Office of Student Life

Disability Services

2021-2022 Operational Changes

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Webinars for Students and Instructors

We invite students and instructors to attend our beginning-of-semester webinars to learn more about our operational changes. Register for a session below.

For SLDS-registered students (20 minute sessions):

Week Before Classes Start:

1st Week of Class:

2nd Week of Class:

For new instructors (includes introduction to managing accommodation requests):

For returning instructors (covers operational changes only):


Operational Changes in SLDS Exam Services

In the coming academic year, Student Life Disability Services (SLDS, Columbus campus) will resume offering in-person exam proctoring. Prior to the pandemic, the number of SLDS-proctored exams doubled between autumn 2014 and autumn 2019. In order to meet this growing demand with the available resources, SLDS (Columbus) will be making the following operational changes this autumn:

  1. Seat Cap for Scheduling: Historically, SLDS has not limited the number of exams that could be scheduled at the same time. Going forward, students will only be able to schedule an exam in our AIM database if there truly is a seat available.
  2. 3-Day Scheduling Window: To implement the seat cap while meeting exam demand, SLDS will allow students to schedule their exams within a 3-day window (class exam day + 2 days after). Students are expected to schedule as close to their class time as possible, but due to the seat cap and scheduling conflicts this will not be feasible for all assessments. Faculty will be required to be flexible in allowing students to test within this 3-day window. Instructors may choose to create different versions of their exam (of equivalent difficulty).
  3. Start Times on the Half-Hour: To maximize efficiency of available seats, SLDS will require exam start times to be scheduled on half-hour increments (10 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11 a.m.). SLDS will also implement a plus or minus 15-minute grace period for check-ins to accommodate students’ travel time or class conflicts.

For more details on these logistics, please read our FAQ (below).

Throughout the past year, many instructors have developed new and innovative ways to assess student learning without using timed exams. SLDS strongly encourages instructors and departments to continue this practice, following the principles of Universal Design for Learning. While UDL does not eliminate the need for all accommodations, it can create a more accessible and inclusive educational experience for all students.

Instructors or departments that are not amicable to these operational changes are welcome to proctor their own accommodated exams in-house. Instructors or departments are always welcome to consult with SLDS staff to discuss other assessment strategies or in-department proctoring options.


Exam Services - FAQ

--- GENERAL FAQ / STUDENT FAQ ---

Q: Why is SLDS implementing a 3-day testing window?

We currently do not have enough physical space to proctor all exams at their class-designated times.  To prevent overscheduling while also meeting current demand, it requires us to spread out our exam administration over a longer window of time.  A 3-day window (test designated day + 2 business days after) will ensure adequate seating while also factoring in students who must work around their own class schedules.

Q: When does the 3-day window start/end, and when can students schedule within the window?

The 3-day window starts on the class-designated test day and ends at the end of the SLDS business day, two days later. Students are expected to schedule as close as possible to the class-designated time, but may need to schedule at other times due to seat availability or scheduling conflicts. Please note that some students may need to take their exam earlier than the rest of the class on the class-designated test day. SLDS will ask students to submit an explanation of their scheduling conflicts with their exam requests, when applicable.

Q: Does this affect Carmen exams which are not proctored in-person?

No. If an exam is administered on Carmen without in-person proctoring (i.e. the class take their tests at home), then SLDS will not proctor those exams unless it is necessary for providing an accommodation (e.g. alternative format, test assistant). Students who only need extended time will take their Carmen exams on their own just like their classmates. Instructors are responsible for adjusting the time allotted, availability windows, and due dates in Carmen accordingly to match with students’ accommodations.

Q: When should students submit their scheduling requests? What is the scheduling deadline for exams?

Students are strongly encouraged to reference their syllabi and proactively book their testing seats in AIM at the beginning of the semester. Our scheduling deadline for quizzes/exams is one week in advance of a student's requested day. For final exams held during the university's Finals Week, the deadline is Wednesday, Nov. 17th.

Q: What if a student can't find an open seat in the 3-day window?

We anticipate that most students will be able to schedule within the same day as the class, and virtually all students will be able to within the 3-day window. In the rare event that a student cannot find an open seat within their 3-day window, the student should contact our Exam Services team (slds-exam@osu.edu). We will work with that student individually to find a testing space.

Q: How does this affect students who have an acute flare-up of their disability and need a makeup exam (i.e. students approved for attendance/deadline modifications)?

