Implementation Essentials

When implementing accommodations there some important things to know and some important things to do. This page provides some of the essentials for instructors including:  

Essential Things to Know

When we talk about implementing accommodations, the focus is on a very specific type of support. Accommodations are personalized supports that remove specific barriers with the goal of ensuring an individual can meet essential requirements or perform their job duties. Accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis through an interactive process. The purpose of accommodations is not to change the standards or alter requirements, but instead provide different means of access to the individual. 

Before you implement student accommodations, there are a few things you know. 

All students should be held to the same academic and behavioral standards. Accommodations are intended to provide a different means of accessing that same standard as opposed to changing the standard. If an instructor feels an approved accommodation may change an academic standard, then this should be discussed directly with SAS.

Accommodations are not intended to change essential requirements in a course. The term essential requirements has a specific meaning in the context of accommodations. Generally speaking, essential requirements:

  • Have a clear and specific connection to the purpose and goals of the course.
  • Relate to specific objectives (knowledge, practices, or concepts).
  • Are clearly articulated to all students, often through the syllabus and reinforced through other means of communication.
  • Connect to best practices in the field, and, as appropriate, certification or licensing requirements.
  • Are tied to an assessment component of the course.

If an instructor feels an accommodation would change an essential course requirement, then they should speak with SAS as soon as possible. Instructors cannot unilaterally deny an approved accommodation, but SAS can help to determine whether an accommodation is reasonable in a particular course.  

When approved, accommodations are only applicable moving forward and are not applied retroactively. Accommodations apply at the point of instructor notification. For instance, if a student provides an accommodation letter containing exam accommodations after the first exam is completed, the student cannot go back and retake the exam with the approved accommodations. The student, however, would be allowed exam accommodations on future exams.

Once notified, instructors are expected to apply the accommodations until the semester or course requirements are completed. If the student is approved for an incomplete, the student should still be provided with their accommodations during that time.

Student privacy is an important consideration when working with students who have accommodations. Instructors should keep student accommodation information private. This includes:

  • Keeping student accommodation letters private (they will already be stored in Accommodate)
  • Ensuring communication (both in-person and digital) with the student is private
  • Implementing accommodations in the most private way possible

Privacy may be particularly challenging when implementing accommodations. The reality is that the very nature of some accommodations will mean that total privacy may not be possible. For instance, if a student is approved for a distraction reduced environment for their exams, other students will be aware that the student is not in the exam room. However, even in those instances, all efforts should be made to ensure accommodations are as private as possible.

There are limited circumstances when accommodation information can be shared (as per FERPA regulations), but these circumstances are very limited. For instance, accommodation may be shared with TAs on a need to know basis. If an instructor has questions on what information can be shared and what would be appropriate to share, they should contact SAS.

Students should not send disability specific information (diagnostic data, past 504 Plans or IEPs, clinical evaluations, doctors notes, etc.) to instructors at any time. If this does occur, instructors are encouraged to delete the email, notify the student that the email was deleted, and direct the student to SAS. Instructors should not store student documentation or medical records under any circumstance.

All efforts should be made to respond to student accommodations and requests in a timely manner. This includes:

  • Acknowledging receipt of accommodation letters  
  • Collaborating with the student to create a plan for implementing the accommodations
  • Encouraging instructor-student accommodation conversations
  • Responding to student questions about accommodation implementation
  • Responding to SAS requests related to accommodations

While some accommodations may be more straightforward to implement, there are other accommodations that require additional communication with the student or with SAS. As such, it is important to respond promptly to ensure that students have equal access to learning opportunities.  

It is recommended that interactions with students around accommodations are documented. Generally, this can be done through an email and, as needed, can include SAS ( Situations to consider documenting accommodation interactions include but are not limited to: 

  • Instructors and students create an agreement about how accommodations will be implemented in a course. 
  • There are potential changes to or concerns about how accommodations will be implemented. 
  • The student expresses concerns around accommodations.
  • A referral is made to SAS. 

Instructors should notify students of their rights to accommodations within the course, as well as how accommodations can be requested and implemented. This is generally done through the syllabus statement, but instructors can also make an announcement within the course.
SAS Syllabus Statement 

While some students may specifically require accessible materials as an accommodation, as a standard practice, course materials should be accessible. Accessibility not only benefits students who specifically require it, but ultimately benefits all learners.

