By federal law, a person with a disability is any person who:
has a physical or mental impairment;
has a record of such impairment; and
is regarded as having such an impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities such as walking, standing, seeing, speaking, breathing, taking care of oneself, learning.
The Office of Accessibility Services at Clarkson University, located at 1003 Price Hall on the Collins Hill Campus, is the designated office responsible for maintaining disability-related documentation, certifying eligibility for receipt of services, determining reasonable accommodations, and ensuring the provision of those services.
Create a Welcoming Classroom Climate
or many students, having to initiate a conversation about needed accommodations can be very intimidating and uncomfortable. Just like with any other group of students there will be exceptionally gifted students as well as those who may have less interest or motivation. Instructors have an opportunity to make students feel more at ease with requesting accommodations by not expressing judgment or making assumptions about a student’s abilities or needs. How you respond can have a tremendous impact on the student and the importance of this response should not be underestimated. In addition to individual interactions with students, being able to set a welcoming tone up front in the classroom greatly increases how comfortable students will be to initiate a conversation about their needs or barriers experienced in the class setting.
Tips for Creating a Welcoming Climate
Establish ground rules. One option to create effective ground rules is to elicit them from the class. Students with hidden disabilities, especially those that are psychologically based, may be fine with their instructor knowing about their disability, but may be very concerned about ridicule or harassment by their peers.
Attend to the physical needs of all students. Telling them where the bathrooms are and allowing occasional breaks in longer classes lets them know that you have an interest in their comfort.
Avoid singling out students. If you need to talk with a student, for example, about alternative testing arrangements, do it in private.
Recognize the expertise and authority of personal experience. The student with the disability is most always the one who best understands the disability and how it impacts learning.
Share your own experiences, as your comfort level allows. Vulnerability is a quality that students with disabilities have identified as important in people they decide to trust.
Honor diversity and cultural differences.
Develop an inclusive syllabus statement and highlight it verbally the first day of class. This is a powerful way to communicate to students with disabilities that a class will be accessible to them, and that you are open to creating ways to increase inclusiveness in the course.
Tips for Interactions
Remember that people with disabilities have many levels of experiences—their disability is simply one aspect of their complex identities.
When a person with a disability may need assistance, it is appropriate to offer help. Wait until the offer is accepted and instructions are given to provide assistance. Do not be offended if your offer to help is declined—there are a myriad of reasons why a person might reject help, including the desire to practice completing the task independently.
Never lean on, touch, or move a person’s assistive equipment without first getting their consent.
If a person with a disability is using a service animal, never touch or distract the animal without the owner’s approval. To do so could be unsafe to the owner and is disruptive.
To get the attention of someone who is Deaf/hard of hearing, tap or touch them lightly, or wave your hand. If they are using an interpreter, speak directly to the person, not the interpreter.
Be aware of obstacles or hazards in your environment that may pose a hazard. Examples include cracked or broken sidewalks or paths, spills, loose rugs, and objects blocking traffic patterns or protruding into the path of travel.
Never pat someone on the head or grab someone’s arm.
Never be afraid to invite someone with a disability to participate in an event or activity. If there are concerns about accessibility or that the person may not be able to participate fully, voice these concerns and work through them together. Being excluded is isolating and painful.
When meeting a person with a disability, offer to shake hands as appropriate with someone who does not have a disability. If the person is unable to take your hand, they will tell you so. Offering to shake hands is seen as a sign of respect.
If you are having trouble understanding someone’s speech, ask them to repeat or ask clarifying questions. Pretending to understand what someone said is disrespectful and denies them the opportunity to contribute to the conversation.
Universal Design for Learning
The term “universal design for learning” is defined by the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008. It refers to “a scientifically valid framework for guiding educational practice that--
provides flexibility in the ways information is presented, in the ways students respond or demonstrate knowledge and skills, and in the ways students are engaged; and
reduces barriers in instruction, provides appropriate accommodations, supports, and challenges, and maintains high achievement expectations for all students, including students with disabilities and students who are limited English proficient.” (Section 103 (24))
In short, Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework that helps instructors understand and meet diverse student needs in the classroom. In writing a syllabus, generating assignments, or structuring class time, instructors use UDL to ensure that students with disabilities and all classroom learners maximize opportunities to develop and strengthen course knowledge.
The concept of universal design originally emerged in architecture in the 1990s: it refers to “the design of products and environments to be usable by everyone, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design” (Ron Mace). Curb cuts are a great example of universal design in the physical environment. Curb cuts ensure street access for wheelchair users, while also providing street access for delivery people with carts, bicyclists, and people with strollers.
