How are Accommodations Implemented?

We view course access as an interactive process with the student, faculty and Disability Services and value your cooperation and input in the goal of equal access.

Following an intake discussion and a review of any documentation the student provides,  Disability Services Staff will send a faculty member notification via a Faculty Notification Letter outlining any approved accommodations (see below).

Faculty can also refer a student for support if a student is reporting a need for significant adjustments for a class due to physical, health or psychological concerns that are impacting their ability to effectively access a course.  Students or faculty may contact disabilityservices@macalester.edu for more information.

Faculty Notification Letter:

Each qualified student with a disability has an accommodation plan.   Faculty are informed of this plan via the  Faculty Notification Letter that will be received in a confidential email from Disability Services. Students must request accommodations every semester for each course that accommodations are required.  Typically, this notification happens prior to, or early in, the semester. Faculty are welcome and encourage to reach out to students once this information is received.

Students and faculty should discuss their accommodations in person whenever possible and privately.  We suggest printing or downloading and copies of the Faculty Notification Letter to outline accommodations.

Questions that faculty can use during the accommodation meeting that may help guide this discussion;

  • What would you like me to know about your accommodations?
  • Outline the way each accommodation can be implemented for your course (these are common ones):
    • Allowing technology (computer or phone access) in courses
    • Additional time on testing
      • Will faculty provide testing on their own or via the MAX Center?
    • Flexibility with attendance or assignments
      • What are the limitations to extensions or absences based on what is essential to your course?  How would you like students to notify you?
  • Indicate if follow up with Disability Services is needed to clarify accommodations. 
  • Ask if there any additional things that are important to know?  Determine a time to follow up on if accommodations. 

Universal Design at MAC:

“Universal design” is the design of products, policies, and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation, “retrofitting” or additional accommodations.  This is truly the most equitable experience for students with disabilities when they don’t have to do anything additional in order to gain the same programmatic experience.  If all a student has to do is show up, then that’s the ultimate in equity.

Helpful information on Universal Design is also located on this webpage, or at the following link:

Universal Design in Instruction  

Confidentiality

All disability-related information concerning a student should be treated and protected as confidential information. Although faculty will receive information about accommodations, they are not privy to the student’s diagnosis(es) under the law.  However, faculty members can ask students how their disability affects their learning or a specific class if it assists in making appropriate accommodations. Faculty can also request to discuss an accommodation request in terms of class impact with DS staff and the student together.  Faculty or staff should direct any questions or concerns about the accommodations requested or of a particular student to the Disability Services.

Syllabus Statements

Faculty are strongly encouraged to include a statement on all syllabi and discussing this in the first few days of class, making it clear to students that it is the student’s responsibility and right to initiate the process of receiving accommodations.  By highlighting the syllabus statement,

“In some circumstances, course design may pose barriers to a student’s ability to access or demonstrate mastery of course content. Academic accommodations can be implemented in such circumstances. If you think you need an accommodation for a disability, please contact the Disability Services office at your earliest convenience. You may schedule an appointment by emailing , or calling the Disability Services Office, 651-696-6974.”

I am committed to ensuring access to course content for all students, including those with disabilities.  Please find a time to meet with me to discuss your accommodation plan or schedule an appointment  to discuss possible accommodations by emailing , or calling the Disability Services Office, 651-696-6974.”

“If you are a student with a disability, please contact the Disability Services office by emailing , or calling 651-696-6974 to schedule an appointment to discuss your individual needs. It is important to meet with me as early in the semester as possible to discuss accommodations for this course to ensure they can be implemented early on.

“In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, Macalester College works hard to ensure that all facilities and programs are accessible to all students. Accommodations are based on individual need substantiated by appropriate documentation. Any students who believe that they may need accommodations based on the impact of a disability should contact the Disability Services office by emailing , or by calling 651-696-6974 to schedule an appointment to discuss your individual needs.”

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if a student needs accommodations?  You will receive notification from Disability Services, but often students may start missing class/not turning in assignments, etc. due to reported health issues or anxiety/depression.  This is the time to refer a student to Health and Wellness and Disability Services if they are requesting an accommodation outside of extensions, etc that are provided to other students in your class.

Am I being fair to other students by granting one student an accommodation? Reasonable accommodations do not compromise the essential elements of a course, nor do they weaken the academic standards or integrity of the course. Accommodations simply provide an alternative way of accomplishing learning objectives by limiting or reducing disability-related barriers. The goal of accommodations is to provide a level playing field, not an unfair advantage.

When do I have to comply with a student’s request for accommodations? The law provides a student with a disability the right to request accommodations from the college once the student has provided appropriate documentation if the nexus between a disability and accommodation is not apparent. In some cases, Macalester College allows for temporary services while a student is in the process of obtaining this documentation.  Disability Services 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. If a student discloses disability-related information to an instructor in the middle of the semester, the instructor should immediately refer the student to the Disability Services office. Accommodations can be implemented as soon as a student has been approved by the Disability Services office; however, accommodations are not required to be retroactively applied.

How can I encourage the student to talk with me about the disability? Each student has the right to determine when and if they choose to disclose the nature of a disability. We know that communication is important and we encourage students to discuss their learning needs, as well as their strengths and weaknesses. Some students, especially those with hidden disabilities, may need time to feel comfortable discussing their disability. Some students may never choose or need to discuss their disability. Knowing a student’s particular diagnosis is less important than understanding how it interferes with the student’s learning.

I have a student with a disability who is behind on the assignments. This student has not done well on the exams. May I fail the student for not earning the required points to pass the class? A student with a disability should be held to the same standards as any other student in the class. You may wish to contact the Office of Student Affairs, and particularly the Director of Disability Services, to discuss your concerns; however, we encourage you to discuss your concerns with the student just as you would with any other student.

Staff Who Can Assist Faculty: 

Melissa Fletcher, the Director of Disability Services coordinates disability services and determines accommodations for students.  She also serves as a primary resource on Universal Design access in courses.  Melissa’s office is in Kagin Commons, Room 125. Email

Shayne Fettig-Hughes, Case Manager, provides support for academic and non-academic accommodations, assists with determining reasonable accommodations and assists in the coordination of Disability Services activities and events.  Her office is located in Kagin Lower Level, Room 007.  Email her to make an appointment:

  • Josie Hurka, Disability Services Coordinator, assists in intakes, scheduling, the arrangement of accommodations including accessible texts and notetakers and temporary disability needs.  Josie’s  is located on the first floor of Kagin Commons.  Email: jhurka@macalester.edu
  • Julie Lucking, Department Coordinator for the (MAX) Macalester Academic Excellence Center, arranges approved testing accommodations. Julie may be found in Kagin 102. Email
  • Brad Belbas, AIA for Social Sciences, Information Technology Services provides support with Assistive Technology of all sorts. Brad’s office is Carnegie 04H. Brad can be reached at