Why accommodate?

Some staff consider ensuring equal access to student services simply because it is the right thing to do. Others are more responsive to legal mandates. In either case, the federal government has made it clear that postsecondary institutions must provide reasonable accommodations to otherwise qualified students with disabilities to ensure access to educational opportunities. The Legal Issues section of the Conference Room provides more details on disability legislation and its impact on postsecondary institutions.

Each student with a disability has unique needs. The presence of a disability may or may not affect the access of a student to your student services. Disabilities that may interfere with access include:

  • Blindness.
  • Low vision.
  • Hearing impairments.
  • Mobility impairments.
  • Learning disabilities.
  • Health impairments.
  • Psychiatric/mental health impairments.

Reasonable accommodations must be provided to eligible students with disabilities in order for them to access student services. Some examples of reasonable accommodations in postsecondary settings include sign language interpreters, preferential seating, scribes, test modifications, and meetings in accessible locations.

Flexibility and effective communication between students, student services staff, and instructors are key to implementing successful accommodations on campus.


It is important to remember that information about a student’s disability should usually be kept confidential. Even if a student has disclosed a disability to you, this personal information should not be shared with others without his permission. Typically, the process by which information about a disability is shared is as follows:

  • The student brings documentation about the disability to the disabled student services office on campus. He discusses appropriate accommodations with staff.
  • Confidentiality is maintained by the disabled student service office on campus unless the student provides written permission to release the information.
  • If the student agrees that specific information can be disclosed, the disabled student services staff shares information and approved accommodations; sometimes reasonable accommodations for specific class activities are determined in consultation with the instructor or for student services in consultation with staff.

The best accommodations are tailored to the individual and often develop from a cooperative relationship between the faculty member, the student, and staff of the campus disabled student services office.

For more information regarding accommodations for specific disabilities see the following sections of The Conference Room:

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How do I pick the right instructors?

Choosing the Right Professors Before Registering for Classes

The best way to pick good instructors is to ask other students who they took and liked… but that is not always possible. Use RateMyProfessor.com to choose wisely. Look for constructive critisiscm, like ” stays late to help me.” You can search by last name, by subject taught, etc. If you have an excellent instructor or one that is just so-so, help other students by leaving your own comments–just make them useful to other students–really think about write helpful comments.