How To Read Your Accommodation Letter

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Table of Contents

What do I need to know?
What are Accommodations?
Where can I get help?
Further Training on Accessibility

What do I need to know?

An accommodation letter from Student Disability Services (SDS) is an official document informing you that a student in your course has a documented disability that KSU is legally obligated to accommodate. The accommodations in this letter are based on an extensive plan worked out between the student and a trained, professional SDS staff member. The plan reflects the important regulations and policies and the results of lengthy interactions with this student to determine their specific needs. In fact, the accommodations on this letter may represent only a small part of the effort being made by the student and their SDS representative to ensure the student’s ability to succeed is not unfairly impeded. 
 
Because disabilities impact academic performance differently for every student, it will help you to remember that all accommodation plans are tailored to each student's specific needs. This means that the diagnosis for the student does not necessarily determine what accommodations they qualify for, and students with the same diagnosis may need different accommodations. We are obligated to follow the accommodations for a student, regardless of past experiences with other students with the same perceived disability. 

What are Accommodations?

Accommodations are the changes we make to resources or environments that help overcome the inequities caused when these resources or environments are created in a way which students with disabilities cannot access. These disabilities may include, but are not limited to

  • Visual or auditory disabilities
  • Physical or motor disabilities
  • Learning disabilities
  • Psychological disabilities
  • Autism spectrum
  • Combinations of these or other disabilities

Students with these disabilities sometimes find that our learning experiences weren’t created with their needs in mind. As a result, they face barriers that other students do not.

Some of the accommodations we might need to make can fall under these categories or include some of these samples:

  • Testing/Assessments
    Classroom
    Technology/Resources
  • Extended time for tests or assignments
    Having a dedicated note taker
    Electronic versions of textbooks
  • Low distraction for tests
    Recording lectures
    Captioned media
  • Use of screen reader for online tests (which may require turning off proctoring software)
    Using a computer in classroom
    Real-time captioning

Some of the accommodations you’ll need to make won’t require much from you, such as allowing a student to record your lecture. Others may require you to reformat resources, such as adding captions to pre-recorded videos. Still others may require you to take extra, very specific steps, such as providing written or emailed copies of any oral instructions you give your class for students whose disabilities, such as autism, make miscommunication more likely.

It’s important to establish that these accommodations are not about reducing your course’s rigor or undermining its objectives. They are intended to empower the student to overcome obstacles to learning that this student experiences which other students may not. They are the most basic effort we, as educators, can take to begin to establish a truly equitable learning environment for our students.

Accommodation is an opportunity to apply the principles of Universal Design. Frequently, requests necessary for one student can end up benefitting other students as well. For example, many people prefer to watch videos with captions on, even if they have no auditory disability.

Where can I go to get help?

Please remember that, even though the letter you receive comes from Student Disability Services, SDS doesn’t have the resources to make your accommodations for you. Their job is to work with the student and the regulations to create and facilitate a plan which ensures an equitable chance for success for the student. The responsibility for communicating with your students is yours. 

The good news is that Digital Learning Innovations (DLI) is engineered to help you improve your course accessibility. In fact, our site is dedicated to helping faculty make their courses accessible for all students.

If you need to find out exactly how to make the accommodations in your letter, please go directly to our Creating Accessible Content page. From there, you will find many resources to help you make the specific accommodations you need to.

Looking forward

We’re glad that you’re working so hard to make accommodations for your students. But wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to…if your course was already accessible for this student? The best way to ensure that moving forward is to get in the habit of making your content accessible when you find it or create it!

DLI staff can help you review your course for ways you can make it more accessible for students. Visit our Request Accessibility Review page to find out more. 

Further Training on Accessibility

Digital Learning Innovations has many resources at your disposal for further training on accessibility. Please feel free to browse our Accessibility site or explore our Accessibility training opportunities.

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