“SSD knows how to give the best accommodations to fulfill your needs and it really makes a positive difference.” ~Freshman, College of Natural Sciences
Accommodations are provided on an individual basis in order to address the barriers that impact a student’s ability to learn, participate and perform in the educational environment. Accommodations are put in place during an initial intake appointment, during which a student will meet with a Disabilities Services Coordinator to review the student’s documentation and to discuss the nature of their disability and the impact it has had on their learning and their experience in the educational environment.
After being approved for accommodations, students will need to request Accommodation Letters each semester to notify instructors of their accommodations and to discuss how the accommodations will be provided. Students should become familiar with the steps of Using Accommodations at UT which will need to be repeated each semester.
More information about Higher Education’s Obligations Under Section 504 and Title II of the ADA regarding Auxiliary Aids and Services for Postsecondary Students with Disabilities can be found on the U.S. Department of Education’s website: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/auxaids.htm
Find more details for the UT classroom accommodations process below:
Accommodation Letters | Classroom Accommodations Provided by Instructors | Exam Accommodations | Accommodations | Provided by SSD | Other Accommodations
SSD communicates a student’s approved accommodations via letters that are requested and delivered by the student to their instructors. The letters include all of the classroom accommodations that are approved for an individual student. In order for students registered with SSD to have access to accommodations, students must:
- Request accommodations via the Accommodation Letter Request form link on the SSD website.
- Download the letters from the SSD Portal and deliver them to instructors.
- Discuss accommodations with each instructor. SSD recommends that students meet with instructors during office hours or by private appointment to discuss any necessary accommodations or essential elements of the course.
- Students must repeat steps 1-3 each semester.
- PLEASE NOTE: After receiving an accommodations letter, instructors have up to 5 business days to provide the approved accommodations. This is to allow time for any administrative planning that may need to occur. Thus, students should request and discuss accommodation letters well in advance of class exams.
- These letters contain confidential material and should be handled and filed accordingly.
To view a demonstration of the Accommodation Letter process, click on the SSD Accommodation Letter Tutorial.
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Classroom Accommodations Provided by Instructors
The following accommodations are examples of ways to reduce/eliminate some of the barriers students with disabilities may experience in the classroom environment. This is not an exhaustive list of accommodations; accommodations are always provided on an individualized basis depending on a student’s unique experience.
“Registering with SSD to receive accommodations was extremely beneficial for me. I felt that most of my professors were very understanding and we were able to work together to find what worked best for me, allowing me to focus more on doing my best in every class. ” ~Freshman, College of Fine Arts
Access to Overheads or Power Point Presentations
Students with disabilities may request that an instructor make course materials displayed on overhead projectors or Power Point slides available for review. Instructors are not required to create new materials. Instead, instructors might post the materials using Canvas software, make copies of the materials and distribute these copies to students or allow a student to review the PowerPoint slides during office hours Students will work with instructor(s) to determine an appropriate timeframe for viewing materials.
Copies of Class Notes
Notetaking provide students with access to information being shared in class. This accommodation is intended to be a supplement to the student’s notes and not a substitute for class attendance. Students can choose to make arrangements with peers to obtain notes or they may request the instructor’s assistance. Instructors and students can discuss the options outlined in the Using Notetaking Accommodations document (which will be attached to the Accommodation Letter) and discuss which option will work best for the class.
If students choose to use the SSD Portal to obtain notes, students can request a volunteer notetaker and download notes from the SSD (http://ssdportal.ddce.utexas.edu/ClockWork/user/notetakingstudents/help.aspx ). Students need to login and request a notetaker for each class for which they will need notes. If a notetaker is unavailable, the student should ask the instructor to make an announcement in class requesting a notetaker. Notetakers can complete an application which is available on the SSD website. Students should check the Portal after one week to see if a notetaker has signed up for the class. If there is still no notetaker available, students should contact their Disabilities Services Coordinator. Once a notetaker is assigned, students will receive an email when new notes are uploaded after each class.
To view a demonstration on how to request an SSD Volunteer Notetaker and locate class notes, click on the SSD Student Portal Volunteer Notetaker Request Tutorial.
Students with documented hearing disabilities who require class summaries or transcripts should contact the deaf and hard of hearing coordinator in the SSD office.
Use of Technology to Audio Record or Take Notes in Class
Students with disabilities may use personal technology (phone, laptop, etc.) to record or take notes during class lectures and discussions. This accommodation overrides any ban on technology use in class. Students must discuss this accommodation with instructors and can and may discuss with the instructor the best placement of the recording device. SSD can serve as a resource for questions regarding the recording accommodation.
Flexibility with Attendance
Students with disabilities may be more prone to missing class due to medication concerns, chronic illness, mobility difficulties, medical appointments or other disability related circumstances. The instructor and the student will discuss the specific flexibility that can be provided within the course, using the Attendance Policy Addendum provided by SSD as a guide. The Attendance Accommodation page has a video, explanation and FAQs about using this accommodation. The student’s SSD coordinator can serve as an additional resource to discuss this form and/or options related to accommodation issues. It is important to note that flexibility does not mean that attendance policies do not apply.
