Faculty Frequently Asked Questions | OAA

Although enrollment rates of students with disabilities in higher education are increasing, some faculty and teaching staff may not be aware of the many services and supports available to students with disabilities.

In particular, instructional staff members may not always be aware of the types of accommodations available or what steps are involved in the accommodations process.


The purpose of the FAQs is to answer common questions regarding the roles and responsibilities of faculty and teaching associates in providing accessible learning for students with disabilities.

If you have any questions and concerns that are not answered by the FAQs, keep in mind that the Office of Accessibility & Accommodation (OAA) Services is the office on campus that determines appropriate accommodations.

We encourage you to contact the Office of Accessibility & Accommodation (OAA) Services when you are in doubt about how best to meet the needs of a student with a disability.

If you have any questions and concerns that are not answered by the FAQs, keep in mind that the Office of Accessibility & Accommodation (OAA) Services is the office on campus that determines appropriate accommodations.

We encourage you to contact the Office of Accessibility & Accommodation (OAA) Services when you are in doubt about how best to meet the needs of a student with a disability.

The OAA in Clark Hall room 226 or x2194

Who is responsible for determining appropriate accommodations?

The Office of Accessibility & Accommodation (OAA) Services is the office on campus that coordinates appropriate accommodations based on the documentation collected from a student's service provider.  

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Are all students with disabilities registered with OAA?

No, it is likely that many students with disabilities have chosen not to be registered with OAA or they may not have met the eligibility criteria for services.

In either instance, faculty do not need to provide these students with accommodations.

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What would be the best way to inform students in the class that I would like to help in facilitating exam accommodations or any classroom accommodations?

It is important that all faculty put a statement about accommodations in their syllabus. For more information, read about creating an accessible syllabus.

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Am I required to provide exam accommodations to OAA registered students who request it?


Students with disabilities are protected by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504. This law requires that qualified students with disabilities get equal access to an education, and this includes exam accommodations.

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A student has asked for accommodations. How do I know the student truly has a disability and needs accommodations?

You can review accommodations by logging into your faculty portal on Accommodate. If you do not see information for a particular student, please contact our office to inquire further, or direct the student to OAA, as they may not yet have registered with our office.

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I have a student in class who told me that she/he has a disability, but since that time has never requested any accommodations. Am I still responsible for accommodations?

No, you are only responsible for reasonable accommodations if requested.

In these types of situations, however, it would be appropriate to speak to the student privately to let the student know that you welcome the opportunity to discuss reasonable accommodations if the student is interested.

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What are some of the types of exam accommodations available to students with disabilities?

First of all, exam accommodations are based upon the student's functional limitations and the documentation of disability that the student has provided OAA.

Some of these accommodations include but are not limited to: extra time for exams (usually 50 percent extra time but in some cases as much as double time), a distraction-reduced space, an enlarged exam, use of a computer for speech-to-text; text-to-speech; enlargement options; or spelling/grammar check, an enlarged exam, a reader or scribe (a person who writes answers verbatim), image enhancements (converting graphs, charts, and other types of images converted into raised-line format), and the use of videos.

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A student with a disability has requested that she/he take an exam at OAA. How do I know that my exam will be safe and that the student will get no unfair advantage?

The OAA has developed a very systematic and secure procedure for getting exams from faculty and returning them once the student has taken the exam.

There are very rigid checking in and checking out procedures for exams, and no student is able to take an exam with appropriate accommodations without authorization.

While exams are at the OAA, they are kept in a locked office drawer during the night. While students are taking the exam, they are monitored. OAA works diligently to rectify any unforeseen issues that might arise. 

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Students with testing accommodations have let me know that they've scheduled to take their tests at the OAA. What information do you need from me? 

After the student schedules their tests to be taken at the OAA, an exam reminder is emailed to the student and you about one week before the test date.  What we need from you is information about how you prefer to provide a copy of the exam to the OAA, what is allowed during the exam (calculator, note card/page, etc.), and your preferred method of return of the completed exam.  It is preferred that you send an email detailing this information to oaa@pacificu.edu.

You may, however, opt to administer the exam yourself to the student, but appropriate exam accommodations must be provided. This includes adaptive technology, a distraction reduced space, reader/scribes, etc. as appropriate. If you are unable to provide appropriate accommodations, or are unsure about what is appropriate, please work with OAA to ensure that the student's accommodation needs are met.

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I've been debating about what book I want to use for my class, but OAA keeps asking me to select a book ASAP. Do I have to?

Yes, please.

Students who are print-impaired have a legal right to equal access to their textbooks or any instruction as their peers. They need to be able to listen to audio files or scanned textbooks at the same time as others in the class.  It takes a student worker of the OAA an hour to scan 30 pages of a textbook and sometimes fewer pages depending upon the quality of the pages.  We want to ensure your students are adequately prepared to thrive in your course - and that begins with them having their materials in a timely manner!

By delaying the selection of textbooks, OAA may not be able to get books converted to an appropriate format in a timely fashion. This means that students may have to start the semester without access to their textbooks. None of us want to contribute to a student getting behind or failing a class.

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When I have a deaf student in class, am I required to have an interpreter or real time captioner in the class too?

My class is very crowded and the students sometimes watch the interpreter instead of me.

