Guidelines for Helping Students with Disabilities

To: Departmental Executive Officers
From: Raúl Curto, Executive Associate Dean, Helena Dettmer, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs and Curriculum
RE: Guidelines for Helping Students with Disabilities

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The Office of the Provost requires that all instructors review the following information about accommodating students with disabilities.

This information is available at the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity website and is summarized in this memo. The Student Disability Services web site is another important resource for instructors.

We encourage you to discuss these policies and procedures at a faculty meeting and to share them with others, particularly with new instructors, including teaching assistants.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states that "no otherwise qualified handicapped individual shall, solely by reason of the handicap, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."

Compliance with this law requires that academic institutions like The University of Iowa provide the same opportunity for students with disabilities to achieve success in the classroom that it provides to other students. 

In order to comply with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, instructors must announce procedures for arranging approved academic accommodations in class at the beginning of each semester.

  • Accommodations should be handled discretely, keeping in mind the importance of a student’s privacy and of confidentiality as required under FERPA.
  • A statement on how a student may request accommodations must be included on the course syllabus. CLAS recommends using the following statement, as provided on the CLAS syllabus insert: “A student seeking academic accommodations should first register with Student Disability Services and then meet privately with the course instructor to make particular arrangements. See for more information.”

Please follow these procedures if a student discloses a disability:

  • If Student Disability Services has determined that the student is eligible for accommodations, the student will have a Student Academic Accommodation Request (SAAR) form that explains the accommodations approved by Student Disability Services (as based on the information provided by the student's health care provider).
  • The student is responsible for sharing this form with the instructor; the student and instructor determine the best method for providing the required accommodations.
  • Instructors must comply with the request for accommodations as indicated on the SAAR form.
  • If the instructor has concerns or questions about the recommended accommodations, the instructor should contact Student Disability Services for more information (335-1462).
  • A student who has a disability but does not have the required SAAR form should be referred to Student Disability Services for information on how to apply for services. Students should be encouraged to begin this process as soon as possible since medical documentation is required.
  • Students seeking accommodations meet with their SDS advisor each semester to renew the Student Academic Accommodation Request (SAAR) form.

A sample copy of the SAAR form and related information can be found on the CLAS Teaching Policies and Resources web pages (see Students with Disabilities).

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.


SDS Contact Information

Student Disability Services

3015 Burge Hall

Iowa City, IA 52242-1214



TTY: 319-335-1498

Fax: 319-335-3973

Email Address 

Office Hours


8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m.-4:30 p.m.