Accommodations - Health and Wellness Center - Penn State Altoona

Student Disability Resources


Guidelines for Approaching Instructors

Before Talking With Your Instructor:

  1. Know what you need
    Meet with Student Disability Resources staff to discuss the types of classroom and testing accommodations you may need. After careful review of diagnostic reports a staff member will prepare a memo for your instructors outlining your disability and make recommendations for special testing accommodations and/or in-class assistance. If you are given a faculty memo with recommendations, be sure you have read it and understand the recommendations given. Each accommodation form is only applicable to one semester. You must report to Student Disability Resources each semester to update your file.
  2. Know how to say it
    Sometimes it is difficult to discuss a disability with others. It is completely up to you if you choose to disclose the nature of your disability or specific diagnosis. You need to remember that your instructor may not know much about disabilities in general, and may feel uncomfortable at first. Along with discussing your particular needs, it is a good opportunity for you to educate the instructor about your disability and to set him/her at ease. You also need to communicate to the instructor that special classroom accommodations will give you the opportunity to succeed in the class.

Contact the Faculty Member:
Schedule an appointment with your professor to discuss your disability. Introduce yourself and tell the instructor a bit about yourself, your major and why you are taking the course.

Describe the Classroom Accommodations You May Need:
For example, if you have a learning disability, it may be recommended that you have extended time when testing. You should clearly explain how special testing can be arranged. Another example would be if you need a sign/oral interpreter. Explain where you and the interpreter will sit and what will take place. Faculty may contact Student Disability Resources for further clarification or additional questions.

Offer Verification:
All evaluation materials kept in Student Disability Resources are confidential; however, you may wish to share information with an instructor. We will not release any information to others without your permission.

Know How You Will Be Evaluated:
Ask what will be required of you in terms of exams, in-class projects, out-of-class projects, research papers, classroom presentations, etc. If these are areas in which you need accommodations, address them to the instructor. If you and the instructor are not sure about the best and most reasonable accommodations, consult with the counselor in Student Disability Resources.

Discuss with your instructor how your work will be evaluated. Will you be graded on oral work or written work if you have a hearing/speech impairment? Be sure both you and the instructor understand grading criteria and the type of exams you will take (i.e., oral, written). Also, special testing techniques, such as overheads, slides or films, are sometimes used during test periods. If you have arranged with Student Disability Resources to take your exam outside of your classroom, other arrangements should be made with your instructor to compensate for that part of the exam.

If you will be taking accommodated exams through Student Disability Resources, give the instructor an information sheet on testing (available in Student Disability Resources). Be sure that both of you agree on the responsibilities involved in arranging for and taking accommodated exams.

Come To A Clear Agreement:
You and your instructor should have a clear understanding of the accommodations you will need. You may want to schedule future meetings with the instructor to discuss any concerns you have regarding the course. Thank the instructor for his/her time and help.