Guidelines for Academic Adjustments/Accommodations

Academic adjustments/accommodations are modifications to courses or curricula to insure equal access to UVM’s academic programs. This document describes how students make a request for an accommodation, how a request is reviewed, and how the final accommodation is then implemented.

Background Information
Federal law requires universities to make modifications to course requirements to insure that students with disabilities have equal access to the educational program or activity. Universities are not required to fundamentally alter the academic or technical standards of a course or program of study, but must consider whether modified course examinations, assignments or other academic adjustments are necessary to meet the needs of students with disabilities.

Student Request
Students request academic adjustments/accommodations through an Student Accessibility Services Specialist. If the situation justifies it and is supported by appropriate documentation, the academic adjustment/accommodation requested will be approved and communicated to the faculty member through an accommodations letter.  Students are advised that SAS consults with faculty based on a student’s needs and the impact of the disability in relation to the requirements of the course.

An Interactive Process with Faculty and SAS
Where a faculty member finds approved accommodations reasonable, those accommodations should be implemented with input from the student and assistance from SAS as needed.  If a faculty member is concerned that the approved accommodation will fundamentally alter the academic or technical standards of the course, the faculty member should contact the SAS staff member to consult.  The consultation will review the essential components of the course, with input from the SAS staff member on the student’s functional limitations and possible accommodations.  The goal is to reach agreement on accommodations that will allow the student to demonstrate the required knowledge/skills of the course.  Please click here for a list of possible classroom and testing accommodations relative to various disabilities. 

SAS will document the process in a student’s record.  If a determination is made that a requested academic adjustment/accommodation results in a fundamental alteration to an essential program requirement, the decision to deny the accommodation as not reasonable and appropriate will be documented in the student’s SAS file. Students will be notified of the outcome in writing. Students have the right to appeal a decision to deny an accommodation to the University’s ADA/504 Coordinator and may also file a complaint with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

If the faculty member and the SAS advisor cannot agree on whether an accommodation is reasonable, the approved accommodation should be implemented on an interim basis while the faculty member pursues the Procedure for Resolution of Academic Accommodations.

 

ADA and Grievance Procedures

The University of Vermont’s Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Office (AAEO) is responsible for ensuring
compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) .

If you believe you have experienced discrimination or harassment due to a disability or if you have questions and comments, please contact AAEO at 802.656.3368.

Process for Resolution of Academic Accommodations

Throughout the disability services process, it is important for faculty, students, and SAS staff members to work together interactively to determine accommodations that are in compliance with federal law, are reasonable and appropriate, and do not impede the academic and technical standards of the course.

Faculty members with questions concerning the requested accommodations should consult with SAS as quickly as possible to resolve any questions about the recommended accommodations.

If SAS, the student, and the faculty member cannot agree on reasonable and appropriate accommodations, the case will be referred to the Campus ADA/504 Coordinator in the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity (AAEO) for resolution.  This process outlined below offers an alternative to formal discrimination complaints by providing an informal resolution regarding the implementation of academic accommodations.

Resolving Academic Accommodations:

Step One:

  • Within TWO working days of recognizing that faculty and SAS staff are in disagreement about a student’s accommodations, the SAS Program Director will email a brief summary of the disagreement and copies of all relevant documents to the ADA/504 Coordinator, and request a resolution.
  • The SAS Program Director will ensure that the faculty and Department Chair, or Associate Dean in programs that do not have a Chair, are copied on this correspondence. 

Step Two:

  • The ADA/504 Coordinator will make a decision about the resolution of the situation within TEN working days of receipt of a request.
  • The ADA/504 Coordinator may attempt to resolve the matter informally with the faculty member.  If resolution is achieved, the ADA/504 Coordinator will provide a written summary of the informal resolution to the student, faculty member, and SAS Program Director.
  • If an informal resolution is not achieved, the ADA/504 Coordinator will work in consultation with the student, faculty member, the SAS Program Director, appropriate academic administrators, the faculty member’s Dean, and Office of General Counsel to arrive at a final decision.
  • The ADA/504 Coordinator will communicate the final decision in writing to the student, the faculty member, and the SAS Program Director with a copy to the faculty member’s Dean and the student services staff in the appropriate college or school.
  • Interim accommodations may be required at the discretion of the ADA/504 Coordinator until final resolution is achieved.

The SAS Program Director will inform the student that SAS can provide advice during this process.  A representative from SAS may accompany the student to any meetings in which the student requests their involvement.

The faculty member at any time in this process can consult with a representative from the Faculty Senate with regards to concerns.  In addition, faculty members always have the option to confer with the Center for Teaching and Learning on how to implement Universal Design for Learning principles within their classroom.

Please contact the AAEO Office at 802-656-3368 if you have any questions about this process.

