Faculty Procedures for Providing Academic Accommodations

The following procedures are guidelines for responding to student requests for academic accommodations on the basis of a disability. Faculty has a responsibility to respond to reasonable requests for academic accommodations from students with disabilities at the Institute. Reasonable requests are determined by Disability and Access Services on the basis of legitimate documentation of a student's disability by an appropriate professional; communications with the faculty and students; accepted practices of disability service providers in higher education; and legal precedent. Response to requests for academic and other types of accommodations by the Institute ensures student's "meaningful access" to essential programs and activities. The question of classroom academic standards is one that Disability and Access Services staff works carefully with faculty to ascertain.

Faculty Notification of Requested Academic Accommodations

Students have been advised to make an appointment to see faculty during faculty office hours to present them with the accommodation letter prepared by Disability and Access Services. The student and faculty should then discuss the requested academic accommodations and exam accommodations outlined in the accommodation letter, to ensure a mutual understanding. Disability and Access Services  has identified an individual within each academic department who serves as a logistical coordinator/Disability and Access Services liaison, assisting faculty and students with the implementation of accommodations. The student must work closely with this individual, as well as with the faculty member, in implementing accommodation logistics.

If a student requesting accommodation does not provide an accommodation letter (prepared by Disability and Access Services), the faculty member and/or logistical coordinator should refer the student to Disability and Access Services to obtain such a letter to verify and ensure the reasonableness, accuracy and legitimacy of the request.

If the faculty member has any concerns about the recommended accommodations, they should convey these concerns to Disability and Access Services immediately.

Student Request for Exam Accommodations

Faculty play an important role by helping to determine whether exam accommodation requests compromise classroom academic standards and by assisting with implementing such requests.

It is the student's responsibility to address the issue of exam accommodations with their faculty members/department coordinators two weeks before each exam date. The established procedure for exam accommodations is for the faculty member/department coordinator to arrange exams within the department in order to monitor the quality and fairness of the test accommodations. This may include arranging for a private room or the coordination of a proctor, reader, or scribe. (See section on Exam Accommodations and Procedures). If the student encounters any problem in arranging for accommodations, they must contact DAS immediately.

Disability and Access Services is here to assist with logistical difficulties which faculty or their departments may encounter in providing student accommodations. The established and preferred procedure is for the first attempts to be made within the teaching staff/department. If these attempts are unsuccessful, Disability Services can advertise and select a scribe or proctor for an exam, or provide a location in the event that faculty/departments cannot do so. Disability and Access Services will pay for a proctor, scribe, etc. if the department can find one, but cannot fund it. We strongly encourage that the location be provided within the academic department.

If the department or faculty cannot provide all or any of the accommodations, the student and Disability and Access Services must be informed as soon as the faculty member/department makes the determination. It is then the responsibility of the student to notify Disability and Access Services within a reasonable amount of time (ASAP).

Exam Accommodations and Procedures

Some examples of test accommodations include: having someone write down a student's dictated answers (using a "scribe"), accessing a written test through auditory means (using a reader or assistive technology), or completing the exam with an additional time allotment. There may also be a request for faculty members (or designated representative of faculty) to judiciously respond to any genuine misunderstanding of exam questions.

To avoid misunderstanding, it is important for the faculty member/department to determine with the student whether the faculty member, the department, or Disability and Access Services (DAS) will be taking responsibility for such arrangements. If the faculty member or department cannot fulfill the student's requested accommodation needs, the faculty member/department must notify the student and DAS immediately so that DAS may have a reasonable amount of time to assist in making arrangements for the accommodation.

Disability and Access Services can advertise and pay for scribes and readers, provide assistive technology, or have the exam prepared in alternative formats (i.e. Braille or large font) if notified within a reasonable amount of time by the student and/or department.

Whether proctors, readers, or scribes are selected by faculty, departments, or by Disability and Access Services, payment for such services can be arranged through DAS (617-253-1674 or das-student [at] mit.edu)

It is important to know that faculty members have rights when an accommodation is requested. One situation which may arise is that a student may ask Disability and Access Services or the faculty member for certain exam accommodations in an untimely manner, i.e. the day before an exam. Students are advised that accommodations must be requested in a timely fashion; if not, they may be denied. Please contact DAS (617-253-1674 or at das-student [at] mit.edu) for any concerns regarding exam accommodations.

