Office of Student Life

Disability Services


Below is a list of frequently asked questions for instructors. Use the navigation list below to jump to a section.

Determining and Authorizing Appropriate Accommodations and Access

Q: Who is responsible for determining appropriate accommodations?

Disability Services determines appropriate accommodations for Ohio State students in consultation with several entities. Decisions for accommodations are based on medical documentation, assessment of the students’ functional limitations, and students’ clarification about specific needs and limitations.

Q: A student has asked for accommodations. How can an instructor know that the student truly has a disability and needs accommodations?

Instructors may ask students to provide a letter verifying that they have registered with Disability Services. Such students, if registered, will be given a Course Accessibility Letter within 24 hours of requesting one. Remember, due to confidentiality requirements, the specifics of a disability cannot be disclosed without express student permission.

Q: What obligations do instructors have to honor requests for disability accommodations that are made late in the academic term?

Disability Services continuously reviews documentation, and registering with the office is a process that may take many days or weeks. There are several reasons why a student may appear to have registered late with the office: medical offices’ delay in sending appropriate documentation, time required to review documentation and determine appropriate accommodations, or recent discovery and diagnosis of a previously unknown disability. Whatever the reason, students may make requests for accommodations any time during the semester or their academic career, and all instructors are thereafter required to honor them.

Q: What recourse do instructors have if they disagree about students’ requests for accommodations?

While registered students’ requests for accommodations have been verified and are supported by Disability Services in almost all cases, some students may occasionally ask for unreasonable accommodations which are not authorized by Disability Services. To clarify any confusion or to register a disagreement about a requested accommodation, instructors should first contact their student’s Access Specialist. If further attention to the issue is required, the Director of Disability Services is also available to discuss any instructor concerns. If instructors are unsatisfied with the result of these conversations, they may also contact Ohio State’s ADA Coordinator.

Q: Who covers the cost of providing accommodations, the extra time authorized students require, etc.?

All students registered to take classes at Ohio State, regardless of program, are eligible to apply for accommodations through Disability Services. Student fees cover disability accommodation provision, so individual departments are not responsible for assuming the cost of these obligations.

Q: Are all university departments, colleges, and professional degree programs obligated to accept applicants with disabilities, assuming they have met all other admission requirements?

Students with disabilities must meet the same requirements as all other students when being considered for acceptance in a program. If a student has done so and is otherwise qualified for acceptance, then any disability-related concerns cannot be taken into consideration. For further information and clarification about these types of circumstances, it is recommended that individuals address concerns to the ADA Coordinator or to Disability Services.

Exam Accommodations

Q: Are instructors required to allow exam accommodations for all students who request them?

Both Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act as Amended protect students with disabilities. These laws require that qualified students with disabilities have equal access to an education, including appropriate exam accommodations. For this reason, all instructors are required to allow authorized exam accommodations for students registered with Disability Services at their request.

Instructors may provide these accommodations themselves by making arrangements directly with the requesting students. The University Registrar's Testing Center and Disability Services can also proctor exams for instructors who are unable to implement appropriate accommodations. Instructors are never expected to operate without support from Disability Services. Office staff can verify accommodation approval, advise on accommodations' reasonableness, recommend effective plans for implementing accommodations, and arrange for proctoring services.

Q: What is a "Proctor Sheet," and do all instructors have to fill one out?

No, many instructors are not required to complete the Proctor Sheet. Those who have made arrangements with their students to proctor their own exams do not have to fill out a Proctor Sheet to meet exam accommodation requirements. Likewise, instructors of students taking their exams at the University Registrar’s Testing Center are not required to use a Proctor Sheet. Only instructors of students who will be taking their exams through Disability Services are required to complete a Proctor Sheet with their students.

This single form enables Disability Services to schedule and administer all quizzes, exams, midterms, and finals for an entire semester course, using instructors’ specific environmental requirements. In order for students to secure exam accommodations at Disability Services, instructors must promptly and completely fill out Proctor Sheets. It is often very helpful for instructors to meet with their students during office hours so both parties can complete the Proctor Sheet and establish appropriate testing parameters together.

