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Possible Academic Accommodations

Two very important facts to remember are the following: no two students are alike, even with the same disability; and each student is an expert concerning his or her own specific disability and in some cases has a lifetime of experience at creating accommodations. Therefore, communicating with the student is essential to discovering methods of accommodation. In thinking about necessary accommodations, faculty should consider a student's physical accessibility to the classroom as well as the student's ability to fully participate in all course activities. Accessibility and communication are key to removing any potential barriers within the learning environment to provide the student with an equal opportunity to realize his or her academic potential.

The following are some general tips for positive communication and some suggested accommodations that may be made to aid in achievement of the student's academic potential.

Information on Specific Conditions Causing Disabilities‌ (PDF)


  • Provide a clear view of your mouth. Waving your hands or holding something in front of your lips, thus hiding them, makes lip reading impossible. (Even completely deaf individuals often lip read.) Don't chew gum.
  • Speak with a clear resonant voice, but don't exaggerate. Use normal speed unless asked to slow down.
  • Speak directly to the person, if possible, instead of from the side or back of the person.
  • Speak expressively. Because deaf persons cannot hear subtle changes in tone that may indicate sarcasm or seriousness, many will rely on your facial expressions, gestures, and body language to understand you.
  • If you have trouble understanding a deaf person's speech, feel free to ask him/her to repeat. If that doesn't work, use paper and pen or if the person has a sign language interpreter or real-time captioner, ask that person to repeat.
  • If a deaf person is with an interpreter, speak directly to the deaf person - not to the interpreter.
  • Encourage other students to be considerate of those who may not be able to hear.
  • Consider learning sign language, either by taking a class offered through one of the departments or from the deaf person.


  • Attempt to arrange to be in a classroom with proper acoustics.
  • Reduce as much as possible interfering sounds emitted from lights, vents, air conditioning units, etc.
  • Close doors and windows to reduce interference from outside noise.
  • Offer to seat the student close to you.


  • Introduce yourself and anyone else who may be with you when speaking with the student.
  • Do not avoid using words such as see or look with the student. Blind and visually impaired persons use these words in their vocabulary also.
  • If you are helping the student, and are not sure what to do, ask the person.
  • A gentle touch on the elbow will indicate to a visually impaired person that you are speaking to him/her.
  • Blind is not deaf. Don't shout. Nor is Blind dumb. If you have a question for the visually impaired person, ask him/her, not the companion if one is present.
  • When walking with the student, allow him or her to take your arm just above the elbow. Let him or her set the pace or walk in a natural manner and pace.
  • When offering a seat to the student, place the student's hand on the back or arm of the seat and allow the student to seat him/herself.
  • If the student is accompanied by a guide dog, do not pet or distract the guide dog when the dog is on duty.
  • Inform the student when furniture is rearranged.


  • Offer to seat the student close to the blackboard. This will enable him or her to see and hear class discussions more easily.
  • Offer to seat the student in appropriately lit areas, avoiding areas where there are shadows or glare.
  • Keep pathways clear of obstructions.
  • Use verbal descriptions to supplement use of visual aids.
    • Try to make sure that printed material is readable, avoiding poor quality copies and illegible inks. Blue ink is very difficult for a low vision person to see.
  • Select textbooks early so the student will have time to acquire matter in large print, in an electronic, screen-readable version, or in Braille.
  • Discuss special emergency evacuation procedures if there are any.


  • Offer help but wait until it is accepted before giving it. Giving help before it is accepted is rude and can sometimes be unsafe.
  • Accept the fact that a disability exists. Not acknowledging a disability is similar to ignoring someone's gender or height.
  • Ask personal questions regarding the disability would be inappropriate until a closer relationship develops in which personal questions are more naturally asked.
  • Talk directly to the person who is disabled, not to someone accompanying him/her.
  • Do not lean or hang on the wheelchair, as this is an invasion of personal space.
    • Don't use automatic doors reserved for persons with a disability. Each time you use the door, that is one less time it will operate for someone who needs it.
    • Treat a person with a disability as a healthy person. Just because a person has a functional disability does not mean the individual is sick.
  • Students who cannot raise their hands to answer or ask question may feel isolated or ignored. Ask the student how he or she wishes to be recognized in class. (Some may wish you to call on them; others may prefer to meet with you periodically before or after class to discuss the course content.)
  • For lengthy conversations, sit down and speak to the student at eye level.
  • Keep in mind that persons with disabilities have the same activities of daily living as you do. Many persons with disabilities find it almost impossible to get a cab to stop for them or to have a clerk wait on them in stores. Remember that individuals with disabilities are customers and patrons, and deserve equal attention when shopping dining, or traveling with you.
  • Consult with the Facilities Manager for emergency building evacuation plans on each campus.


  • Keep the classroom free from physical barriers and obstructions.
  • If possible, make all materials and equipment accessible before the student is called upon to use them.
  • Minimize the amount of movement required to complete tasks.
    • Allow for the use of adaptive tools and methods that the student find helpful such as blocks under a desk or lab area.
    • Allow extra time for exams if necessary.
  • In laboratory classes, allow the student to instruct his or her aid in detail for completion of the assignments. Give advance notice of field trips to allow the student time to plan his or her transportation.
  • If the final exam is scheduled in another room, make certain that the room is accessible and make certain that the student is reminded so he or she can plan for transportation.


  • Speak directly to the student and not to an interpreter.
  • Be attentive to gestures and facial expressions.
  • Accept and respond to all attempts at communication.
  • Avoid the temptation to complete words or phrases for the student.
    • Acknowledge when you do not understand the student's response and ask the student to try again.


  • Try to reserve a front row seat for the student (and if accompanied by an interpreter, for that person as well.)
  • Consider replacing verbal assignments with written assignments.
  • Allow students who are unable to communicate orally to use a typewriter, word processor, sign board, sign language interpreter or real-time captioner in class.
  • Some students with speech impairments may wish to give oral presentations without assistance and should be encouraged to do so. It may be helpful to request an outline as a record of the organization of the student's concepts and to assist in understanding difficult speech patterns.



  • Repeat information and/or answer questions patiently.
  • Provide the student with timely feedback to correct errors as soon as possible.
  • Give praise to the student where merited (hopefully you do this with all students) to build confidence.


  • Prepare syllabus and textbook information in advance so the student can audio record assignments if needed.
  • Break assignments, exercises, and exams into smaller components.
    • Recommend alternative methods of taking notes, e.g., audio recording, photocopying, posting to D2L etc.
    • Provide written copies or time-stamped outlines of lectures.
      • For written assignments or tests, allow the student to use a computer or recording device, or to dictate answers into a tape recorder or to another person.
      • Provide alternative conditions in which to complete a course exam (extra time, oral or written examination with oral response or written response [with no difference in equivalency], dictation to a scribe, a room with no distractions, essay or short answer instead of multiple choice, etc.). Contact the Library & Learning Support Specialist for appropriate suggestions for alternate test taking and if other arrangements are needed.
  • Recommend tutoring via Library & Learning Support

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