General Frequently Asked Questions

What is the University's Disability Policy?

The University of Vermont (UVM) is committed to providing an educational atmosphere and experience that is accessible to all qualified students, including students with disabilities.  Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 prohibit institutions such as UVM from discriminating against qualified students with disabilities and require that reasonable and appropriate academic accommodations be provided.  It is, therefore, the policy of UVM not to discriminate against students with disabilities in any program or activity at UVM for which the student is qualified, and to provide reasonable accommodations and auxiliary services to students with due regard for the integrity of academic programs.

Please review UVM’s Disability Certification, Accommodation, and Support-Students Policy:
UVM Disability Policy

What is an Accommodation?

A reasonable accommodation is one that will allow a student with a disability to have an equal opportunity to participate in, and enjoy the benefits of, a service, program, or activity of the University.  These accommodations may include adjustment to activities, space, or the physical plant of the University.  Reasonable accommodations may also include appropriate academic adjustments.

How is eligibility for accommodations determined?

SAS determines eligibility for accommodations based on interpretation of disability documentation, a student’s narrative, and professional observations on a case-by-case basis.

How Do I Request Services?

Students who wish to be considered for a reasonable accommodation for a disability must contact the SAS office at 802-656-7753 or email access@uvm.edu to set an appointment.  Faculty or staff approached by a student making a request for an accommodation must refer the student to the SAS office for initial certification of whether the student has a disability and for appropriate processing to determine potential reasonable accommodations.

Student FAQs

Does registration as a student with a disability and accommodations for a disability differ between high school and college?

Yes. Because colleges fall under different laws than high schools, there are many differences. In college, a student needs to disclose to Student Accessibility Services that they have a disability in order to receive academic accommodations.  Students need to give us permission before we disclose information about their disability to others within the University.   Please refer to our Documentation Guidelines to see what you need in order for you to receive accommodations.  

I have heard that I can sign a waiver allowing you to talk to my parents. I’ve also heard that the waiver will allow my parents to handle college matters for me. Is this true?

A college student at UVM can fill out a Release of Information Form giving SAS staff permission to share information related to the office with parents.  SAS requires that the student handle any matters related to our office, including registration and accommodations. We do not work with the parent in place of the student.

Does UVM accept an IEP or 504 plan from high school?

We will consider any information (including, but not limited to, your narrative and request for specific accommodations and services, records of past accommodations and services from high school or another college; formal psychological or medical evaluations, letters from past health, education or service providers) when evaluating requests for accommodation. This information is needed so that we can develop an understanding of how your disability is likely to impact you. Documentation submitted to SAS needs to come from a qualified professional (i.e. Medical Doctor, Psychologist, Counselor). Please refer to our Documentation Guidelines to see the types of documentation needed for you to receive accommodations.

Does SAS provide tutoring services?

Our office does not provide tutors, but tutoring services are available for all UVM students through the Tutoring Center.

I have had a documented disability for years, but did not register with Student Accessibility Services. Last semester my grades were impacted due to my disability.  Can my past grades be changed if I register with SAS ?

Unfortunately, no.  Registration as a student with a disability at UVM is not retroactive to past semesters. You cannot be recognized as a student with a disability during a semester in which you were not registered with SAS .  However, we encourage you to come to talk with us in SAS so we can work with you to implement reasonable and appropriate accommodations that may increase your success in your current and future classes.

How often do I have to meet with SAS ?

If you are new to SAS , we will ask you to meet with your contact in SAS at least once a semester.  We welcome you to meet with SAS as frequently as needed in the first year that you are part of the program.  After your first year with us, we will encourage you to navigate the accommodation process on your own without necessarily having to meet with SAS first.  However, please let us know if you have any questions so we can support you throughout the process.  We encourage students to meet with us throughout their time at UVM.  Whether you are seeking accommodations in other environments, such as study abroad, graduate school, professional/entry exams, internships, practicums, clinical, or when you want to know when to disclose information about the impact of your diagnosis, please contact us.

