Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

Disabilities Manual

Introduction | Specific Types of Disabilities | Documentation Requirements | How is Documentation Reviewed? | Requests for Further Review | Letter to Faculty Form | Typical Accommodation Requests | Confidentiality | Campus Resources | Other Local Disability Resource Coordinators | Disabilities and the Law | The University of Rochester’s Policy

Typical Accommodation Requests

With appropriate documentation, students may choose to request course modifications. The following are some suggestions for adjustments in course presentation and evaluation. Few students will need all of these accommodations, but some may require new strategies to be implemented for specific course requirements.

Please remember that the goal is not to eliminate requirements or to water down courses. Instead, it is to develop approaches that provide equal access to the content of the course and that permit students to demonstrate their competence in ways that provide detours around their disabilities.

Alternative testing procedures

Often, students with specific disabilities can demonstrate knowledge and competence via alternative methods. For students with reading difficulties, slower processing speed, and/or motor skills problems, reasonably extending deadlines or adding time to testing sessions can significantly improve performance. Reasonable accommodations are agreed upon in collaboration between the student, instructor, and with the access coordinator.

AlphaSmart word processors and desktop computers can be a great aid for students who have poor handwriting, trouble organizing their thoughts, spelling challenges, a shorter attention span, and difficulty with sentence structure.

Those who have reading deficits may be able to demonstrate their abilities much better if the exam items are taped or read to them.

It often helps to do a practice run with these alternative procedures before giving the test itself. This gives the instructor and the student the opportunity to deal with any complications at a less stressful time.


Some students are able to handle quite sophisticated math concepts without being able to perform basic operations automatically. For these students, the use of a calculator can be of considerable assistance.

CCTV equipment

The Smart View equipment, intended for those with low vision, combines a video camera and a monitor. Students place a book or article on a viewing stage and then magnify the video screen version of the text and/or adjust the background to make the words legible. Students have access to a CCTV in the reference section of Rush Rhees Library.

FM system

A Frequency Modulation (FM) system may be used by students who are hard of hearing. FM systems transmit the instructor’s voice directly to the student at a constant level, ensuring that the instructor’s voice is heard above the level of background noise, regardless of the instructor’s distance from the student.

FM systems consist of a small microphone, a transmitter, a receiver, and some method of routing sounds from the receiver to the student's ear.


A student who is deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired may work with interpreters. Instructors may wish to consult with the student and with the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning staff about effective teaching practices when an interpreter is in the classroom.

Pulse Smartpen

The Pulse Smartpen (Livescribe) is relatively new technology that links audio (class lectures) to what students write (their notes). Students walk out of each class session with a complete audio recording, and have the option to play back their lectures at differing speeds, download their notes online, jump ahead in their notes, bookmark special pages, and more.

Note takers

Some college students with learning needs perform better with the assistance of a scribe who takes notes during lecture. These students are still expected to attend class and take notes themselves; the note takers’ notes are used to fill in gaps, to reinforce learning, and to serve as models of good note taking. A student may also request a copy of the instructors’ lecture notes.

Recorded lectures

For students with auditory processing deficits, graphomotor difficulties, or attention problems, recorded lectures can be of great assistance. A signed agreement that the student will not share the recordings with others, and/or that the recordings will be destroyed at the end of the semester can be utilized by those faculty members who are concerned about copyrighted material within the lecture.

Text to speech technology

This accommodation has proved invaluable for many students with dyslexia, visual impairments, and ADD. Equipment that scans text and converts it to speech is currently available in the Multimedia Center at Rush Rhees Library. Most students using recorded books follow along in the text as they listen to the computer.