The purpose of providing college academic accommodations to students with diagnosed disabilities is to ensure that a student has equal access and is not discriminated against because of the disability. The manner in which an environmental design – lecture and assessment style, policies and procedures, and the physical layout of a space, for example – often determines the extent a person feels the impact of a disability. As a result, the focus of the Disability Services Office (DSO) is to advocate for an accessible educational experience.
In some situations, the DSO may recommend or require university community members and departments incorporate modifications in order for the educational experience to be accessible for the student. In other situations, the DSO may confirm that the environment is accessible or equitable as it is and inform the student the requested accommodations are unreasonable. Each situation is evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
The DSO works collaboratively with students, faculty, and staff to create an accessible educational environment. DSO staff can facilitate dialogue with all relevant parties until a reasonable outcome is achieved. What is deemed a reasonable accommodation will vary on a case-by-case basis depending on how the disability impacts various aspects of the student’s college experience. How accommodations are carried out differs from one situation to another because both environment and student variables must be considered.
Accommodations should not fundamentally alter the nature of a program, course, service and/or activity. Examples of accommodations that may not require such an alteration include: extended time for exams, reduced distraction testing room, use of a reader for exams, use of a note taker in the classroom, materials in an enlarged font, and textbooks in an alternative format. While the instructor can choose to make any accommodation or alteration they deem appropriate, the DSO cannot require one that would be out of line with the goals and objectives of the course. For example, the instructor could decide to give the student an alternate assignment, such as a paper or project, as an alternate means of assessment. The DSO would never require that adjustment of an instructor.
Reasonable accommodations do not and should not:
- substantially alter the educational standards or mission of NC State University;
- fundamentally alter the nature of the program, course, service and/or activity;
- allow access to a program when a student is not otherwise qualified (with or without accommodations) to meet the academic and technical standards required for admission or participation in an education program, course, service and/or activity;
- pose undue financial or administrative hardship (college-wide);
- pose a direct threat to the health or safety of the student with a disability or others as a result of accommodation implementation.