In the learning environment, universal design strategies ensure access for students with disabilities, and thus, improve learning opportunities for all. For example, captioning videos in class benefits students who are deaf or hard of hearing, as well as students with processing disorders. Captioning also supports students with varying English proficiency. Further, captioning videos increases access for students streaming videos in spaces where sound may be a distraction, like the bus ride home from campus.
Essentially, UDL challenges instructors to be creative in how course content is presented, in how students are allowed to express what they learn, and in the strategies instructors use to motivate student learning in the classroom. In the UDL framework, these three principles are defined as multiple kinds of representation, multiple kinds of expression, and multiple kinds of engagement.
Resources on UDL:
Acknowledging Student Accommodations
Students with accommodations will submit their accommodations to professors at the beginning of each semester through myCU. If you have pending accommodation acknowledgments, you will receive an email daily until those accommodations have been acknowledged. It is essential that accommodations are reviewed in a timely manner. Students cannot request to schedule quizzes, tests, or exams through OAS until after you have acknowledged their accommodations. Please follow the steps below to acknowledge a student’s accommodation:
Login to myCU and select Faculty Center.
In the Accommodations to Acknowledge column, select the exclamation mark to review pending accommodations. A checkmark indicates there are no pending accommodations to review.
Next to each student’s accommodation, select one of the dropdown options: I have questions regarding this accommodation, I understand and acknowledge this accommodation or I cannot reasonably provide this accommodation. If you select that you have questions or cannot provide the accommodation, a member of the OAS team will follow up with you to assist.
When you have reviewed all accommodations, select Submit Acknowledgements.
Students who have extended time exam accommodations and request to use such accommodations will receive double time on quizzes, tests, and exams. Students cannot be asked or required to miss their next class in order to complete a quiz, test, or exam.
When a student has back-to-back classes and has a quiz, test, or exam in the earlier class, the student must notify the instructor of the need to take the quiz, test, or exam at a time other than the assigned course time. The student and instructor must identify a mutually agreeable time for the student to take the assessment and during which the instructor will be available to answer their phone in the event of any questions or concerns. Students who are required to take a quiz, test, or exam at a time other than the rest of the class cannot be given an assessment which is more difficult than the rest of the class.
On occasion, a student may need to take an exam at an agreed upon time or date that is different from the rest of the class. In this case, you may wish to create a different version of the exam for that student. This new version of the exam must be the same academic rigor as the original.
Students sign ethics agreements twice per semester: once at the start of the semester and then again at the start of every final exam. This acknowledges that students will abide by the Code of Ethics to prevent any unfair advantages.
There are several different types of exam accommodations that you may encounter. Please see below for a short description on each exam accommodation you may encounter.
Extended time- A student with this accommodation has double time for all quizzes, tests, and exams. If you are proctoring the assessment or if it is online, you will need to provide this accommodation. If our office is proctoring the assessment, we will provide this accommodation. This accommodation does not impact take-home exams or those without time restrictions.
Distraction reduced environment- A student with this accommodation requires taking assessments in a distraction reduced environment, which includes 25 or fewer students with minimal sound or visual distractions. If you are proctoring the assessment, you will need to provide this accommodation. If our office is proctoring the assessment, we will provide this accommodation. If an assessment is online, the student is responsible for securing their own distraction reduced location.
Separate location- A student with this accommodation takes all assessments in an individual room. If you are proctoring the assessment, you will need to provide this accommodation. If our office is proctoring the assessment, we will provide this accommodation. If an assessment is online, the student is responsible for securing their own location.
Calculator- A student with this accommodation is permitted to use a basic 4-function calculator when calculators are otherwise not permitted. The exception for this would be if the assessment is to determine their ability to compute basic 4-function equations.
Computer for testing- A student with this accommodation types their short and long answer responses to quizzes/tests/exams on a computer. A proctor monitors them the entire time to ensure they are not accessing other material. The typed responses will then be printed and stapled to the test or emailed to you (it depends on our printer availability given a particular testing location).
Question- A student may request to have an individual question or multiple questions read to them on an exam as requested.
Scribe- A student with this accommodation is able to request that someone write the answers during an assessment. If you are proctoring the assessment, you will need to provide this accommodation. If our office is proctoring the assessment, we will provide this accommodation. If an assessment is online, the student is responsible for using assistive technology to type out their answers.
No scantron- A student with this accommodation will need an alternate format for testing. The student will not be able to use a scantron due to the nature of their disability. Instead of a scantron, the student may either circle/write the answers directly on the exam or write the multiple choice answer in a separate location such as a sheet of paper, which will be stapled to the exam, or a blue book.
