Skip to Main Content

Information for Faculty

Guidelines for Faculty Teaching Students with Disabilities

Disability Services is committed to function as a resource for faculty. We can assist students and faculty in assessing accommodations and creating universal design in the classroom.

The office can assist faculty/staff in establishing appropriate academic adjustments to maximize a disabled student's potential. The following guidelines are to assist faculty in its legal obligations to students with disabilities and also establish its rights under the law.

Faculty is strongly advised to provide accommodations only if the student brings proper faculty notification from DS. Accommodations are not retroactive. They start from the time the faculty is notified with an appropriate letter of accommodations. Faculty is not obligated to interact directly with outside agencies such as psychologists, medical practitioners, parents and/or other educational institutions. If approached directly, you should redirect the calls to Disability Services, 978-934-4574.

Language Choices for Syllabi Statements

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a reasonable accommodation?

Reasonable accommodation is intended to provide a level playing field for disabled students. Accommodations are not intended to nor will they be used to give a student an unfair advantage. Reasonable accommodation does not necessarily mean earning an "A.

  • A student may be entitled to the following:
  • Additional testing time
  • Distraction reduced environment
  • Use of computer in taking test
  • Use of a calculator
  • Use of a formula sheet (if the formulas are not being tested)
  • Scribe
  • Note-taker

Some typical classroom accommodations:

  • Note-taker
  • Taping lectures
  • Hard copies of overheads prior to scheduled use
  • Preferential seating
  • Accessible classroom
What is additional test time or extended time on tests/quizzes?

Additional test time is generally half to double time added to the regularly allotted test time. Example: If the regular test time is for an hour, then the accommodation is either an hour and a half or two hours. UMass Lowell does not support unlimited time. Extended time applies only to tests and not to classroom assignments, group projects, homework, or term papers. Individualized accommodations will be discussed with faculty as they arise. Disability Services, in conjunction with University policy, does not permit re-testing because a student is dissatisfied with a grade earned unless faculty have a re-test option available for all students.

What is a distraction reduced environment?

A separate, quiet room, uninterrupted by traffic, noise, and other sensory stimulation. This can include empty office space within a department, conference room, etc. Academic Departments are required to provide assistance for administering the exam if such a room is unavailable.


Tardiness is NOT an accommodation. Absenteeism is NOT an accommodation unless in selective cases these have been approved by the DS and discussed with the instructor. Obviously, a published attendance policy lends clarity and accountability to the process. Please publish quiz/exam dates and project expectations. The clearer the syllabus, the less room there is for misinterpretation of course expectations.

Tape Recording

For many disabled students tape recording lecture material is a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Students registered with  Disabilities Services will present a Tape Recording Agreement form to each instructor in each class that is to be taped.

Class Cancellation Policy

It is helpful to publish the University’s school cancellation line: 978-934-2121 in the syllabus. Some hearing impaired/deaf students require the services of Sign Language Interpreters. Cancellation of this service requires 24-hour notification or the University is financially liable. Whenever possible, please notify the student directly or Disability Services and we will contact the student and the interpreters. Many students with physical disabilities rely on family, friends, hired or public transportation to get to and from campus. Although not necessary, it is immeasurably helpful to notify a student of an unplanned class cancellation. A phone call from an instructor (or an office staff member) can save a physically disabled student time, money and energy.

Foreign Language Substitution

When appropriate, a student with a language-based learning disability, deafness, and/or a substantial loss of hearing may qualify for substitution of the foreign language requirement. Determination for a Disability Language Waiver is made by Disability Services with proper notification to the department chair.

Disability Services encourages faculty to use the DS as a resource for questions, clarifications, discussion of a student's learning style/strategies, and/or any other areas of concern.


Do you have questions? Please contact us.

Related Links: