Determining Fundamental Alterations of a Course / Program

There may be times when a student requests an accommodation that you believe may create a fundamental alteration of the course and/or program. To determine whether an accommodation fundamentally alters the nature of a course, faculty instructors should:

  1. Identify the fundamental academic standards of the course (i.e., requirements that go to the very nature of the subject matter or that are of the utmost importance in achieving the course objective), as well as the overall objectives of any program for which the course is required;
  2. Engage in "reasoned deliberation" as to whether implementation of the proposed accommodation would change the fundamental academic standards identified in #1;
    - If implementation of the requested accommodation would not alter fundamental academic standards – Approve the accommodation.
    - If implementation of the requested accommodation would alter fundamental academic standards, articulate how and move to #3.
  3. Work with SAS and the Student to identify whether any paths exist that would allow the student to be accommodated on the basis of disability and meet the fundamental academic standard / achieve the desired academic/pedagogical result, such as consideration of an alternative evaluation method to demonstrate the fundamental academic standard or a different, but still effective, accommodation that would allow the student to meet the fundamental academic standard using the existing methods.

The decision to deny an accommodation should not be taken lightly. By answering these questions and documenting the process, instructors can establish that they have thoroughly evaluated the authorized accommodation against the course/program objectives.

Disability laws require that students with disabilities meet the "essential," "academic," and "technical” standards of the class/program/college.