Understand the purpose
Academic accommodations ensure access to course content and programming. Accommodations mitigate disability-related functional limitations that may affect a student’s ability to take part in a course. Accommodations can help a student show mastery of content during routine course work and examinations. While accommodations do not ensure success, they afford students the opportunity to do the work to achieve success.
The Penn State Office of Student Disability Resources (SDR) is the office that provides reasonable accommodations and services to students with disabilities enrolled at the University Park campus.
Comply with the process–it is the law
For in-person, residential instruction (RI) courses at University Park, students seeking classroom accommodations are required to obtain from the Student Disability Resources (SDR) Office an Academic Adjustment letter, containing suggested classroom accommodations based on documented disabilities.
- Student completes the required paperwork with SDR.
- Student presents you with an Academic Adjustment letter, outlining required accommodations for your class.
- You and the student complete the Consideration Adjustments Professor and Student Agreement form.
- You provide the accommodations.
- Contact the Student Disability Resources (SDR) Office with questions.
For online, World Campus (WC) courses, you will receive an email regarding any students in your class who need accommodations. The email will specify the needs of the student.
- Read the email and determine how to meet the accommodations in your course.
- Contact your Learning Designer for assistance.
Consider different accessibility needs
Accessibility needs are broad and diverse. Some of the most common considerations follow.
- Use high contrast colors for on-screen and print materials. Ensure you are not relying only on color to convey meaning
- Provide readings, videos, and software that are navigable with a screen reader or magnifier for students who are blind or visually impaired
- Caption images, charts, and figures in print or online materials to explain their meaning
- Use alt text or long description for graphic items
- Provide similar elaborations during live or recorded presentations
- Provide captions for video – request assistance through IST Learning Design
- Work with students who have dexterity or mobility issues to accommodate the use of tools, technology and physical access to learning spaces
- Build extra time into assignments for students with dyslexia and other learning impairments
- Schedule distraction-free areas for quizzes and exams, when required
- Provide additional scaffolding for class activities, such as teamwork, for students on the autism spectrum
- Adjust course schedules with some level of flexibility for students with mental health challenges (e.g., anxiety and depression)
Seek further information on accommodations
The following resources further explain requirements, procedures, tools, and assistance available at Penn State.
Requirement and Procedures
- Faculty page: Read about the accommodation process on the Office of Educational Equity’s Student Disability Resources webpage.
- Faculty Guide: Read a more in-depth account of the accommodation process from the Office of Educational Equity.
- Alternative exam space request form: Schedule rooms for students requiring time and a half for exams.
- College of IST Policies, Procedures, & Systems page: Scroll to Disability Resources section for additional resources.
Canvas and Microsoft Tools
- Canvas accessibility checker. Check common accessibility errors within the content editor.
- Extending Canvas quiz time: Satisfy extended time accommodations for learning disabilities.
- Microsoft Office accessibility checker: Improve Microsoft Office documents distributed to students.