Eastern Michigan University

Accommodations Requiring Timely Implementation vs. Accommodations Requiring Consideration

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 presence of a learning or medical disability. The manner in which an environment is designed (class teaching and assessment styles, office policies and procedures, physical layouts, etc.) often determines the extent a person feels the impact of a disability in any given situation. As a result, the focus of the Disability Resource Center is to advocate for an accessible educational experience.

Each situation is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Our office works collaboratively with students, faculty, and staff to create an inclusive educational environment. We will facilitate dialogue with all relevant parties for any given situation until a reasonable accommodation is determined, until discriminatory barriers are removed, and/or until all parties are satisfied with the outcome. How accommodations are carried out differs from one situation to another because the intersection of the environmental and student variables in each unique situation must be considered.

Accommodations that take the form of basic environmental adjustments must be incorporated so long as the student has followed the reasonable and appropriate policies and procedures of the Disability Resource Center, campus department and academic course that are required to coordinate the accommodation. Examples of environmental adjustments that almost always have to be implemented in a timely manner include:

  • Extended time for exams;
  • Taking exams outside of the classroom;
  • Reader or writer for exams;
  • Coordinating a note-taker for the class;
  • Tape recording lecture
  • Preferential seating;
  • Course handouts in an enlarged font or in an audio format;
  • Text information in an audio format;
  • Provision of sign language interpreters or transcriptionists.

Accommodations beyond this list often require assessment of the environment (course written policies, course goals and objectives, possible physical variables, and other considerations) to determine the extent to which an accommodation may be reasonable. The Disability Resource Center ensures that the student maintains a voice in this process. However, course instructor input and openness is critical in these situations in order to identify an equal access outcome.

Why? Because reasonable accommodations do not and should not:

  • substantially alter the educational standards or mission of Eastern Michigan 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.

Examples of accommodations that cannot be required outright by the Disability Resource Center but rather warrant additional consideration include:

  • Modifications to the course attendance policy due to medical disability;
  • Appropriate ways to address missed work (tests, paper deadlines, homework submission, etc.) when a student misses a class because of a medical disability;
  • Modification to course assignments deadlines due to medical or clinical disability;
  • Reasonable ways to support a student with a short-term memory deficit;
  • Reasonable ways to ensure equal access and experience in lab settings;
  • Mostly any situation not covered under the environmental adjustment list above.

In summary, ensuring an accessible education experience is often a case-by-case process, especially when requests extend beyond the common environmental adjustments. The DRC does not have all of the answers. Many situations need to be evaluated individually. Variables within the environment are critical to any situation and sometimes more so than the disability experience itself. Clearly students with disabilities have a voice in this endeavor. We strive to be a resource that facilitates the collaborative effort that will lead to answers.