I didn't use any of my accommodations in high school (or previous college), why are you asking (encouraging) me to set accommodations up at the start of the semester?

We always invite students with disabilities to set accommodations up at the start of the semester whether you used accommodations in the past or not.  If you have a relationship with SAS at the start of the year and discuss your situation with your professors, you will likely be better prepared and set up for use of accommodations, such as extended time on exams. Additionally, working with SAS early on in a semester can get you off on the right track.

Notes FAQs (Students)

What if it is a few weeks into the semester and there is still no Note Taker available for my course?

Please email notes@uvm.edu with your course information.  We will work with your instructor to facilitate the process of finding a Note Taker for that course. Typically, once a Note Taker is found and selected for your course they will submit ALL notes from prior class sessions, so even if you did not have a Note Taker selected for a few weeks, we try to give you access to the notes for the time in which there was no Note Taker available.

What if the Note Taker I selected stops submitting notes or the quality of their notes is not what I expected?

If you notice that a Note Taker has stopped submitting notes and/or there are notes missing from previous class sessions, please email notes@uvm.edu.  We will contact your Note Taker.

  • If the quality of the notes provided by your selected Note Taker is not what you expected, please email notes@uvm.edu.
  • If there are other Note Takers available, we will cancel your chosen Note Taker and allow you to select a different Note Taker.
  • If there are no other Note Takers available, we can work with your instructor to find another student in the class who is interested in becoming a Peer Note Taker, if possible.


What if I no longer require a Note Taker in a course in which I already indicated ‘Yes’?

If you determine that you no longer need a Note Taker for a course, login to your myACCESS Student Web Portal:

  • Select the Course Notes icon.
  • Select Course/notes from the top menu bar.
  • For any course in which you no longer require a Note Taker, select “Change this” and the “I require a note taker” column will be changed to indicate ‘No.’

Faculty FAQs

How is eligibility for accommodations determined?

SAS determines eligibility for accommodations based on interpretation of disability documentation on a case-by-case basis.

What is the best way for faculty, students, and SAS to work together to insure that recommended accommodations are reasonable and appropriate?

It is important for faculty, students, and SAS staff members to work together interactively to determine if accommodations are reasonable and appropriate.  Faculty should contact the SAS staff member listed on the accommodations letter via phone (802-656-7753) or email. if an accommodation listed in the letter does not appear reasonable or appropriate for the course.  Faculty can help SAS and students understand when an accommodation will impede an essential component of a course or disrupt a course.

What if a student and faculty member disagree on the best way to administer an accommodation?

Faculty members and students should feel free to contact the SAS Office whenever they would like to discuss an accommodation or how it is to be administered.  SAS can work as a consultant to either party in such a situation to develop an agreement that fosters respect and an understanding of how best to provide an accommodation.  By encouraging an open dialogue and collaboration among all the parties, SAS would assist at determining an appropriate and well-thought-out solution.

What if I am asked to provide flexibility with attendance, deadlines, and/or participation in my classes?

These types of accommodations are student-specific. All students with these accommodations are required to meet with you to determine how these accommodations may fit within your course. Students with flexibility-related accommodations should discuss how this accommodation will impact their enrollment in your course to avoid problems during the semester. Following any student meeting, should you still have questions or concerns regarding any specific accommodation(s), please email access@uvm.edu or call us at 656-7753 and we will be happy to work with you.

  • Limited Flexibility with deadlines with negotiation and advanced notice
  • Limited Flexibility with attendance with negotiation and advanced notice
  • Participation - Create Plan

Flexibility-related accommodations require that the faculty member and the student create a plan to communicate with each other. If a student is ill and not able to communicate in a timely manner, having a plan in place can be a very valuable tool for both the student and faculty member. Additionally, if a student’s disability is not related to illnesses, having an understanding of how to negotiate IN ADVANCE of a situation occurring can be all that is necessary to have a successful academic experience.