In the event of an acute episode of their disability, students who have an exam scheduled with SLDS will be allowed to make up their exam within a reasonable timeframe (typically 1-3 business days from their originally scheduled day). The exact day/time will depend on the severity of the flare-up, seat availability at SLDS, and if an instructor needs time to create a makeup exam. Students are expected to notify their instructor in the event of an acute flare-up, and then communicate with the instructor and SLDS to identify an agreeable make-up date/time.

Note that this information only applies to exams originally scheduled at SLDS. Students who were originally planning to take their exam with the class should take their makeup exam with their instructor/designee or at the OSU Testing Center.

Q: How will SLDS proctor students who are approved for full-semester remote participation or who are in quarantine/isolation?

We encourage utilizing Carmen to administer a remote exam, with Lockdown Browser and Proctorio as potential options. We will review requests for remote proctoring of individual exams on a case-by-case basis depending on the course delivery method, the assessment format, and the student’s approved accommodations.

--- INSTRUCTOR FAQ ---

Q: How does this affect instructor submission timeline of exam materials?

Instructors are expected to submit exam materials in the AIM Instructor Portal by 3:00 p.m. the day before a scheduled exam. If instructors want to specify exam versions for specific students or specific dates, please include these instructions when submitting the materials.

Q: Can I opt out of the 3-day window? What alternatives are there?

If SLDS proctors the exam, then the 3-day window is required. Students testing at SLDS will be expected to schedule their exam as close as possible to the class-designated time, but with the seat cap and scheduling conflicts that will not always be possible. If this operation is challenging to course design, you may consider these alternatives:

  • Redesign the exam for all students as an untimed, non-proctored take-home assessment.
  • Administer the exam on Carmen, adjusting the time limit, due dates, and availability windows accordingly to match your students’ accommodations. You may choose to use Lockdown Browser or Proctorio for AI proctoring, or set up a Zoom meeting for you to proctor live.
  • Provide in-person proctoring with the proper accommodations within an academic department location. SLDS staff are available for consultation on the logistics for providing exam accommodations in compliance with policy (e.g. creating a distraction-reduced testing space).

Throughout the past year, many instructors have developed new and innovative ways to assess student learning without using timed exams. SLDS strongly encourages instructors and departments to continue this practice, following the principles of Universal Design for Learning. While UDL does not eliminate the need for accommodations, it can create a more accessible and inclusive educational experience for all students.

Q: How can I ensure academic integrity if my students take their exams at different times?

There are steps you can take to maximize academic integrity in your assessment design, such as offering more frequent low-stakes assessments, utilizing a bank of test questions to create different versions of the exam, designing tests to be open-book, waiting to distribute graded exams until all students have taken their exams, and choosing higher-order questions as opposed to memorization recall.

For more strategies and resources, check out these articles from the Teaching & Learning Resource Center:

Q: How will I know when students are scheduled to take their tests at SLDS?

You will receive reminder emails to submit exam materials within a few days of the scheduled date. You can access the AIM Instructor Portal and select “Alternative Testing” to view all of your students’ scheduled exams. This page is also where you can complete Testing Agreements, submit exam materials, and download completed exams. Click here to view the Instructor Portal tutorial.


Attendance/Deadline Modifications (ADM) Updates

During the past year, SLDS engaged with students and faculty in a series of pilot programs and listening sessions to identify improvements for the “attendance/deadline modifications” (ADM) accommodation. Based on that feedback, we are making the following changes to ADM for the upcoming year for all campuses.

Update #1: Offering a Spectrum of Options

ADM will be expanded to include 3 distinct accommodation types (described below) in order better meet individual student needs. As part of the transition, legacy students will default to the 2nd option (intermittent flex plans), but are encouraged to contact their Access Specialist if another category better fits their needs.

  1. One-Off Flexibility as Needed: This accommodation is best suited for students who have had a recent history of stable symptoms which have not impacted classes (e.g. stable medical condition). SLDS will make note of the accommodation internally, but since this is unlikely to affect their classes, no proactive plan with faculty is needed. In the rare event of an acute episode, students will contact SLDS and their instructor and we will work together to handle the situation on a case-by-case basis.
  2. Intermittent Flex Plan: Formerly known as “ADM Agreements”, flex plans are best suited for students who have recurring acute episodes or medical treatments which interrupt their academics for a few days at a time (e.g. migraines). This accommodation will be similar to the old ADM process, with some procedural changes (see Update #2, below).
  3. Remain-in-Class Plan: This accommodation will be approved on a temporary, as-needed basis for students who are experiencing a prolonged acute episode (e.g. significant depressive episode) or are needing extended medical treatment (e.g. partial hospitalization program). SLDS will engage with faculty in determining if there are options for the student to still make academic progress in the course (e.g. asynchronous participation, deadline extensions, taking an incomplete). If no options are feasible, SLDS will work with the student and their advisor to explore options, such as withdrawing from the course.

