What is a reasonable accommodation?

A reasonable accommodation is any modification or adjustment that will enable a qualified student with a disability to participate in a course, program, activity, or service. Reasonable accommodations assure that students with a disability have rights, privileges, and access equal to students without disabilities.

Reasonable accommodations may include academic adjustments, auxiliary aids or adaptive technology, outreach services, or physical access modifications.

Arrange academic accommodations

Academic accommodations are modifications or adjustments that ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to course instruction, materials, and evaluation. Before any accommodations can be made, the accommodations must be reasonable and cannot alter the essential requirements of a course. Examples of reasonable accommodations include extended time on exams, testing in reduced distraction environments, permission to record lectures, or using your laptop to take notes.

If you are an Indiana University Bloomington student with a documented disability, the Office of Disability Services for Students (DSS) can help you arrange academic accommodations for your courses and communicate the accommodations to your instructors.

Types of academic accommodations

Accessible classrooms and furniture

Generally, all classrooms on campus are accessible. However, occasionally due to construction or maintenance issues, you may find a classroom to be inaccessible to you. Contact your access coordinator right away to look at alternatives.

If you need an adjustable table instead of a desk, or any other accessible furniture, your access coordinator will work with Campus Facilities to arrange for furniture placement. This may take a few days, so please check out your classrooms prior to the first day of class. You will need to follow this process each semester.

Assistive technology

Assistive technology includes hardware and software designed to alleviate vision, hearing, cognitive, and mobility impairments, as well as alternate format books and classroom materials.

If you are in need of assistive technology, you must be referred by your access coordinator to Assistive Technology and Accessibility Centers (ATAC). The key to receiving services from ATAC is planning ahead. Due to the volume and complexity of this work, ATAC must receive your request three weeks in advance.

See all ATAC services

Consultation and advocacy

Access coordinators are available to meet with registered students, one on one, to discuss concerns related to their classes, instructors, or other issues that are affecting students’ academic progress.

Access coordinators are not academic advisors, but can discuss balancing your caseload to address your disability needs. They can provide self-advocacy coaching and hints on communicating with faculty and staff.

An access coordinator is available for short, 15-minute meetings without an appointment Monday through Friday between 1 and 4 p.m. You can also schedule a meeting with your access coordinator for in-depth discussions by calling the DSS office at 812-855-7578.

If you need accommodations for study abroad or graduate entrance exams, allow plenty of time to process requests.

Collegiate Life Coaching

As a participant in our Collegiate Life Coaching program, you have the option to work one-on-one with a DSS access coordinator to find ways to study and manage your time more effectively in a college environment.

Topics include:

  • Scheduling and time management
  • Study skills, such as notetaking and exam preparation
  • Organizational skills for papers and projects
  • Overcoming procrastination
  • Academic goal setting

The intention of the Collegiate Life Coaching program is to help you obtain transferrable skills that allow you to function independently in the university environment.

For more information about coaching, contact your access coordinator.

Disability-related extensions

Disability-related extensions are for students who have chronic conditions that randomly flare up, causing them to miss class or deadlines. Disability-related extensions may include flexible attendance or extra time on assignment deadlines.

Once an accommodation is approved, how it is carried out in the class is a collaborative effort between you, your instructor, and DSS.

In every course, the instructor identifies and defines the essential course requirements and measures whether those requirements have been met. You will need to talk with your instructors to determine how you can meet the essential requirements of the course given your disability.

Disability Related Extension Agreement

You and your instructor will work together to complete a Disability Related Extension Agreement. Your access coordinator will approve the agreement as part of the process to discuss and understand reasonable accommodations in the event of a disability-related absence or assignment extension.

This allows you and your professor to document your conversation regarding absences extensions and the effects on other aspects of the class. More specifically, it’s meant to clarify course expectations and determine if, given your current condition, it is reasonable for you to continue with a particular course.

This accommodation is forward moving and cannot be used for missed assignments, exams, or quizzes, or past absences. DSS does not sanction unlimited absences. You must stay in close contact with your instructor throughout the semester. Failure to follow the agreement could ultimately lead to the need to withdraw, take an incomplete, or fail the class.

FM hearing systems

Students who use hearing aids or cochlear implants may request the use of an FM system for amplification in the classroom.

The DSS office maintains a limited supply of FM systems. You must work with IU Speech and Hearing to identify the correct system. You will sign a contract to check out the equipment for the semester and return it to the office at the end of each semester.

Contact your access coordinator as soon as possible to allow time to select the appropriate device and purchase it if necessary.

