Accommodations and Services
Accommodations are formally approved during an intake interview with a disabilities services coordinator. The SSD coordinator determines accommodations on a case-by-case basis, based on the documentation, the student’s history and specific functional limitations. Students requesting accommodations in the classroom must provide a letter prepared by SSD verifying the need for accommodations to each of their instructors. 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
Details for how UT provides classroom accommodations, course load accommodations, exam accommodations, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Accommodations, housing accommodations and the process of notifying instructors can be found below.
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 paper form that is available in the SSD office or via the Accommodation Letter Request form link on the SSD website.
- Pick up the letters from the SSD office 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, pick up and deliver accommodation letters well in advance of class exams.
- These letters contain confidential material and should be handled and filed accordingly.
Classroom Accommodations Provided by Instructors
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 Blackboard 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
Students needing note-taking assistance may approach an SSD coordinator for suggestions regarding how to acquire a copy of course notes. While students may ask a professor or TA for a copy of the instructor’s notes, the note taking accommodation ensures that a student will receive a copy of notes from a fellow student volunteer. If a student approved for note taking accommodations and the instructor are experiencing difficulties in obtaining notes, it is the student’s responsibility to contact an SSD coordinator. Students may acquire notes in a variety of ways including:
- Asking an instructor to make an anonymous request for a note taker. The note taker provides the notes to the instructor who then gives them to the student requesting the notes. This method allows a student using this accommodation to remain anonymous. for more information on finding a note taker please see Securing a Copy of Class Notes .
- Students may ask a fellow classmate for a copy of his/her notes directly. Students may share notes by using carbonless NCR paper provided by SSD, by making photocopies or by exchanging notes electronically.
- In some courses, the instructor and/or course participants may post notes on course software such as Blackboard.
- Students with documented hearing disabilities that require class summaries or transcripts should contact the deaf and hard of hearing coordinator in the SSD office.
Permission to Audio Record Classes
Students with disabilities may request permission to record class lectures and discussions. Recording class materials in audio or video format is allowed when the student provides notification of the accommodation to the instructor. The student must provide his/her own recording device 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.
Missing Class Due to a Disability
Students with disabilities may be more prone to missing class due to medication concerns, chronic illness, transportation issues, mobility difficulties or other disability related circumstances. Students registered with SSD should provide documentation supporting the request of flexibility with course attendance. SSD coordinators will meet with students to discuss the potential implications of missing class (i.e. missed notes, greater difficulty in understanding the material); flexibility does not mean that attendance policies do not apply.
The instructor and the student determine the specifics of a flexible attendance policy, using the Attendance Clarification Form provided by SSD as a guide. If the student or instructor wishes, the student’s SSD coordinator can serve as an additional resource to discuss this form and/or options related to accommodation issues.
Permission to 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.
Use of a Laptop for Taking Notes
Students who, because of a disability, have difficulty taking notes by hand may request permission to use a laptop in class. Laptops allow for greater speed in taking notes and thus may allow a student to keep pace with others in the class.
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 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.
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.
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. First preference for SSD computers is awarded to students who need assistive technology assistance.
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 be asked.
Accommodations Provided by SSD
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.
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 online. 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.
Personal FM System
If approved by the deaf and hard of hearing services coordinator, SSD has several FM systems available to provide on loan. The student must:
- Make an appointment with the Speech & Hearing Center for an FM fitting
- Sign the Loaner Amplification Form at the Speech & Hearing Center
- Bring the FM system back to the Speech & Hearing Center at the end of the semester
- Contact the Speech & Hearing Center if experiencing any problems with the FM system
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 insure 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.
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.