Disability Resource Center

Reasonable Accommodations

Accommodation Process

Students who experience barriers in the curricular environment and wish to request academic accommodations will engage the following process to do so:

    1. Students self-identify to Disability Resources and meet with a staff member to discuss barriers they are experiencing or anticipate in the classroom. Students provide third-party documentation necessary to support requests for specific accommodations.
    2. Once accommodations have been approved by the professional staff, students will be able to utilize the Faculty Notification Screen in STARS to make faculty aware of needed accommodations. Please note that students will only be able to select from a list of accommodations that have been specifically approved by our staff for individual students. When instructors receive the notification via email, they will be able to view a complete list of each student's accommodations through the WIUP DRC Faculty Notification Form (DFNF). The email notification is the official disclosure of disability status and notification of accommodations. Instructors are free to proceed with making plans for accommodations and may contact students to discuss accommodation arrangements.

Audio and video instructions for utilizing this system

Captioned video instructions for utilizing this system

Please note that students are under no obligation to disclose information about specific diagnoses to instructors, and instructors should not ask for this information. However, instructors may discuss observations related to a student's performance or functioning within the classroom to make appropriate referrals, to garner a better understanding of how to design more inclusive curriculum or to better support students in the classroom. Some students will opt to share information regarding diagnoses and faculty should keep this information, as well as all information related to disability status confidential.

Exam Accommodations

When exam accommodations are required in order to allow accurate assessment of a student's knowledge, instructors have the following options:

  1. Administer exams and quizzes with accommodations utilizing resources from within your department.
  2. Utilize Exam Services
  3. Learn more about exam accommodations for online assessments.

Text Conversion

Many textbooks are provided by the publisher in print format only. This creates an educational barrier for students who read differently. For these students, our office converts required print materials to alternative formats. Formats available are electronic, Mp3, Braille and enlarged. Disability Resources staff work directly with students to convert textbooks. Although instructors are not directly involved in this process, they can assist by choosing a textbook in a timely manner and choosing a publisher that offers an electronic format option.

Instructors may plan to use other print documents in the classroom, such as a syllabus, study guides, articles from journals, etc. Faculty can submit these handouts to Disability Resources for text conversion, as necessary. In cases where instructors make these documents available online or in electronic format, building accessibility into the design of the document is encouraged. Making accessible documents is easy and programs like Microsoft Word, PDF and PowerPoint have built-in tools to assist you. For more information on creating accessible documents, check out the following links:

If you have questions or need assistance, please contact us at 309-298-1884 or Disability@wiu.edu.

Note Taking Assistance

Notes from course lectures enhance learning and studying. While the act of taking notes is an important study skill for college students, not all of our students receive, or process verbal information in a manner that allows for accurate note taking or have the physical or sensory ability to copy written material presented in lecture. Therefore, in some cases it is necessary to provide note taking assistance. Note taking assistance can either be built into the structure of the course through Universal Design strategies, such as the group note taking or alternating note taker methods described below, or it can be provided as an accommodation to individual students.

Appropriate Note Taking Assistance

Determining appropriate note taking assistance for each student involves consideration of the specific cognitive, sensory and/or physical abilities (e.g., processing speed, working memory, vision, mobility, hearing, auditory processing, etc.) required to take accurate notes. Depending on the specific student situation,  we may approve one, or occasionally a combination, of the accommodations listed below:

  • Copy of Slides/PowerPoints
  • Copy of Peer Notes
  • Assistive Note Taking Device: Laptop/Tablet
  • Assistive Note Taking Device: Smartpen
  • Assistive Note Taking Device: Portable Braille Device
  • Assistive Note Taking Device: Tape Recorder

Often, decisions about the type of note taking assistance needed are made in the absence of specific course information. As a result, students may request note taking assistance that is not needed in your course because of your course design. Perhaps, you provide all students course notes or your course is based on discussion and/or performance and students are not expected to take notes. In these circumstances, note-taking assistance may not be necessary in your course and you may contact the SDSC to discuss this matter further. At this juncture, it will be important for our staff to gather more information about your course to determine if the accommodation is not needed or a different accommodation is more appropriate.


This accommodation may be recommended in cases where students cannot see the slides at the front of the classroom or where a guide for taking notes will aid in accurate note taking. For this accommodation, slides simply provide an outline for the course while students take their own notes.

