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The Center for Disability Resources strives to support, collaborate, and work with faculty in order to ensure a culture of inclusion and equal access in the classroom as well as other learning spaces on and off campus. Information on our processes and resources can be found below. Faculty should also always feel free to contact our team directly with any questions.

The Accommodation Process

Providing reasonable accommodations to students with disabilities is an important part of our responsibility as an academic institution, and creates inclusivity for students overall. Universal Design in Learning (UDL) can address many barriers, but accommodations may still be requested.

Arranging for accommodations is a cooperative “interactive process” involving the student, Disability Resources, and Faculty.  Students have to verify the existence of a disability that significantly impacts major life activities in the academic setting via Disability Resources prior to accommodations being approved. 

Accommodations should not fundamentally alter essential elements or expected performance levels. If you have concerns about how accommodations impact your course,  please talk with us! Likewise, if you believe that you can provide accommodation in a manner that is superior to what has been requested, we’d like to know. 

How do Faculty Provide Accommodations?

Faculty are often the first point of contact for students who seek accommodations. You can assist in this process by the following:

1. In your syllabus, include a statement about classroom accommodations for students with disabilities. Examples are listed under the Syllabus portion of this site. 

2. Announce to your students on the first day of class how they can receive accommodations and should communicate with you privately. Meetings are always the preferred way for this communication if time allows. 

3. Review the accommodation/Faculty Notification Letter. This letter is provided to you from Disability Resources and outlines the specifics of a student’s accommodations.

4. Reach out to the student and let them know you’ve received an accommodation letter and want to discuss how accommodations will fit into your course. This may include: when you want to be notified about an extension, how to coordinate testing or classroom flexibility. The accommodation process is intended to be one of interaction and individualized consideration.

5. Connect with the Center for Disability Resources! If you have a question or concern about how to implement accommodations, let us know.

We are here to support your work with students!

The Faculty Notification Letter

Accommodations are required reasonable adjustments to allow equal access to all students in academic environments and indicated by the Faculty Notification Letter It is important that faculty read Faculty Notification Letters as they contain information that is essential to the accommodation process.  Please keep in mind that accommodation letters are designed as part of an interactive process between instructors, students and Disability Resources. 

Faculty Notification Letters will come from [email protected] and will be labeled as “Accommodation: Faculty Notification Letter,” so please watch for this information. 

Once You Receive the Faculty Notification Letter 

  1. Ask to meet/connect with a student privately. If you are unable or unsure how to approach accommodations with a student, please reach out to Disability Resources as we want to ensure a connection with the student has been made. 
  2. Review the Faculty Notification Letter and determine how you will implement accommodations, or any appropriate alternatives (e.g. Disablity Resources to proctor exams if you are not able to provide proctoring?) If you are concerned accommodations pose a fundamental alteration to the learning objectives to your course, please connect with Disability Resources. 
  3. Discuss the Faculty Notification Letter with the student and how accommodations will be provided.  Discussing expectations about what is reasonable for your course, and any limitations is important early in the process.  
  4. Extensions of deadlines or absence flexibility are increasingly common accommodations. We’ve noted on the Faculty Notification Letter that this accommodation is requested, but specific requirements of your course may impact or limit what is reasonable.  
  5. Faculty should be clear with students about any specific accommodation parameters, such as:
    • How students should notify faculty about the need for extensions and how long they generally will be granted. 
    • Any expectations for accommodated testing (dates, time).
    • What are reasonable extensions or absences for a course? What happens if more flexibility is needed?
    • When will point reductions will happen after an extension or absence consideration has been implemented? 
    • How to follow up with you on concerns or when you plan to check in with the student (after the first exam, mid-module, etc).
  6. You may receive a Faculty Notification Letter late in a course, and even late requests should be implemented from the point of notification.  Accommodations do not have to be retroactively applied, but we are happy to discuss this with you as we understand late requests may have many variables involved.
  7. Sometimes a withdraw from a course is the reasonable option even for a student with accommodations, but Academic Advising, Student Affairs or our office can discuss that option with you.

Contact Disability Resources with suggestions / concerns! We are here to work with you on course access. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why does Macalester offer accommodations?

    Educational environments are most often set up to privilege a particular kind of learner (i.e., one who can process information quickly, can write notes and listen simultaneously, can maintain concentration and focus for long periods of time without interruption). Providing appropriate accommodations does not give students with a disability an unfair advantage. It alters the learning environment in such a manner that the student with a disability has the same opportunity to learn and demonstrate their learning as a student without a disability.

    Faculty should be prepared for: testing accommodations (for courses with timed exams and requests for flexibility with time or attendance.

  • How do I know if a student needs accommodations?

    You will receive a Faculty Notification Letter from Center for Disability Resources. Sometimes, students may indicate there are concerns through behavior first: missing class/not turning in assignments, etc. or report “health issues” or “anxiety” or “depression”.  If a student is requesting an accommodation outside of what is provided to others in your course, you can refer them to Center for Disability Resources.  If a student has missed class for over a week, please connect with the Office of Student Affairs.

  • Am I being fair to other students by granting one student an accomodation?

    “Reasonable” accommodations should not compromise the essential elements of a course, nor weaken the academic standards or integrity of the course. Accommodations simply provide an alternative way of accomplishing the course by limiting or reducing disability-related barriers.  If you are concerned the accommodation compromises a course, please contact us

  • When do I have to comply with a student’s request for accommodation?

    The law provides a student with a disability the right to request  accommodations from the college once the student has provided the college with appropriate documentation. In some cases, Macalester College allows for temporary services while a student is in the process of obtaining documentation of a disability.  Center for Disability Resources determines what is a reasonable accommodation as part of an interactive process–once that determination is made and you are notified, the requirement starts.

  • A student came to me in the middle of the semester to disclose a disability. I did not know about it before; what do I do now?

    In the college setting, the student with a disability is responsible for requesting and initiating all disability-related services and accommodations. If a student discloses disability-related information to an instructor in the middle of the semester, the instructor should immediately refer the student to Center for Disability Resources. Accommodations can be implemented as soon as a student has been approved by the Center for Disability Resources office; however, accommodations are not retroactive

  • How can I encourage a student to talk with me about a disability?

    Each student has the right to determine when and if they choose to disclose the nature of a disability to faculty. We know that communication is important and we encourage students to discuss their learning needs as well as their strengths and weaknesses. Knowing a student’s particular diagnosis is less important than understanding how it interferes with the student’s learning. Asking these questions may help facilitate a conversation:

    • What would you like me to know about how you learn best?
    • How might I assist you in being successful in this course?
    • What has helped you be academically successful in prior courses?
    • I want to respect your confidentiality, but perhaps you would be willing to share with me how your disability interferes with your learning so that we can develop some effective strategies for your academic success.

  • I have a student with a disability who is falling behind on assignments/exams. Can they receive a poor grade for not completing work even though I’ve provided accommodations?

    A student with a disability should be held to the same standards as any other student in the class.  If you need assistance, you are welcome to contact Center for Disability Resources; however, we encourage you to discuss your concerns about course expectations just as you would with any other student.