What if I have questions or concerns regarding a specific accommodation?

If you do not understand the details of any accommodation listed on a student’s accommodation letter, please email myACCESS@uvm.edu. Our staff will work to clarify the accommodation and/or forward your question or concern to the appropriate SAS Specialist who will be able to address the accommodation with student-specific details.
In some cases, an accommodation may not seem appropriate in your course.  In these cases, please meet with the student to discuss the accommodation and create a plan for the semester. If you still need clarification or are concerned about a particular accommodation, please contact us!

What if I am the instructor for a course, but the course is not available for me to view via myACCESS Faculty Web Portal?

Courses are pulled from the Registrar and in some courses, multiple faculty are listed as the instructors for an individual course.  The default is the first instructor listed on the Registrar’s page for that course, in most cases. If you are an instructor in a course, but are unable to view the course and/or accommodation letters for your students, please email myACCESS@uvm.edu.  We can manually override the correct instructor into the course/section they teach. If multiple instructors teach the same course, the same scenario applies. Please email us and we can add an additional instructor to the course.

What if I have a TA who will be assisting with student accommodations and/or test booking throughout the semester?  Can they be granted permission to myACCESS?

If you have TAs in your course who will be assisting with or need access to view accommodation letters and/or test booking for the semester, please email myACCESS@uvm.edu with the TA name and UVM netID, as well as the course/section for which they will need to have access. We can manually add the TA in as an “Alternate Contact” for the course and grant them permission to view accommodation letters and/or test booking information. Once TAs are added to the course, they will be able to login via the myACCESS Faculty Web Portal using their UVM netID and password, just as instructors are able. If a TA is a Note Taker for a course, please refer to the “How to: Request a Peer Note Taker in My Course” document.  To manage and upload notes for a course, TAs will need to register as a Note Taker and login using the myACCESS Student Web Portal.

I believe knowing a student's disability will assist me in understanding and accommodating them. Why won't they tell me their type of disability?

In being compliant with the law, students are not expected or required to disclose their disability type or diagnosis.

While it may be helpful to better understand the impact of a student’s disability, the possibility of reinforcing stigma, bias, microagressions and/or engaging in discrimination are what uphold the law in relation to disclosure.

Students, of course, can voluntarily choose to disclose. However, oftentimes, students are not experienced or comfortable disclosing their disability with faculty, administrators, staff or their peers.  At times, SAS may discuss the possible benefits of sharing the impact of their diagnosis. When this is done constructively, it can allow students and faculty to work interactively. This may provide direction for students to demonstrate their knowledge to the best of their ability.

We ask that faculty trust our documentation review process since we approve reasonable and appropriate accommodations and services only for students with documented disabilities.  Please see Documentation Guidelines to explain the process we use to determine if a student has a disability.

Why do students only use some of the accommodations in their letter?

Every semester we encourage students to attend classes before requesting accommodations so they can insure that the accommodations fit the course.  For instance, a student with extended time on tests may not need this accommodation for a seminar class that only has papers and a final project or presentation in class.  At times, students choose to include all of their accommodations on the letter so faculty are informed of the scope of possibilities or if they are unsure it will be needed due to the varying nature of their condition.

What is the best way to recommend students to SAS ?

Please have students call SAS at 802-656-7753 or email access@uvm.edu for an appointment.  We additionally provide Informational Sessions that share resources with students who think they may have a disability even if they have never been diagnosed with a disability.

I have a strict rule about no use of laptops in my class. A student sent me an accommodation letter that says they can use a laptop. Must I make the accommodation?

If you receive an accommodation letter listing use of a computer as an accommodation, SAS believes that the accommodation is reasonable and appropriate.  However, please contact SAS at 802-656-7753 or email access@uvm.edu to discuss the situation if you are concerned that the accommodation of use of computer/adaptive software in class is impeding an essential component of your course.  For instance, a student with vision loss may need a laptop in class to enlarge the power points or other class materials.

