Frequently Asked Questions

The following questions are a quick resource for faculty working with students with disabilities. Though, because some questions can be complex and situational, we highly encourage you to contact our office for additional information and support. SDS can be reached by phone at 941-487-4637, by email at or in person in HCL 3.

When in doubt, reach out! SDS is a resource for faculty as well as students!

A student with flexible attendance has missed a number of classes which I find to be unreasonable. Am I able to hold the student accountable?

If the student has exceeded the reasonable number of absences you initially established upon receiving the accommodation letter, you are able to hold the student accountable (ex: UNSAT based on attendance)?

Explanation: Though faculty should be flexible with the attendance policy, you are not required to alter any essential functions of the course.

Factors to Consider:

  • Do student contributions in class constitute a significant component of the learning process?
  • Is there classroom interaction between the instructor and students and among students?
  • Does the fundamental nature of the course rely on student participation as an essential method for learning?
  • To what degree does a student’s failure to attend constitute a significant loss to the educational experience of other students in the class?
  • What are the classroom practices and policies regarding attendance?

How do I determine the reasonableness of an extension for a student with extended due dates as an accommodation?

Factors to Consider:

  • What are the essential course requirements?
  • Does the fundamental nature of the course rely upon timely completion of assignments as an essential method of learning?
  • Would an extension (or multiple extensions) fundamentally alter the course?

Important Notes:

  • The student should request the extension in a timely manner.
  • If an extension is granted, specific information should be communicated about the revised due date and time.
  • Extensions should usually be short, which is, a matter of a day or two, depending on the course and the assignment. Consult with SDS.

Can a student request accommodations after the fact?

No. (Accommodations are not retroactive)

If a student takes a test prior to providing the faculty the Accommodation Letter, the faculty does not have to let the student re-test using extended time.

If a student misses multiple classes prior to obtaining an accommodation for flexible attendance policies, the absences are not considered part of an accommodation. Therefore, student should be penalized in the same way as any other student.

Who is responsible for determining appropriate accommodations?

Student Disability Services (SDS) determines appropriate/reasonable accommodations. The decision is based upon documentation collected from a student with a disability and the student’s functional limitations.

Are all students with disabilities registered with SDS?

No. It is possible that many students with disabilities have chosen not to register with SDS or have met the eligibility criteria for services. Faculty are advised to not provide accommodations to a student who is not registered with SDS.

What would be the best way to inform students in the class of accommodations and services offered by SDS?

It is important that all faculty put a statement about accommodations in their syllabus. The statement should include the correct contact information for our office.

Example: “Students in need of academic accommodations for a disability may consult with the office of Students Disability Services (SDS) to arrange appropriate accommodations. Students are required to give reasonable notice prior to requesting an accommodation. Students may request an appointment with SDS in-person (HCL3), via phone at 941-487-4496 OR via email at”

Am I required to provide exam accommodations to students who request it?

Yes. Students with disabilities are protected under federal laws which require that qualified students with disabilities get equal access to an education.

A student has asked for accommodations. How do I know the student truly has a disability and needs accommodations?

SDS sends all Accommodation Letters (for registered/approved students) directly to faculty via email. You may also ask the student to provide you with a copy of their letter verifying their accommodations. SDS maintains files containing documentation and approval letters for each student registered with our office.

I have a student in class who identified as having a disability. However, since that time the student has never requested any accommodations. Am I still responsible for providing accommodations?

No. You are only responsible for reasonable accommodations if requested. SDS recommends that in situations such as this, it may be appropriate to speak to the student privately to discuss reasonable accommodations if the student is interested.

What are some of the types of exam accommodations available to students with disabilities?

All exam accommodations are based upon the student’s functional limitations and the documentation of disability that the student has provided SDS. Some of these accommodations include: extra time for exams (usually 50% extra time but in some cases as much as double time), a reader or scribe (a person who writes the student’s answers), a computer, an enlarged exam, a distraction-reduced space.

A student with a disability has requested to take an exam at SDS. How can I be assured that my exam will be safe and that the student will get no unfair advantage?

