Disability Accommodations

Commonly Requested 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: 

Extended Time
Distraction-Reduced Environment
Enlarged Font Exams
Reader
Scribe
Assistive Technology
Note Taking Assistance
Audio-recorded Lectures
Alternate Format Texts
Communication Services: Interpreter/Real-time Captioning
Preferential Seating
Enlarged Font Handouts
Course Substitutions
Consideration for Tardiness/Absences
Housing Accommodations
Dining
Service or Emotional Support Animals
Accessible Classrooms
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.


Testing Accommodations

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. 

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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.

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Enlarged Font Exams: Tests are enlarged to a needed font size to enable the student to see and/or better understand the test material. 

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Reader: A person or computer software program reads the test (word for word) to the student. Typically, a live person is employed to read a test for DASS students with this accommodation.

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Scribe: A person records (verbatim) the answers provided by the student during a test. 

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Assistive Technology: A variety of software, hardware, and other devices are used to accommodate the student, for example, a scanner, computer, text magnifier, etc.

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Classroom Accommodations

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Enlarged Font Handouts: Handouts are enlarged to the font size needed to enable the student to see and understand the handout material.

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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:

  1. read the Second Language Substitutions Guidelines;
  2. follow the DASS Accommodation Process to submit an Accommodation Request or Supplemental Request plus supporting documentation; 
  3. 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.

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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, it is at the instructor's discretion as to how many absences may be allowed before the fundamental nature of the class is jeopardized.

Student Responsibilities related to this accommodation include: having a discussion with faculty at the beginning of the semester; notifying the instructor as soon as possible after each missed class; and meeting the agreed-upon arrangements related to notification, course work and absences as contained in the Flexible Attendance Agreement. Generally, this accommodation is approved on a case-by-case basis, and implemented this way as well, with each individual instructor. Guidelines for Implementing Flexible Attendance Accommodations are provided to both faculty and students to clarify responsibilities and legal guidelines.

When our new online interface system DASS Link is launched this summer, DASS will attach Student Responsibilities, the Guidelines for Implementing Flexible Attendance Accommodations, and a Flexible Attendance Agreement to the students' electronic letter of accommodation, which will be available for the student and their instructors to view in their DASS Link accounts. We will advise students to print these documents and bring them to the meetings with their instructors where this and any other accommodations will be discussed. 

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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 dormitory 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 will then send the student a Housing/Dining Accommodation form to complete that is more specific to their current housing assignment and needs.  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.  

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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, dietitian@smu.edu, 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 http://www.foodallergy.org/resources/college-students

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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 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

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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.

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Handicapped Parking Permits: Located in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center, the Park N Pony office provides on-campus handicapped parking permits. Students are responsible for all student parking fees. 

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