If you have any questions that are not answered here. Please reach out to OAS directly.
Students taking exams with the Office of Accessibility Services submit exam requests via their myCU account at least one week in advance.
In order to reduce compliance issues and ensure the smoothest facilitation of services for faculty, students, and the Office of Accessibility Services, it is most helpful if instructors list all exam dates on their syllabus.
If an exam is listed as falling within a range of dates or is designated as to be announced (TBA) on the syllabus, please notify OAS of the date and time seven (7) days prior to the exam administration. Most instructors already do this, as it saves them from receiving inaccurate and multiple coversheets. Likewise, if an exam date is changed from the date published on the syllabus, please let us know. We are also requesting that our students pay attention to any changes in exam dates and make the change in myCU.
We would all like to avoid the need for writing a new exam and finding another day and time for the student(s) to take the exam. However, if we are unable to accommodate the student(s), you will be responsible for working with the student and/or our office to ensure the administration of the exam with accommodations.
Students are responsible for requesting services in a timely manner and following our policies and procedures. If a student fails to request an exam at least seven days in advance, our office may not be in a position to provide last-minute accommodations. In such cases, the student will need to take the exam with the rest of the class without accommodations.
It is recommended that instructors who use our testing services convey this information to OAS students via blind copy (BCC) email, Moodle, or syllabus: I use the testing services provided by the Office of Accessibility Service, so please make sure that you sign up for each of your exams at least 7 days in advance of our test dates. The exam dates are posted to the syllabus (posted to Moodle, etc.) If you fail to follow that procedure, then I cannot guarantee that I will be able to provide you with your accommodations for exams, and you may need to take the exam with the rest of the class without accommodations.
If an instructor always provides their own testing accommodations, the arrangements are up to the instructor and should be clearly communicated to the student and preferably also noted in an email. Your arrangements should be in the spirit of the arrangements with OAS and should not require the additional burden of notifying the instructor in writing each time an exam is given.
OAS does not allow students to change exam start times for reasons of convenience or preference. They must have a scheduling conflict. If you allow a change for convenience, of course, we will proctor the exam. However, we do tell students that they may not change exam start times just because they want to leave early for break or want more time to study.
For exams that students are permitted to take at a time of their choosing and/or take-home exams, students will not need to register those exams with our office. Instead, it is the instructor’s responsibility to ensure students are set up on Moodle with extended time. Extended time is double the amount of time provided to the general class. Moodle instructions can be found here.
Students are responsible to schedule their own exams through myCU at least 7 days in advance. Any exam requests that come in after this deadline will be reviewed to determine if OAS is able to add this exam request. It is not guaranteed that OAS will be able to honor late requests. Students are permitted up to 5 late exam requests each semester. After the allotted 5 requests, OAS will no longer consider late requests for that student.
OAS will not consider any late exam requests received after noon on the business day before the exam.
- For example, for a Friday 2 pm exam, contact with OAS must be made no later than noon on Thursday for consideration. If the exam is on a Monday, OAS will not consider the request after noon on Friday.
Professors may send their exams electronically through PeopleSoft or FileDrop. You may also give us hard copies. When you package your exams, please include scantron sheets or blue books, if required by students. After placing your exams in an envelope (or box), be sure to seal the envelope or box. Tape the exam coversheet to the outside of the package. We do not open your exams until administration time or to make copies for any late additions. Some instructors choose to send extra copies of the exam and this prevents us from opening the package before exam administration time. Unused copies are all returned with the completed exams.
If you notice a need for corrections to your exams after we have received them, please feel free to contact us and we will open the package, make the corrections, and reseal.
If you are in an emergency situation, we prefer that you do not reuse coversheets, and please never revise or create your own coversheet without contacting us. This creates a significant amount of clerical work, confusion, and unnecessary backtracking for us. Rather, please contact our office and we will create a coversheet according to the circumstance.
If you have any special needs or you are going to be traveling prior to or during exam administration time, please contact us if we can be of assistance. We are happy to do what we can to ensure a smooth exam experience for everyone.
You will be sent at least one email exam request with a coversheet attachment at least three days ahead of the exam date. If you will be off-campus during this time, please contact our office ahead of time and we will send you a coversheet and make other exam preparations early.
When a student signs up to take your exam with us, you receive a coversheet via email at least 3 days prior to exam administration.
Exam coversheets are your presence in the testing room. Please thoroughly complete them.
Exam coversheets generated through OAS through myCU indicate the date and time your exams will be administered. Please ensure that it reflects your arrangement with the student(s).
