University of Texas at AustinDivision of Diversity and Community Engagement

Rights and Responsibilities of Students and Faculty

Student talking with professor in front of chalkboard

Student Rights and Responsibilities

Students with disabilities have the right to:

  • Participate in higher education if they are qualified for admission
  • Equal access to academic content and educational opportunities
  • Participate in student activities 
  • Academic adjustments (reasonable accommodation)
  • File a formal or informal complaint if discrimination is occurring
  •  Confidentiality of all disability-related information

Students with disabilities are responsible for:

  • Identifying himself/herself to the Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) office and providing documentation of a disability. Strict documentation guidelines exist for different types of disabilities. Information on documentation guidelines is available in the Documentation Guidelines section.
  • Setting up an appointment with SSD to discuss the impact of their disability and the reasonable accommodations they require
  • Notifying instructors of their accommodations via the delivery of an Accommodation Letter listing approved accommodations
  • Discussing the accommodations with the instructor to determine how they will be applied within each class.

Faculty Rights and Responsibilities

Faculty members have the right to:Asian male student reviewing book at a table with an older white male  professor

  • Maintain the rigor and the fundamental nature of their course content
  • Require students to demonstrate their knowledge of crucial course content
  • Negotiate an accommodation with the student and the Services for Students with Disabilities office if the accommodation seems unreasonable
  • Request an official Accommodation Letter from SSD before providing a requested accommodations. However, faculty should encourage the student to continue communicating about learning challenges while they are in the process of registering with SSD.

Faculty members are responsible for:

  • Implementing best practices in teaching to reach a diversity of learners
  • Including a syllabus statement on how students can access accommodations; see Creating an Accessible Classroom for sample wording
  • Meeting as quickly as possible with students who provide a letter from SSD in order to discuss and make arrangements for the approved accommodations. This is best done in the instructor’s office to promote an atmosphere of open communication and confidentiality between student and faculty.
  • Providing the accommodations listed in the official Accommodation Letter from SSD
  • Contacting SSD if there are any questions or concerns about an approved accommodation or how to best work with a student
  • Having an awareness of campus resources available for students and faculty
  • Maintaining confidentiality of student’s who disclose their disability or need for accommodation

Faculty do not have the right to refuse to provide required accommodations as outlined on an official letter from SSD, to question whether the disability exists when accommodations have been authorized by SSD, or to request to examine the student’s documentation. However, faculty members do have input and should work with students to determine how accommodations will be provided in a particular class. An accommodation should not alter the fundamental nature of a course or program.

While students are expected to comprehend course material, accommodations give students the opportunity to achieve that goal and demonstrate that comprehension in testing situations. If a faculty member has questions about the appropriateness of a required accommodation, he or she should consult with the appropriate Disabilities Services Coordinator in SSD. If the disagreement is not resolved, the faculty member should contact the Executive Director of Services for Students with Disabilities.

See Colorado State University’s Access to Postsecondary Education Through Universal Design Learning’s module regarding Faculty Rights and Responsibilities for more information.

What Accommodations are Faculty Responsible for Providing?

Faculty are responsible for providing the accommodations that are listed in the Accommodation Letter, both in the classroom and for exams. If a faculty member has concerns about how an accommodation may apply in their class, please contact SSD to consult with the student’s Disabilities Services Coordinator.

For more information about some of the most frequently approved accommodations, please visit our Accommodations and Services page.

Unsure of How to Provide an Accommodation? Please call SSD in a timely manner to ask for assistance or clarification. SSD is here to support the academic efforts of students with disabilities and can serve as a resource to faculty members to help meet this goal.

Why is it the Faculty Member’s Responsibility?

In order to be truly accessible and to preserve academic integrity within the classroom at The University, the faculty member is the most appropriate person to administer the accommodations.

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