Update #2: Changes to Process for Intermittent Flex Plans

While the overall concept of flex plans (formerly “ADM Agreements”) is not changing, SLDS is implementing the following improvements to incorporate student and faculty feedback:

  • Qualtrics Form: The flex plan form which instructors complete will now be on Qualtrics, allowing for dynamic responses and a more user-friendly experience. The link is: go.osu.edu/flexplan
  • Course-Based Plans: Instructors will only need to complete one flex plan form per course (or course section, if policies vary between sections). The form is designed to focus on identifying flexibility that makes sense based on the course’s learning outcomes and instructional design.
  • Default Option: On the Qualtrics form, instructors can now opt-in to using SLDS’s provided “default flex plan.” The default plan outlines a baseline of flexibility that should work for many traditional lecture courses. Instructors are encouraged to NOT use the default plan for courses with significant hands-on or interactive components, such as labs and clinical.
  • Form Completed by Instructors First; No Student Meeting Required: Instructors can complete the flex plan form proactively by navigating to our website, or after receiving their first Course Accessibility Letter with a flex plan request. Instructors should complete the form without waiting for or requiring a student to communicate with them. Because the flex plan is based in the curriculum and could apply to any eligible student in the course, individual student conversations are not necessary prior to completing the form. 
  • Instructors Responsible for Individually Distributing Flex Plans to Students: Like the old ADM process, instructors will distribute flex plans to students, though the steps will look slightly different. After completing the Qualtrics form, instructors will receive a confirmation email with their responses, faculty instructions, and student instructions. As instructors receive Course Accessibility Letters from students, instructors will then individually forward that confirmation email to each student who requested a flex plan. As always, students then have the opportunity to ask the instructor questions or contact SLDS with concerns about the flex plan.

ADM Updates - FAQ

--- GENERAL FAQ ---

Q: Why are you making these changes to ADM? 

After receiving feedback from students and faculty, both generally and as part of last year’s pilot programs and listening sessions, we identified several pressure points with our old process: too one-size-fits-all to meet individual student needs; students having to negotiate in a power-down dynamic with their faculty; inconsistent implementation between classes; inefficient workflow and unclear guidance for instructors; and misconceptions about the accommodation’s purpose, scope, and application.  

These new changes are designed to address these pressure points the best we can with our available resources. By expanding ADM into a spectrum of options, each with a clearly defined purpose and more streamlined process, we hope to provide a more effective and user-friendly experience for students and faculty. 

Q: What types of situations or disabilities would qualify a student for ADM? 

Broadly speaking, students qualify for ADM if they have a disability with acute episodes or essential medical treatment which conflicts with their coursework. The following table breaks down each ADM option, the intended purpose, and examples of qualifying disabilities. 

ADM Option Intended for... Examples of Disabilities

One-Off Flexibility as Needed (for recently stable conditions)

Students who have had a recent history of stable symptoms which have not impacted classes. 

Diabetes without recent episodes, generalized anxiety disorder without recent flare-ups 

Intermittent Flex Plan (formerly “ADM Agreements”) 

Students who have recurring acute episodes or medical treatments which interrupt their academics for 1-2 days at a time. 

Crohn’s Disease, migraines, generalized anxiety disorder, PTSD, recurring out-of-town medical appointments 

Remain-in-Class Plan (temp approval only)

Students who are experiencing a prolonged acute episode, or have extended medical treatment 

Extended depressive episode, surgery recovery, chemotherapy, intensive outpatient program (IOP), partial hospitalization program (PHP) 

 

Q: What are the terms of the default flex plan that instructors can opt-in to using? 

  • Attendance (if graded): 50% additional excused absences 
  • Participation (if graded): Asynchronous opportunity to make up points (e.g. written contribution, reading summary) 
  • Quizzes/Exams (if date-specific): Makeup opportunity within 1 week 
  • Deadlines (for solo assignments): Extend up to 3 days 

Q: What is not covered by a flex plan?

Flex plans are NOT intended to provide...

  • Unlimited flexibility. Almost all classes have a limit to the amount of flexibility possible, based on the course design.
  • Automatic flexibility. A flex plan should only be applied in the event of a disability-related acute episode or essential medical treatment. 
  • Flexibility for perfectionism, avoidance coping, or executive functioning. If these issues are impacting a student's academics, they should contact their Access Specialist to discuss available support and resources.
  • Flexibility for chronic limits on productivity. If a student's disability causes them to not have enough productive hours in the day to keep up with their coursework (i.e. spoons theory), they should contact their Access Specialist to discuss options. There may be other accommodations, such as a reduced course load, that would better fit their needs.