Peer Notes

A copy of peer notes is approved when, even with guidance from course slides, students will have difficulty comprehending, evaluating, sorting and/or writing down the information presented in lecture. Below are various methods that can be used to implement this accommodation:

Provide Comprehensive Course Slides/PowerPoints

Some professors wonder if sharing a copy of the course slides would be an appropriate way to implement this accommodation. Course slides would be considered an acceptable substitute for providing a copy of peer notes if they are comprehensive and you stick closely to the slides during your lectures. However, if you expect that students will add a good amount of their own notes to your lecture slides, then it would be necessary to utilize another method for providing more comprehensive notes.

Volunteer Note Taker-Copies 

Instructors announce the need for a volunteer note taker to the class without disclosing the student's identity. During the announcement, potential volunteers should be asked to identify themselves to the instructor after class. Interested volunteers should be directed to contact SDSC directly at 309-298-1884, disability@wiu.edu or 125 Memorial Hall. Staff will make a copy of the volunteer's notes and email them to the student. Students receiving notes from a volunteer note taker will remain anonymous unless they wish to self-identify to the volunteer.

Volunteerism is a part of the culture at WIU, and there are several ways to encourage students to volunteer:
    • Many student organizations require volunteerism as a condition of membership and our staff will track and report hours spent as a volunteer note taker
    • Offer extra credit to those willing to volunteer
    • Approach some of your most reliable students and ask if they are willing to volunteer for this experience
    • Offer this as an opportunity to fulfill a course participation requirement
The DRC employs a graduate assistant who will notify:
    • Instructors when a student requests a copy of peer notes to share information on note taking assistance methods and identify themselves as a support person
    • Instructors when the volunteer note taker makes contact with notetaking staff
    • Students when notes are available
    • Instructors and students receiving notes when problems arise (e.g., volunteer has not made contact with the notetaker coordinator, volunteer stops bringing notes, volunteer's notes are illegible, etc.)
DRC Notes Library

In recent semesters, we have been building a library of class notes. Instructors who are having difficulty finding a volunteer to share notes may check with the Notes Coordinator at 309-298-1884 or disability@wiu.edu to see if we have notes from your past class. If so, we will send the notes to you so that you can review them to see if they are still usable for your current class or if they can be modified in some way to be usable until a volunteer is found.

Alternating Note Taker

As a part of the course participation grade, instructors can assign a new student(s) each day, with the exception of the student requesting the note taking accommodation, to be the note taker. With this method, the accommodation request can be satisfied in a couple of ways:

  • After each course, the assigned note taker would take a copy of their course notes to the SDSC to be copied for the student requesting the note taking accommodation.
  • After each course, the assigned note taker would type their notes and post them on the Western Online discussion board for the entire class. The latter choice is a Universal Design strategy. If you have concerns about class attendance, we recommend randomly assigning the note taking duties.
Group Note Taking

This method of building accessibility into the course has been used effectively by several WIU instructors. As a part of the course design, students are assigned to note taking groups. After class, the students get together in their group to create a final draft of the notes to be posted on the Western Online discussion board. Within those groups, students decide who will be the primary note taker(s) and who will draft the final notes for posting. As a part of class participation, students are encouraged to comment on the notes. The faculty member can monitor and lead the discussion, as needed. This method allows students who have difficulty taking notes to be included in the group. It also encourages development of note taking skills and study groups.

Instructor's Notes

Instructors may choose to create notes for students. While these need not be the detailed notes that faculty may consider their intellectual property, they should adequately summarize the information communicated in course lectures.

Graduate Student Note Taker

Instructors may have a graduate assistant that is available to sit in on the course and take notes to share with students requesting the note taking accommodation.

Absence Leniency

Absence leniency is an accommodation that is recommended most often in cases where students have chronic health or unpredictable, episodic conditions that may cause them to be absent more often than their peers. Absence leniency means that the student will not be penalized for absences within reasonable limits beyond what the course attendance policy allows (e.g., If other students lose points for being absent, a student with an absence leniency accommodation will be exempt from losing points and allowed to make up missed work). It is possible that a student's performance on assignments and exams may be directly impacted by absences; however, a student with this accommodation should not lose points solely based on absences. Also, students with this accommodation should not be asked to bring a doctor's note unless missed classes are due to a doctor's appointment or hospitalization. Most often, students who are approved for this accommodation have been living with the condition for an extended period of time and require self-care, rather than a doctor's appointment.

