Skip to main content

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What if I believe that an approved accommodation compromises an essential component of my class or Southern’s program (major/minor)? 

A. Immediately contact the Disability Services Coordinator (DSC) to discuss the issue. The following information is crucial to the discussion of how or if the student can be accommodated in the manner he/she has requested:

  • Specific essential components that might be compromised,
  • The nature of those components, 
  • The reasons those components are “essential.”
    Note: Often these reasons are “obvious” to people in a certain field but not to those outside that area of expertise, so explanations need to be clear enough that the DSC could use them to support Southern’s decision for a Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) investigator. 

 Caution: The Accommodations Data Sheet (ADS) is a legal statement of the Accommodations Committee's decision, so only that committee can make any changes to that document. 

Q. What is the definition of “extra time” for exams? 

A. Unless otherwise noted, standard extra time is time-and-a-half. In the rare circumstance in which more time is approved, the exact amount of extra time will be indicated on the ADS. 

Q. If a student requests an accommodation that does not seem to fit the information on the ADS, am I legally obligated to provide it? 

A. Probably not, but before the request is denied, you can protect yourself and Southern by documenting a discussion with the student and/or the DSC about how the request does or does not provide equal access--no less than that, but no more either. 


Q. How do I provide observable accommodations without breaking confidentiality? 

A. This can be a challenging issue. The best answer is to have a conversation with the student so that you know what the student wishes or understands about how the accommodations might compromise his/her confidentiality.  A student’s level of need for confidentiality usually depends on the nature of the disability and how long the student has been dealing with it, so the best source for information on this issue is the student. Documenting such a conversation with the student is highly recommended. 

Note: The DSC counsels students to present their ADSs at times when they can discuss the manner in which the accommodations might be provided. When students fail to follow that counsel, the professor is encouraged to have students set appointments to have those discussions privately.

Q. What if other students who do not know about a certain student’s disability come to me and ask for the same opportunities the student with a disability has? 

A. While you do not owe that request a detailed explanation, professors generally want to be seen as fair. To strike a balance, please feel free to defer to DSS. You could explain that such deviations in policy are provided as the result of a process which any student is welcome to pursue. Provide the student with the DSC’s contact information (a phone number and name without the title is sufficient) with the reassurance that when the student completes the process and presents documentation of completion, you will then be happy to discuss implementation of their request.

Q. Sometimes I see the need for an accommodation, but the student in need of it has not gone to DSS and/or has not provided an ADS. Don’t I have the right to provide the accommodation anyway?

A. Providing accommodations that have not resulted from the official process puts the professor and Southern at legal risk. The primary issues include

  • Such decisions can be made only after examining appropriate documentation.  A professor's receipt of such documentation can have legal repercussions.
  • "Arrangements" by one professor can be perceived by the student as "accommodations" and cause the student to put pressure on other faculty for the same arrangements.
  • Disability laws provide rights to people who are "perceived" as having a disability, even they do not, so providing an accommodation without approval could open Southern to claims of discrimination based on that perception. 
  • The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) can investigate a complaint made by a student if one professor provides an "accommodation" that another professor does not.
  • Scholastic “success” without documented accommodations could undermine a student's receipt of accommodations in other settings (e.g. graduate school or employment).

Q. Is there anything I can do to minimize the need for academic accommodation(s) in my classes? 

A. Yes. Universal Design in Instruction, which grew out of architectural design, provides access to learning for students with a wide variety of abilities and learning styles, thus improving the educational experience for all students. The following links take you to valuable resources on the subject:

Q. What is the policy regarding audio recording of lectures? 

A. Students who receive the accommodation of recording lectures must follow the policy spelled out in Audio Recording of Intellectual Property and sign an Audio Recording Agreement, which must also be signed by the professor involved. If you have a no-recording policy and a student has not provided you with both an Accommodation Data Sheet and a signed agreement, you are not obligated to allow the recording.

Q. What are my rights if a Service Animal disrupts my class?

A. The student who handles the Service Animal must take responsibility for its behavior and for preventing any fundamental alterations in programs or classes (e.g. barking that is hindering students’ ability to hear/understand professors’ lectures). However, if a Service Animal is excluded from a situation because of disruptive behavior or threats to health and/or safety, the student has the option of returning to the class or program without the animal.  For more information, see policy regarding Service Animals. or go to