Common Classroom Accommodations

Class Attendance

Students with some disabilities, such as chronic illness or mobility difficulties, may miss class as a result. The student is responsible for contacting faculty EACH TIME class is missed due to a disability, unless hospitalized or otherwise not physically able.  DS counselors meet with students to discuss the potential implications of missing class (i.e. missed notes, greater difficulty in understanding the material). The instructor and the student should discuss the specifics of a flexible attendance policy.  In very rare cases an attendance accommodation may not be feasible.  If faculty have questions about how an attendance accommodation would work with the class pedagogy contact the student’s DS counselor to discuss options.

Permission to Record Classes

Students with disabilities may require  recorded class lectures and discussions. Recording class materials in audio format is allowed when the student provides notification of the accommodation to the instructor. The student may discuss with the instructor the best placement of the recording device.  DS can serve as a resource for questions regarding the recording accommodation.

Access to Overheads or Power Point Presentations

Students with disabilities may need course materials that are displayed on overhead projectors or Power Point slides available for review.  Instructors can post the materials using online software, make copies of the materials and distribute these copies to students or place copies of the material on reserve in a library. Students will work with instructor(s) to determine an appropriate time frame for viewing materials.

Alternative Text

Some students require course materials in alternate formats. Common alternate formats include enlarged texts, recorded texts, electronic texts or brailed course materials. DS works with the student and the instructor to ensure that course materials are available in an appropriate format for the student. Depending on the specific alternative text format conversion can be a slow, time consuming process.   Thus, a DS staff member may require that faculty provide course materials in advance.


While most course materials can be made available to students with visual impairments in electronic or audio formats, it may be necessary to provide key passages, handouts or diagrams in Braille. DS can provide limited Brailing services.

Class Notes

The need for supplemental class notes is appropriate for a variety of disabilities.   When you receive a student accommodation letter stating that class notes are appropriate please make a generic statement in class encouraging students to volunteer.  Disability Services sends an email to all students requesting a volunteer note taker in your class.   Students are not eligible to receive this accommodation until the instructor has been provided a letter of accommodation. If the instructor provides a detailed class outline with notes additional class notes may not be necessary.  Please reply to the email sent by Disability Services advising the office of your notes.   

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Accommodations

Students with hearing loss vary greatly in the assistance that is needed to ensure access to class lecture and materials.  Services are established after the student meets with a counselor in Disability Services.  Whenever possible, faculty are notified in advance that an interpreter or CART provider will be in class.  

  • Computer Assisted Real Time Transcription (CART) is usually accommodated by an on-site provider. This individual types or “shadow speaks” information occurring in class into a laptop with is then visible to the student who sits alongside. 
  • Interpreters There are several different forms of interpreting that may be provided to a student with hearing loss.  The specific type of service is identified during the meeting with the student and is based on the medical documentation.  Interpreters typically stand in the front of the class to the side of the instructor.  In higher level classes, interpreters may ask for a copy of the text so that they can ensure access to discipline specific vocabulary. 
  • Captioning Videos that are part of the class or are on the course syllabus should be captioned.  Faculty should review videos prior to the start of the semester for accessibility and if not captioned, contact immediately for assistance.
  • Frequency Modulation (FM) Systems are like miniature radio stations operating on special frequencies. The personal FM system consists of a transmitter microphone used by the instructor and a receiver used by the student with a hearing impairment. The receiver transmits the sound to the ears of the student or directly to the hearing aid.  

Breaks as Needed

For some students with disabilities, sitting for long periods of time and/or remaining in the same position for the duration of a class period can exacerbate symptoms of the disability. Similarly, some students may need to leave class for brief periods to attend to medications or other medical needs. DS encourages these students to move around or leave class in the least disruptive manner possible. Students should discuss seating arrangements and the timing of breaks with their instructors.

Preferential Seating

Students with disabilities may request an instructor’s assistance in obtaining appropriate classroom seating. While reasons for accessible seating vary widely, common disability-related requests include seating near the front of the room, seating near the board or overhead projector, seating near an interpreter or microphone, seating near (or away) from windows, seating near the door and seating on the entry-level of a multi-level classroom. DS staff can assist with any modifications to classroom furniture that are necessary due to an accessible seating request.

Use of a Laptop for Taking Notes

Students who, because of a disability, have difficulty taking notes by hand may be eligible to use a laptop in class as an accommodation. Activities such as checking email, instant messaging, and other web related involvement are forbidden.