FAQs for Faculty about Student Accommodations

The Office of Accessibility Services (OAS) coordinates reasonable accommodations for student with disabilities at Geneseo to ensure equal access to the College’s programs, services, and facilities. Although it is the responsibility of the OAS to ensure compliance to federal and state regulations to prevent discrimination and ensure equal access, it is also our goal to promote an accessible, inclusive, and welcoming environment for all students.

In addition to our work with students, we are also committed to working with instructors to be transparent, responsive, and supportive in the coordination of accommodations. Below are responses to frequently asked questions pertaining to accommodations and how our office operates. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please contact us via email at access@geneseo.edu,  phone (585-245-5112), or stop by Erwin Hall 22 during business hours, Monday through Friday, 8:00am-4:15pm.

We thank you for the work that you do to ensure that students have an equal opportunity to succeed here at Geneseo. Additional resources can be found on our Faculty Resources page.

What is an accommodation?

An accommodation is support that lowers or removes a barrier caused by a disability or disabling health condition. An accommodation is a means to provide equal access to an individual who is experiencing a substantial limitation in one or more major life activities. For example, a student who experiences processing delays in reading and writing may need more time on time-constrained activities, like an in-class exam.

Accommodations are a means to provide access, but do not guarantee success. The most common accommodations granted on our campus are:

  • Extended time to complete tests, quizzes, etc.
  • Testing in an alternate, quiet space
  • Use of assistive technology in the classroom and for exams
  • Permission to audio-record lectures
  • Reasonable flexibility in course policies (e.g., attendance, make-up exams, assignment deadlines)

It’s up to the student to use their skills and strategies to be successful. If a student requires additional assistance developing academic, social, or self-advocacy skills, our Access Advocates Program provides students with individual support. The Department of Academic Planning and Advising (DAPA) also has Academic Peer Mentors who can provide students with academic support, along with workshops.

What are my legal obligations to accommodate students?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) prohibit discrimination against college students with disabilities. The spirit of these laws is one of inclusion. They provide equal opportunity to students with disabilities so that they may access their education.

As a public institution of higher education that receives federal funding, Geneseo must adhere to the ADA Title II as well as Section 504. The OAS is responsible for reviewing accommodation requests and approving reasonable accommodations to ensure we are aligned with these regulations; the institution as a whole is responsible for accommodating students with disabilities. Please visit our website for more information about rights and responsibilities among students, faculty, and the College.

How does the OAS determine which accommodations may be appropriate?

OAS engages in an interactive process with students to determine appropriate accommodations. This process usually includes a review of documentation, meetings with the student, and if applicable, consultation with faculty colleagues and/or knowledgeable providers. Please visit our website for more information about our academic accommodations process.

A student may start the academic accommodation process at any point in the semester. If a student experiences a new or exacerbated barrier that requires a new accommodation, then they may return to OAS to continue the interactive process. If new accommodations are approved, OAS will create a new letter.

How will I know if my students receive accommodations?

The OAS utilizes a system called Accommodate to manage student requests, accommodation notifications, peer notetakers, Test Bookings, etc. Faculty will receive an email notification to login to Accommodate to review and acknowledge a student's letter of accommodation each semester the accommodations are requested. We encourage students to have a conversation with you about how accommodations are to be managed in your course, but they are not required to do so.

A student’s accommodations in a course are active from the date you receive their official letter. Accommodations are not retroactive to the start of the semester.

What if I am not familiar with an accommodation or I am unsure of how to implement it?

Please contact OAS to discuss the situation. We are here to help with any logistical questions or concerns you may have. The Accommodations Reference Guide on our website provides descriptions and additional information about accommodations.

How do I complete the Modified Attendance Agreement Form?

Please refer to our guidelines for a Modified Attendance Accommodation. We also have a quick video overviewing these guidelines on our Faculty Resources webpage.

The purpose of this accommodation is to provide a reasonable ‘safety net’ for students with severe chronic medical and/or mental health conditions who experience brief, periodic flare-ups of their condition, impacting their ability to attend class, take an exam, or submit an assignment on the due date. Students are still responsible for meeting the essential course objectives. The agreement form is designed to identify reasonable flexibility with regard to attendance and making up assignments and exams in the event of a disability-related absence, while keeping the student on-track. For example, allowing for an additional day or two of excused absences, and a 24–48-hour period to submit an assignment or make up an exam may be reasonable. However, every course is different with regard to policies, pace and format, objectives, activities, etc. The OAS is available anytime to consult with students and/or faculty in the development of the agreement form.

What if I have concerns about how an accommodation intersects with my course?

Please contact the OAS directly instead of the student. An accommodation may not be reasonable if it is a fundamental alteration of the course.

A fundamental alteration generally involves one of the following:

  • A removal of an essential skill
  • A lowering of an objective or standard
  • A change in the essential goal or outcome of the course or assignment
  • The modification of a requirement needed for a specific licensure or certification

These skills, objectives, standards, goals, outcomes, and requirements would generally be included in a course syllabus in order to be considered fundamental. A fundamental alteration would not be reflected in a tradition, absence of consideration, a failure to consider technology, or a pretext of discrimination.

We are developing a new fundamental alteration dispute process. Please note that an accommodation is not automatically omitted if you believe that it fundamentally alters your course; we must go through an interactive process first.

What if I have concerns specifically regarding an audio recording accommodation?

The purpose of the audio recording accommodation is to ensure that the student has equal access to course content presented in class. It is identified as a reasonable accommodation per Section 504. Other students' right to privacy does not supercede a student with a disability's right to an accommodation. Further, New York is a one-party consent state.

If a student has this accommodation, they must submit a completed Lecture Recording Agreement with our office before they are allowed to record class. If you are concerned about class discussion content being recorded, you may speak with your student about the parts of class that may not be appropriate to record and why, such as sharing of personal experiences. Material discussed during the unrecorded part of class may not be tested for grading or necessary to complete an assignment. It may be appropriate to make an announcement to the whole class (so you are not ‘outing’ the student in class) that anyone recording or taking notes, whether permitted or not, to please stop recording/notetaking before personal information/self-disclosure is discussed.

How does the Testing Center operate for students with exam accommodations?

Information on Faculty Procedures for the Testing Center can be found on our website. You may email testingcenter@geneseo.edu or call 585-245-5112 if you have questions regarding a student testing appointment.

A student who is an English language learner is in need of additional time on exams. Does the OAS provide testing accommodations?

The OAS facilitates accommodations for students experiencing disability-related barriers. Students seeking support with language proficiency may be referred to the International Student & Scholar Services Office (isss@geneseo.edu; 585-245-5404).


This page was adapted with permission from the St. Mary's College of Maryland Office of Accessibility Services department (2022)