Office of Disability Services
Academic accommodations are adjustments that provide equal academic opportunity for students with disabilities. Academic accommodations are designed to provide equal access to courses and programs, but they do not guarantee an outcome or a level of achievement. Academic accommodations shall be reasonable. They need not be provided when the accommodation would result in a fundamental alteration of the program or impose an undue financial or administrative burden on the institution. Furthermore, accommodations are not required to address a personal need such as: an attendant, an individually prescribed device, a reader for personal use or study, or other devices or services of a personal nature. Requests for accommodations which would fundamentally alter the nature of a program or which would alter the academic standards of a course or program will not be granted.
Accommodations must be requested by a student in a timely manner which will allow ODS to review documentation, determine eligibility, and establish the accommodations. All accommodations are determined as part of an interactive and collaborative process. During such a process, ODS staff will work collaboratively with students to determine how to reasonably accommodate students through possible academic adjustments and/or educational auxiliary aids. This interactive and collaborative process requires that students meet with an ODS staff member to discuss their request for services prior to a decision being rendered by ODS.Accommodations will not be granted retroactively.
What accommodations are allowed in the postsecondary setting?
According to law, accommodations in the post secondary setting commonly refer to: a) modifications to the manner of providing instruction in order to provide equal access to educational materials and b) modifications to the manner of testing or measuring competence in a particular course.
Depending on the nature of the disability and its impact on major life activities, a student may need instructional material provided in an alternative format (enlargement of handouts, books on CD, Braille) or may need an auxiliary aid (closed circuit FM radio, scanning text reader) or services (sign language interpreters). Students with learning disabilities, for example, may need extra time for exams or permission to use a word-processor for writing essay exams.
Students with disabilities are expected to meet the same standards of academic performance as other students, but may be allowed an accommodation in the manner in which performance in measured, for example, allowing time and one-half for testing or allowing a Reader for exams. Such accommodations are allowed so that it is academic competency which is being measured rather than the effect of the disability. The most common accommodation granted in postsecondary institutions is "extended time for exams" since many types of disabilities affect the capability of retrieving and expressing information within time limits.
Each accommodation is evaluated and granted individually; accommodations are not granted as a package. Accommodations are based on the functional limitations specified in the documentation submitted by the student.
Instructors should consult with ODS as soon as possible if there is any question or concern about an accommodation or how it should be provided. If an instructor has a concern that a specific accommodation may fundamentally alter the nature of the course, the instructor should contact ODS as soon as possible so that the concern may be addressed.
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A distraction-reduced testing location is an effective accommodation for students with neurological, psychological, or attention deficit disorders. A distraction-reduced location should be free of ringing telephones, conversation, and traffic.
Note-takers or access to a shared copy of class notes may be used for students who are visually-impaired, hearing-impaired, mobility-impaired, and students with learning disabilities.
A Reader may be used for students who are visually-impaired or who have a severe reading disorder. Readers provided by ODS are staff members or graduate students who are trained to read examination material in such a manner that they do not influence the choice of answers by tone or inflection or other means.
A Scribe may be needed by students with visual-impairments, who are quadriplegic, or who have cerebral palsy or other fine motor coordination difficulties. Scribes are trained to type or write only what is being said by the student and not to embellish in any manner nor to distract the student being tested.
Tape recording lectures is an effective accommodation for students who are visually-impaired, mobility-impaired, or who have learning disabilities. If an instructor has a special concern about permitting the tape-recording of lectures (e.g. the confidential nature of class material), he/she should discuss these concerns with ODS.
Typing exams on a word-processor may be used for students with specific learning disabilities or students with fine motor coordination difficulties who are able to type but not write by hand.
Enlarged exams, test materials, or handouts may be needed by students with visual impairments. If an instructor needs assistance with providing enlarged material, he/she should contact ODS.
Select Seating in Class may be an effective accommodation for students with hearing impairments or attention deficit disorders who find sitting at the front of the class minimizes distractions or for students with physical or medical conditions who may need to be seated near exits.
No Scantron sheets for exams is a requested accommodation for students with visual impairments, dyslexia, or fine motor difficulties which interfere with the student's ability to correctly mark a Scantron sheet. In these instances, it is helpful if the student is allowed to circle answers directly on the exam sheet.
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Other accommodations may be determined on an individual basis.
Are there accommodations which are not allowed under the law?
Accommodations that fundamentally change the nature of the course or program of studies will not be allowed. Each request for accommodations, however, must be evaluated individually in relation to the nature of the disability and the nature of the course or program. For this reason, it is advantageous to have close communication and coordination between instructors and the Office of Disability Services.
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What types of adapted equipment may be needed by students with disabilities?
Assistive Listening Devices; Students with hearing impairments who use hearing aids may benefit from the FM closed circuit radio system which improves audibility of sound. With this system, the instructor or speaker wears a small lapel microphone and transmitter which sends his/her voice by closed circuit to the listener's hearing aid. The student wears a receiver and a small earpiece which receives the transmission. Students who need this assistance should be referred to the Office of Disability Services.
CCTV Scanner; Students with visual impairments may benefit from the closed circuit TV scanner which magnifies text, pictures, diagrams, etc. The CCTV scanner is presently located in the Adaptive Technology Room of the Richter Library. Students who need this assistance may be referred to the main circulation desk of the Richter Library or to the Office of Disability Services.
Text Reader; A Kurzweil 3000 text reading software system is also available in the Adaptive Technology Room of the Richter Library. This program allows students with visual disabilities or learning disabilities to have text read aloud to them by the computer. The program has a variety of options which also allow students to highlight text, annotate text, and create study outlines.
If a student in class needs an accessible writing or work surface, what should I do?
Contact the Office of Disability Services at (305) 284-2374 and arrangements will be made to provide an accessible table.
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Does the Office of Disability Services coordinate services with other University resources?
The Office of Disability Services works closely with Peer Tutoring Services, Learning Specialist, Math Lab, and the other units of ARC making referrals to those units and coordinating as necessary. In addition to ARC units, ODS also makes referrals to the Writing Center, the University of Miami Counseling Center, the Department of Residence Halls and other University of Miami departments as appropriate.
ODS communicates with the Academic Advisors of the individual Colleges and Schools when it is appropriate to do so.
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