Faculty and Instructor Frequently Asked Questions and Resources

The University values equity and inclusion as a fundamental aspect of the everyday work that we do. The Disability Resource Center (DRC) partners with instructors and faculty in the accommodations process and in making educational environments more accessible and inclusive for all students. The following FAQs answer common questions regarding student accommodations and inclusive design practices. 

Student Accommodations

Regardless of the kinds of courses you are teaching, you will likely receive accommodation letters from one or more students. Students are responsible for sharing their accommodation letter to alert instructors and faculty of accommodations they will need to use in each course. Here are some common questions that you may have:

A student has shared their accommodation letter; now what?

  • The DRC encourages students and instructors to discuss the implementation of the student’s accommodations in the course. When you receive a letter, consider setting up a time to talk privately (e.g., email, Zoom, in-person) with the student about their specific accommodations and how they will be implemented within your course.

Why don’t I receive all accommodation letters at the beginning of the semester? 

  • Students can register with the DRC at any point in the semester. The DRC encourages students to request accommodations and share their accommodation letter as early as possible. However, students may get connected later in the semester for various reasons. Instructors should begin implementing accommodations when they receive the accommodation letter. For your reference, the accommodation letter has an issue date at the top. Instructors are not required to provide retroactive accommodations. However, instructors can consider if retroactive accommodations are warranted based on the situation and essential course requirements. 

What do I do if I have questions or concerns about a student’s accommodations?

  • If you have questions or concerns about the reasonableness or implementation of an accommodation, reach out to the DRC access consultant who signed the letter. They will work with you to address your concerns and explore other approaches using the interactive accommodations process

I have concerns about the accommodation of recording lectures for asynchronous review. What are my options?

  • If your concerns pertain to confidentiality, please consult with the DRC access consultant who signed the student’s accommodation letter to discuss approaches to implementing the accommodation.
  • Here are a few ideas to maintain confidentiality:
    • If you are video recording the class sessions, share an access statement at the beginning of the semester to alert students that the lectures will be recorded and posted to the course site. This FERPA guidance document provides example language.
    • Consider using the Zoom “Spotlight” feature to record only the presenter.
    • If you are sharing your screen to show presentation slides, hide all video feeds in the floating thumbnail window, aside from the active speaker. 
    • For academic technology support, contact [email protected].

How should I handle a student’s request for accommodations beyond those outlined in the letter?

  • You may provide accommodations beyond those in the letter at your discretion. If you do not feel comfortable navigating the request, you can contact the DRC access consultant who wrote the letter or refer the student to the DRC to discuss the additional accommodation requests. Colleagues in your department may also serve as a valuable source of consultation regarding inclusive teaching strategies to create broader access for students.

Should I refer someone with an injury or short-term condition to the Disability Resource Center? 

I teach a large course with many students who have accommodations. Is there a place where I can view all of their accommodations in one place?

  • Not yet, but the DRC is considering ways to make it easier for instructors to access accommodation letters for each course. In the meantime, consider creating a spreadsheet to organize accommodation information and utilizing TAs or department staff if available. We also suggest saving all letters in one folder for easy access.

Does the DRC work with graduate and professional students?

  • Yes. The DRC works with graduate and professional students across University programs and disciplines to explore:
    • Accommodations and resources for coursework
    • Programmatic milestones (e.g., preliminary exams, dissertation defense)
    • Teaching, research, fieldwork, clinical placements, internships
    • Housing
  • Please review our information for Graduate and Professional students, Academic Health Center students, and Law School students.

Can I provide accommodations without a DRC letter? 

Further information about specific accommodations:

Inclusive Design

In addition to providing individual accommodations, I would like to design my course to be more inclusive. What can I do?

What should I do if a student tells me they cannot attend in-person instruction due to illness or disability/health conditions?

  • Consider implementing a hybrid model utilizing recorded lectures, online exams, and discussions. If this is not possible and a student reports concerns early in the semester, please refer them to their academic advisor to discuss remote or online options before the add/drop deadline.
  • As the semester progresses, if there are circumstances that impact a student’s attendance in your course, consider whether independent remote work or an incomplete may be an option. Consult with departmental colleagues and advisors to explore options for the student. If the student has shared an accommodation letter, please also refer them to their access consultant for support.
  • If the student needs to withdraw from the course after the drop deadline, refer them to their academic advisor and/or Student Conflict Resolution Center (SCRC) for guidance with the academic policy petitioning process.

How do I assess student knowledge without using traditional assignments or exams?

A student in my course is experiencing barriers in online coursework. How can I promote an accessible learning environment?

  • You can find an array of practices to support student learning in this Teaching with Access and Inclusion resource document. The Accessible U website has further resources and support about digital accessibility. Please feel free to reach out to DRC Drop-in to consult regarding students who do not use accommodations. If your student is using accommodations, please contact the access consultant listed on their accommodation letter.

How do I add captions to a video I’m distributing to my students?

  • Upload your media to Kaltura and follow the process for closed captioning.
  • If a student in your course has a media captioning accommodation, you may submit your media captioning request to the DRC’s instructor portal and choose “Request Media Captioning." Due to the large volume of videos/recorded courses, we need to receive these videos as soon as possible.

Further information and resources: