Helping Students with SDS Accommodations: Policy and Procedures

To: Departmental Executive Officers
From: Raúl Curto, Executive Associate Dean, Helena Dettmer, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs and Curriculum and the Humanities
RE: Helping Students with SDS Accommodations: Policy and Procedures

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We are writing to remind you of key Student Disability Services (SDS) accommodation policies and procedures.

As required by the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, instructors must provide reasonable academic accommodations for qualified students with disabilities who present an official SDS letter to the instructor about such accommodations.

Please review these key points, which includes information on exam proctoring services for these students.

  1. A statement about SDS accommodations must be included on the course syllabus. The statement below is recommended by the College and is included on the official CLAS syllabi insert, available for any instructor to use. Many departments also provide this official insert for instructors. Mental health has been included on the syllabus statement at the the recommendation of UI Student Government (UISG) for Fall 2016. Please use the version below, which is also on the CLAS website:

Accommodations for Disabilities: Syllabus Statement
The University of Iowa is committed to providing an educational experience that is accessible to all students. A student may request academic accommodations for a disability (which includes but is not limited to mental health, attention, learning, vision, and physical or health-related conditions). A student seeking academic accommodations should first register with Student Disability Services (SDS) and then meet with the course instructor privately in the instructor's office to make particular arrangements. Reasonable accommodations are established through an interactive process between the student, instructor, and SDS. See for information. 

  1. Instructors should announce procedures for arranging for approved accommodations in class at the beginning of each semester. Remind students that they must present the official letter from SDS that outlines the student’s entitled accommodations; students without the SDS letter may be referred to SDS for help.
  1. Accommodations and SDS status should be handled discretely, keeping in mind the importance of a student’s privacy and of confidentiality as required under FERPA. Please meet with the student privately in order to discuss accommodations and their definitions (see this page for descriptions of various accommodations), while also clarifying responsibilities. SDS welcomes calls from instructors with any questions about accommodations or concerning a particular student. Remember that additional accommodations should not be made for the student if not listed in the student’s letter.
  1. SDS does not provide testing for students who require only 50% additional time to complete an exam and/or reduced distractions. Instead, the instructor and student when meeting together must arrange for this testing time and location. (See 6 below for one proctored testing option; some departments create additional options, such as providing a departmental space proctored by staff or teaching assistants).  Keep in mind that every exam should be proctored and that students should never be left alone to take an exam.
  1. Students needing 100% time or more for exams and/or very specialized services (such as assisted technology, a scribe, or a reader) should take proctored exams at the SDS office. These exams must be scheduled at least 7 days in advance of the exam date. The instructor and student should decide on the date and time of the exam as soon as possible, with the instructor submitting this form: Request Form for SDS to Proctor Exams. SDS exam rooms fill quickly.
  1. The Testing Center in the Division of Continuing Education provides proctoring for students with 50% and/or reduced distractions accommodations if instructors request this service. A form will be available shortly for instructors to use; please watch for more information and visit this web site:
  1. Please educate students about these procedures as well as about any other policies  concerning student absences and make-up exams for illness, religious obligations, sanctioned University activities (accompanied by an official letter), and unavoidable circumstances beyond the student’s control, such as the death of a parent or a serious car accident. It can be helpful to review absence policies throughout the semester and expected deadlines for requesting such make-up exams. The CLAS policy on student absences may be found at this page:  Any instructor or departmental absence policy must be clearly articulated in the syllabus and must be updated each year in ICON or in any form that the syllabus appears, with a clear date on the syllabus indicating the semester and year.  If complaints arise, this policy statement in the syllabus is used to resolve the issue; if the syllabus has an older date on it, it is harder to prove that it contains current policy and procedures.

We appreciate your attention to these very important matters. As questions arise, please let us know since we are more than happy to discuss these policies and procedures. Additional contact information for SDS is below.

Student Disability Services

3015 Burge Hall (located in the lower level)

Iowa City, IA 52242-1214

Phone: 319-335-1462

Fax: 319-335-3973