I am a new faculty member and a student sent me a letter asking for notes and extra time on a test.  How do I learn about working with students with disabilities?

Please click on our faculty web page to review the various ways that SAS supports faculty.  Also, please set an appointment with an SAS staff member at 802-656-7753 or email access@uvm.edu to discuss ways we can work together to work with students with disabilities.

Why do some students have no penalty on spelling/grammar errors on in-class writing assignments or tests?

This accommodation allows students with specific disabilities, such as dyslexia to demonstrate mastery of the course content without being penalized for spelling and/or grammar errors.  This accommodation does not apply if students are able to work outside of class on assignments or have take-home exams where they have time to process the information and/or are able to use adaptive technology.  Additionally, students taking a foreign language are strongly encouraged to communicate directly with their course instructor when it pertains to this accommodation.

Can I require students to give me their letters in the first 2 weeks of class?

Per federal law and regulations, people with disabilities can request accommodations at any time. Additionally, people may be newly diagnosed with a disability. This sometimes means that students will identify themselves as a student with disability throughout the academic year.  As a result, students can present accommodation letters to faculty at any time during the semester.  However, accommodations are not retroactive, so we encourage students to identify themselves as soon as possible in the semester if possible.

Why did the student begin the semester with accommodations that were later changed mid-semester?

Sometimes students have disabilities that are impacted by various circumstances, such as hospitalization, treatment, and/or unexpected manifestation of symptoms.  Additionally, some students have episodic conditions that are unpredictable in both occurrence and duration and cannot know if/when they may be impacted. As a result, accommodations may have to be adjusted to support the variable condition the student could face throughout the academic year.

Exam Proctoring Center: EPC (Faculty)

What if a student has given me an accommodation letter for exam accommodations, but has not scheduled to take an exam in the Exam Proctoring Center (EPC)--do I need to do anything?

Students are responsible to request their testing accommodations through the myACCESS student portal.  Once a student requests a time to take a quiz, test, or exam in the EPC, faculty will automatically receive an email telling them about the specifics of the request.  We do encourage faculty to meet with the students who submit accommodation letters, but it is up to the student to request the meeting.  You are not obligated to meet with the student until they approach you; however, some students may find it difficult to ask to meet with professors.  Anything you can do to encourage students to meet with you would be appreciated.

How do I give extended time for pop quizzes and/or iclicker questions?

We encourage faculty to speak with those students with disabilities who submit accommodation letters to determine what would work best for everyone.  Faculty may be able to offer extended time on pop quizzes in a quiet location near their classroom, which may meet the needs of your students.  As an alternative, faculty might want students to use the EPC, since we can help facilitate pop quizzes.  Iclicker questions need to be seen as part of an accommodation if you are using them to grade students.  Please contact SAS at either 802-656-7753 or access@uvm.edu to discuss possible options.

I already give all my students double time for quizzes in the class--isn't that enough?

We encourage faculty who offer double time on all quizzes in class to speak to students with extended time accommodations since this arrangement may meet students’ needs.  However, if you are giving all students double time, this adjustment does not meet the requirement of a testing accommodation for a student with a disability.  It is possible that the student who is eligible for double time on quizzes might request their accommodation on top of the double time you are allowing for all students.  In this case, we would need to provide this accommodation to the student in question.   Most of the time, students with disabilities find it workable to have faculty who offer alternative approaches within the classroom that benefit all students.

I would like to proctor exams in my office.  How do I do that if students have use of word processor or exams in audio format?

We would encourage faculty to use the EPC if a student has use of a word processor during an exam or uses an audio format for exams.  The EPC has computers that only allow students to use word processing software with no access to the Internet.  Usually, the spell check function is allowed for this accommodation.  We also can provide the audio format you need for the test or exam through technology provided in the EPC.

How do I give extended time for online exams?