SDS has developed a systematic and secure procedure for getting exams from faculty and returning them once the student has taken the exam. There is very rigid checking in and checking out procedures for exams, and students are only able to use materials specified by faculty on the Exam Request Form. All exams held at SDS are kept in a locked file. While students are taking the exam, they are observed closely via a video monitoring system. SDS staff intervenes immediately upon witnessing any indication of cheating. If a student is caught cheating, SDS staff stops the exam and contacts faculty.

Students with disabilities ask me to fill out an “Exam Request Form.” I don’t mind if they use exam accommodations, but do I have to fill out that form?

Yes! We cannot schedule exam accommodations in our Testing Center or administer exams to students without the Exam Request Form being completed and signed by their faculty. It is important to meet with the student requesting to use their exam accommodations at SDS to fill the sheet out together. Completing the Exam Request Form is essential to ensuring SDS administers the exams using your specific requirements for the administration of the exam. You may also opt to administer the exam yourself to the student, either in the classroom or an alternative space; depending on the student’s accommodation(s). If you unable to provide appropriate accommodations or are unsure about what is appropriate, please work with SDS to ensure that the student’s accommodation needs are met.

Is it important for me to choose the books I intend to use for my class(s) early?

Yes! Students need to be able to listen to taped or scanned textbooks at the same time as others in the class. By delaying the selection of textbooks, SDS may not be able to get books converted to an appropriate format in a timely fashion. This means that students may have to start the semester without access to their textbooks. This can easily contribute to a student getting behind or failing a class. It can take weeks to obtain an audio format of a book from a small publishing company. In some instances, audio versions cannot be obtained. In order to provide accommodations in a reasonable timeframe, SDS must convert the books manually. It takes a trained reader at SDS over an hour to read ten pages of a textbook.

Am I required to have an interpreter or captioner in my class for a deaf student?

Yes. You are required by law to have what is essential for the student to have equal access to an education, and this includes a sign language interpreter or captioner.

A student with a disability has asked me for a copy of my notes and overheads. Do I have to give this to the student?

Some students with disabilities have difficulty taking notes. Sometimes faculty notes are only a brief outline of the actual lecture given. It is important that you assist the student in getting access to class notes. You may also suggest that the student request a note taker through SDS. If you have a TA in class who takes notes, these notes may be another option. Creating website guided notes for the class is another option. It may also be appropriate for some students to tape a class.

I have a student who is having difficulty in my class. I think this student may have a disability. What should I do to help the student?

Talk privately with the student to discuss your observations. If the student reveals a disability and is registered with SDS, suggest that the student talk the Director of SDS.

Am I required to lower the standards of a required assignment because the student has a disability?

No. The standards should be the same for all students; however, some students with disabilities may exhibit their knowledge, production, and other course expectations differently than their peers. For example, a student with a learning disability in writing may produce an essay exam by using a computer or scribe rather than writing out an answer without the use of accommodations. The quality of the work should be the same.

I have a student with a disability getting behind in their schoolwork. This student is missing a number of classes and has not handed in several assignments. Although the student is utilizing accommodations, they are unsatisfying the course. Do I have a right to UNSAT a student with a disability?

You have the right to UNSAT a student with a disability. Their work should be equivalent their peers. It may be a good idea to discuss your observations with this student just as you would with anyone else in your class who is experiencing difficulty.

Do I have any recourse if I disagree about requested accommodations?

To clarify any disagreement about a requested accommodation, you should contact Marra Piazza Brass, the Director of SDS, at 941-487-4637.

Connect with Student Disability Services

SDS is a resource for both students and faculty!

Faculty may request consultations with SDS regarding student disability services, discuss accommodations, specific classroom situations and more.

Visit the SDS webpage for additional information.

Location: HCL3 (Hamilton Classrooms)

SDS Phone: 941-487-4637
SDS email:

Director of Student Disability Services:
Marra Piazza Brass

Coordinator, Student Disability Services:
Sarah Darancou