You are required by law to have what is essential for the student to have equal access to an education, and this includes a sign language interpreter or real time captioner.

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A student with a disability has asked me for a copy of my notes and overheads. Do I have to give this to the student?

Some students with disabilities have academic accommodations which include assistance in recruiting a note-taker. If you feel your notes and overheads are good, sharing your notes would be of assistance to the student, and very much appreciated.

Sometimes faculty notes are only a brief out line of the actual lecture given. These notes may not be too helpful. It is important that you assist the student in getting access to class notes.  If the student has the academic accommodation "Assistance in recruiting a note-taker", and the student has asked you for this assistance, please help the student find a volunteer note-taker in class by either making the below announcement in class or emailing the below statement to the class without revealing the student's name:

"The Office of Accessibility and Accommodation services is looking for a student in this class who is willing to copy his/her notes for a classmate with a disability. This note-taker must have consistently good attendance and take legible, thorough notes. A person who types his/her notes is preferred when available. Note-takers are offered an honorarium of $10 per credit/per semester for their assistance. If you are interested, please contact OAA, Clark Hall, Room 226; email oaa@pacificu.edu or call 503-352-2194.  Please remember to tell OAA which course you are offering to serve as a note-taker"

If you have a graduate student in class to assist you, and if this person takes notes, these notes may be another option. 

Many faculty and departments have developed website-guided notes. This has been extremely helpful to many students who lack the ability to keep up the pace in taking thorough notes. It may also be appropriate for some students to make an audio recording of a class.

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I have a student who is having difficulty in my class. I think this student may have a disability. What should I do to help the student?

Talk privately with the student to discuss your observations. You may not directly ask them if they have a disability. The student may choose to reveal she/he has a disability.   If this is the case, and the student is already registered with OAA, suggest that the student talk with the OAA about using his/her accommodations. It is also possible that the student has not registered with our office.  In either scenario, please have the student call OAA at 503-352-2194 or visit us in Clark 226 for further information.

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Am I required to lower the standards of a required assignment because the student has a disability?

No, the standards should be the same for all students.  Lowering the standards of a required assignment would not be fair, however, some students with disabilities may exhibit their knowledge, production, and other course expectations differently than their peers.

For example, a student with a learning disability in writing may produce an essay exam by using a computer or scribe rather than writing out an answer without the use of accommodations. The quality of the work should be the same.

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I have a student with a disability getting behind in his/her schoolwork. This student is missing a number of classes and has not handed in several assignments. Although she/he has taken a midterm and used accommodations, the student's grade is about a D.

At this point, the student is not passing the class. Do I have a right to fail a student with a disability?

The student with a disability has the same right to fail as anyone else. Their work should be equivalent to their peers. It may be a good idea to discuss your observations with this student just as you would with anyone else in your class who is experiencing difficulty.

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I have a student who is blind in my chemistry lab. How is she/he going to participate and be graded in his/her lab work?

If possible, assist the student in getting a lab partner or assign a student assistant to work with the student with a disability.

In either situation, the student who is blind should direct the assistant to carry out the functions of the lab assignment.

If a volunteer lab partner cannot be found, suggest to the student that she/he needs to contact OAA as soon as possible for assistance in getting a lab partner. The speed in making these arrangements is critical so that the student will not get behind.

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Do I have any recourse if I disagree about requested accommodations?

To clarify any disagreement about a requested accommodation, please contact our Director.

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How does a student qualify for accommodations?

The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act of 2008  defines an individual with a disability as a person who:

  • has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits a major life activity.
  • has a record or history of such an impairment; or
  • is regarded as having such an impairment.

Pacific University requires a student seeking accommodations for a learning disability to have the disability diagnosed by a licensed psychologist or educational specialist. This documentation is then reviewed by the Director of the Office of Accessibility & Accommodation Services, and the appropriate accommodations are arranged.

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What types of services are offered for students with Learning Disabilities?

Typical services offered to students with learning disabilities include note-takers, classroom accommodations such as sitting near the front of the class, permission to record lectures, audio textbooks, e-text, extra time for exams, segregated testing, advance copies of syllabi and reduced class loads. Decisions regarding services offered are made by OAA and the professor. Students may need other accommodations, but these are the most common accommodations for learning disabled students.

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What do I do if a student requests an accommodation in my class?

If the student is already documented and working with OAA, the faculty member should have received an Accommodation Notification for the student in their OAA Confidential folder in BOX.  If a notification was not received, please contact Kim Garrett to confirm the need for the accommodation.  If you have any question regarding student requests for accommodation, please contact the OAA Director, Kim Garrett kjgarrett_mrc@pacificu.edu   503-352-2171 to discuss.

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Don't some of these accommodations give these students an unfair advantage?

The intent of the ADA is to give people with disabilities a “level playing field”, not an advantage over other students. Students with disabilities have very specific needs and when those needs are accurately identified, the accommodations simply allow them to pursue their education in the same way as students without disabilities.

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How does ADA affect Pacific's admission standards?

The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act of 2008 clearly states that a student must be “otherwise qualified” for admission. This means that they must meet the technical and academic qualifications for entry into the University.

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This document is cited from The Ohio State University Partnership Grant, Improving the Quality of Education for Students with Disabilities