You would do the same thing you do with an in-class exam in order to provide extended time on an online exam.  If you allow students half a day to complete an online exam, you would give a student 3/4s of a day to complete an exam online if they have 1.5 extended time.  You would allow a full day if a student has 2.0 extended time.  You also may want to connect with the Center for Teaching and Learning to discuss ways to implement testing supports for students.  This time extension for online exams is related to how much time the student can actively sit and take the exam NOT to the number of days the exam is available online.

I do not want students taking an exam on a different day than the rest of the class, but a student tells me they need to in order to utilize extended time (because of conflicts with consecutive classes) or because of an accommodation around rescheduling of an exam if they have more than one per day.  What do I do?

Please contact us in the EPC at 802-656-5767 and SAS at 802-656-7753 to discuss your options.  A student can only schedule exams outside of the set class time with faculty permission.  If a student requests to take a test or exam outside of the set class time with the EPC, we will send them to faculty before proceeding with the testing accommodation.

I provide students the opportunity to ask questions during exams. What do I do for students taking exams in the EPC?

Unfortunately, faculty will not be physically available to answer questions during exams for students using the EPC.   Of course, we will place a call to faculty for guidance if necessary.  We encourage faculty to give the EPC their contact information for how they can be reached during an exam if a student has a question.

Exams/Quizzes-reschedule if ill: how is "ill" defined? How do I know that this is disability related or if the student is thinking this pertains to a sore throat, etc?

This situation can be difficult for faculty and students to document.   If students use the Student Health Center for medical treatment or experience exacerbations of their diagnosis, they will not be able to get a note to verify that they were ill.  We find that most students hesitate to use this accommodation unless required.  If faculty members see a pattern develop with a student that does not appear appropriate, please let the SAS Staff member listed on the student’s accommodation letter know so that we can collaborate, inquire about, and work through the situation. The illness that allows a student to reschedule an exam needs to be related to their disability.  If there is any question about this faculty can ask the SAS specialist for verification.

Can I give the students taking the exam at the EPC a different version of the exam?

Most of the time, students are scheduled to take an exam at the EPC at the same time as their class.  However, if a student has to take an exam at another time than the class, the professor can give students with disabilities who use the EPC a different version of the exam.  If you are substantially changing the format of the exam, we encourage you to share these changes with the student.

Note Taking Program (Faculty)

How do I request a Peer Note Taker in my course?

When an SAS Student in your course requests a Peer Note Taker, you will receive an automated email with instructions. Please share our suggested announcement to the class (in person, via Blackboard and/or email, etc.) and direct interested students to register to become a Peer Note Taker by selecting the Note Takers icon on the myACCESS Student Portal.
How To's for Students, Faculty and Note Takers are available on our website for greater details regarding requesting a note taker and note taker registration. Incentives for Peer Note Takers can also be found on our website.

What if I have a TA for a course who will be providing notes for SAS students?

If you have a TA in your course who will be providing notes for the semester, please have them visit the myACCESS Student Web Portal and fill out the registration form with their contact information to enter their name into our system.

Then, either you or the TA should email myACCESS@uvm.edu with the course and section for which the TA will be providing TA notes for.

  • We will manually add this course to the TA’s list of eligible courses for which the TA will provide notes.  Since the TA is not enrolled as a student in the course, that course will not automatically populate in the list of courses for which they are available to become a Note Taker.
  • This course will then be available for the TA to view and upload notes on the Notetaker Courses page via the myACCESS Student Web Portal.

What if it is a few weeks into the semester and there is still no Note Taker available for my course?

Please email notes@uvm.edu with the course information.  We will work with faculty to facilitate the process of finding a Note Taker for that course.
Typically, once a Note Taker is found and selected for a course they will submit ALL notes from prior class sessions, so even if a Note Taker is not selected for a few weeks, students should still have access to the notes for the time in which there was no Note Taker available.

What is the difference between peer notes, professional notes, and TypeWell transcripts?  If I have a student using TypeWell transcripts, do I still need to ask for a peer note taker?

