Discussing Accommodations with Instructors (For Students)
Discussing the nature of your disability (not the disability itself, unless you choose to do so) with your instructors is imperative to helping them understand your needs. The ability to clearly request accommodations and explain your needs is a skill that will help you in all aspects of life. The following suggestions can make your discussions more comfortable and more effective.
- Plan Ahead – Think about what you will say ahead of time. You may wish to write out a script and practice it before the meeting. Some instructors may not be familiar with your specific need, so you should be prepared to give a brief explanation of how your disability affects you academically.
- Make an appointment – Making an appointment with your instructor will ensure that he or she has set aside time to listen to you without distractions. It is not appropriate to approach an instructor at the beginning or end of a class session to give him/her your form as you will not have the instructor’s undivided attention. You will also not have the privacy such a discussion deserves. During the appointment, be sure to clarify with the instructor exactly how the special accommodations will be arranged.
- Be clear and pleasant – Approaching the discussion in a cooperative, rather than demanding, manner is most effective. You need to work in cooperation with the instructor. For example, if extended time and a quiet room for exams are two of your accommodations, ask where the instructor would like you to take exam (e.g., the professor’s office, in an extra classroom, at the Learning Center, etc.). Review and complete the Testing Accommodation form together and ask the instructor to send a signed copy to the Learning Center (the instructions are on the form). It is your responsibility, not the instructor’s, to reserve a testing room at the Learning Center. Define and agree what a reasonable “extended time for assignment completion” is for that particular class.
- Remind instructors of the agreed-upon accommodations – It is helpful to remind instructors about exam accommodations a few days before the test. You should determine in your initial meeting with the instructor how best to contact him or her. For example, ask whether the instructor would like a reminder e-mail note from you, a phone call, or a verbal reminder at the class session just prior to the scheduled test. Then, use this method to remind the instructor a few days before the exam