How are Accommodations Implemented?

Following an intake evaluation and a review of documentation, Disability Services Staff will send a faculty member notification (via a Faculty Notification Letter or email) outlining any approved accommodations .

Once received, faculty should follow up on accommodations quickly and connect with the student about how these will be implemented in their course.

Accommodations are not intended to constitute a fundamental change or alteration to any essential element or function of a course or program; if faculty are concerned that this is the case, or wish to discuss any access concerns, they should contact the Director of Disability Services.

Faculty Notification Letter:

Each qualified student with a disability registered with Disability Services must request their accommodations each semester. Once this process is completed, you will receive an email and/or a Faculty Notification Letter from our office notifying you of the student’s specific accommodations.

Students should discuss their accommodations with you in person. We suggest that they do this by printing or downloading and sending copies of these letters and finding a time during office hours to discuss.  Once your receive the faculty notification letter, you may also ask the student to come discuss accommodations with you privately.

Alternative Testing:

For students who receive alternative testing accommodations and require exams in the MAX Center, please contact Maxtesting@macalester.edu.

 We will then coordinate the time and the space with the student directly, and contact you about what is required for your exam.

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 students. Reasonable accommodations are available for students with documented disabilities. 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 as early in the semester as possible; this will ensure that your accommodations can an 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

Why do we 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 an accommodation does not give the student with a disability an unfair advantage. It simply 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 the student without a disability.

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

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 the course 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 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.  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 and accommodations early in the semester. If a student discloses disability-related information to an instructor in the middle of the semester, the instructor should immediately refer the student the 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 retroactive.

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 to faculty. 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. 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 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

  • Josie Hurka, Disability Services Coordinator, is assists in intakes, scheduling, the arrangement of accommodations including accessible texts and notetakers.  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