While absence leniency is approved on a case-by-case basis by our staff and depends on each student's individual circumstances, the degree of leniency is decided by faculty, in consultation with Disability Resources, on a course-by-course basis. The nature of the course determines the extent of flexibility with absences. Because professors are the content experts, they are best situated to assess their courses to determine the extent to which leniency can be granted. To assist faculty with this course analysis, we created an Absence Leniency Guide. It is highly recommended that professors keep a written copy of any course analysis. In addition, students will hand-deliver an Plan for Absence Form to you. This form is a triplicate form that may be used to facilitate a plan for absences. You may view a sample Plan for Absence form.

Accommodations for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing

Sign Language Interpreters

Sign Language Interpreters translate spoken English into American Sign Language (ASL) and often work in teams. The interpreter(s) will sign what you and the other students say, and will voice what the student signs. Arrangements may need to be made for student and interpreter seating that is optimal for viewing and for preparatory course materials for the interpreter. When addressing the student, please speak with the student directly, just as with other students. For more information view the PEPNET Interpreting Tipsheet.

CART Services

CART is the real time transcription of lectures, which allows the student to read the instructors words on a computer screen. The CART provider may provide services in person or from a remote location. If CART is provided in person, the transcriber will work with you to find appropriate seating to provide optimal service. If transcription of the course is occurring from a remote location, the student will bring a microphone provided by the SDSC for you to wear. For more information view the PEPNET CART Tipsheet.

Captioned videos

Captioned videos are the most effective method for providing equal opportunity for students with hearing loss when showing a video either in class or online. It allows the student to read the words and catch the visual cues from the screen, which, combined, enhances understanding of the video. Disability Resources strongly recommends that instructors choose videos with captions to show in class. However, if you plan to show videos that are not currently captioned, you may follow the instructions below for assistance:

  1. Check your video first to see if captions are available. For online videos that have captions, you will see "cc" in the toolbar. If you click on that button, it will allow you to turn on the captions. For DVD's, you may turn captions on by going to languages and choosing English subtitles for Deaf and Hard of Hearing. This option is often listed as English SDH.
  2. After you check the video and find that it is not captioned, you may contact Tami McCoy (309-298-1977 or tk-mccoy@wiu.edu) in the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access for assistance with captioning online videos.
  3. For assistance finding captioned DVD's or VHS tapes, first contact Malpass Library to see if they have a captioned version of the video or can assist you with finding it via interlibrary loan. You may contact the Malpass Library Reference Desk at 309-298-2700 or 309-298-2705. For assistance with interlibrary loan, please call 309-298-2761.
  4. You may also contact the video retailer to see if a captioned version is available.
  5. If neither the library nor the retailer can provide you with a captioned video, please contact Disability Resources in the Student Development and Success Center at 309-298-1884 or Disability@wiu.edu.

Accessible Transportation

Public Transportation

Western Illinois University, situated in McDonough County, is served by a comprehensive public transportation system through McDonough County Public Transportation (MCPT). This system includes the GoWest bus service and ADA Paratransit Service for individuals who are unable to use the GoWest buses due to a disability. All GoWest buses are equipped with a lift and are wheelchair accessible. For more information on bus routes, please visit GoWest.

ADA Paratransit Service

If a student is unable to use the GoWest buses, either permanently or on a conditional basis, such as during inclement weather, they may apply for ADA Paratransit Service. The application found at this link requires Adobe Reader. If you would like this application in a different format, please contact the Disability Resources at 309-298-1884 or disability@wiu.edu.

Accommodations for Temporary Illness or Injuries

Services are available across campus for students when short-term illness or temporary injuries interfere with daily lives.

Disability Resources

Disability Resources in the SDSC works with students experiencing temporary injuries to facilitate continued participation in courses. Some of the assistance that is available to students on a temporary basis is note taking assistance, exam accommodations, accessible classroom seating, housing accommodations, and transportation resources.

Beu Health Center

Beu Health Center works with students on special temporary parking arrangements, medical referrals, after care, supportive devices, such as crutches and splints and insurance coverage.

Student Development 

Student Development staff in the SDSC consults with students who may be considering withdrawing from the University due to temporary injury or illness. In addition, they will notify instructors when students are hospitalized.

Hours of Operation

Monday - Friday
8:00am to 4:30pm

Contact Info

Student Development and Success Center
Memorial Hall 125
1 University Circle
Macomb, IL 61455

Email: SDSC@wiu.edu
Phone: (309) 298-1884
Fax: (309) 298-2361