Note takers

Disability and Access Services employs a peer note taking system. The Disability and Access Services accommodation letter, delivered by the student, through written notification, will inform the instructor that a student may need assistance in selecting a note taker.

The student with a disability will attempt to find someone in the class to take notes for them. If they do not succeed in finding a note taker, the student may ask the faculty member to announce in class that there is a need for a note taker. Faculty members should protect the student's right to privacy by not offering thier name to the class.

Faculty may direct interested student note takers to contact our staff (617-253-1674 or at das-student [at] mit.edu), DAS will provide a list of potential note takers to the student with a disability, who then may contact these individuals and assume responsibility for engaging one as a note taker. Students choosing to become note takers are paid by DAS at an hourly rate.

Disability and Access Services can assist the student by providing tips on selecting an appropriate note taker. However, it is the student’s responsibility to monitor note takers for accuracy and timely delivery of notes. Any discrepancies should be reported to DAS immediately. If a student needs assistance, in this process, s/he should feel free to contact DAS (617-253-1674 or at das-student [at] mit.edu).

If the student cannot find or maintain a note taker and the faculty member has made "a good faith effort" to facilitate the finding of one, it need not be the role of faculty to then assume this responsibility for making sure that the student has a note taker. Some faculty do assume this responsibility, but doing so is their choice.

Student note takers are paid by Disability and Access Services for their services. Once a note taker is obtained, they should e-mail Disability and Access Services office for payment procedures.

It is mandatory that students using note takers attend class. Note takers are not a substitution for the student's attendance. If a student is unable to attend class for an extended period of time, the note taker as well as Disability and Access Services must be notified. Failure to do so may result in losing notetaking privileges as a person with a disability who can't attend classes (even occasionally) may not be otherwise qualified to take the class.

Other Student Accommodation Requests

Students may also be approved for other accommodations, such as: brailled material, and alternative formats

Prior to the start of each semester, faculty may be contacted by Disability and Access Services, or the student, to obtain a syllabus and a list of required textbooks so that Disability and Access Services begin sourcing  alternative formats

There are many means by which faculty may (and do) teach material effectively to students with various learning needs. Faculty are not, however, required to tailor their teaching methods to address an individual student's special needs. However, practices such as asking students which other aids might be useful, or observing a student's style in recitation or the laboratory, are common ways to facilitate students' access to classroom learning.

If the student's documentation specifies and supports the need for taping classes, it will be stated so in the accommodation letter that is presented to faculty. If faculty have concerns about disclosure of privileged information beyond the classroom, the student may be required to sign a confidentiality statement at the discretion of the faculty member.

Disability and Access Services offers assistance with clarifying the various roles and responsibilities for faculty and students. Informational handouts for faculty regarding specific disabilities are available at DAS. Please contact DAS staff with any other concerns (617-253-1674 or at das-student [at] mit.edu).


The information a student shares with faculty about their disability is confidential information and must be treated as such, according to Institute policy. Avoid discussing disability issues in front of the class or in the presence of other students. Information about a student's disability should not be shared with other faculty members or staff unless they have a specific "need to know." Whether or not a student with a disability prefers to discuss the nature of their particular disability, challenges, or personal history with the faculty member/s is entirely up to the student. Students are not required to relate specifics about their disability when they self-disclose a need for accommodations, having already done this with DAS staff. Contact DAS (617-253-1674 or at das-student [at] mit.edu) if you have concerns regarding the student’s disability or accommodation request(s).

Questions About Accommodations Requests

Disability and Access Services is the resource designated by the Institute for assistance in determining and implementing accommodations in and out of the classroom. If you are uncertain about how to respond to a request, whether a request is reasonable, or if there is disagreement about any phase of an accommodation's provision, it is the faculty member's responsibility to contact Disability and Access Services immediately. Faculty/department should not raise the issues with students.

All inquiries are welcome at das-all [at] mit.edu.