Notetaking assistance

Notetaking assistance ensures that students have notes comparable to what they would take if their disability did not interfere with taking notes.

If the instructor is posting notes in Canvas, check to see if they are just a summary or more complete notes.

Volunteer notetaking

The professor will make an announcement in class for a volunteer to assist a classmate notetaking. They will not announce your name. The professor will pair you with the volunteer by sharing contact information. If the volunteer wishes to remain anonymous, the notes can be submitted to the DSS office and picked up between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.


You may be allowed to record lectures on a laptop or phone using Livescribe Smartpen and/or Sonocent software. This is an accommodation and thus the notes are for your personal use only and may not be shared with others. You may not use this information verbatim in a paper or presentation.

Orientation and mobility training

Orientation and mobility training is available for students who are blind when they first arrive on campus. This accommodation is also available for students who are registered for a summer program that lasts more than one week.

An O&M specialist will work with you to find your way around your residence hall and identify paths to your class and common areas on campus. O&M specialists have limited availability, so be sure to plan ahead.

Priority registration

Priority registration is available to students who:

  • Are hearing or vision impaired and require advance notice to instructors
  • Have mobility concerns that limit getting to class on time
  • Have chronic health issues that require treatment around an inflexible schedule
  • Are referred to an American Sign Language class

Priority registration is not available during freshman/transfer orientation.

If you have a hold on your account, you must remove the hold before you can take advantage of priority registration. If this is the case, you must see your academic advisor.

Priority registration for graduate students is applied on a case-by-case basis, as most graduate classes are required.

Testing accommodations

Testing accommodations include:

  • A distraction reduced or private setting
  • Stopping the clock for medical issues
  • Text reading software
  • Not using a Scantron for multiple choice exams
  • Use of a simple calculator, where basic calculations are not the focus of the assessment or an essential element of the course component
  • Spelling forgiveness where spelling is not the focus of the assignment or an essential element of the course component

Typically instructors provide alternate testing locations. DSS has limited space and typically only facilitates exams for students with more involved accommodations, such as using text-reading or dictation software, scribes, or braille.

Get testing accommodations

How to arrange your accommodations

Allow enough time to get your accommodations early in the semester. The time of year, how quickly the appropriate documentation is provided, and the accommodations being requested can affect the timeline. Some accommodations are not possible toward the end of the semester, and your instructors have up to two weeks to put accommodations in place.

Accommodations such as extra time can often be arranged within a week with the help of instructors. However, accommodations such as sign language interpreting, braille, video descriptions, and closed captioning may take up to a month to put in place.

Step 1: Register for services

To receive academic accommodations at IU Bloomington, you first must register for services through DSS. This involves completing the DSS request for services form and submitting documentation of your disability.

Learn how to register for services

Step 2: Request accommodations each semester

After DSS receives your request for services and your documentation, the access coordinator will contact you via your IU email address to schedule an appointment to discuss your services and supports.

Each semester, you must submit a new Semester Request to renew your academic accommodations. To submit a new semester request, log in to the Student Portal from a desktop or laptop computer using Firefox or Google Chrome, and follow these steps.

  • Select “Accommodation” from the left side navigation and then “semester request” (The option will drop down).
  • Then, click the “Add New” button. (Do not complete the date fields.)
  • Your approved accommodation will display at the top of the page. Next, select the current semester from the Semester dropdown list and click the red button “Submit for All Accommodations”.

This request will be received and reviewed by your Access Coordinator at Disability Services for Students, just as it was when you first submitted the Request for Disability Support Services Form.

Once your Access Coordinator has reviewed your Semester Request and you have met all necessary requirements for accommodation re-approval, you will be notified by email that your Memo of Accommodations is ready for retrieval in the Student Portal.

Step 3: Meet with your instructors

Arranging disability accommodations to provide equitable access is a shared responsibility between the student, the instructor, and DSS through an interactive process. As a student receiving accommodations, you are responsible for giving a copy of your academic modifications memo to each of your instructors at the beginning of each academic term. You should meet with them in person either during office hours or by individual appointment.

Be sure to meet with your instructors early in each term—within the first two weeks of classes, if possible. Accommodations are not retroactive; they are forward moving from the date your instructor is notified and cannot be guaranteed if your instructors don’t receive reasonable advance notice.

During the meetings, you and your instructors should discuss how they will provide your accommodations throughout the course. Your Academic Modifications Memo doesn’t contain any information about your disability, only about the accommodations your instructors are required to provide.

Special information about exam accommodations

If you receive any accommodations that relate to the way you take tests, you should review the DSS guidelines for arranging exam accommodations before meeting with your instructors.