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Faculty FAQs

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions from Faculty

  • Answer:
    The new wording more accurately reflects an effort to protect professors and the university from being out of compliance with federal law. Students with disabilities are protected under civil rights laws, like Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. We also strive to live the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended. Accommodations are legally binding and should not be dismissed or adjusted without the appropriate process (see Essential Functions Review Procedure).

  • Answer:
    When an instructor unilaterally determines that accommodations cannot be implemented, such determinations put the university, departments, and individual instructors at significant risk for being out of compliance with federal law. As indicated in the accommodation letter, if an instructor has a concern about the application of a student's accommodation in the class, the instructor should contact the student's Accessibility Center coordinator. This will allow both parties to engage in an interactive dialogue to discuss the ways accommodations can be provided without fundamentally altering the essential elements or technical standards of the course. The university is mandated by federal disability law to provide reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities. The Accessibility Center is designated by the university to determine these legally-mandated, university-granted accommodations. Thus, any restriction or denial of accommodations is best finalized by the Accessibility Center.

  • Answer:
    An interactive dialogue involves discussing the technical aspects and/or specific assignments to facilitate an understanding of the essential elements of the course. It encompasses the instructor’s expertise about the course content and structure as well as the coordinator’s familiarity with the specific student’s disability and knowledge of disability law and accommodations. Based on this dialogue, the instructor and coordinator will discuss potential accommodation adjustments. We typically come to one of three outcomes: (1) The accommodation is implemented as written; (2) Specific limitations are made to accommodations in the course; or (3) Alternate accommodations are arranged. If it is determined through the interactive dialogue that there are specific limitations to an accommodation or that alternate accommodations are needed, the Accessibility Center coordinator will communicate that official outcome to the student.

  • Answer:
    The number of students with disabilities is growing at BYU. This increase reflects the nationwide trend ( and is consistent with a rise in mental health issues among college students (, technological and medical advancement, and other factors. Nationally, the average percentage of university students with disabilities is 12-15%, with some reports as high as 20%. The percentage of students at BYU who are connected with the Accessibility Center fluctuates towards the low end of that range.

  • Answer:
    The designated agent on campus (i.e., the Accessibility Center) meets with each student to conduct an individualized assessment of the student’s specific circumstances in order to: (a) establish that the student’s condition qualifies as a disability; (b) assess the functional limitations of the disability; and (c) identify reasonable accommodations. The Accessibility Center communicates this determination to the appropriate members of the campus community and resolves any issues that might emerge in specific instances.  

    If the outcome of the individualized assessment is that a student’s condition does not qualify as a disability, the student is referred to appropriate on-campus or community resources.

  • Answer:

    • You are not required to accept the late assignments given that you did not know about the accommodation. Accommodations are not designed to be retroactive. 
    • Also, even if the student had provided you with an accommodation letter earlier, the student would still have needed to contact you in advance of each particular assignment for which he/she needed additional time, in order to negotiate a new due date. The typical extension for assignments is 3-4 days. 
    • This accommodation does not allow for an extension beyond the last day of class.  
    • However, disability law provides a floor vs. a ceiling. Thus, if you feel you can allow late work without compromising the essential functions of your course even though you just received the accommodation letter, or if you feel that you can extend the deadline a bit beyond the last day of class, you may choose to do so. In such cases, some professors may choose to accept the work but dock some points.

  • Answer:

    • Accommodations are not retroactive, so you do not need to provide leniency with absences in this situation. 
    • Students with the accommodation of flexible attendance are instructed by the Accessibility Center to contact you as close to the beginning of the semester as possible to establish with you a reasonable absence limit for the course. The most typical absence accommodation is a minimum of DOUBLE the number you normally allow.
    • If students miss a class, they are still responsible for all material covered during the class period. 
    • If an instructor considers attendance to be an essential function of the class (typically as explicated in the course syllabus), the student can be held accountable for missed time.

  • Answer:

    • No, you don’t have to allow the student to take the exam late. Students with the accommodation of flexibility with exam and quiz deadlines are instructed to contact you prior to the examination or quiz deadline, as soon as the student believes an extension will be necessary. 
    • At that time, a new due date should be arranged that is satisfactory to both parties. The typical extension is 3-4 days. However, if the test has already been open for a week, then a 1-2 day extension may be more reasonable. 
    • This accommodation does not allow for an extension beyond the last day of finals.