--- STUDENT FAQ ---

Q: I was approved for ADM prior to AU21. What am I eligible for now? 

If you were approved for ADM prior to AU21, you are by default eligible for an Intermittent Flex Plan (formerly “ADM Agreement”).  If you believe another option better fits your needs, please contact your Access Specialist to adjust your accommodations. 

Q: How do I request ADM for my autumn classes? 

Instructions:

  1. Review the course syllabus for relevant policies. Determine if you will need any adjustments. Remember, flex plans are not retroactive, so it’s important to make a request at the beginning of the semester. 
  2. After sending your Course Accessibility Letters, watch for a forwarded email from your instructor regarding the details of the flex plan. If you don’t hear back in 1-2 days, reach out to your instructor to request a copy of the Intermittent Flex Plan for the course (click here to download a sample email template). If they need the link for the form, it's go.osu.edu/flexplan.  If you do not hear back from your instructor, contact your Access Specialist. 
  3. Review the flex plan. If you agree with the terms, no additional steps are necessary. Follow the terms of the flex plan, including the instructions for communication.  
  4. If you have concerns about the terms of the flex plan, contact your Access Specialist within one week of receiving the flex plan to request modifications. 

Parameters:

  • Troubleshooting/Conflict: Under no circumstances are you solely responsible for the resolution of conflicts arising from disability-related absences. Please contact SLDS if a conflict or disagreement occurs with your instructor. 
  • Communication: Clear and prompt communication is key. Contact your instructor as soon as you are able to when you need to utilize Intermittent Flex Plan flexibility due to a flare-up. (click here to download a sample email template). The instructor will also indicate specific communication expectations in the flex plan. 
  • Makeup Exams: Your instructor should offer you a makeup exam of equivalent difficulty in the event you have an acute episode, even if the course policy is to drop the lowest exam or offer a comprehensive makeup exam at the end of the semester. While you may choose to opt-in to these alternative options, an equivalent makeup exam must be on the table. Contact your Access Specialist if you run into issues receiving an equivalent makeup exam. 
  • Falling Behind: If at any point your symptoms worsen to the point that you are falling behind and are unable to meet the terms of your flex plan, contact your instructor and Access Specialist. We can work together to determine the best path forward. 
  • Asynchronous “Weekly Participation” Assignments: Intermittent Flex Plans are intended to address disability flare-ups in which you are able to resume your academic work within 1-2 days. Therefore, flexibility is not automatically applicable to asynchronous participation assignments which are open for a week, such as discussion board posts or short Carmen quizzes. You are expected to complete these exams/assignments within their standard timeframes. However, if you experience a hospitalization or significant flare-up and cannot resume your academic work within 1-2 days, or if you experience a flare-up on the due date, please contact your Access Specialist and instructor so that we can discuss options. 

Q: What if I’m approved for an Intermittent Flex Plan, but I have an acute episode that lasts longer than 1-2 days? 

Contact your Access Specialist and explain the situation. We will handle longer flare-ups on a case-by-case basis. If an acute episode is so prolonged that is threatening your ability to make progress in the course, we may consider approving you for a remain-in-class plan. 

--- INSTRUCTOR FAQ ---

Q: What are my responsibilities with the new process for Intermittent Flex Plans? 

Instructions:

  1. After receiving your first flex plan request, complete the online flex plan form (go.osu.edu/flexplan). You only need to complete one form per course (or course section, if policies vary between sections). Instructors may choose to fill out the form proactively at the beginning of the semester. After completing the Qualtrics form, you will receive a confirmation email with your responses, faculty instructions, and student instructions. 
  2. No student meeting is required prior to completing the form. Because the flex plan is based in the curriculum and could apply to any eligible student in the course, individual student conversations are not necessary prior to completing the form. While you are welcome to encourage students to meet with you to discuss accommodations, it should not be a prerequisite to you completing the flex plan form. 
  3. As you receive Course Accessibility Letters, please individually forward the confirmation email to each student who requests a flex plan. Do NOT send the plan to multiple students at once, as this would violate student confidentiality. 
  4. Students may follow up with you with questions or contact SLDS if they have concerns about the flex plan. 

Parameters:

  • Troubleshooting/Conflict: Under no circumstances are students solely responsible for the resolution of conflicts arising from disability-related absences. Please contact SLDS if a conflict or disagreement occurs. 
  • Documentation and Communication: The need for a student’s flex plan has been documented through Disability Services; no additional medical documentation is needed. If your course policy requires medication documentation for an excused absence, make-up exam, etc., the student's Course Accessibility Letter should serve as sufficient documentation. The student is still expected to maintain prompt and regular communication with you as flare-ups occur throughout the semester. 
  • Makeup Exams: Makeup exams of equivalent difficulty must be offered to students with flex plans, even if the course policy is to drop the lowest exam or offer a comprehensive makeup exam at the end of the semester. While a student may choose to opt-in to these alternative options, an equivalent makeup exam must be on the table. 
  • Asynchronous Weekly Participation Assignments: Deadline flexibility is not automatically applicable to smaller, asynchronous "weekly participation" assignments, such as discussion board posts and short Carmen quizzes. Since flex plans are intended to address flare-ups lasting 1-2 days, students are expected to submit these assignments by the standard deadline. If a student experiences a hospitalization or significant flare-up and cannot resume their academic work within 1-2 days, or if they experience a flare-up on the due date, then then student should contact you and their Access Specialist to discuss options. 
  • Carmen Quizzes:  If you have Carmen quizzes and a student is also eligible for extended testing time (e.g. 1.5x extended time), you still need to adjust their quiz time limit accordingly
  • Falling Behind: If at any point students’ symptoms worsen to the point that they are falling behind and are unable to meet the terms of your flex plan, please contact the student’s Access Specialist. We can work together with the student to determine the best path forward. 

Q: Where’s the link to the new Qualtrics form for Intermittent Flex Plans? 

go.osu.edu/flexplan

Q: When should I fill out a flex plan form? 

For larger classes in which you likely will have multiple students approved for a flex plan, best practice would be to proactively fill it out either prior to or right at the beginning of the semester. If you do not complete it proactively, you should complete it after receiving your first flex plan request on a student’s Course Accessibility Letter. 

Q: This is my first time creating a flex plan and I'm not sure what's an appropriate level of flexibility. What advice do you have?

Our default plan (described in the general FAQ above) is a good baseline to start from and then modify based on the particulars of your course. We also encourage you to review our instructor guidance. We're also happy to talk to you one-on-one about your course and what flexibility is appropriate.

Q: I like meeting with students to discuss their accommodations. Can I still request that students meet with me? 

Student and instructor relationships and communication are critical to academic life, and SLDS supports that. At the same time, we as university employees have an obligation to accommodate students in a timely manner. When students generate their Course Accessibility Letters, that functionally is them communicating their needs to you. While you are welcome to encourage students to meet with you to discuss accommodations, it should not be a prerequisite to you completing the flex plan form or sharing the confirmation email with them. 


Notetaking Support - New Technology Options and Workshops for Students

We are excited to announce new notetaking support options for students! These new options are the result of a year-long assessment of our notetaking support accommodation (student survey, feedback sessions, benchmarking, and literature review). The latest educational psychology literature shows that taking your own notes in class gives you not only a product benefit from the notes themselves, but also a process benefit from the enhanced learning outcomes of actively engaging with the lecture. In the spirt of supporting student learning, we want to provide you with the tools and resources to support and enhance your own notetaking.

  • New notetaking technology/apps available: We are now able to offer new notetaking technologies/apps to students free of charge! Utilizing technology can help mitigate the cognitive overload many students experience when trying to take notes in class. Apps such as Glean and Notability offer features like PowerPoint slide integration and audio syncing/playback that make it easier to create effective notes. Review our Notetaking Technology Options Guide to compare our recommended options, and contact your Access Specialist to submit your request.
  • Disability-inclusive notetaking workshops and consultations: We have partnered with the Dennis Learning Center to offer disability-inclusive workshops on active notetaking strategies. You’ll learn how to recognize instructor emphasis and determine which information is most relevant, how to organize lecture content, and how to use abbreviations and symbols to be an efficient note-taker. Click here to register for an upcoming workshop. You can also sign up for a 1-on-1 consultation with an academic coach to review notetaking strategies, study skills, and more!
  • Access to lecture slides in advance: This newly-reworded accommodation is selectable in AIM and will appear on your Course Accessibility Letters. Having access to the lecture slides can support your own notetaking in two ways: (1) you can review the slides prior to class to prime yourself for the content, and (2) using the slides as an outline, you can focus your notetaking on adding on supplemental information from the lecture.

If you were previously approved for peer notetakers, you will remain eligible for peer notetaking services. We do encourage you to consider the above alternatives which may better support your own learning.