All accommodations approved by the DAC are determined on an individual basis. Accommodations provide equal access to learning for disabled students. This page provides information about the most common accommodations approved by the DAC, including some ways the accommodation helps reduce access barriers, suggestions for implementing the accommodation, and universal design strategies that can reduce or eliminate the need for this individual accommodation.
Students with breaks and departures accommodations have permission to leave class for a reasonably brief period of time to address impacts of their disability that may arise during class. “Breaks and departures” is not an attendance accommodation, nor does it permit the student to leave for the remainder of class without returning. Students should have an opportunity to make up missed assignments and/or participation points resulting from their break.
Breaks and departures are approved accommodations when students experience unpredictable and/or urgent medical needs that may need attention during class, when disabilities impact emotional and/or sensory regulation, when disabilities impact executive function, and to help students manage pain.
Deafness/deafness, hearing loss, and other disabilities affect an individual differently in different environments. For example, one may feel confident they understand everything in a smaller classroom, but not in a large lecture hall with poor acoustics. The DAC provides access to campus communication using a variety of methods:
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Tip: To increase access for all students and reduce the need for accommodation, caption all presented video and audio, designate a class notetaker who posts notes to Canvas, and post PowerPoint or presentation slides to Canvas before class.
Create a classroom norm in which students say their name before speaking and speak one at a time.
Allow students to leave the classroom for small group work/breakout sessions in less noisy environments.
Learn about Deaf culture and its expression in the classroom. The National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes provide a number of resources to increase understanding including Deaf 101.
American Sign Language interpretation
The DAC works with HandDancer Interpreter Services to provide American Sign Language interpretation. ASL services can be requested for classes, meetings, campus events, etc.
Live captioning (real-time speech-to-text) services
Live captioning services can be requested for meetings, events, and other campus-affiliated activities. Depending on the student’s needs and the environment, the DAC may hire TypeWell transcriptionists, who produce meaning-for-meaning transcripts, or CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation), which produces a verbatim or word-for-word transcript. In either case, the transcriptionist will attend the class or event virtually or in person to allow students to visually access auditory information.
Using a team of in-house transcriptionists and outsourced services, DAC provides closed captioning and audio description services. Closed captions provide a much higher level of accuracy than automatic captions and fully convey the meaning presented. When a student receives and utilizes closed captioning accommodations, a notification is sent to the instructor requesting that all content be captioned or sent to the DAC so that it can be captioned.
The DAC usually has a three-to-five-day turnaround for processing closed captioning requests, but requests should be submitted as soon as possible to ensure timely access.
Assistive listening devices
The DAC lends FM systems to DAC students who request them. FM systems use radio waves to pass sound from a microphone worn by the speaker to a receiver, which the student can listen through. FM systems helps to reduce background noise, providing clearer audio, which may make it easier for the student to hear.
This accommodation helps to ensure that students have equal access to information presented in the classroom verbally and in writing. Copies of displayed materials is approved as an accommodation when students experience disability-related barriers impacting cognition, executive function, cognition, and/or the ability to read and/or write.
- If PowerPoint slides, notes written on the whiteboard/overhead, or other displayed materials are used in class, the student may request additional access to these materials.
- Additional access may be provided in the form of sharing PowerPoints directly with the student or the opportunity to take pictures of displayed materials.
- When possible, faculty should email the student copies of the PowerPoints before class and allow time for students to take pictures of classroom whiteboards/blackboards.
Students with chronic, episodic conditions may sometimes be too unwell to attend class or submit assignments on time. Chronic, episodic conditions are unpredictable and include inevitable symptom flares, despite ongoing health and time management practices. Attendance-related accommodations work to ensure that disabled students are not disproportionately penalized for symptom flares.
Disability-related absence accommodations sometimes require a course-by-course analysis of the attendance requirements and collaboration between DAC staff and faculty to determine a reasonable modification to their classroom attendance policy.
Limitations of Flex accommodations, agreed-upon modifications to the attendance policy, exam/quiz make ups, methods for submitting assignments, assignment due dates, and instructor notification will be outlined in a Flex Plan form. The student receives a copy of the approved agreement once the instructor and DAC staff agree on a plan.
How to evaluate the reasonableness of attendance flexibility in a class
The Flex Plan should always be considered on an individual class basis, allowing for a diligent and critical analysis of how attendance is essential to the class learning objectives and pedagogical components.
While an attendance policy may be already incorporated into the grading scheme and syllabus, this accommodation is intended to modify any stated attendance policies allowing some flexibility beyond that limit to account for the student’s disability-related need.
The accommodation should be provided unless the accommodation significantly compromises the integrity of the course as offered. If the instructor believes additional absences beyond the stated policy would fundamentally alter the nature or essential elements of the class, then instructors should consult with an access manager to determine reasonability.
To evaluate the extent to which attendance is critical to the essential learning objectives of a class, and to decide whether attendance flexibility can be reasonably implemented, the DAC will guide the faculty through a discussion of the following:
- What does the class description and syllabus say about attendance?
- How is the final class grade calculated? Is attendance factored into the final grade?
- Is the attendance policy consistently applied? (i.e., have there been any exceptions made to the policy for non-disabled students, such as for athletic travel or religious observances? If so, then these exceptions must also be granted to students with disabilities.)
- Is there significant interaction between the instructor and students, and among students? If so, how much?
- Do student contributions and participation in class constitute a significant component of the learning process? (i.e., discussion, presentations, role play, group work)
- To what degree does a student’s failure to attend class compromise the educational experience of other students in the class?
When is attendance flexibility unreasonable?
In general, if the class is mostly lecture based, the in-class experience focuses on reviewing content available in the text or from instructor/peer notes, and involves little student interaction during class, then more flexibility with excused absences and/or participation points is reasonable.
However, there are various classes in which attendance flexibility as an accommodation would not be reasonable. Attendance could be critical to the learning objectives of the class for those that utilize significant in-class participation/interaction as a method of instruction, classes where student learning is created/assessed in the classroom through experiential or conversational means, and classes in which absences would compromise the educational experience of other students in the class. In these situations, less flexibility with excused absences and/or participation points is reasonable.
Considerations to keep in mind when implementing attendance flexibility
- The accommodation does not cover non-disability related illness (such as cold or flu) or other non-disability related reasons why a student is absent.
- Accommodations are not retroactive; instructors are not obligated to adjust previous penalties for absences if an accommodation letter is provided later in the term.
Before the accommodation is in effect, students should use the absences allowed by the faculty’s attendance policy as stated in the class syllabus.
In-class assignments include in-class writing exercises and in-class lab assignments. Students with this accommodation should be given up to 100% additional time to complete in-class assignments and activities.
Short-turnaround assignments are take-home assignments with a turn-around time of up to three (3) days. The instructor should allow the student up to 100% more time. Please note that this accommodation does not apply to longer-term assignments with more than a three-day turnaround.
“Extra time on in-class and short turnaround assignments” accommodations allow some students with disabilities the time they need to benefit from assigned learning activities. This accommodation also allows students the time they need to accurately demonstrate their knowledge. This accommodation is intended to modify any stated class policies about late work to account for the student’s disability-related need.
Examples of disability-related barriers alleviated by this accommodation:
- Students with learning disabilities and/or who are vision impaired or blind need time to work with DAC for conversion of reading assignments to accessible formats and use voice-to-text technology to demonstrate their learning in writing.
- Students with learning disabilities need more time to complete reading assignments, process written information, and demonstrate their learning in writing.
- Students with chronic illnesses or chronic mental health disabilities need flexible assignment deadlines to demonstrate learning as they manage unpredictable, fluctuating symptoms.
- Students with attention deficit disabilities and trauma-related disabilities experience executive function impairments. For these students, capacity for attention and focus fluctuates and flexible deadlines facilitate breaking work into shorter bursts of time.
- Students with acute or chronic injuries like concussion or traumatic brain injury may need frequent rest periods and may need to limit work to short periods.
- Students with acute injury or chronic illness/injuries may experience focus-related barriers due to pain as well as limited stamina and have difficulty sitting, reading, writing/typing for extended periods.
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Tips: Ensure that all readings and assignments are provided in accessible formats. Use DAC’s “Sensus” tool to convert inaccessible documents to more accessible versions.
Provide access to syllabi as early as possible to allow students to work with DAC for conversion of more complex reading materials like textbooks.
Provide copies of PowerPoints and other slideshows in Canvas before class.
Create a classroom norm in which students say their name before speaking and speak one at a time.
Considerations when implementing assignment extensions
- Limits to allowable flexibility are reasonable. Faculty are responsible for safeguarding learning objectives and should contact the DAC promptly after receiving an accommodation notification letter if any concerns in implementing the accommodation exists. “Extra time on in-class and short turnaround assignments” accommodations are not a “free pass” for students to turn in late work.
- Agreed-upon extensions should be specific and limited to a designated amount of time (100% additional time in the case of this accommodation).
- The instructor’s class policy on late work (e.g., 10 points off a grade for each day late) will remain applicable even to students with assignment extension accommodations if students fail to meet the agreed upon extended due date, or if students miss deadlines for non-disability related reasons.
- Students are never required to provide the instructor with a doctor’s note to justify use of this or any other accommodation.
- Accommodations are not retroactive; instructors are not obligated to adjust previous penalties for late work if an accommodation letter is provided after-the-fact.
- Please contact the student’s access manager with questions around in-class labs and/or group assignments.
Notetaking support is provided with a suite of accommodations to address disability-related barriers including:
- Executive dysfunction impacting focus and attention in the classroom.
- Emotional dysregulation impacting focus and attention in the classroom.
- Executive dysfunction or emotional dysregulation impacting the ability to quickly switch attention between information presented in multiple modalities and quickly synthesize that information in the form of personal notes.
- Mobility impairments affecting ability to write or type.
- Learning disabilities affecting ability to access verbal and/or written content, synthesize the content, and quickly create personal notes.
Universal Design Tips:
Increase access for all students and decrease the need for peer notetaking accommodations by designating student(s) or TA(s) in the classroom as notetaker of the day; that student can then post their notes to Canvas.
Post lecture PowerPoints or other presentation slides to Canvas before class.
Classroom notes are inherently subjective and personal. What is interesting or seems relevant to one student may not be for another. The way information is organized within the notes is also highly variable. As a supplement to the notes taken by the student, some students appreciate the alternative perspective offered by peer notetaking accommodations. Peer notetaking sometimes works to fill in a student’s understanding of content or to triangulate salient information.
- Note-taking accommodations are not a replacement for class attendance.
- Note-taking accommodations help remove barriers to learning by improving access to information presented in class.
Peer Notetaking is an appropriate accommodation when a student is unable to write or type. A student may be unable to write or type if they have disabilities impacting hand mobility or use, for example a broken hand, missing limbs, etc. In contrast, if the disability-related barrier only impacts handwriting, the DAC is likely to approve “computer in the classroom” to allow for typed notes.
Audio recording accommodations
Audio recording accommodations are often implemented to alleviate information-processing barriers imposed by attention disorders, mood disorders, trauma-related disorders, and other disabilities. Using audio recording, students access audio classroom content after class, usually in a quieter location, affording students the opportunity to start, stop, slow, or increase the speed needed to adequately process the information and take notes.
Audio recording accommodations are implemented by the student using a variety of devices including a smartphone used as a digital recorder, digital recording devices borrowed from ATUS, and/or DAC-approved technology such as Glean.
Students approved for audio recording accommodations may record classroom audio, including lecture and classroom discussions, to access audio course content. Audio recording outside of the typical classroom experience (including fieldwork, internships, clinicals, etc.) may need to be discussed on a case-by-case basis in collaboration with the instructors, programs, site and/or DAC as appropriate.
Students with this accommodation sign an agreement with the DAC stipulating that these recordings are for personal educational use only, will not be shared, and will be deleted when no longer needed to complete coursework or upon the end of the quarter. Specifically, students agree that:
- Recordings of classes are only for the student’s personal use in study and preparation related to the class.
- The student may not share these recordings with any other person, whether or not that person is in their class.
- The student acknowledges that the recordings are sources, the use of which in any academic work is governed by rules of academic conduct at Western Washington University, in addition to federal copyright laws.
- The student agrees to destroy any recordings that were made when they are no longer needed for their academic work or at the end of the quarter, whichever comes first.
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Tip: Increase access to course material for all students and decrease the need for accommodations by recording Zoom sessions, filming class using Panopto, etc. and posting recordings to Canvas.
What if course discussions may involve self-disclosure of sensitive information?
Faculty may object to recording sensitive classroom discussions, such as those involving sharing of very personal information. If notetaking is not appropriate during these discussions, the instructor might make a general announcement to the class asking all students to stop notetaking, including turning off any recording devices.
What about privacy and intellectual property rights in the classroom?
An individual instructor’s or student's right to privacy or faculty concerns about intellectual property do not override a student’s right to reasonable disability-related accommodations.
Each quarter, students approved for audio recording and/or Glean accommodations sign an agreement that prohibits their distribution of recordings made as part of a DAC-approved reasonable accommodation.
Oral presentation modification and/or limited participation in group activities accommodations may be approved for students with disabilities that impact function during cold-calling sessions, in-class discussions, and/or oral presentations. Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or other disabilities that could impact social engagement often benefit from these accommodations.
Examples of disability-related barriers that may be alleviated with these accommodations:
- Emotional dysregulation in social situations that limit cognition, speech, or other major function.
- Speech production disabilities impacting ability to orate.
- Learning disabilities impacting ability to read aloud extemporaneously.
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Tip: Provide multiple means of participation in discussions including oral participation, extemporaneous participation, written participation, and/or recorded participation.
Allow students to decide if they would like to work in a group or independently.
When considering options for adjusted or alternative assessments, faculty are encouraged to consult with DAC to discuss options relative to the essential learning objectives of the course.
Examples of oral presentation modifications
- 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).
- 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.
- 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 subject matter.