  • Answer:

    • For many accommodations, students need the modification every time (e.g., a deaf student needs every lecture interpreted; a student with anxiety or ADHD might need extra time on every exam).
    • But for the leniency-related accommodations (e.g., additional time on assignments, flexibility with exam and quiz deadlines, flexible attendance), the intention is that students will invoke their need for the accommodation only on an as-needed basis related to their disability, and only by specific request.
    • The Accessibility Center instructs students to use these accommodations sparingly so that they do not fall behind. However, if the student does need to use the accommodations more frequently, it is his/her responsibility to work to keep up in the class.
    • If you feel that a student is using his/her accommodations inappropriately, please contact the Accessibility Center.
  • Answer:

    • Although many letters may be similar, they are genuinely individualized in that they are very carefully and conscientiously derived from individual conditions.
    • There are some accommodations that are more commonly given than others.
    • As many of our students have similar disabilities (depression/anxiety and ADHD being the most common), the letters can be nearly identical.

  • Answer:

    • In Fall 2016, the Accessibility Center began generating accommodation letters electronically. Despite the benefits (e.g., more efficient, timely receipt and tracking of letters; easier letter-delivery process for students with social anxiety), a significant drawback is that students might be less likely to approach their instructors individually. In order to try to counteract this, the Accessibility Center strongly encourages students to make direct contact with their instructors to discuss their accommodations, particularly if coordination with the instructor is required.
    • In addition to sending their letters to their instructors electronically, students may also print out and hand a hard copy to their instructors.
    • In order to encourage students with accommodations to visit with them, instructors can make announcements in class and add that request to their syllabus.
    • Instructors are also welcome to reach out individually (e.g., via email) to the students who have sent them letters. In order to facilitate this, there is an “Email Student” button at the bottom of each electronic letter.
    • If students don’t respond to your email, you can communicate this to the Accessibility Center. You can also follow up yourself by emailing a student your specific expectations for the implementation of the accommodations.
  • Answer:

    • The student may not need his/her accommodations in your particular class. (It’s so easy to send letters electronically that many students go ahead and send them to each and every one of their instructors regardless of their need in that class.)
    • The student’s accommodations may not need coordination with the professor (e.g., note taker, alternative format textbooks).
    • The student may be waiting to see if he/she actually needs to utilize accommodations in your particular class.
  • Answer:

    • On the first day of class (and as students add), instructors can strongly encourage students with disabilities to send in their letters as soon as possible.
    • Instructors can explain that doing so will help instructors be aware of the students’ situations and more able to help the students succeed. If the students end up not needing to utilize any accommodations in the class, that is fine. But if they do, a plan will already be in place for how to work together.
    • Instructors can emphasize that they will not view students negatively based on their submission of a letter.
    • Keep in mind that students may send accommodation letters at any time during the semester, as some students may not be diagnosed, may not be able to obtain documentation paperwork, or may not realize that they have a need for accommodations until part way through the semester.

  • Answer:

    • Instructors can download electronic accommodation letters and file them together on their computer.
    • Instructors can be aware of when it is appropriate to utilize TAs (e.g., for coordinating testing accommodations).
    • If needed for the implementation of accommodations, instructors can download or print accommodation letters and hand or email them to their TAs.
    • Primary instructors who use Learning Suite are able to see which of their students are accommodated students by way of disability indicators displayed next to their names on class lists.
  • Answer:

    • Accommodation letters do not specify the student’s particular disability. If you receive an accommodation letter, do not ask the student what the disability is or presume to know what it is. For example, do not say, “You seem a lot like my brother who has ADHD; is that what you have?”
    • If you have not received a letter but suspect that a student might have a disability, don’t ask, “Do you have a disability?”
    • Better questions would be: “Is there any more I can know about your situation to help you?” or “Can you think of any other ways I can help you in this class?” or “What can you tell me about your learning style?”
    • Guiding principles are to allow the student to take the lead on the issue of disclosing personal information; to be accessible to the student; to maintain the confidentiality of the student; and to contact the Accessibility Center with questions regarding how to work with a student.