SAS generally recommends the accommodation of peer note taker for a student who is able to take notes independently but could benefit from comparing or supplementing their personal notes with that of another note taker.  A professional note taker is put in place when it is imperative that the note taker is always present, has high caliber notes, and is able to type the notes for legibility/accessibility.  Often we will utilize our best peers to serve as professional note takers.

TypeWell transcripts do not take the place of a note taker since the transcription from this process is very long and does not always meet the needs of all students requesting potentially different types of notes in your course.  Usually, students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing are eligible for the accommodation of TypeWell notes.  We can offer the TypeWell option to the other students in class, but usually they opt for a note taker since the notes can be easier to comprehend as compared to the document produced by TypeWell.

A student with note taking as an accommodation often does not attend class and will not respond to my emails.  Do I still need to provide the student with a note taker?

A student with note taking as an accommodation is required to attend class unless they are ill or impacted by their disability making it impossible for them to attend class.  Please contact the SAS staff member listed on the accommodation letter of the student at 802-656-7753 or the email provided on the letter if you find that a student is not attending class.  SAS staff can work with faculty to determine if the attendance issues are due to a student’s diagnosis and make recommendations based on the circumstances and best practices.

Captioning (Faculty)

I often don't finalize my class plans until the last minute, so can't send my videos for captioning on time.  Is it ok for me to send them later and have the student view them at a later date?

If you have a student in your class who needs videos captioned in order to have equal access to course information, it is not acceptable for you to send the videos later for the student to view at a time different from the rest of the class.  It would be best to adjust your class calendar to have the videos captioned before showing the videos to the class.  Please contact ASP Services at 802-656-5537  or myaccess@uvm.edu to discuss ways we can assist faculty in managing captioned videos.  We can also discuss software packages that allow faculty to caption their own videos.

What is Closed Captioning (CC)?

Closed captioning is the process of displaying text on a television, video screen, or other visual display to provide additional or interpretive information, allowing the viewer(s) to understand the dialogue and action of a program at the same time.
Closed captions were created to assist in comprehension for Deaf or Hard of Hearing viewers. Closed captions can also be used as a tool by those learning to read, learning to speak a non-native language, or in an environment where the audio is difficult to hear or is intentionally muted. Captions can also be used by viewers who simply wish to read a transcript along with the program audio.

What is the difference between open and closed captioning?

Closed captioning is a process of displaying text on a screen where specifically encoded text is placed onto video or other media for the benefit of Deaf or Hard of Hearing viewers.  Closed captioning can be turned on or off by the viewer and requires a closed caption decoder to be activated in order to view the captions on the monitor/television.  Open captioning is a process by which text is added to video or other media that is a written translation of the media’s dialogue. Unlike closed captioning, open captions require no special decoding equipment for viewing on televisions or monitors and are always displayed and cannot be turned off.

What is the difference between subtitles and captioning?

Captioning is text that appears on a video, which contains dialogue and audio cues such as music or sound effects that occur off-screen. The purpose of captioning is to make video content accessible to those who cannot access the audio content of the video, such as Deaf or Hard of Hearing viewers, and for other situations in which the audio cannot be heard due to environmental noise or a need for silence.  Subtitling is text that appears on a video and typically contains only a transcription (or translation) of the dialogue.

Is my film already captioned?

If your film has the Closed Captioning (CC) icon  losed caption (CC) icon on the package, it is closed captioned. However, not all captioned films have this icon.  If you are unsure of whether or not a film is captioned, you may bring the VHS/DVD to Media Resources, located in the basement of Bailey-Howe Library, to have it checked, prior to submitting a request for captioning.

What if my film claims to be captioned, but I cannot see the captions on the screen?

Check the setting on the DVD player to ensure captions are enabled.  If they are enabled, but you still cannot see captions, contact Media Resources to request a closed caption decoder in the classroom.

What is the best software to play digital captioned files?

We recommend downloading VLC Media Player, a free and open source cross-platform multimedia player and framework that plays most multimedia files as well as DVDs, Audio CDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols.