Types of Accommodations
Accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis depending on the disability's impact and student need and the reasonableness of the requested accommodation. Below is a non-exhaustive list and definition of commonly-requested accommodations:
Enlarged Font Exams
Note Taking Assistance
Alternate Format Texts
Communication Services: Interpreter/Real-time Captioning
Enlarged Font Handouts
Consideration for Tardiness/Absences
Service or Emotional Support Animals
Handicapped Parking Permits
Accommodations may require an assessment of the environment to determine whether they are reasonable in a particular class. As a result, the implementation of these accommodations cannot always be defined outright by DASS, but rather warrants additional consideration that will vary from one course to another based on its essential components. DASS will ensure that the student maintains a voice in this process while facilitating course instructor guidance in order to identify an equal access outcome. If the student and instructor cannot agree on an appropriate academic adjustment that would not drastically alter the course as it is designed, the student and instructor have a mutual responsibility to contact our office for further, interactive discussion.
Note that accommodations are not retroactive.
Extended Time: The student is given additional time to complete any in-class, graded assignment, such as a quiz, test, or exam. The amount of extended time is indicated by numerical reference of 1.5x, or 2x, etc. For example: 1.5x means that the student is allowed 1.5 times the amount of time students without disabilities are given to complete the exam. If an in-class test is scheduled for 50 minutes, a student with a disability with a 1.5x accommodation would be allowed an additional 25 minutes (or a total of 75 minutes) to complete the test.
Distraction-Reduced Environment: The student is tested in an environment which minimizes distractions for the student. Each student has different levels of distractibility and different stimuli which may distract them. Instructors should discuss with the student the optimal settings in which the student will take the test. Typically, students need an environment which minimizes both auditory (e.g. copy machines, talking, other noises) and visual distractions (e.g. people walking in and out). A distraction-reduced environment does not necessitate the student's testing in a private room, nor does it mean that an environment is completely distraction-free.
Note Taking Assistance: Through a volunteer peer note-taker, DASS can assist a student in obtaining a copy of notes to supplement the student's own notes in each class. Instructors may also choose to post their notes on-line, or provide the student with a copy of his/her notes for the class. Please note, the delivery of notes or outlines before a class meets is not generally considered a reasonable accommodation.
Audio-recorded Lectures: The student with this accommodation may need assistance capturing information that is covered in lecture and may audio-record lectures for later use in studying. After presenting the letter of accommodation, students should request permission from the instructor to audio record lectures and review sessions; the student is responsible for providing the recording device and maintaining control over the recordings. Students then agree to restrictions which limit the availability of this accommodation to specific usage by the student. DASS recommends that instructors with concerns about intellectual property or the use of the recording for non-classroom purposes or the simple use of a laptop in class can make a contract with the student to minimize any apprehension. A sample of an appropriate contract can be found on the DASS website (FAQ's for faculty). Instructors and students can consider alternatives to this accommodation if the alternative still provides meaningful access to the course material covered during the lecture. If the student and instructor cannot agree on alternatives to this accommodation, the student and instructor have a mutual responsibility to contact our office for further, interactive discussion.
Alternate Format Texts: DASS can aid in the acquisition or creation of books, texts, and articles in enlarged print, on tape, or on CD. More so than any other, this accommodation can take quite some time to render and necessitates the student's contacting DASS as early as possible, preferably well before the start of the semester, to begin acquiring the alternate texts. Faculty members are asked to submit their textbook details to the bookstore well before the start of the semester to aid in this process. Also, any scanned or electronic articles or chapters should be "clean scans", which will allow DASS or the student to reformat the documents for use with assistive technology. Sharing all of these texts with the DASS coordinator well in advance can be critical to providing the student full access to the curriculum.
Communication Services: Interpreter/Real-time Captioning: Interpreters or captionists are provided to students who have substantial hearing loss which prevents them from hearing the information presented in class. These services are arranged by DASS. After registering with DASS, a qualified student would meet with a DASS Coordinator to discuss the level of hearing loss, the needs of the student in class and within his or her program. DASS does not have sign language interpreters on staff, so contract interpreters must be arranged well ahead of time, along with captionists. Access is provided in the classroom and for other required course work at no additional charge to the student. For non-academic interpreter and captionist needs, requests should be directed to, and handled by, the sponsoring entity. DASS can provide guidance and referrals to community agencies. Payment for interpreter/transcription services is the responsibility of the sponsoring entity. Please review our Policies and Procedures regarding Interpreter and Captioning Services.
Preferential Seating: The student is allowed to sit where he/she can best obtain the information presented in class. Arranging preferential seating should be a collaborative process between the instructor and the student.
Other Academic Accommodations
Course Substitutions: All students must be "otherwise qualified" to participate in any program of academic study with or without reasonable accommodations. Students with disabilities are not excused from course prerequisites, GPA requirements, or degree requirements. However, in some limited circumstances, when all other means of accommodation have been deemed inappropriate and/or exhausted, a course substitution may be appropriate. DASS makes considerations of course substitutions on a case-by-case basis and only after the student makes a specific request for this accommodation. Course substitutions are made only when it is clear that the student's disability makes completion of the requirement impossible and that the course requested for substitution is not an essential component of the academic program and, thus, the substitution does not alter the integrity of the academic program. The student should discuss this accommodation with DASS staff as soon as possible, as this accommodation often takes a significant amount of time.
To apply for a second language substitution, please:
read the Second Language Substitutions Guidelines;
follow the DASS Accommodation Process to submit an Accommodation Request or Supplemental Request plus supporting documentation;
and download, complete, and submit to DASS the online application for second language substitution request.
If English is the student's second language, there is no substitution available at an English-speaking University.
Consideration for Tardiness/Absences (Flexible Attendance): A physical, medical, or psychiatric disability may cause a student to periodically miss classes. If the supporting documentation warrants, the Flexible Attendance accommodation may be authorized, asking for the instructor's consideration in excusing more than the stated, allowable number of absences for the class. As attendance is considered fundamental to any class and to the learning process in general, the accommodation can be implemented differently in each courseas the essential elements and design of a course must be taken into consideration. it is at the instructor's discretion as to how many absences may be allowed before the fundamental nature of the class is jeopardized.
DASS staff can be engaged to facilitate a conversation to determine the specific course parameters to put in the agreement described below. This agreement does NOT apply to absences for other reasons.
Student Responsibilities related to this accommodation include: sharing with instructor the Letter of Accommodation that lists the Flex Attendance accommodation, the Guidelines for Implementing Flexible Attendance Accommodations, and the sample Flexible Attendance Agreement; having a discussion with faculty at the beginning of the semester or as early as possible after approval of the accommodation; notifying the instructor as soon as possible after each missed class that is due to a disability; and meeting the agreed-upon arrangements related to notification, course work and absences as contained in the Flexible Attendance Agreement.
This accommodation is approved on a case-by-case basis; likewise, it is implemented with each individual instructor on a case-by-case basis. Guidelines for Implementing Flexible Attendance Accommodations are provided to both faculty and students to clarify responsibilities and legal guidelines. DASS staff are always available to discuss the parameters and assist in finalizing a plan. Should a student approach the maximum allowable absences, per the Agreement, the instructor should notify the student and request a meeting. Either the instructor and/or student should alert the DASS Coordinator to the situation, as well.
Other Non-academic Accommodations
Housing Accommodations: DASS collaborates with the Department of Resident Life and Student Housing (RLSH) when students with disabilities request on-campus housing accommodations. Housing accommodations are specific to each student and their disability needs, such as a single room; a room on the first floor or a residence hall with an elevator; a raised bed; specific lighting; or an ADA-compliant floor plan. Students with disabilities who anticipate housing needs should (1) alert RLSH as early as possible; and (2) apply for the accommodation through DASS, along with uploading supporting documentation justifying the request. DASS verifies the disability basis for housing accommodations and prioritizes recommendations to RLSH, depending on the needs; RLSH assigns housing based on availability and administrative burden. Please send all disability-related information directly to DASS rather than to RLSH. Be cautioned that single rooms, rooms with private bathrooms, and rooms with access to a kitchen are rare on campus and reserved for disability impacts that are severe and significantly limiting. For students who have trouble concentrating and studying in their room, a single room is not typically warranted and DASS refers the student to an interactive list of quiet study spaces around campus. For students who plan to bring a Service Animal to live in campus housing, early notification is necessary to make arrangements. Please see details below about Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals.
HOUSING DEADLINES (also posted on the RLSH website https://www.smu.edu/StudentAffairs/ResidenceLifeandStudentHousing/Apply):
For continuing SMU students, we ask that you submit your disability-related request for housing by February 19th to DASS in order for our staff to have time to thoroughly review the information and make recommendations to RLSH by March 15th, regarding placement for the following Fall semester.
For new students to SMU, we ask that you submit your disability-related request for housing by May 10th in order for DASS to have time to thoroughly review the information and make recommendations to RLSH by June 1st regarding placement for the following Fall semester.
Any request received AFTER the posted deadline will be reviewed in the order it was received. If recommendations are made to RLSH, implementation will be based on availability and student’s request could be put on a wait list.
Dining: For students with medical conditions that greatly impact their ability to eat certain foods, such as severe allergies, they should make an accommodation request to DASS following the same procedure described above. DASS will expect all students with dining-related requests to meet with the campus dietitian to discuss all available options prior to making the request for accommodation from DASS. Allergen kits, individually prepared meals, disposable flatware, carb counts, access to gluten-free options, reduced meal plans, or access to a kitchen may be in order for those most significantly impacted by their medical condition(s). Dining Services has an array of options to meet the needs of most diners, even those with allergies and intolerances. SMU's dietitian, firstname.lastname@example.org, and the Head Chef can discuss the student's needs and explore all of the options available for each dining hall space. For example, Arnold Dining Commons has an Allergens Solutions Station that features recipes that do not use ingredients from 7 of the top 8 allergens. All recipes are made without Wheat, Eggs, Dairy, Soy, Tree Nuts, Peanuts, and Shellfish. For more information regarding food allergies for college students, check out https://www.foodallergy.org/resources/navigating-college.
Service and Emotional Support Animals: SMU students with disabilities may be allowed to have a service animal in campus facilities where animals would typically not be permitted (See University Policy 1.17, Animals Policy). Furthermore, SMU students with disabilities residing in University housing may request as an accommodation that an emotional support animal be allowed to reside in the student’s University residence. For students who plan to bring a Service Animal to live in campus housing, early notification is necessary to make arrangements. For more information on the differences between a service and an emotional support animal, procedures for obtaining approval to use such animals, owner responsibilities, and SMU Community expectations, please read carefully the Disability Accommodations & Success Strategies Service and Emotional Support Animals Procedures.
For a better understanding of Service Animals and ESA's, review the ADA National Network Service Animals Booklet.
For mental health providers, this article explains the seriousness of providing a letter on behalf of their patient/client regarding an emotional support animal: http://www.apa.org/monitor/2016/09/pet-aid.aspx.
Accessible Classrooms: DASS continues to remove architectural barriers to students with disabilities on Southern Methodist University's campus; however, some historic buildings remain inaccessible. In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), DASS can relocate classes from inaccessible classrooms to accessible ones. Tables, chairs, and desks can also be added to or removed from classrooms if needed.
Handicapped Parking Permits: Located in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center, the Parking and ID Services Office provides on-campus handicapped parking permits. Students are responsible for all student parking fees.
Priority Enrollment: SMU students enroll in classes on an enrollment date determined by the number of units they have completed, as determined by the Registrar's office. Students authorized for the accommodation of Priority Enrollment are assigned earlier enrollment times based on a pre-determined schedule set by the Registrar.
Like all accommodations, a student must show a disability-related need for Priority Enrollment. The impact of some conditions might necessitate priority enrollment in order to allow for: breaks between classes for a student who uses a wheelchair or walking device; the need to procure and create alternate format texts; setting up ASL or CART services; moving a class to an accessible room, etc. This administrative accommodation requires notification to be sent the Registrar's office well in advance of registration.
New/incoming students approved for this accommodation will not be able to register before their first Advising and Orientation session but will have the priority date set for future registration periods. Current/continuing students approved for Priority Enrollment before the Registrar's deadline will be assigned an earlier time for the next upcoming registration period. If the accommodation is approved after the Registrar's deadline, then the student can enroll in the following semester's registration period. Graduate students should work with their DASS Coordinator and their program to coordinate the accommodation.
Temporary Accommodations: Students with short-term injuries or illness (low-impact, lasting for a few days to around 1-2 weeks) should contact the Office of the Dean of Students for help with notifying and communicating their needs to instructors. However, some temporary conditions have impacts that are more long-term or severe, and require more formal accommodations to continue to participate at the University, such as:
- Conditions caused by an accident or injury that will heal under six months’ time with no lasting effects, including a sprained or broken hand, finger, leg, or other joint, or a concussion, that will heal completely within a few weeks or months;
- Minor or non-chronic medical conditions or disorders that last more than a few weeks;
- Medical conditions that last several weeks without lasting effects;
- Surgeries that temporarily impact a student in a course without lasting effects;
- Complications during pregnancy that are not typically part of the normal experience.
For a student who has a broken hand or arm and is having trouble typing or writing, here are some technological solutions that might be helpful:
- One-handed typing technique: https://www.typingclub.com/one-hand-typing, https://askjan.org/solutions/Alternative-Keyboards.cfm
- Voice Control speech recognition programs: for Mac https://www.apple.com/accessibility/ or Windows https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/accessibility/windows?activetab=pivot_1:primaryr2
- Free screen reader programs: https://www.nvaccess.org/download/, http://www.cross-plus-a.com/balabolka.htm, and Kurzweil Reader https://www.smu.edu/Provost/ProvostOffice/SAES/StudentSupport/SASP/Services/DASS/Resources/Students/Resources