Flexibility with Deadlines
Students with disabilities may have difficulty meeting assignment deadlines due to symptoms that can flare up or occur unexpectedly or impact the time students can spend on assignments. The instructor and the student will need to discuss the specific flexibility that can be provided for deadlines throughout the semester. This accommodation may not to apply to all assignments so students should discuss specific expectations with the instructor.
Student May Leave or Move About in Class
For some students with disabilities, sitting for long periods of time and/or remaining in the same position for the duration of a class period can exacerbate symptoms of the disability. Similarly, some students may need to leave class for brief periods to attend to medications or other medical needs. SSD encourages these students to move around or leave class in the least disruptive manner possible. Students should discuss seating arrangements and the timing of breaks with their instructors.
Students with disabilities may request an instructor’s assistance in obtaining appropriate classroom seating. While reasons for accessible seating vary widely, common disability-related requests include seating near the front of the room, seating near the board or overhead projector, seating near an interpreter or microphone, seating near (or away) from windows, seating near the door and seating on the entry-level of a multi-level classroom. SSD staff can assist with any modifications to classroom furniture, that are necessary due to an accessible seating request.
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“Don’t feel like you are getting an advantage over other students because of your disability. This is to create an equal playing field.”
~Masters Student, McCombs School of Business
Students with disabilities may require additional time for taking tests and completing work in class. Unless efficiency or speed is the essential skill that is being assessed, students may be allowed additional time for all exams, in-class quizzes, in-class writing assignments and labs. Based on the documentation submitted to SSD, extended time are typically approved in increments of either one and one half or double the allotted time. The extended time accommodation does not apply to exams without time limits (for example, take home exams). Extended time ensures that a student’s performance is reflective of his/her mastery of material rather than the speed at which a student performs. Because there is not a centralized testing center at UT, SSD relies on instructors to provide testing spaces that allow for students to use extended time. Common spaces include an empty classroom, a study room in a library, a conference room or an instructor’s office.
Reduced Distraction Environment
Students with disabilities may be approved for and request a separate “reduced distraction” testing space. This space may be a conference room, unused classroom, or instructor’s office. This accommodation is not a guarantee of a “distraction free” testing space, but rather a quieter space where students have fewer distractions from fellow test-takers and are thus better able to maintain focus. Because there is not a centralized testing center at UT, SSD relies on instructors to provide a testing space that will provide students with a reduced distraction environment.
Use of a Calculator for Exams
This accommodation allows students to use a calculator as long as the calculator is unable to perform the functions that are being tested. This accommodation typically allows for the use of four-function calculator so that students who understand the concepts will not be penalized for errors in basic calculations. Instructors will approve the calculator to be used by the student.
Use of a Computer for Essay Exams
Some students with disabilities will be approved for and request a computer for essay exams. Using a computer allows these students the opportunity to avoid physical fatigue and/or to provide legible, better-organized answers to essays. Students making such a request may use a computer in the SSD office or a personal computer that is pre-approved by the instructor. Computers in the SSD office allow for word processing and assistive technology programs without Internet access.
Use of Spell Check for Exams
This accommodation allows students to use a dictionary or spell check device during exams so that they will not be penalized for basic spelling and grammar errors when they are otherwise able to provide accurate responses to the questions being asked.
Readers for Exams
Some students with disabilities may require having exam questions read to them. Often, SSD employs a variety of computer software programs that can “read” the exam aloud to a student. If necessary, an SSD employee will read the exam aloud to a student.
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Accommodations Provided by SSD
“Registering with SSD was the best thing I could have done for both my GPA and my mental health. I wasn’t aware of how simple it is to get accommodations or how helpful they would be. My grades have improved and my accommodations have reduced my stress levels and helped me remember why I am at UT-to be the best version of myself.”
~Junior, College of Liberal Arts
Course Load Reduction
A course load reduction (CLR) is generally defined as being registered for fewer than twelve (12) hours for undergraduate students, and fewer than nine (9) for graduate students in a given semester. However, individual colleges and/or programs may maintain different standards. Students approved for CLR will not be penalized by part-time status in policy and program areas under University control; however, auxiliary services (such as federal financial aid, personal insurance, non-University sponsored scholarships, etc.) may be affected. CLRs are approved on a semester-by-semester basis, and students are encouraged to arrange this accommodation early in the registration process.
If a student utilizing this accommodation after the 12th class day for the fall or spring sessions, or after the 4th class day for summer sessions , the student must complete the University’s Medical Withdrawal/Course Load Reduction Application in order to drop a class for non-academic (disability-related) reasons.
Requests made after the established University deadlines for dropping a course will be accepted only under extreme circumstances (i.e. hospitalization, significant change in status, etc.) and students must follow university procedures to receive proper approval to drop the course. University deadlines cannot be altered. SSD coordinators are available for consultation regarding this process.
Students registered with SSD may need to consider their disability and related accommodations when planning for classes. Priority registration may be necessary for students to plan for such factors as additional testing time, additional time to move between classes, coordination of a class schedule with medical needs, advance planning for interpreting and/or captioning services, travel time between classes, etc. Priority registration allows undergraduate students with documented disabilities to have access to the University’s registration system during the first “open” registration time. Because graduate, including Law, students are the first UT students to register, priority registration applies to undergraduate students only. With early access to the registration system, undergraduate students have more flexibility in choosing the times and locations of classes and thus can better make accommodations for a disability. Priority registration is always the first day of the registration period from 2-5 PM and 6 PM–midnight.
Students may require course materials in alternate formats. Common alternate formats include enlarged texts, recorded texts, electronic texts or brailled course materials. SSD works with the student and the professor to provide an appropriate format for the student. Because alternative text production is sometimes a time consuming process, an SSD staff member may ask an instructor for information about course materials several weeks (or months) in advance.
SSD also offers the training and resources necessary for students to convert their own materials. SSD maintains an Assistive Technology Lab that is available to registered students and the UT community.
Accommodations for Deaf and Hard of Hearing
The University of Texas at Austin will pay for interpreting and/or captioning services for classes, related academic requirements, and non-academic out-of-class activities that are sponsored by the university.
Students requesting sign language interpreters, Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART), or TypeWell services will meet with the deaf and hard of hearing services coordinator to discuss his/her needs and to sign an agreement acknowledging familiarity with related policies.
Students using interpreting, CART or TypeWell services are encouraged to register during the priority registration period and to submit requests for services to the deaf and hard of hearing services coordinator as soon as possible after registration.
All non-classroom requests (including meetings with professors or group meetings with other students for projects or assignments) also should be made as far in advance as possible, but at least three business days in advance. Students can request interpreters, CART or TypeWell services using the online form found here: https://utexas.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_37ZVCJe4QaxEUAJ. Last-minute requests cannot be guaranteed, although attempts will always be made to secure interpreters, CART or TypeWell services. Tests taken outside of regular class time will be treated as a special request/s. Students should submit requests for review sessions and final exams as far in advance as possible.
Students using interpreter, CART or TypeWell services should notify SSD at least 24 hours in advance if they will not be in class. If a student misses class three times without 24 hours advance notification, the student must meet with the deaf and hard of hearing services coordinator to continue to receive services. Interpreters, CART and TypeWell captioners will wait five minutes for each half-hour of class time. If the student has not shown up after the waiting time has elapsed, the interpreter or captioner will leave. If the interpreter or captioner does not show up for class, the student should wait ten minutes, then contact the SSD office. A replacement will be sent if one is available.
- Students are encouraged to meet with their professors before classes to discuss the use of interpreting or captioning services, and any logistical needs.
- It is recommended that students introduce their service provider to the professor on the first day of class, and to any appropriate persons during any special request events.
- Students are responsible for all information presented in class. The service provider is not responsible for retaining or repeating information the student missed.
- The student is responsible for informing SSD of any changes in a regularly scheduled assignment.
Service Provider Ethics:
- The service provider is there to serve the class (professor, Deaf/HH student, and other students) by providing communication access.
- Service providers do not participate in class.
- Service providers cannot answer student’s questions. If the Deaf/HH student has a question, he/she should raise his/her hand. The service provider will voice if requested.
- Students should not socialize with the service providers while they are on the job.
- Service providers will keep all information confidential.
- The university is not responsible for any interpreting or captioning services other than those approved by SSD.
Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) Services
Students who do not use sign language and cannot access information presented orally may need CART services. This involves a court reporter transcribing a lecture into written language that is then displayed on a laptop computer screen for the student. The court reporter may be in the classroom or at a remote location.
Sign Language Interpreter Services
Sign language interpreting provides the facilitation of communication between people who are Deaf or hard of hearing and individuals who are hearing. All interpreters employed with the University of Texas at Austin are state and/or nationally certified. To ensure the quality of interpreting services, a team of two interpreters is assigned for anything one hour or more in length.
TypeWell is a method of providing realtime communication access to deaf and hard of hearing students through the use of a speech to text transcription service. It uses a spelling based, abbreviation system and provides a meaning for meaning transcript. This can be done onsite or remotely with the use of equipment provided by SSD.
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“Ask for help when you don’t feel okay. UT has too many resources that can help you achieve your goals and excel in your education, among them SSD.” Junior, McCombs School of Business
The accommodations listed above include typical accommodations approved by SSD staff. However, there are times when a student’s documentation supports a more individualized accommodation. These accommodations would be determined and approved by the SSD coordinator.
Postsecondary schools do not have to provide personal services relating to certain individual academic activities and/or activities of daily living. Personal attendants and individually prescribed devices are the responsibility of the student who has a disability and not of the institution. For more information see Higher Education’s Obligations Under Section 504 and Title II of the ADA: Auxiliary Aids and Services for Postsecondary Students with Disabilities.
For assistance with accommodations or services not listed here, please contact SSD at 512-471-6259. A staff member will work with the student to determine any appropriate campus or Austin resources.
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