Disability Resource Center

Accommodations Glossary & Definitions

The Disability Resource Center (DRC) is the campus office designated to determine reasonable academic accommodations. reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a course, program, service, job, activity, or facility that enables an individual with a disability to have an equal opportunity, equal access, or enjoy equal benefits as are available to an individual without a disability. 

It is important to acknowledge receipt of the accommodation letter by:

  1. Logging in to the DRC Faculty Portal using your UNCW email and password
  2. Select Accommodation Letters at the top of the page
  3. Scroll to the correct term and select "Refresh"
  4. Select "View Letter"
  5. Review PDF Letter and confirm receipt

Accommodations apply to most courses, whether traditional, online, or practicum-based.  Should you believe allowing a specific accommodation fundamentally alters the identified objectives or requirements of a course, including technical standards, it is your responsibility to contact the DRC within three business days of accessing this notification and at all times prior to refusal of an identified accommodation.

The student has been encouraged to communicate with you to implement their accommodations.  However, lack of communication on their part does not absolve you of the responsibility to implement accommodations.  If necessary, initiate communication with the student in an appropriate and confidential manner (e.g., email, one-to-one before or after class, during office hours, etc.).

Classroom Accommodations

Classroom accommodations are specific to the student and based on documented needs.  Though not an exhaustive list, the following is a list of some common classroom accommodations provided.

Ability to Eat Snack or Drink Beverage

This accommodation allows the student to consume food or beverages during class due to impacts of their disability. It results in a modification to a classroom rule which may prohibit food and drinks.

Access to Presentations/Instructor Notes, if Available

Students with disabilities may need course materials that are displayed in class available for review.  Instructors can post the materials using online software or make copies of the materials and distribute these copies to students.

Instructor notes are also beneficial to provide to the student, if available.

Alternative Format Textbooks

Some students require course materials in alternate formats. Common alternate formats include recorded texts or electronic texts. The DRC recommends students purchase or rent textbooks in their preferred format.  When a preferred format is not available, students approved for this accommodation are able to request alternative format for required textbooks through the DRC's Student Portal.  Depending on the format, conversion can be a slow and time consuming process.  During the conversion process, DRC staff may reach out to instructors for additional textbook information such as, publisher information or with help comparing different editions. 

Instructors are responsible for making sure their content (e.g., articles, handouts, etc) are accessible for students with disabilities.  DRC staff will only convert required textbooks.

Audio Recording of Lectures

Some students may require the use of recording devices (e.g., cell phone, Smart Pen, laptop, or other appropriate recording device) in class to capture class lectures and discussions. Recording class materials in audio format is allowed when the student provides notification of the accommodation to the instructor. The student may discuss with the instructor the best placement of the recording device.  Through the DRC, students with this accommodation formally acknowledge that they agree to abide by proper use of the recordings as a study aide.  A copy of this agreement can be obtained by emailing DRC@uncw.edu

Can I forbid a student with this accommodation from recording my lectures?

No. If it is an approved accommodation, it is meant to provide meaningful access to the educational experience and will appear on the student's Accommodation Letter. The recording of lectures is one of the accommodations specifically mentioned in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The issue of copyright as a concern is referenced in this Department of Education document on auxiliary aids.

Breaks as Needed

For some students with disabilities, sitting for long periods of time and/or remaining in the same position for the duration of a class period can exacerbate symptoms of the disability. Similarly, some students may need to leave class for brief periods to attend to medications or other medical needs. DRC staff encourage these students to move around or leave class in the least disruptive manner possible. Students should discuss seating arrangements and the timing of breaks with their instructors.

C.A.R.T. (Communication Access Real-Time Translation)

The accommodation provides the student with a real-time transcript of the lecture. A transcriber, or “writer” listens to the lecture through a small lapel microphone that the professor wears. The student will provide the professor with the microphone. The writer transcribes everything the professor verbalizes, and this is displayed on the student’s computer screen. This enables the student to have access to the lecture content visually in real time. The professor is always expected to face the class while speaking. Instructors are asked not to turn their back on the class for any reason. If it is necessary to turn their back in order to write on the blackboard, professors are asked to wait to lecture on that content until they are facing the class again.

Classroom Assignment Leniency

Students are responsible for fulfilling the essential requirements of all courses/programs/degrees, including meeting completion dates for assignments. However, some students have disabilities which can impact their ability to complete assignments by the due date, including, but not limited to, students whose conditions are episodic in nature, conditions that change and result in problematic symptoms, and conditions that require hospitalization.

While students are encouraged to meet assignment deadlines, they may occasionally have periods when they are unable to complete work at a scheduled time. Generally, this accommodation provides the student up to two additional days to turn in an assignment.  Students with this accommodation formally acknowledge their responsibilities.  A copy of this agreement can be obtained by emailing DRC@uncw.edu

In very rare cases an assignment leniency accommodation may not be feasible.  If faculty have questions about how an assignment leniency accommodation would work with the class pedagogy contact the DRC to discuss options.

Classroom Attendance Leniency

Students with some disabilities, such as chronic illness or mobility difficulties, may miss class as a result. The student is responsible for contacting faculty EACH TIME class is missed due to a disability, unless hospitalized or otherwise not physically able.  DRC staff meet with students to discuss the potential implications of missing class (i.e. missed notes, greater difficulty in understanding the material). Students with this accommodation formally acknowledge their responsibilities.  A copy of this agreement can be obtained by emailing DRC@uncw.edu

This accommodation does not permit unlimited absences nor is it intended to be applied retroactively. Students remain accountable for all academic activities and evaluation standards specified on the syllabus. Seasonal illnesses (e.g., flu, allergies), temporary impairments, or other non-disability related absences are not subject to attendance leniencies. Faculty should notify the Disability Resource Center if there are any concerns throughout the semester.

In very rare cases an attendance accommodation may not be feasible.  If faculty have questions about how an attendance accommodation would work with the class pedagogy contact the DRC to discuss options.

Captioning

Videos that are part of the class or are on the course syllabus should be captioned.  Faculty should review videos prior to the start of the semester for accessibility and if not captioned, contact elearning@uncw.edu immediately for assistance.

Classroom Presentations - Student is Permitted to Give Presentations to the Faculty Member instead of Entire Class, Unless Public Speaking is an Essential Element of the Course

This accommodation allows the student to give a required in-class presentation to the faculty member instead of to their peers. The student and the professor are responsible for establishing a mutually agreed upon date and time for completing the presentation. This accommodation does not modify the content of the presentation or the requirement to present their materials. If a professor believes that this accommodation will result in a fundamental alteration to an essential element of their course, they should contact Disability Resources directly for consultation.

Enlarged Font

Some students may require larger font due to a visual disability.  Large print font is equivalent to 18 point font.  However, some students require larger that 18 point.  Font size will be indicated on their accommodation letter.

Interpreters

There are several different forms of interpreting that may be provided to a student with hearing loss.  The specific type of service is identified during the meeting with the student and is based on the medical documentation.  Interpreters typically stand in the front of the class to the side of the instructor.  In higher level classes, interpreters may ask for a copy of the text so that they can ensure access to discipline specific vocabulary. 

FM Systems

A personal FM system consists of a transmitter microphone used by the instructor and a receiver used by the student who is deaf or hard of hearing. The receiver transmits the sound to the ears of the student or directly to the hearing aid. 

Notetaking

Students who, because of a disability, have difficulty taking notes by hand may be eligible to use a laptop in class as an accommodation. Activities such as checking email, instant messaging, and other web related involvement are forbidden.

Preferential Seating

This accommodation provides permission for the student to choose their own seat when assigned seating is implemented by the instructor. Students who need to sit in a specific spot to mitigate impacts of their disability will do so independently, unless they require the professor’s assistance in making that seat available, whether by placing a reserved sign on the seat or by requesting that students do not take that seat.

Text to Speech or Speech to Text

Some students with disabilities may require having their content read to them rather than reading the information on the screen. The DRC employs a variety of computer software programs that utilize text-to-speech capability and can “read” the content aloud to a student. 

Additionally, some students may find it difficult to write or type longer assignments.  Therefore, students may be granted the accommodation to utilize speech-to-text. Students with this accommodation may use software programs that transcribe their speech into text.

 Testing Accommodations

Testing accommodations are specific to the student and based on documented needs.  The accommodation must be provided regardless of whether it is managed by the faculty member or the DRC.  Though not an exhaustive list, the following is a list of some common testing accommodations provided.

Ability to Eat Snack or Drink Beverage

This accommodation allows the student to consume food or beverages during the allotted exam time.

Ability to Take Breaks: Student Needs to Complete Test within Allotted Time

This accommodation permits the student to exit the testing room for a short break to manage specific impacts of their disability.  They may not access any course materials during the break.

Access to Cell Phone

This accommodation permits the student to keep their cell phone visible on the table or desk top to manage specific elements of their disability.  They may not access any course materials during the break.

Enlarged Font

Some students may require larger font due to a visual disability.  Large print font is equivalent to 18 point font.  However, some students require larger that 18 point.  Font size will be indicated on their accommodation letter.

Extended Time

A student's extended time accommodation is based on the documentation submitted to DRC. Unless efficiency or speed is the essential skill that is being assessed, students with this accommodation should be provided additional time for timed tests and quizzes.  The extended time accommodation does not apply to take-home exams.  Extended time ensures that a student’s performance is reflective of their mastery of the material rather than the speed at which a student performs.

If a student ONLY has the accommodation of Extended Time on tests and exams, the instructor is expected to provide this accommodation.

Reduced Distraction or Separate Setting Environment

Students with disabilities may be approved for and request a “reduced distraction” or "separate setting" testing space. This space may be a conference room, unused classroom, instructor’s office or DRC Testing Center. A reduced distraction environment is a quiet space where students have few distractions and are better able to maintain focus.  Separate settings are reserved for students who may need to utilize certain assistive technologies to access their test or exam.  

Reschedule Exam

This accommodation allows students who have had an exacerbation of their disability to work with their instructor to reschedule an exam within 24 hours.

Text to Speech

Some students with disabilities may require having exam questions read to them rather than reading the information on the screen. The DRC employs a variety of computer software programs that utilize text-to-speech capability and can “read” the exam aloud to a student. 

Use of a Computer

Some students with disabilities may have difficulty utilizing standard writing utensils.  Using a computer allows students the opportunity to access their tests and quizzes, avoid physical fatigue and/or to provide legible, better-organized answers to written responses. 

No Scantron

Some students have difficulty completing a scantron sheet due to their disability. In these instances, the student will have "No Scantron" as an accommodation, meaning they can mark their answers directly on the test.