Faculty Handbook

Working with students with disabilities

As an Indiana University Bloomington faculty member, you play an important part in making an IU education accessible to all students, including those with disabilities. The Office of Disability Services for Students (DSS) is here to help you understand your rights and responsibilities as an instructor and learn how to create a welcoming, inclusive, and accessible educational environment.

This handbook is designed to help you better understand your role in this process, and to provide instructions on the delivery of accommodations in your classroom.

If you have questions or concerns about working with or providing accommodations for students with disabilities, please contact DSS at 812-855-7578 or iubdss@indiana.edu.

Learn about IU’s services for students with disabilities

Providing academic accommodations

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), IU is required to provide necessary accommodations to students with documented disabilities so that they have equal access to course instruction, materials, and evaluation. The accommodations must be reasonable and cannot alter the essential requirements of a course—they simply provide an alternative way to meet the course requirements.

If you are an instructor at IU Bloomington, you are responsible for providing accommodations to students with documented disabilities in your courses. DSS coordinates the process of arranging accommodations, working closely with students and instructors to ensure that disability-related barriers are reduced or eliminated without compromising the fundamental nature of a course.

Typical accommodations and methods for delivering them to students in the classroom

All information about a student’s disability is confidential. Instructors are prohibited from asking about the nature of a student’s disability or requesting to see documentation.

How do students arrange accommodations?

Students must request accommodations through the Office of Disability Services for Students (DSS). Each student works with a DSS access coordinator to document their disability and identify what accommodations are needed. The access coordinator creates an Academic Modifications Memo that outlines the student’s specific accommodations and tells the student’s instructors how to arrange those accommodations.

Learn about this process 

More information

It is the student’s responsibility to initiate their accommodations by scheduling a private meeting with each instructor during their office hours or an agreed-upon time to discuss how the approved accommodations will be delivered in each course. Students are told that instructors must be given reasonable advance notice to make arrangements. Accommodations such as extra time for exams may be arranged within a week; however, accommodations such as sign-language interpreting, Braille, video description and closed captioning may take up to a month to put into place. The Office of Disability Services for Students encourages students to meet with their instructors as soon as possible. Accommodations become valid and are forward moving when the student meets with their instructor. Accommodations are not retroactive.

It is the responsibility of the instructor/faculty member to share detailed course expectations with his/her student and thoroughly explain how their accommodations will be delivered during the course. We recommend developing a semester plan for testing accommodations with your student. The plan should outline when and where testing will occur and address any potential scheduling conflicts.

Due to limited space in the DSS office, we ask all instructors to arrange testing accommodations in their departments when possible. When providing testing accommodations within your department, please keep the following items in mind:

  • Extended test time cannot interfere with another regularly scheduled class.
  • For quizzes, your testing plan must allow the student to complete the quiz with their accommodations without missing your lecture.

If you have difficulty making arrangements or are unable to deliver exam accommodations within your department, see the section on Exam Accommodations.

If your student has either “Classroom—Flexible Absences” accommodations, you should allow extra time to complete a disability-related accommodation agreement with your student.