If we are administering the same exam at different times, you will be given a coversheet for each start time. Please complete each coversheet and package the exams by start time or upload all coversheets to PeopleSoft/FileDrop. Occasionally, a coversheet will have more than one page and the second page will indicate that another student is taking the exam in a different location. Please package these separately so we are not carrying loose exams to different locations. If you are uploading/sending your exam electronically, we will do this for you, but please be sure that all coversheets are completed.
Our coversheets contain the names of students who have signed up to take your exam at OAS. Please do not add names to the list without contacting us. We may not have space or proctors to cover additions. Likewise, we will contact you if we have reason to add a student to the list.
Students testing with OAS must have access to you during the exam if other testing students have the ability to interact with you during the exam. Therefore, it is important that you provide information regarding how we may contact you during the full extended time period allotted for the exam.
If you make announcements to the class, please include them. If you read directions or give reminders to the class, please request that we do so as well.
If you make any exam corrections, please contact the office at 315-268-7643. If we are out at meetings or with students, we may not get the information until it is too late. That being said, the emailed corrections are very helpful for tricky corrections! For exams administered after office hours, please reach out to Jen Smith. You may contact her at the cell phone number listed in her email signature.
Exams are picked up and delivered to department administrators so please indicate their locations by building and room number.
Please provide detailed instructions for administering your exam. Our proctors are extremely careful about checking allowed materials, so your clarity in indicating what is allowed for the exam makes starting the exam less stressful for all.
On the coversheet, we request that you indicate the time allowed for the in-class exam. Do not calculate extended time.
Please note that OAS does not start any evening exams later than 7 pm, nor do we test past 10 pm. On Fridays, our testing center closes at 4 pm, so Friday exam start times may need to be adjusted.
Our couriers will go to department offices to pick up your exam if you request that service. To schedule courier service, call OAS at 315-268-7643 or send an email to email@example.com. Please be prepared to give us your department administrator’s location by building and room number. Couriers go out each day at 9:00 am and 3:00 pm.
Exams may not be mailed to our office. This has proven to be risky given that mail is delivered only once a day.
We request that exams be received at least one full business day before the exam administration as this will allow us time to print and package the exam as necessary. If you cannot get the exam to us by this timeline, please contact us and let us know when we can expect to receive it. Please do not bring or send exams so late that the students and proctors are waiting for the exam. It causes significant anxiety for students, proctors, and office staff when exams are not here at the scheduled start time.
We do our best to return daytime exams to department administrators as soon as they are completed. Late afternoon and evening exams will be returned the next day. If you would prefer to pick up your exams after the students have finished, please indicate this clearly on your coversheet and we will hold the exam for you. We are also happy to call you when exams are completed if you indicate that request on the coversheet.
Given the volume of exams administered and the number of locations and proctors, mistakes are bound to happen. We will alert you when this happens, and likewise, we would like you to let us know if something of concern has happened. When we learn of concerns, we are often able to adjust our procedures to remediate them. This is true for regular semester exams as well as for finals.
Students who have the accommodation of extended time for their exams frequently have conflicts in their final exam schedules.
We start all exams scheduled for 7:00 pm at 5:00 pm to allow for extended time. This earlier start time allows the students to have extended time and still end their exams at a reasonable hour.
Each semester we do have students whose exam schedule requires us to move one or more exams in such a way that the exam is not given at a time that overlaps the regular administration time. Sometimes we need to move exams to different days. These more difficult conflicts will be handled individually. You will receive an email outlining the conflict(s) and there will be at least one suggestion for resolving the conflict. We follow the Academic Regulations for the order of which exams are to be moved.
In order to be prepared to administer a large number of exams in multiple locations, we need to start the conflict resolution process as soon as final exam schedules are posted by SAS. Your prompt replies to emails requesting assistance to resolve difficult conflicts are critical to our joint efforts to administer final exams. If you are not giving an exam at the time noted on the schedule posted by SAS, please let us know as soon as possible as this helps us resolve other conflicts.
If your exam will be shorter than three hours, please let us know immediately so we may plan accordingly.
If you have a slot for your course in the final exam schedule but use this time for presentations, paper submission, etc., please let us know when the schedules come out. Otherwise, we have no way of knowing that you are not giving a final exam. Students do not get involved in the final exam process until we send them their revised final exam schedule unless we have reason to contact them earlier.
If your final exam day or time changes after SAS publishes the schedule, please notify us immediately. If we do not get that information right away, the students may need to take the exam according to the schedule initially posted by SAS if OAS proctors the exam.
When we send out email exam requests and coversheets for final exams, we request delivery of exams or exam materials three full business days ahead of exam administration. Some instructors send them earlier, and that’s great! If you cannot get your final exam to us by this timeline, please let us know when we can expect it. The in-processing of final exams for so many locations and ensuring their safe storage takes a significant amount of time and we are already busy with the administration. Your assistance is needed for us to undertake such a large task.
Please know that we work very hard to protect exam integrity while still providing the necessary accommodations for our students. For final exams, an Ethics Agreement is signed for each exam and is returned to the instructor with the completed exam.
Instructors are under no obligation to use our testing services as long as they can provide all of the required accommodations. If a student needs to use special assistive software or has another accommodation that you cannot provide, we would expect that the student would test with OAS. There may also be times when a student’s accommodation is only extended time, but the student may need to test with OAS due to the specific nature of their disability. OAS may not be able to share the reason with you for privacy protections. Please be assured that such circumstances are not due to any lack in the services you provide to students.
If course-specific software is used for your exams, we will not be able to administer the exam unless the software is installed on a student’s personal computer. We will work with you to ensure an appropriate environment for your students, should you request assistance.
Other Academic Accommodations
Several disabilities can affect a student’s ability to take notes in class. For example, a student with a hearing impairment may miss sections of the lecture or hear certain words incorrectly. Likewise, a student with an auditory processing difficulty might take few or unclear notes. Students with disabilities that impair their ability to take notes may be assigned the note taker accommodation.
There are several ways that students who need note takers can be accommodated, including but not limited to:
Lecture notes made available on Moodle
Copies of lecture notes
Use of a student note taker
Use of a SmartPen or other assistive technology
If a student wishes to utilize their note-taker accommodation, OAS will handle the logistics of getting notes to the student. Someone from our office may be in contact to determine which format will be most suitable.
Students who have a qualifying disability and are registered with the Office of Accessibility Services have the right to record class lectures for their personal study use only.
Lectures recorded, for this reason, may not be shared with other people without the consent of the lecturer.
Recording equipment and the manner of recording must not present a distraction to the instructor or class.
Recorded lectures may not be used in any way against the faculty member, other lecturers, or students whose classroom comments are recorded as part of the class activity.
Information contained in the recorded lecture is protected under federal copyright laws and may not be published without the consent of the lecturer.
The instructor should be notified by the student before class begins that they may be recording the lectures due to their disability.
The attendance accommodation is in place to support the occasional miss for medical reasons. Students may not skip if they do not feel like going and use their attendance accommodation. The attendance accommodation can often only support a student if the number of classes missed does not exceed 20-25%% of the course AND is otherwise deemed permissible as evaluated according to the above standards.
Students will meet with instructors at the beginning of the semester or shortly after being granted the flexible attendance accommodation to fill out the Flexible Attendance Agreement. Students who do not fill this out with their instructors may face attendance penalties as outlined in the syllabus.
These questions from a prior Office of Civil Rights case may be used as a guide in determining the reasonableness of an attendance accommodation:
Is there a classroom/lab interaction between the instructor and students or among the students themselves?
Do student contributions/experiences in class/lab constitute a significant component of the learning process?
Does the fundamental nature of the course rely upon student participation as an essential method of learning?
To what degree does a student’s failure to attend class/lab constitute a significant loss of the educational experience of other students in the class?
What do the course description and syllabus say regarding attendance?
Is the attendance policy consistently applied to all students?
What is the method by which the final grade is calculated?
Is there a legitimate alternative accommodation that can be implemented instead?
A recent diagnosis, onset, or change in condition is comparable to an unexpected illness or injury and may not warrant accommodations in the attendance policy. They may warrant a withdrawal or retroactive medical withdrawal under some circumstances.
Absences occurring prior to the completion of the Attendance Agreement will not be covered by the accommodation.
These policies all tie into attendance and should be included when you discuss attendance. As with the course attendance policy, accommodations may be appropriate depending on the nature of the assignment or quiz and its relationship to the pacing and progression of instruction.
Be sure to discuss:
Assignments and due dates
If the student also has a flexible deadline accommodation, the student should discuss this with the instructor at this time and fill out the Flexible Deadline Agreement.
Note takers, Interpreters, Captions
Projects- individual and group
If you have a student who uses assistive technology to access course materials, readings, textbooks, or exams, someone from OAS will contact you to make sure your materials are accessible to assistive technology.
Some common adjustments to ensure accessibility include:
Providing digital copies of handouts used in class
Providing a digital copy of an exam in an accessible format (e.g. Microsoft Word)
Providing digital copies of reading assignments outside of course textbooks
Providing a digital copy of the syllabus
Setting deadlines far in advance so the materials can be converted to accessible formats if needed
For more information, view the Accessible Material Guide for Instructors.