Common Classroom and Exam Accommodations

Student Accessibility Services (SAS) is charged with collecting appropriate disability-related documentation and identifying academic accommodations for eligible students with disabilities. Collaboration with faculty is often necessary and important in discussing what may be reasonable in a particular situation.

Students with disabilities are expected to meet the same standards, requirements and expectations of the course. Accommodations allow for “equal access” and “equal opportunity."

While there is no "list" of accommodations, some of the more common ones are noted and explained below. Accommodations are based on the impact(s) of the disability, the essential elements of the program/activity and discussion with the student. They are determined on a case-by-case basis.

View Student Academic Accommodations


Accommodations : To comply with federal law and policy with respect to students with documented disabilities, please be aware of the following:

  • Accommodations are only to be provided to students registered with Student Accessibility Services (SAS) and from whom you have received a letter of accommodation.
  • Accommodations for exams and other course performance evaluations should occur on the same day and in the same format as for all other students, unless an alternate format is required by the accommodation.
  • It is faculty responsibility to schedule and provide the exam/test/quiz at an alternative time if the student may not be accommodated at the same time as all other students.
  • Exams and all other evaluations of performance must be the same as what is provided to all others in the course (i.e. no harder nor in a different format, unless that format is required by the accommodation). Examinations given at alternate times are not to be considered make-up examinations.
  • A dropped exam policy may only be applied to an accommodated exam if the student chooses that option.
  • An accommodation requiring a notetaker, or other means of taking notes, must be allowed. This applies to students recording and/or using iPad/laptop for taking notes.

Absences from courses with attendance policies:  In some cases, students with disabilities may have disability-related absences. To the extent possible without compromising learning in the class, those absences should not be counted as violating the attendance policy. Students remain responsible for any missed work.

Proctoring:  SAS provides proctoring support for students requiring assistive technology. For all other accommodations requiring alternate test administration (distraction-reduced, extended time, etc.), faculty are responsible for seeking solutions and should request the assistance of their departments in locating rooms and proctors if necessary.  Note: Under some circumstances, the college dean’s office will assist with locating space and providing funds for student proctors. 

 

Click on the accommodation below for more information...

By phone at 603-862-2607 (TTY Users: 7-1-1 or  800-735-2964 for Relay NH) or via email at sas.office@unh.edu

Accommodation as cited in the Accommodation Letter:

  • Student will need to use Assistive Tech (AT) during the exam.
  • Noise-cancelling headphones; or music/CD (pre-determined & reviewed).

What this means:

A computer and/or assistive technology allows a student to access materials, communicate effectively or demonstrate knowledge without the limiting impact(s) of the disability.
Examples of how a student may use (assistive) technology:

(1) word  processor with spell-check and/or grammar-check (address issues of language-based learning disabilities)    
(2) text/screen reader -- ability to hear text read aloud (address visual/reading disabilities) (may also use a human reader)
(3) voice recognition -- ability to speak/dictate text in place of typing or writing (address mobility and/or dyslexia/learning disabilities) (may also use a human scribe)
(4) e-text on computer -- ability to re-format for visual clarity (i.e. larger print/magnification; adjust text/background contrast, white space, etc.)

White noise machine or use of an audio CD are also viable considerations. These accommodations (especially a CD) should be reviewed and approved prior to being used. SAS has an Assistive Technology Lab where these accommodations may be provided; however, the instructor or student may also have access to these tools and the ability to implement them within the academic department.

It is always preferred that a human reader or scribe be provided within the academic department to ensure appropriate and effective communication of content language, terms and concepts. This also allows the instructor an opportunity to address exam questions that may arise. While SAS may provide a reader/scribe in the SAS department, we may not have the content knowledge to answer any clarifying exam questions.

 

Accommodation as cited in the Accommodation Letter:

  • Accept assignments beyond the deadline (within reason) or provide advance notice. Advance notice should allow the student the ability to begin the work earlier to compensate for the extra time needed to complete the work.
  • Absences due to the disability may occur unexpectedly. The student is responsible for the work and may need to coordinate with the instructor on how to complete/make-up missed work . For excessive absences and/or in the event of a conflict between an attendance or missed exam policy, please call 603-862-0830. 

What this means:

Attendance and flexibility with deadlines are accommodations intended to address when or how a student is able to meet the established work requirements.
The following must first be determined:

  • what was missed
  • if there is a way for the student to get/make-up what was missed
  • whether it is an “essential element” of the course
  • if the accommodation would be considered a “fundamental alteration” to the nature of the course

Students need to be able to demonstrate mastery of the course based on evaluation of performance as outlined in the assessment rubric. A good faith effort is expected to identify ways in which a student may make-up/complete missed work that is “essential”. An example is missing a lab. Can that lab be set-up again, done during another available lab time, done online or in a virtual environment or accomplished via a comparable ‘dry’ lab? What is feasible is determined by the instructor. Generally, labs, group work and highly interactive activities are considered “essential." If there is no way to accommodate these missed activities, no allowance for absence is required.

Students are expected to attend class. SAS emphasizes the importance of attendance and the potential impact of missing in-class information/ instruction/discussion, as well as impacting performance on exams/papers. Too many absences may prevent successful completion of the course even with accommodation, and in some cases the accommodation may be unreasonable or infeasible. If absence(s) occur due to the nature of the disability, the student is still responsible for the information and work missed. While the absence(s) themselves may have no negative impact on grading/evaluation, they may impact performance on exams and other assignments and thereby be reflected in the student’s grade.

In courses where attendance is “essential” to the nature of the teaching pedagogy and class dynamics, flexibility with absences may be considered unreasonable. This accommodation often necessitates a conversation between the instructor and SAS to discuss the “essential” threshold, as defined by legal decisions in OCR and court cases.

Extension of deadlines should be avoided. Students are informed of the precariousness of extensions and the rippling effect it may have. Ample advance notice (and ability to act) attempts to address this need. Oftentimes, information, direction or instruction is missing which prevents the student from starting the work earlier.

Points to consider if an extension is deemed necessary:

  • how it fits into the overall configuration of the course (stand-alone vs. basis for other work)
  • whether information will be available that advantages the student
  • delay in feedback and impact to student and/or class
  • impact on group work or interaction with others

Deadlines may become an issue for a student, where it would be a non-issue otherwise, when multiple assignments coincide (e.g., papers, exams). Also, periods of exacerbation of a disability/condition may impact/ limit the student's time available to complete the expected work.

 

Accommodation as cited in the Accommodation Letter:

  • Video and/or audio record lectures.
  • Smart Pen (or other mobile device) to assist with notetaking.
  • Use of laptop, tablet, iPad to assist in independent notetaking. 

What this means:

Recording lectures is a means of capturing information for subsequent individual academic use and review to accommodate a disability and facilitate learning. Faculty concerns about appropriate use should be discussed with the student, and may include drafting a 'Use Agreement' outlining the scope and purpose of the recordings. (A sample 'Use Agreement' is available from SAS - email your request to sas.office@unh.edu

There are occasions where recording may be inappropriate, such as sharing of private or confidential information. In these cases, an alternative may need to be discussed with the student and/or SAS. Absent such occasions, the accommodation should be allowed even in light of a "no laptops or mobile device use" policy.

 

Accommodation as cited in the Accommodation Letter:

  • Use of a computer/word processor to most effectively express ideas/thoughts.
  • To ensure the opportunity to accurately and consistently self-identify errors, allow a test proctor (or use of AT) to read back what is written. Auditory feedback aids in identifying errors.
  • Exams may need to be read (text-to-speech software OR human reader).
  • Scribe – assistance in writing answers. Test proctor will transcribe answers as directed by the student. 

What it means:

Students may use a word processor/computer to type in situations where written expression is affected. This can be a classroom and/or an exam accommodation. Oftentimes, proof-reading features (i.e. spelling, grammar check) are part of this accommodation.  
Use of a computer may also mitigate issues of dexterity or ability to "write" vs. type, both for legibility as well as organization and efficiency.

See "Assistive Technology" above for additional information.

Accommodation as cited in the Accommodation Letter:

  • Distraction reduced environment. Provide a quiet testing environment with minimal distraction. This may allow for up to 5 people depending on the space and configuration.
  • Provide a separate testing environment (room). 

What it means:

A separate setting for taking an exam rarely necessitates a student be alone in a separate room. The SAS accommodation letter will generally state such a need explicitly. Some accommodations, such as reading aloud or oral exams, do require a separate space. Additional circumstances may necessitate an evaluation of the need for a separate room on a case-by-case basis. 

As no environment is “distraction-free," the intent is to minimize the distractions of noise, movement and disruption. An unkempt space may be as distracting as an office where phones ring or people come and go. Taking an exam in the hallway is almost never acceptable. Taking an exam where 5-10 other people are taking the exam under similar conditions may be acceptable. Evaluation of the space and configuration is important in this assessment.

We recognize testing space on campus is limited. SAS is committed to working with faculty, departments, Deans’ offices and administration to address this need. Providing the accommodation is the "University's" responsibility. We all share in its effective implementation.

Accommodation as cited in the Accommodation Letter:

  • Extended time: All formats of exams, quizzes
  • Extended time: Exams, quizzes involving reading
  • Extended time: Multiple Choice exams, quizzes
  • Extended time: Where writing is required in class
  • Extended time: Exams, quizzes with math or math-related tasks

What it means:

Extended time is meant to address in-class (or online) assessment that has a timed element. Exams or other assignments that are available and to be completed within a pre-established timeframe (i.e. a week) are still expected to be completed within that period, save extenuating circumstances.

Typically, students may receive 50% or 100% additional time in order to accommodate processing speed, reading comprehension, cognitive fluency, working with another person (scribe/ reader) or use of assistive technology (such as voice recognition or text and screen reading software).

The extended time is an accommodation and, as such, should never prevent a student from meeting other academic obligations (i.e., another class). While taking the exam on the same day at the same time is expected, it may be necessary to adjust when it is taken based on the student’s (and faculty) schedule(s). The exam should not be treated as a make-up, be more difficult or be in a different format (unless indicated as an accommodation).

Ideally, the student is able to begin and complete the exam in the same location. The disruption of moving and/or changing environments may have a negative effect given the nature of the disability. Whether the student is able to take the exam with the class and then move (before or after) will necessitate a conversation with the student. The SAS accommodation letter will rarely be so specific and explicit as to dictate how  this accommodation is provided.

Accommodation as cited in the Accommodation Letter:

  • Provide access to copies of visually presented material (overheads, notes, ppt). Providing the material in an electronic format allows the student to utilize AT software to access it in the necessary means – large print, braille, text-to-speech, color contrast, etc. Making it available prior to the day of use allows the student to use it as a point of reference and structure.
  • Provide enlarged copies of materials in print and/or electronic format (handouts, exams, etc).
  • Notetaker: Peer in classroom.
  • Smart Pen (or other mobile device) to assist with notetaking.
  • Use of laptop, tablet, iPad to assist in independent notetaking. 

What it means: 

Notes are an important part of condensing and assimilating information. It can be a skill and an effective learning tool. Rarely, however, is it an “essential element” of a course that is required and part of a student’s performance evaluation in mastery of the course.

For students unable to effectively take notes independently, provision of notes creates access to the material presented in class. Powerpoints, overheads and outlines may be provided. Generally, these provide an overview, but may have additional information added during lectures (i.e., ‘notes’). This information is also important for the student.

A myriad of options exist to address this need. Common practice is to record (LiveScribe pen, iPad, app, other) or have an in-class peer notetaker (paid by SAS) take notes and provide them to the student. The implementation may vary based on working around  the student's disability. Emerging practices include:

            (1) lecture capture (video, audio, transcription/captions of the lectures)
            (2) community of notetaking (students share in notetaking responsibility and pool notes)
            (3) volunteers in the spirit of community service (one or more student(s) assume responsibility)
            (4) an Honors student or TA/GA (a more selective and reliable source)

In the above examples, notes may be made available to all  students and serve as a reference for instructors regarding what has been covered. They may also be used in quiz/exam construction and/or pacing of the course. The focus is on course configuration vs. accommodation. In situations where a Notetaker is still necessary, SAS will utilize the class roster to solicit a peer notetaker (for hire or volunteer). Volunteer hours will be tracked, and a ‘certification of hours’ provided at the end of the semester to acknowledge the Community Service hours.

Students with disabilities are encouraged to take notes independently, even cursory notes, as a way to engage in class, have their own perspective/voice in what is noted and assume responsibility in the learning process. Students are also referred to CFAR for additional academic support.

Accommodation as cited in the Accommodation Letter:

  • Accessible furniture in room – please help ensure it remains and is available to the student.
  • Preferential seating. 

What it means: 

This accommodation is to allow the student proximal seating to the instructor, interpreter or exit in order to mitigate issues related to the disability. It may also involve placing furniture (table, chair) in a classroom.

Group dynamics and configuration of the room should be considered when preferential seating is a factor. It is important to ensure inclusion and equitable participation for all students.

Students with mobility issues may be limited in where and how movement occurs within the space. Students utilizing an interpreter/CART may be prevented from watching and/or tracking others in lieu of watching the interpreter/CART.

 

Accommodation as cited in the Accommodation Letter:

  • Student uses an Assistive Listening Device or FM hearing system. The student will provide you a wireless microphone to use (except in large classrooms equipped with Assistive Listening Systems).
  • Speak directly to the student. Be clear, direct and literal to avoid confusion, misunderstanding.
  • Sign language interpreter(s). The role of the interpreter is a conduit for communication, not a participant or information source.
  • Student uses a speech-to-text transcriptionist (provided by SAS). Be aware that the role of the CART reporter is a conduit for communication. We may ask you to wear a microphone which will only be heard by the CART reporter. The student may need an internet connection and be proximal to an electrical outlet.
  • Use only closed captioned videos/films/YouTube materials. If uncaptioned (or unsure) contact SAS. A secondary, less effective option is to provide a transcript or allow the student to borrow the video/film/etc.
  • Sign Language Interpreter for exams. 

What it means: 

Students who are Deaf/HoH (Hard of Hearing) are provided an effective means of accessing lectures based on their individual communication and English language skills.

Students using interpreters/CART make these arrangements through SAS.

Please see our "Suggestions for Working Effectively with Interpreters and CART Reporters" for tips on etiquette, the interpreter's role and how to address the presence of an interpreter/CART reporter in the classroom. Any questions should be discussed with SAS.

Accommodation as cited in the Accommodation Letter:

  • Student uses alternative format (e-text/audio) course materials. When possible, provide the material (exam, handouts, textbooks, etc.) in an electronic format (Word Doc or searchable PDF) such that the student can utilize the material with Assistive Technology software in the desired accessible format (i.e. large print, braille, screen read audio, adjusted color/contrast/white space). Print materials (textbooks, handouts, course packets, etc.) need to be identified and/or provided in advance to ensure that the student and/or SAS have ample time to acquire or convert materials to an accessible digital format. A minimum of 7-10 days lead time is requested.  
  • Early access to course syllabus to allow organization, familiarity and preparation. 

What it means:

A student with a "print disability"  due to vision, mobility, dyslexia or other disability, which limits the student's ability to effectively access printed materials, may require reading materials in an alternate format (i.e. audio, large print, braille or e-text) as an accommodation.   

Faculty should identify and post the required textbook(s) information on the UNH Booklist and UNH Bookstore web portals early so that students and SAS have time to acquire and/or create the alternate format prior to the start of classes. 

Students may obtain alternate formats through existing resources such as VitalSource, CafeScribe, Bookshare, Amazon, Audible, LibriVox and others. SAS will assist students in this independent search process. If an appropriate format is not readily available for purchase, SAS will request a digital copy from the publisher or create the accessible format by scanning and digitizing the students textbook(s).This process may take 2-4 weeks depending on the alternate format necessary and the complexity of the reading materials.

Providing access to an electronic copy of the text (i.e. faculty is the author or selecting (OER) Open Educational Resources) affords the student direct access to the material with the appropriate assistive technology tools. Likewise, reading materials posted to MyCourses (Canvas)/Blackboard should be searchable PDF's, Word docs or e-text. 

Caution: not all online publisher or library database materials are "accessible" with assistive technology tools.
Please contact Maureen Bourbeau, Assistive Technology Specialist, for assistance/consultation about online/digital course materials (maureen.bourbeau@unh.edu; 603-862-2400).