edu/assets/DRADM.pdf.
It is recommended that both the student and instructor keep a copy of the form.
Students with disability-related absences should not be asked to submit additional documentation during the semester for absences or modifications of deadlines if these are already documented on the DRADM agreement form.
Not all courses are appropriate for students with accommodations for disability-related class absences. For example, performance and participation-based courses require students to be present for almost every class. Instructors must decide the number of absences that may be allowed without damaging the achievement of the course’s learning outcomes or without changing the nature of the course. This limit of absences in some cases may not work for the related situation through no fault of the instructor or of the student. In these cases, it may be better for the student to enroll in a different course. The student must be informed of this as soon as possible. As questions arise, consult with the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education and with SDS on this matter.
Frequently Asked Questions