Information about Creating a Plan around Flexibility regarding Attendance for Students with Disabilities

Faculty members determine course attendance policies and the academic and technical standards of a course.  In some cases, attendance remains fundamental to course objectives so absences are not allowed.  This may occur where attendance is necessary for the student to demonstrate competence in the subject matter.  For example, where a course is designed to test a student’s ability to work with others to develop and implement a program, the student would need to be present to interact with others in the class, to demonstrate the ability to think and argue critically, or to participate in group projects.  Even in these instances, however, some accommodation may be reasonable to allow the student to participate remotely or through the use of assistive technology. In other instances, faculty members may determine that students can demonstrate mastery of course content despite some absences from class.

In conjunction with attendance policies, faculty members also determine how students can submit missed quizzes, exams, or course work if they miss class. A request for an accommodation never requires faculty members to lower or to create substantial modifications of course standards for accommodation purposes. 
Please consider the following factors before determining if a plan regarding flexible attendance appears reasonable and appropriate:

  • What classroom practices and policies require attendance?  Does the course syllabus allow absences for other events, such as for athletes on varsity teams or for students who experience a death in their family or for student illness?
  • Do student contributions constitute a significant component of the learning process?  If so, is there a reasonable means by which a student might contribute even if not physically present in the classroom?
  • To what degree does a student's failure to attend class constitute a significant loss to the educational experience of other students in the class?
  • What course components comprise the final course grade?

What can SAS do for Faculty and Students to Create a Plan around Flexibility regarding Attendance?

SAS provides students with written verification of their disabilities in an accommodation letter, based on appropriate documentation, which verifies the legitimacy of absences.  SAS also supports faculty members to determine if flexibility regarding attendance serves as a reasonable and appropriate accommodation based on the course objectives and requirements.

Once the faculty member and SAS agree that flexibility in the attendance policy is a reasonable accommodation for a course, the student must meet with the faculty member to discuss reasonable alteration to the course attendance policy before a faculty member implements this accommodation.  The student and faculty member create a clear plan at the beginning of the semester for managing missed classes and for submitting any work missed during the absences (i.e. exams, in-class work, etc.).  This plan requires the student to notify the faculty member in advance if they need to miss class due to their disability, such as hospitalization, treatment, and/or unexpected manifestation of symptoms.  The faculty member and student should also discuss the limits on absences.

SAS can at any point in the process assist faculty in making the determination that a plan around attendance serves as a reasonable and appropriate accommodation for a student.  If SAS and the faculty member do not agree on the implementation of this accommodation, SAS refers the question to the ADA/504 Coordinator for resolution.  Please email SAS at access@uvm.edu or call at 802-656-7753 if you have any questions about attendance accommodations.

Information about Creating a Plan for Limited Flexibility with Deadlines

SAS provides students with written verification of their disabilities in an accommodation letter, based on appropriate documentation, which documents the legitimacy of limited flexibility with deadlines on course assignments.  SAS also supports faculty members to determine if flexibility with deadlines serves as a reasonable and appropriate accommodation based on the course objectives and requirements.

Once the faculty member and SAS agree that flexibility with deadlines is a reasonable accommodation for a course, the student must meet with the faculty member to discuss a reasonable way to manage course deadlines before the accommodation is implemented.   It is important for the student and the faculty member to create a clear plan at the beginning of the semester for managing flexibility with deadlines.  This plan requires the student to notify the faculty member in advance if they might miss a deadline due to their disability, such as hospitalization, treatment, and/or unexpected manifestation of symptoms.  Above all, the student and the faculty member need to agree on the expectations and solutions for executing the plan. The parameters of an extension for deadlines granted by the faculty member require discussion and clear definition so the student understands the process and limits on flexibility with deadlines.

SAS can at any point in the process assist faculty in making the determination that a plan around limited flexibility with deadlines serves as a reasonable and appropriate accommodation for a student.  If SAS and the faculty member do not agree on the implementation of this accommodation, SAS refers the question to the ADA/504 Coordinator for resolution.  Please email SAS at access@uvm.edu or call at 802-656-7753 if you have any questions about attendance accommodations.

Information about Creating a Plan for Participation in Class

SAS provides students with written verification of their disabilities in an accommodation letter, based on appropriate documentation, which documents the legitimacy of flexibility on participation in class.  SAS also supports faculty members to determine if flexibility with participation in class serves as a reasonable and appropriate accommodation based on the course objectives and requirements.

Once the faculty member and SAS agree that flexibility with participation in class is a reasonable accommodation for a course, the student must meet with the faculty member to discuss a reasonable way to manage meeting the course requirements for participation in class before the accommodation is implemented.   It is important for the student and the faculty member to create a clear plan at the beginning of the semester for managing flexibility with participation in class. Above all, the student and the faculty member need to agree on the expectations and solutions for executing the plan. The parameters of how a student will meet the requirements of participation in class granted by the faculty member require discussion and clear definition so the student understands how they can meet the course requirement to participate during class.

SAS can at any point in the process assist faculty in making the determination that a plan around flexibility with participation in class serves as a reasonable and appropriate accommodation for a student.  If SAS and the faculty member do not agree on the implementation of this accommodation, SAS refers the question to the ADA/504 Coordinator for resolution.  Please email SAS at access@uvm.edu or call at 802-656-7753 if you have any questions about attendance accommodations.