Q: A student with a disability will be taking an exam at Disability Services. Will instructors’ exams be safe there, and can students gain an unfair advantage by using Disability Services?

Disability Services Exam Scheduling staff has developed a secure system for conveying exams to and from faculty. The office maintains rigid check-in and check-out procedures for exams, and all students must have due authorization and photo identification prior to beginning the exam. While exams are at Disability Services, they are kept in a locked file until they are returned to the instructor electronically or in a sealed envelope. All Disability Services exam spaces are monitored by office staff via a closed-circuit video monitoring system. Any students observed with any unauthorized resource during an exam are reported to the university Committee on Academic Misconduct and to their instructors.

Q: If a student requests accommodations during the last few weeks of the academic term, do instructors have to re-administer all of their exams with accommodations?

This decision is left to instructors’ discretion. The student’s mandated accommodations only apply after the student has officially registered with Disability Services and are not retroactive. If a student is requesting the opportunity to retake exams administered before accommodations were implemented, instructors are advised to consult with the student’s Access Specialist.

Note-Taking and Lab Assistance

Q: Are instructors required to provide notes to students who request them?

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act as Amended require that qualified students with disabilities have equal access to an education. This includes having the means to derive notes from in-class information. While instructors are not required to provide notes for students authorized for and requesting note-taking services, they must allow these students to obtain class notes in some manner. Often, the easiest way for these students to secure notes on course content is for instructors to supply them when they are available and sufficiently comprehensive. In reality, as many instructors do not generate fully fleshed-out notes to facilitate their classes, students with disabilities may be better served by using a volunteer note taker or by recording class lectures for later study. It is an instructor’s responsibility to facilitate one of these means or to provide an equal alternative for an authorized student to secure appropriate notes. Instructors are not expected to operate without support, however: Disability Services can provide clarification about which accommodations are approved or what is deemed reasonable.

Q: A student in class asks for assistance getting notes. After these arrangements have been made, the student with a disability has missed most of the lectures. Should the student still be getting these notes?

Students are contractually obligated to attend class to receive their note-taking accommodations. If a student with a disability regularly skips class, instructors should call and speak with a Disability Services Access Specialist to discuss these accommodations. Then, the student's Access Specialist will discuss the circumstances with the student and render an appropriate decision.

Q: Does Disability Services provide assistance in labs for students who have disabilities that might interfere with lab assignments? Are these assistants required to be present?

If an authorized student requests a lab assistant, this accommodation must be provided. When possible, instructors can arrange for an assistant by finding a volunteer in the classroom. If an assistant cannot be found, Disability Services will provide a lab assistant for students who need this arrangement in class. The assistant will carry out the functions of the lab assignment with specific directions from the student enrolled in the class. A lab assistant will not do the work in place of the student. Instead, the lab assistant is there to provide access for students who are not able to see components of the lab or to gather and manipulate the instruments necessary for the lab.

Interpreting/Transcribing/Captioning/Alternative Media

Q: Must an interpreter or a transcriber be present in class to serve a student who is D/deaf or hard of hearing? What if the classroom is very crowded or students watch the interpreter instead of the instructor?

Yes, if a student is approved to use an interpreter or a transcriber, the provision of this service is mandatory. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act as Amended require that qualified students with disabilities have equal access to an education. This includes having a sign language interpreter or transcriber in the classroom when there is a need. Other students in the class will eventually adjust to having the interpreter or transcriber in their class.

Q: Can I (the professor/instructor) get a copy of the class transcription notes?

The transcription notes are part of a Disability Services approved accommodation for a specific student based on a specific need, and are not freely available to any other students and/or the class professor/instructor.

Q: Can a Transcriber from the Office of Student Life Disability Services perform this task for me?

Typically, there is a fee for transcribing and/or captioning media.  Transcribers will only transcribe and/or caption media at no cost if it is in relation to a class in which a Deaf or Hard of Hearing student is already enrolled and for which that accommodation has been previously approved by the Office of Student Life Disability Services.  However, other media outside of those parameters may be transcribed and/or captioned at the Office of Student Life Disability Services’ discretion.  Contact Disability Services for pricing and more information.

Q: I have videos I want to show in my class.  How do I make them accessible?

Professors and/or instructors should be proactive in ensuring media accessibility, including selecting videos which are closed captioned, and playing the media with the captions turned on.  When creating videos, you should also create captions for your video.  There are numerous ways to self-caption your videos, with many resources on the Web to show you how.  The Accessible Classroom Technologies (ACT) wiki is a repository of tips, guidelines, techniques, and other resources dedicated to making classroom media and other technologies at OSU usable for everyone, including people with disabilities.  Follow this link to learn more about what you can do to ensure media accessibility:

Note that YouTube auto-captions are not recommended and are often highly inaccurate.  You cannot rely on YouTube auto-captions to provide accessibility.

Q: How far in advance must instructors select their course texts and audiovisual media to accommodate students who are authorized for text conversion or captioning through Disability Services?

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act as Amended require that qualified students with disabilities have equal access to an education. Thus, students authorized for alternative media and captioning need to be able to access their resources at the same time as others in the class. Textbook conversion is a time-consuming, labor-intensive task; likewise, captioning videos can require significant front-end work. Because of this, selecting course texts and videos in a timely manner is extremely helpful to Disability Services. Without sufficient notice of selections, Disability Services cannot promptly convert materials to an appropriate format, requiring students to start the academic term without equal access to their materials. For these reasons, instructors are advised to return their text and audiovisual materials selections within 2 – 4 business days after initial request from Disability Services staff.

Academic Performance and Assessment

Q: What should instructors do to assist students who have difficulty in their classes? What should instructors do when they suspect a student may have an undisclosed disability?

Many instructors may feel uncomfortable recommending a student to use services at Disability Services. However, some students who could greatly benefit from accommodations may simply not be aware of this option. When instructors suspect a student is experiencing academic difficulties because of a disability, privately sharing their observations with the student may be beneficial. Although it is ultimately the student’s choice to disclose a disability to Disability Services, a referral to the office can lead students to explore this means of assistance. Instructors should suggest such students contact Disability Services for further information, advising them that registration with Disability Services is confidential and will not be noted on their academic record. Disability Services staff can explain the registration process or refer students to qualified professionals who can make a diagnosis. Students may also find Student Life Counseling and Consultation Service and the Student Life Student Advocacy Center helpful in surmounting the difficulties they face both in and out of class.

Q: Can instructors call Disability Services to speak with an Access Specialist about a specific student with a disability?

Instructors should feel comfortable contacting the Access Specialists at Disability Services to discuss student issues. Access Specialists are able to provide insight, guidance, and possible solutions to problems in the classroom. Access Specialists often converse with instructors about difficult situations, and they are excellent resources for help understanding a policy, an accommodation, or how to best help a student. That said, unless the student in question has signed a release of information, Access Specialists are not permitted to discuss with instructors the nature of that student’s disability.

Q: Are instructors required to lower the standards of a required assignment because a student has a disability? How do disability accommodations impact student grading?

All university students, including those registered with Disability Services, are expected to perform the essential functions of the class. Work performed by students with disabilities should be equivalent to their peers’ and should be graded according to the same standards. Of course, instructors are always wise to discuss their observations with all students experiencing difficulty in their classes, whether or not those students have a disability.

At times, a student registered with Disability Services may ask for additional accommodations that are above and beyond what has been specifically mandated or approved. In other cases, a Disability Services Access Specialist may contact an instructor directly to discuss a student’s request to modify an assignment. In these circumstances, collaboration between the Access Specialist, the student, and the instructor will reveal how best to assist this student. Such situations are never cut-and-dry; instructors should contact an Access Specialist whenever they are unsure about approved accommodations.

© 2018 The Ohio State University - Disability Services
098 Baker Hall, 113 W. 12th Ave, Columbus, OH 43210
Phone: 614-292-3307 | Fax: 614-292-4190 | VRS: 614-500-4445 | General Questions: | Exam/Quiz Accommodations:
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