Services for Students with Disabilities

student working at computer

The purpose of academic accommodations

The objective in giving a student with disabilities an academic accommodation is to provide equity and access. To this end SSD provides students with a Verified Individualized Services and Accommodations (VISA) letter stating the accommodation(s) to compensate for a student’s disability. This letter is intended to level the academic playing field for students with disabilities and their peers.

SSD’s limitations on requesting accommodations

SSD is limited in two ways when asking professors to make accommodations for a student. One is that the academic accommodation cannot make fundamental alterations to a course. The professor sets the core components of a course: attendance, grades, homework/tests, etc. If a professor states in their syllabus that attendance is a fundamental requirement for course completion, SSD cannot provide an accommodation that excuses that student from attending class. We may on occasion ask for consideration, but it is up to the faculty’s discretion to grant it or not.

Secondly, SSD accommodation requests cannot alter the technical standards of a program. This is particularly true when a program has requirements that lead to certification or licenses. A student with disabilities has to abide by the requirements of the program as it was designed. SSD cannot require that a program change their technical standards and/or requirements to fit the needs of a student with a disability.

Please note however, that just because SSD cannot put certain accommodations into a VISA letter doesn’t mean that students can’t ask for these modifications themselves. Whether a professor chooses to grant those requests is up to them. Faculty can and often do provide modifications to courses and/or programs on an individual basis that has nothing to do with a person's disability.