- Student submits a portfolio of evidence demonstrating their mastery of the skill or subject matter.
Accommodations for exams allow students with disabilities to fairly represent their knowledge and skills. Students are expected to take exams within the conditions specified in the faculty notification letter.
Testing accommodations may be used for any timed exam, quiz, or test that is intended to be started and completed in one session. Students may take their in-person exams in the DAC’s Testing Center, located on the first floor of Wilson Library in WL 170D. Upon receiving the accommodation letter from the DAC, the professor is responsible for extending the student’s testing time for all online assessments.
What is a 'testing agreement'?
When a student activates their testing accommodation for a course, the instructor receives a faculty notification letter requesting that they complete a testing agreement. The testing agreement tells the DAC how in-person exams and quizzes should be proctored in the DAC Testing Center.
Testing agreements contain information including the dates/times students may schedule the test and any allowances for the exams (e.g., a calculator, rock samples).
Students are approved for extended time on exams when a disability prevents accurate demonstration of knowledge on timed assessments. For example, students who struggle with executive function, emotional regulation, reading, or writing need more time than their peers to accurately demonstrate their learning. Other students with urgent or unpredictable medical needs use extended time to ensure they’re able to care for their needs while demonstrating their learning.
The most common extensions are 50% (time-and-a-half and 100% (double-time). For example, a student approved for 50% extended testing will have one-and-a half-times the standard classroom testing time. If the class has 60 minutes to take an exam, the accommodated student will have 90 minutes.
Basic 4-function calculator
This accommodation permits the student to use a basic four-function calculator on all math and math-related exams. “Calculator on exams” is usually used to facilitate accurate demonstrations of learning for students with learning disorders impacting the ability to engage in quantitative calculations (i.e., dyscalculia). With use of a calculator, students with learning disabilities may demonstrate their mastery of quantitative concepts.
If students in the class are permitted to use a calculator with advanced functions, the student receiving the accommodation is likewise permitted to use the advanced calculator and is not limited to the basic four-function calculator. If performing basic math functions (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) is an essential learning objective of the course, the professor should contact the Disability Access Center to discuss how best to accommodate the student.
Auxiliary aids include scribes, readers, American Sign Language interpreters, electronic word processors (Microsoft Word, speech-to-text software, and text-to-speech software) and real-time captioning.
- Students with severe visual impairments, spinal cord injury, or limited mobility of hand/arm may need a scribe to write exam answers.
- Students with hearing impairment may need a sign language interpreter or real-time captioner to access oral instructions or oral exam materials.
Students may need to use technology, including computers, to implement some accommodations. In that case, the computer is provided by the DAC and students are unable to access the internet or personal files unless expressly permitted by the instructor in a written Testing Agreement. Otherwise, use of technology for exams, including accessing a computer, is strictly prohibited in the DAC Testing Center unless the instructor has approved use of a computer in the Testing Agreement. Faculty and students are encouraged to contact the DAC with questions.
As an accommodation, the memory aid (i.e., cue sheet) is designed to trigger recall of information that a student knows but struggles to recall due to cognitive processing disabilities. The memory aid allows the student to demonstrate knowledge of course material by helping prompt the student’s memory, not by providing the answer.
Some courses do not lend themselves to the use of memory aids. If remembering specific information on the cue sheet is an essential learning objective/outcome of the course, the memory aid should not be allowed. For example, if the learning objective/outcome of the course is to know the formula, it should not be allowed on the cue sheet; however, if the learning objective/outcome of the course is to demonstrate the ability to apply the formula, then the formula should be allowed on the cue sheet.
Memory aids must be reviewed and approved by the instructor of the course. That’s because the instructor determines the learning objectives and essential learning objectives of the class. Instructors may remove memory cues that are deemed essential learning objectives/outcomes for the course.
Instructors are not responsible for devising/creating memory aids--it is the student’s responsibility to prepare the aid and have it approved by the instructor.
As part of the interactive process to receive accommodations, students meet with DAC to discuss their need for a memory aid. Third party documentation may be required to help the DAC understand the disability and its impact on memory and recall.
When the accommodation is approved, students are provided instruction both verbally and via email to provide the cue sheet to the instructor for review and approval at least 3 business days prior to the test/exam.
- Approves the cue sheet as is, or
- Approves the cue sheet after removing information that they deem inappropriate because it shares an essential learning outcome being assessed, or
- Disallows the cue sheet altogether because all its contents share essential learning objectives/outcomes being assessed.
Testing in the DAC:
Students with memory aid accommodations who take their exams in the DAC Testing Center should get their memory aid signed and dated by the instructor. Faculty are also encouraged to email the memory aid with the exam to further help ensure academic integrity. The memory aid will be returned to faculty together with the completed exam.