Academic Accommodations and Faculty Responsibility

What are academic accommodations?

Academic accommodations are modifications, adjustments, auxiliary aids, and/or services that give a student with a disability equal access to participate in and benefit from all programs, services, and academic opportunities of the University of Cincinnati. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act ensure the protection of this Civil Right for students with disabilities. Commonly utilized accommodations, as well as the faculty member’s responsibility in providing them, are described below. 

How are Accommodations Communicated to Faculty?

Each semester, students registered with Accessibility Resources pick up an Accommodation Form from our office and presents it to faculty in any class where they want to use their approved accommodation. When a student presents you with a form, you have the opportunity to discuss any specifics of carrying out the needed accommodations for that semester.  The faculty member will then sign the back of the form, indicating they have been informed of the student’s accommodations, and the student will return the form to our office for record keeping purposes. You can find information about faculty responsibility for each accommodation in their descriptions below.

Helpful Questions?

When discussing the specifics of the needed accommodations, we recommend focusing your questions on how you can best support the student by identifying and addressing barriers to access. For example, “what is the best way to carry out this accommodation for you?” Or,  “are there other barriers in the class that might arise?”

Prohibited Questions and Responses

Legally, there are questions that you may not ask the student. Those include questions about the student’s disability; why they receive accommodations; or requests for documentation of a disability. You also may not deny an accommodation to a student. If you have questions about the reasonableness of an accommodation, how to carry out that accommodation and maintain the academic integrity of the class or assignment, or generally have any other concerns about the accommodations, you must address those to a staff member in Accessibility Resources.

Faculty Responsibility

Faculty may be presented with Accommodation Forms that list a variety of accommodations that may require varying levels of involvement or responsibility on their part. Below are some guidelines on what academic accommodations are and a faculty member’s responsibilities in providing them.  

Testing Accommodations

This accommodation applies to all timed assessments (tests, exams, quizzes, pop quizzes) and is given to allow students who need additional time to complete tasks such as reading, writing, processing, listening and analyzing information due to their disability. If you are not evaluating their ability to complete a specific task within an allotted amount of time, then having extra time ensures that you grade only the student’s knowledge and learning, and not their ability to complete a task within a time frame.

Faculty Responsibility

  • Work directly with the student to provide the approved amount of extended time.
  • Work with Testing Services upon receiving notification that the student has registered to take the exam with Accommodated Testing. Consult Accommodated Testing’s Faculty Information website for more details.
  • When needed, allow the student alternative testing time if extended time overlaps with another class
  • Extend time for online tests or quizzes 

This accommodation provides the student with a reduced distraction environment for taking their tests, or, in some cases prevents their accommodation from distracting others.  While tests and quizzes are very common ways to assess knowledge and learning, they also require test takers to complete tasks in a set amount of time and the typical classroom environment can sometimes prohibit that for students with certain types of disabilities.

Faculty Responsibility

  • Work directly with the student to provide a distraction reduced environment for taking their test
  • Work with Testing Services upon receiving notification that the student has registered to take the exam with Accommodated Testing. Consult Accommodated Testing’s Faculty Information website for more details.
  • When needed, allow the student alternative testing time if extended time overlaps with another class

These accommodations are provided to students with a variety of disabilities that affect their ability to read or write in a testing setting. Students may choose to utilize assistive technology or a human to provide these accommodations.

Faculty Responsibility

  • Work directly with the student to provide the approved testing accommodation (i.e., provide a GA or other staff to write, type, and/or read to the student)
    • Note – this is particularly useful for foreign language or highly technical classes and in some cases support for this may be requested by the staff in Testing Services
  • Work with Testing Services upon receiving notification that the student has registered to take the exam with Accommodated Testing. Consult Accommodated Testing’s Faculty Information website for more details.

Classroom Accommodations

The purpose and intention of the accommodation is to offer students an opportunity to have additional time to submit homework, coursework, etc. when a manifestation of the students’ disability prohibits them from turning in work on the scheduled date as directed by you or your syllabus. The accommodation is tied directly to the manifestation of the disability and does not offer a “carte blanche” approach when students wish to turn in assignments that would be convenient for them. 

How The Accommodation Works

  • Faculty will be contacted by Accessibility Resources staff (or the student), requesting the use of the student’s accommodation of Extended Time on In/Out of Class Assignments. Accessibility Resources would prefer to communicate directly with the faculty member to advocate on behalf of the student. However, students are not prohibited from connecting directly with their faculty.
  • If Accessibility Resources initiated the communication, we staff will convey the new due date to the student and this will serve as the accommodation agreement for the assignment.  
  • Faculty should communicate their expectation for completion of the assignment. This should include a new due date and time along with any additional instructions. Please be specific when conveying your expectation. This will offer clarity and prevent misunderstanding for a student.

Bad Explanation: “The new assignment due date is Friday”.

Better Explanation: “The new assignment due date is Friday before 5pm”.

Some students may require larger font to adequately complete an assessment, participate in class or complete assignments. Faculty should work with directly with student to provide appropriately sized course materials, tests, quizzes etc. Course materials should be created ahead of class and distributed at the same time other students receive them. 

This accommodation provides the student with a copy of notes to supplement their own or, in some cases, take place of their own. A copy of notes is provided by a volunteer who is in the class and provides a copy of their notes to Accessibility Resources.  Accessibility Resources then provides these notes to the student who made the initial request for a Notetaker. Both the student requesting a volunteer notetaker and the volunteers identify are anonymous.

Faculty Responsibility

  • When presented with a Volunteer Note Taker form, they should read the prewritten statement to the class to aid in locating a colunteer note taker
  • Faculty should NOT disclose who the student is requesting the notetaker. The identity of the student registered with Accessibility Resources is to remain confidential.

Accessibility Resources provides a software application known as Sonocent Audio Notetaker, either in place of or as a supplement to a volunteer peer note-taker. Sonocent allows students with physical disabilities or impairments and reading or print disabilities (Learning Disabilities or Dyslexia) the ability to independently generate meaningful notes. As a core feature, Sonocent Audio Notetaker captures classroom audio. The student may need to be seated in class in an area where their device can properly record clean audio.

Faculty Responsibility

  • Allow students the use of their presonal device in class in order to use Sonocent Notetaking Software

This accommodation notifies faculty that the student’s disability has an episodic component that may cause them to miss class. Some absences may be planned in advance due to medical treatments or appointments.  However, often times, students may be absent with little or no prior notice.  A staff member from Accessibility Resources will contact the professor about this accommodation and together they will complete an Excused Medical Absence form. This form will be used to determine the maximum number of allowed and excusable absences based on the needs of the student, the needs of the curriculum, and the nature of the class. Processes for making up missed tests, assignments and receiving course materials are also outlined and agreed upon within this form.

It is the student’s responsibility to communicate to the faculty member as soon as possible that their absence was due to their disability and should be considered an Excused Medical Absence.

Faculty Responsibility

  • Respond to and work with Accessibility Resources staff in a timely manner to complete an Excusewd Medical Absence Form
  • Follow predetermined procedures for creating new deadlines for missed assignments and tests, and providing course materials
  • Discuss any problems or concerns with staff in Accessibility Resources

Alternative formats are versions of documents that can be used by students using assistive technology. These formats may be digital alternatives to physical textbooks or digital alternatives to printed course materials. While all faculty should provide accessibility digital versions of course materials to all students, in the event that digital content is not accessible, this accommodation also requires faculty to work with Accessibility Resources to adapt inaccessible digital content.  If the Alternative Format accommodation is requested by a student, Accessibility Resources will fulfill the accommodation with the assistance of faculty.

Students with the Alternative Format accommodation will make their request directly to Accessibility Resources. Accessibility Resources may provide the student with digital versions of their textbooks or may reach out to the professor for access to other print or digital course materials that may need to be remediated for accessibility. Student will then use their own technology or technology provided by Accessibility Resources to access their course materials independently.

Professors can proactively provide accessible alternative materials by using available resources. Your Blackboard or Canvas course may have Ally installed. Ally provides alternative formats of documents faculty upload to students and will provide the faculty member inline instructions to make the materials more accessible. Faculty may also explore the in-depth checklists, guides, and best practices for providing accessible course content found on the Accessibility Network website. Faculty may also ensure that any required readings or textbooks are available in digital formats when submitting their books to the University of Cincinnati Books Store. Lastly, faculty with questions about their content should reach out directly to accessibility resources for consultation with the Assistive Technology Specialist.

Faculty Responsibilities

  • Provide accessibile digital versions of all course content to all students
  • If contacted by Accessibility Resources, and work in a timely manner to provide necessary materials, BlackBoard/Canvas access and other requested materials

Individuals with documentation of hearing loss and the use of American Sign Language utilize ASL/English interpreters as a reasonable accommodation, commonly referred to as individuals who are d/Deaf and hard of hearing (HOH). ASL/English interpreters function as facilitators of communication, rendering an interpretation between ASL, a visual language, and spoken English.  At its most basic, sign language interpreting is a process through which communication between people who are d/Deaf or HOH and people who can hear is made possible.

ASL/English interpreters function in various capacities and settings on-campus which may include classroom lectures, labs, university-wide events, club meetings, tutoring sessions, and meetings with professors. 

Students requesting the provision of ASL/English interpreters work directly with staff members in Accessibility Resources to secure services.  These staff members then work directly with necessary parties in campus, including faculty and staff, to coordinate the provision of service which may require securing materials prior to a scheduled event or making requests for additional details surrounding the communication event. 

Faculty Responsibilities

  • Work with Accessibility Resources staff in a timely manner to coordinate services or resolve issues.
  • Faculty should not interfere with the placement of the ASL/English interpreters. If requested by the student, ASL/English interpreters or Accessibility Resources staff, the faculty member should assist in facilitating adequate seating arrangements.  
  • If requested, faculty members should grant access in their Blackboard or Canvas course to Accessibility Resources staff in order to provide interpreters with resources with which to prepare to render services for the course.
  • When conversing with the student, the faculty member should speak directly to the student and not to the interpreter. 
  • Faculty members should refrain from asking the ASL/English interpreters to disclose the identity of the student. 

CART is an acronym for Communication Access Realtime Translation and is a communication method used by many students who are d/Deaf and hard of hearing (HOH), as well as other individuals who may have documented disabilities, including auditory processing delays or sensory disorders. CART involves the use of a stenotype machine, specialized software, and a computer, which allows the spoken word to be written in realtime.

CART writers cover assignments in various places and academic settings. In every circumstance, the CART writer’s role is providing communication access for the person requiring services. CART writers also familiarize themselves with the lecture material and remain unbiased toward the content of their assignments. While CART writers strive to write speech word for word, they may chunk information or leave out irrelevant words based on the needs of the student or the speed of the speaker.

CART writers at the University of Cincinnati provide two separate but similar services: realtime and supernotes. Both services involve conversion of speech to text; the difference lies in the delivery method. Realtime means the spoken word appears on a screen for immediate reading by the student; supernotes means the student does not read the screen.  In both cases, the text is delivered to the student later via email in the form of a transcript. The service provided depends on the student’s needs.

Additional information regarding this accommodation and considerations for working with individuals who are d/Deaf and HOH can be found in, “Working with Students Who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Best Practices Guide.”

Faculty Responsibilities

  • If faculty are contacted by Accessibility Resource staff regarding CART Writers, they will work with them in a timely manner to coordinate services or resolve issues.
  • Faculty should not interfere with the placement of the CART Writer. If requested by the student, CART Writer or Accessibility Resources staff, the faculty member should assist in facilitating adequate seating arrangements.  
  • If requested, faculty members should grant access in their Blackboard or Canvas course to Accessibility Resources staff in order to provide CART with resources with which to prepare to render services for the course.
  • Faculty members should not request that any portions of the transcript be redacted.
  • Faculty members should refrain from asking the CART writer to disclose the identity of the student. 

Captioning is the process of converting audio content required or referenced for the course (which includes video but also other audio content like podcasts) into a text-based version which can be displayed and then read by the viewer.  While captioning is traditionally offered as a reasonable accommodation for individuals who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing (HOH), it may also be a reasonable accommodation or beneficial for individuals with auditory processing delays or dyslexia, amongst other documented disabilities.

While technological advancements have allowed automatic speech recognition (ASR) to generate captions for audio content, on platforms such as YouTube, the fidelity level produced by ASR does not meet the minimum requirements for individuals with a documented disability.  Therefore, when a need for captioning is declared, , it is the responsibility of the content owner to ensure captions are provided which meet the standards for professional level captioning.  The university currently offers enterprise tools and systems which can assist in this process. 

Faculty Responsibilities

  • Use only professionally captioned video or audio content within their courses
  • Work with Accessibility resources staff in a cooperative and timely manner to provide accessible audio and video content.
  • If faculty select audio or video content without captions, or with captions that do not meet accessibility standards, they will have their media captioned in a timely manner so that students requiring captions have access to course content with the class.
  • If inaccessible content (the content is not captioned and/or a transcript is not provided) is inadvertently distributed to students and is tied to an assignment or assessment, the faculty member will make reasonable adjustments to respective course assignments or assessments, which may include granting an extension or postponing a due date, until the student with the documented accommodation has access to an accessible version of the content.
  • Faculty are responsible for surveying course materials and making requests for captions in a timely manner.  This also includes just-in-time learning or spontaneous teaching moments, i.e. showing a video last minute or spontaneously in class.   
  • Local technical support is available in most colleges and through Accessibility Resources. Faculty should reach out to Katheryn Lane (lanek7@ucmail.uc.edu), 513/556-6823, University Pavilion 210, with questions or for assistance with captioning.

Accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis. At some point you may find an accommodation listed on an Accommodation Form that you have never seen before, or Accessibility Resources or a student may discuss a specific accommodation with you that is unique. To ensure equal access for all students, collaboration between Accessibility Resources staff, the student and faculty will need to take place.

Faculty Responsibilities

  • If contacted by Accessibility Resources staff or a student to discuss accommodations, faculty are expected to communicate in a timely manner to provide valuable information as part of the collaborative process in providing academic accommodations.
  • If faculty have any questions about how best to provide accommodations, they should contact Accessibility Resources immediately.