Academic Accommodations

Academic Accommodations

Definitions, guidelines, and how to receive them

Reasonable Accommodations

An academic accommodation is a modification or adjustment to regular academic procedures that minimizes or eliminates the impact of a student’s disability on learning—for example, a student with a disability affecting processing speed may need extended time to take tests. A reasonable academic accommodation is one that does not require a substantial change in the curriculum or alteration of any essential elements or functions of the course. For example, allowing a student extended time to take a test does not alter the curriculum, but giving a student an oral test could alter essential features of some courses.

The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) of 2008 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 require an institution to make reasonable academic adjustments for those individuals with qualified disabilities who self identify. To determine reasonable adjustments, Office for Disability Services (ODS) seeks current documentation of the student’s disorder/impairment, as well as information from appropriate University personnel regarding essential standards for courses. Academic adjustments are determined on a case-by-case and course-by-course basis following general ADAAA and Penn State University guidelines.

General Guidelines

  • To receive an academic accommodation, you must request it through the ODS process.
  • Your professor is not required to provide academic accommodations until you have presented and discussed them with her/him.
  • Requests for academic accommodations should be made as early in the semester as possible.
  • Your professors have the right to deny any academic accommodations that substantially change the curriculum or alter any essential elements or functions of the course.

Available Accommodations

Extended Time for Tests

Your professor has the responsibility to provide academic accommodations of extended time and/or a separate room for tests or quizzes. Testing in the Office for Disability Services is limited to students who use assistive technology to take tests.

Extended Time in the Classroom

  • Schedule a private meeting with the professor.
  • Present your accommodations letter to the professor.
  • Discuss the testing accommodations stated in the accommodation letter.
  • Arrange with your professor when and where you will receive your extended time.
  • Leave the meeting with an understanding of the arrangements for test accommodations.
  • Contact your professor at least four (4) school days prior to every test or quiz to confirm the accommodations you will receive.

Testing in the Office for Disability Services

  • Request a private meeting with your professor.
  • Present your accommodations letter to the professor.
  • Discuss any potential problems with taking tests in the Office for Disability Services.
  • Obtain a Proctored Exam Cover Sheet from the Office for Disability Services at least one week prior to each test or quiz that you plan to take in the Office for Disability Services. Fill out the TO BE COMPLETED BY STUDENT section and ask your professor to fill out the TO BE COMPLETED BY FACULTY section.
  • Review the Proctored Exam Cover Sheet to make sure all of the special instructions (use of a calculator, formula sheet, use of notes, etc.) are listed.
  • Take the Proctored Exam Cover Sheet to the Office for Disability Services at least four (4) school days prior to the quiz or test.
  • If you want to take the quiz or test at a different time than the rest of the class, your professor must send written permission to the Disability Services Coordinator and Staff Assistant. Your professor may indicate this on the Proctored Exam Cover Sheet.
  • If you arrive late, that time will be deducted from the total test time offered.
  • You are not permitted to use part of the reserved time to study.

Note Taker for Lectures

  • Notify the Disability Services Coordinator in writing which classes will require a note taker. Indicate if you will find your own note taker or if you would like your professor to request a note taker for you.
  • If your professor distributes his PowerPoints or posts notes on ANGEL, you will be asked if these notes are sufficient.
  • Inform the Disability Services Coordinator if you want to receive the notes anonymously or if you will accompany the note taker to the Office for Disability Services (Swatara 109) or the Student Services Office (Olmsted C120) to have the notes copied.
  • If you receive your notes anonymously, pick them up on a regular basis in the Office for Disability Services (Swatara 109).
  • Inform the Disability Services Coordinator if there are any problems with the notes you receive.
  • Inform the Disability Services Coordinator if you drop the course for which you are receiving notes.

Modification of Attendance Requirements

  • Reminder: Modification of attendance requirements is made at the discretion of your professor.
  • Request a private meeting with your professor.
  • Present your accommodations letter to the professor.
  • Discuss your need for modification of attendance requirements as stated in the accommodations letter.
  • Ask your professor how additional absences could adversely affect your performance.
  • Ask your professor how you should communicate with her/him.
  • Contact your professor as soon as you know that you are not going to be able to attend class.
  • Make your professor aware of any potential extended absences.

Textbooks in Alternate Format

  • Complete the Electronic Textbook Request Form and send it to the Disability Services Coordinator. Forms not completely filled out will be returned.
  • The Electronic Textbook Request Form must be submitted to the Disability Services Coordinator eight weeks prior to the beginning of the semester to ensure electronic text materials will be available by the beginning of the semester:
  • Review the Chafee Amendment, which was emailed to you.
  • Sign the Student Acknowledgment Form.
  • Purchase a copy of each textbook for which electronic format is requested and save your receipt. You must bring your receipt with you when you pick up your textbook in alternate format.
  • If Disability Services is not able to obtain a textbook in alternate format, you will be responsible for providing a textbook to be scanned. The binding from your textbook will be removed to allow for high-speed scanning. If you do not want the binding removed, you can scan the textbook in the assistive technology room in the library.
  • If you do not receive the textbook you requested by the beginning of the semester, contact the Disability Services Coordinator.