By Shelley Ducatt
Student Disability Services
Do you underestimate the importance of your Letters of Accommodation (LOA)? Letters of accommodation are more than just a piece of paper we encourage you hand out to your faculty members. The LOA communicates to your faculty members the areas in which you need extra support in the classroom due to your disability. We understand that confidentiality is a strong concern for most of our students, what you might forget is that it is important to our faculty members as well!
Students are required to meet with each faculty member in order to discuss their letter of accommodation. Remember that letters of accommodation are not effective until you have met with your faculty member and you have both signed the letter together. Please know that your faculty are not agreeing to provide the accommodations – law requires that – but you are discussing how accommodations will be provided for the course (which option will be selected). The decision of which option will be utilized in the course is the discretion of the faculty member.
As a student, you should not ask a faculty member to provide accommodations that are not outlined on your specific letter. Each student’s letter is individualized and faculty members know that they should only provide the specific accommodations outlined for you on your letter.
Remember to email your faculty members as soon as possible to set up a one-on-one meeting to discuss your LOA. You can also stop by your faculty members’ office hours if that is more comfortable for you – please just do not attempt to discuss your accommodations with the faculty member right before or after class as he/she will have a lot of other things going on and will not be able to focus on your accommodations or needs for the course. LOAs are not effective until they are signed by both you and your faculty member, so it is important that you hand them out as soon as possible during the semester. If you are in an online course please request a PDF version of your LOA from the SDS office and you can then forward the PDF copy to your faculty member.
Two of the most common questions we get in the SDS Office in regard to accommodations relate to extended time and supplemental note taking services. Extended time refers to quizzes and exams that are timed in minutes and hours. You would apply your extended time to the amount given to the rest of the class. For example if the class has 10 minutes to take an exam you would then have 15 minutes with 50% additional time and 20 minutes if you have 100% additional time. If you have been given a week to do a take-home exam extra time does not apply. All papers, presentation, group projects, etc. which are listed on your syllabus do not receive additional time, and are due on the date specified on the syllabus.
Supplemental note taking services is intended to be a support for students in the class. You are still required to take your own notes, even if you know you are not the greatest note taker. Power point slides, outlines, lecture information posted online or on a website, and many other options all count as supplemental note taking assistance. Your faculty member determines which method will be used for the course.
If you ever have questions about your accommodations remember that the SDS office is only a phone call, email or walk into the office away. Please feel free to contact us at any time!