Accessibility for course materials may be individualized for some students (for instance, students who use Braille), but there are some general guidelines that instructors should keep in mind when ensuring course materials are accessible:

  • Ensure scanned documents are readable and clean (margins are not skewed, lines are not wavy, etc.)
  • Ensure images have Alt-Text
  • Ensure materials on Canvas are accessible, clearly and consistently labeled, and in a consistent location
  • When possible, provide the permalink (the permanent URL directly to the source materials) to papers, as the permalink often links to a page that includes an accessible option
  • Purchase accessible materials and include accessibility within procurement processes
  • Only use videos that have captions (Please note that auto-captions are often not sufficient)
  • Turn on live captioning options in Zoom or Teams by default (Please note that some students may require more effective captions. SAS will help coordinate these services with instructors.)

Accessible UNH

SAS Accommodation Letters 

An accommodation letter is the official notification of student accommodations. These letters include the accommodations a student has been approved for within your course (students are responsible for activating their letters in Accommodate). You will receive a link to the letter via email, but you can also access accommodation letters directly through Accommodate.  This system allows you to view student letters as well as a list of students' approved accommodations within an individual course. 

It is important to read the student letters carefully. If you have questions about the specific accommodations, you can reach out directly to SAS. 


What Should I Do If I get a Student Accommodation Letter?

Login to Accommodate to Read the Letter

Faculty are notified about student accommodation letters in Accommodate via email. When you receive the email, login to Accommodate. You can then view student letters within the "Accommodation Letters" section. You can also login to Accommodate to check to see if students have sent letters. 


Communicate with the Student about Their Accommodations 

Many accommodations will not require much dialogue and can be implemented without additional conversation. However, depending on the nature of the accommodation and the course, some accommodations might require a dialogue between the student and the instructor. SAS encourages students to reach out to instructors to discuss accommodations. SAS also encourages instructors to reach out to students. This communication is critical to ensuring effective accommodation implementation. 

Learn More about Discussing Accommodations

Implement Student Accommodations 

When you receive an accommodation letter, it is important to implement the accommodations that are listed. If you have questions about what an accommodation means, how you can successfully implement it in your course, or whether the accommodation is reasonable in your course, please contact SAS

For more information about what different accommodations mean and how they are implemented, please consult our SAS Accommodation Guide. 

SAS Accommodations Guide: Procedures and Practices

What Should I Do If a Student Requests an Accommodation Without an Accommodation Letter?

There may be times when a student says that they have accommodations but you either (1) did not receive a letter or (2) the accommodation they are asking about is not on the letter. Instructors are not obligated to provide students with requested accommodations that are not listed on their accommodation letters. 

When you receive a request without a letter, please direct the student to contact SAS. SAS can help the student send their letters or engage in the interactive accommodation process. Instructors should document this referral via email. SAS ( can be included directly on that referral email to help facilitate and document the connection. 

SAS Accommodations Guide: Procedures and Practices

One important resource is the "SAS Accommodations Guide: Procedures and Practices". This resource is intended to provide additional information about accommodation implementation to both students and instructors. It includes the most common accommodations offered within SAS including: 

  • Classroom accommodations
  • Exam accommodations
  • Flexibility accommodations 

Please note, the guide does not include every accommodation approved through SAS. If there is an accommodation that you have questions about, please contact SAS directly

Access the SAS Accommodations Guide: Procedures and Practices

Disability Disclosure 

Students are not required to disclose their diagnosis to instructors and instructors should not ask for a student's diagnostic information. Disability disclosure is provided to SAS as part of the accommodation approval process, and SAS only approves accommodations for students with diagnosed disabilities. Instructors will be aware of accommodations, but they will not be aware of why the accommodations are needed. Instructors may ask students about implementation of their accommodations and how they can best assist, but students do not need to disclose their specific condition to instructors.

What To Do if a Student Discloses a Disability

There are times when students may self-disclose having a disability to an instructor. There are a variety of reasons why a student may make a personal decision to disclose a condition. If a student discloses a condition, the following steps are recommended:

  • In all situations:
    • Acknowledge the disclosure with compassion, kindness, and understanding (Disability 101 | Accessible UNH). 
    • Avoid minimizing the student experience. 
    • Discuss inclusive and accessible supports already available within the course. 
    • Refer the student to SAS to discuss accommodations. 
    • Refer the student to the appropriate campus resources. 
  • Student is disclosing their condition related to a request for support
    • If the student has already shared their accommodation letter and is sharing a concern about their accommodations, listen to the student concern and engage them in a conversation about accommodation implementation in your course. If you need help in navigating the situation, then please reach out to SAS for support. (Discussing Accommodations | Student Accessibility Services (
    • If the student is requesting accommodations that have not been previously approved, provide the student with a referral to SAS. SAS can help re-examine current accommodations or work with the student around approving new accommodations. (Contact SAS | Student Accessibility Services (
    • If the request can be granted without an accommodation (in other words, the requested support would be provided to any student, with or without a disability, that made the request), then the request can be granted at the discretion of the instructor. However, the student should still be directed to SAS to discuss how to officially request accommodations.