Class Participation Accommodations

An accommodation for adjusted class participation or alternative forms of assessment may be provided to a student if they experience a disability that substantially limits their functioning during cold-calling sessions, in-class discussions, and/or oral presentations. Adjusted or alternative assessment provides an otherwise qualified student with equitable opportunity to that of their peers to show their knowledge and learning in a course. This effectively removes barriers in the course environment that would have otherwise denied the student access and participation.

When considering options for adjusted or alternative assessment, faculty should focus on the essential learning goals of the course. Adjusted or alternative assessment must provide faculty means with which to assess a student’s progress towards essential learning goals.

Examples of Adjusted or Alternative Assessment

Cold-calling sessions

  • Student is given advance notice of when they are to be called upon in class (e.g., emailed the day before).
  • Student is given advance notice of the cold-calling question(s) they will be asked (e.g., emailed the day before) so they may prepare their response(s).

In-class discussions

  • Student submits written response(s) to discussion prompt(s).
  • Student has discussion individually with instructor.
  • Student has discussion with instructor and a small group (3-4).
  • Student is assessed via online discussion board.

Oral Presentations

  • Student presents individually to instructor.
  • Student presents to instructor and a small group (3-4).
  • For individual presentations, student is given the option to present with a partner or group.
  • Student is given the choice of when to present (e.g., date, beginning/middle/end of class).
  • Student does not receive a grading deduction if they read from notes/script while presenting.
  • Student sits at a table or desk while presenting.
  • Student records video and/or audio in advance to be presented during class.
  • Student creates slideshow with video and/or audio embedded within each slide with their comments.
  • Student submits a written paper on the topic.
  • Student submits a portfolio of evidence showing their mastery of the skill or subject matter.


When is Adjusted or Alternative Assessment Not Reasonable?

An adjusted or alternative assessment would not be a reasonable accommodation if it would change the essential learning goals of a specific course. For example, alternative assessment instead of cold-calling may not be a reasonable accommodation in a course with an essential learning objective related to students showing the ability to engage in extemporaneous analysis and discussion of topics with others. If an instructor has concerns that an adjusted or alternative assessment would present a fundamental change to the essential elements and learning goals of their course, they should contact the student’s Accessibility Specialist to discuss concerns.


Student Responsibilities

  1. Go to the first day of classes and review the syllabus for each course to be aware of all requirements related to class participation. Regardless of disability or accommodations, all students are held to the same evaluation standards and responsible for meeting the essential learning goals of the course, as specified in the course syllabus.
  2. Tell your instructors about your accommodations, and, your eligibility for Class Participation Accommodations at the beginning of the semester, or as soon as eligible for accommodations. To ask for your accommodation letters and to distribute them to your instructors, log into myACCESS.  Timely notice of accommodations is critical as accommodations are not retroactive.
  3. Follow up with each relevant instructor to discuss how this accommodation applies to their course. Explore the boundaries of reasonableness for this accommodation, given specific course learning goals, as accommodations may not change any essential elements of a course.
  4. Contact your Accessibility Specialist if you have questions at any point during the process.


Faculty Responsibilities

  1. Review the essential learning goals of your course. Make sure they are focused on outcomes rather than means, where appropriate, in line with general principles of universal design for learning.
  2. List the essential learning goals of your course on your syllabus. Establishing clear expectations leads to positive results.
  3. Consult with Student Accessibility Services if there is a question of reasonability. SAS will communicate to the student if a determination of non-reasonability has been made and review proposed alternatives with the student as part of the interactive process.
  4. Communicate to the student an acknowledgement of determined accommodations. If an alternative assessment has been agreed upon, we recommend that you provide the student with a detailed description of the alternative assessment’s rubric for grading.
  5. Contact the student’s Accessibility Specialist if you have questions at any point during the process.