Letters of Accommodation

Letters of Accommodation (LOA’s)

When students give you Letters of Accommodation (LOA’s) from DSP, you:

  • Are responsible for providing the accommodations listed.
  • Are not required to compromise the academic integrity of your course by giving passing grades to students who have failed to demonstrate the required level of understanding or performance competency. Contact the DSP specialist (not the student) immediately with any concerns.
  • Are not responsible for providing retroactive accommodations. Accommodations become your responsibility only after a DSP student has submitted a request to DSP to have an LOA sent, and the letter has been sent to the faculty/GSI.
  • Are not obligated to provide any other accommodation not identified in the LOA, or otherwise made available to any other student in your class. Avoid making informal accommodations arrangements with DSP students.

Sometimes it is mid-semester or later before students are diagnosed with disabilities and authorized for DSP services. In this event students cannot provide you with LOA’s earlier in the semester, even though you may have invited them to do so in your syllabus. Again, you are not repsonsible for providing retroactive accommodations. However, going forward, effort should be made to provide the accommodations within a reasonable time frame. For example, DSP Proctoring requests a 2 week window to coordinate schedule and space for exams they proctor.

Students have a right to privacy in disability matters, and their confidentiality must be maintained. For this reason, the disability diagnosis is not identified in the LOA’s. You should file their LOA’s in a safe place, and you should refrain from discussing their necessary accommodations in the hearing of fellow students or others who have no educational "need to know." Also refrain from asking DSP students for medical documentation. DSP can review medical documentation as needed.  

Occasionally a student may request accommodations without presenting you with a Letter of Accommodation from DSP. To protect yourself, the student, and the University, you should have the student contact DSP to request an appropriate LOA addressed to you. 

Disability Related Absenses

An accommodation for some DSP students is having disability-related absences. There are two aspects of a student needing accommodation for disability-related absences. The first is that the student should not be more restricted than students without disabilities. Thus, if the professor does not keep attendance records or otherwise track attendance of non-disabled students, there should not be any special tracking of students with disabilities. Similarly, if the professor does not emphasize the importance of attendance or class participation, e.g., syllabus, class announcements, portion of the grade assigned, etc., then a student with a disability who has frequent absences probably should not have them count against him/her when being graded for the course.

In setting the number of minimum class absences for a student with a disability, the professor should consider the amount of material that a student can reasonably miss being covered in class and still compensate for it by learning the material in another way, e.g., reading another's class notes or the assigned reading. Once the professor determines how many classes a student can miss and still be satisfying the core requirements, then the student should not be penalized for poor attendance/participation so long as s/he attends the number established by the professor (even if that number is less than is required of non-disabled students).

Although it is the professor's responsibility to determine how many classes can be missed without it constituting a fundamental alternation in the nature of his/her course, it is the responsibility of DSP to determine how many class absences may be anticipated as disability-related based on the medical documentation/past history DSP has reviewed. Thus, just as DSP suggests that the professor give the student double time on a test, DSP determines the amount of time the student's disability may cause the student to be out (e.g., total of 2-3 weeks, or 4-6 class absences) if past experiences are a reliable indicator of the future. However, the fact that the student's medical documentation supports the student's necessity to be out does not negate the professor's right to uphold campus academic standards by requiring the student to attend/participate to the degree academically necessary in order for the student to meet the course's core requirements as determined by the professor. It is the students' responsibility to make up assignments and/or class requirements immediately after each absence, and to keep up with the course requirements.

In brief - When class attendance is tracked for purposes of the final course grade, allowances for occasional disability-related absences can be made. Note: when class participation and/or group projects are an essential element of the course, faculty are not required to fundamentally alter the nature of their course. For example, there may be course requirements for which there are no comparable alternative assignments that can be independently completed by the student. It is the students' responsibility to meet with faculty at the beginning of the semester to discuss class attendance and participation expectations.

When class attendance is tracked for purposes of the final course grade, please make allowance for occasional disability-related absences. Note: when class participation and/or group projects are an essential element of your course, you are not required to fundamentally alter the nature of your course. For example, there may be course requirements for which there are no comparable alternative assignments that can be independently completed by the student. In the event a make-up exam/quiz is required due to a disability-related absence, such a request must be made promptly, and completed in a timely manner. It is the students’ responsibility to meet with you at the beginning of the semester to discuss class attendance, participation and course requirements. Please contact the Specialist who signed the LOA if you have questions.

Tests/Make-up Exams

At the beginning of the semester (or immediately after they become eligible for DSP test accommodations), students need to provide faculty a copy of their LOA, and required need for test accommodations. Make-up exams are to be offered only when there are extenuating circumstances preventing ability to take the exam as scheduled, the make-up exam request is made promptly, and is supported by medical documentation (e.g. note from urgent care) confirming a disability-related reason that the student was unable to take the specific exam on the originally scheduled date. The student will provide the documentation to  DSP, and DSP will verify that the student had a disability-related reason for missing the exam, and requires a make-up. Students are responsible for being on time for exams, and tardiness will be deducted from the total exam time authorized.

Audio Recording

A common accommodation for DSP students is the use of recording for course lectures. Early in the semester, the student and faculty may discuss this accommodation requirement, to insure mutual understanding of when and how recordings will be made and an agreement that:

1)    The Student will only use these audio files for personal study.

2)    The Student is prohibited from sharing these files or disseminating any information obtained from the class through use of an audio-recorder with any other persons, or in any other way. 

LOA Concerns

If you receive an LOA and have questions or concerns on how to provide the accommodations listed, contact the Disability Specialist who sent the letter. 

In the event you and DSP reach an impasse in your discussion about an accommodation,  DSP will refer the matter to the Vice Provost for Faculty who will review the matter and make a decision as to whether the accommodation is appropriate.  The Vice Provost's decision is final.