Student Life

Reasonable and Typical Accommodations

Disability Resources staff work with the student to determine what accommodations, if any, would be reasonable given the situation presented. All requests for accommodations must be reasonable both at the institutional level and at the individual level. While most accommodation requests made by students are reasonable requests, some would not be considered reasonable according to disability law. Therefore, this section seeks to clarify how a request may be determined to be unreasonable.

Defining reasonable accommodations at the institutional level is best done through outlining when an accommodation is not reasonable. Reasonable accommodations do not and should not:

  • substantially alter the educational standards or mission of Western Illinois University;
  • fundamentally alter the nature of the program, course, service and/or activity;
  • allow access to a program when a student is not otherwise qualified (with or without accommodations) to meet the academic and technical standards required for admission or participation in an education program, course, service and/or activity;
  • cause undue financial or administrative hardship (college-wide);
  • be of a personal service in nature (personal aid, study coach, individually paid tutor, etc.)
  • pose a direct threat to the health or safety of the student with a disability or others as a result of accommodation implementation.

Accommodation requests that appear reasonable and logically based on the diagnosis but fall under one of the categories listed above will often be denied. The decision of whether or not an accommodation request falls under one of the above categories will be made by our staff, often with input from relevant university staff and faculty.

Individually, any student who is committed to an accommodation request that does not logically and reasonably follow the reported diagnosis based on the SDSC Disability Resources staff’s evaluation of all collected information (ex: A student with Crohn’s Disease adamantly wants a test reader) is encouraged and may be asked to submit documentation from a third party in order to better understand the nature of request. In these situations, submission of documentation from a third party does not ensure that the requested accommodation will be supported or implemented by the University. The purpose of the third party documentation is to add to the staff member's pool of information so that a reasonable outcome, including denial of request, can be identified.

Typical Accommodations

Accommodations are based on a student's requests, history, difficulties and diagnosed condition(s) and are decided in consultation with the student during the welcome appointment. Although accommodations are unique to each individual, some accommodations are commonly requested. Below are examples of typical accommodations.

Exam/Quiz Accommodations

The purpose of the exam/quiz accommodations is to modify aspects of the testing environment in a manner that allows for accurate assessment of achievement. Exam accommodations include but are not limited to extended time, a reduced-distraction test environment, readers, scribes, and a computer for essay and short answer exams. While instructors may provide these accommodations to students if they wish, SDSC operates an Exam Service Center for faculty who do not have the resources to provided necessary modifications within their respective departments. Students who plan to take exams at the SDSC Exam Service Center will meet with a SDSC staff member to be trained on using STARS to schedule exams at the SDSC facility. For detailed instructions on scheduling exams at the SDSC Exam Service Center, please go to  Exam Scheduling Instructions. You are also encouraged to read the  Disability Resources in SDSC Exam Service Center Policies.

Text Conversion Services

Not every student reads textbooks in print form. For these students, the SDSC converts required print materials to alternative formats. Formats available are electronic, audio, Braille and enlarged. Visit  Requesting Text Conversion Services  to view the policies and procedure for requesting texts in an alternate format. Once files have been converted, they will be emailed to your email account.

Note Taking

Lecture notes are an important part of the classroom experience; however, some students may experience difficulty capturing key concepts from lectures in their notes. When this is the case, SDSC facilitates note taking assistance in a manner that best fits the student’s situation. The specific method of note taking assistance provided depends on the individual course design and the specific needs of the student.

Use of Technology to Assist with Note Taking

Technology is a great support for the note taking process. Often, students use their laptops, tablets or a portable Braille device to take notes. In addition, the DRC has smartpen technology available to loan for student use in classes.

Tape Recording Lectures

In certain cases, this may be an appropriate alternative to other note taking assistance methods. This alternative should be discussed with the student and the DRC prior to implementation.

Faculty Notes

Faculty may provide copies of the course slides or study guides to facilitate note taking. Often the faculty may provide this access to the entire class. In other cases, these may be shared exclusively with the student requesting note taking assistance.

Alternating Note Taker

As a part of the course participation grade, faculty can assign a new student 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: 1. After each course, the assigned note taker would take a copy of their course notes to the DRC to be copied for the student requesting the note taking accommodation; or 2. After each course, the assigned note taker would type their notes and post them on the Western Online discussion board for the entire class (Universal Design Method).

Group Note Taking

This method of satisfying the note taking accommodation request was submitted by Rachel Smith, RPTA Faculty and Faculty Innovator, and is an example of Universal Design in the classroom. As a part of the course design, students are assigned to note taking groups. Each group is a assigned to take notes on a certain day(s) or week(s). Within those groups, students decide who will be the primary note taker(s). 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. As a part of class participation, students are encourage to comment on the notes. The faculty member can monitor and lead the discussion, as needed.

Graduate Student Note Taker

Faculty may choose to have a graduate assistant sit in on the course and take notes to share with students requesting the note-taking accommodation.

Volunteer Note Taker

Your instructor may choose to facilitate note taking assistance via a student volunteer system. Instructors using this method will make an announcement that a volunteer is needed to share a copy of her/his notes. Volunteers who respond to instructors’ announcements are directed to SDSC. Staff will make a copy of the notes and keep them in a file for the student. Students utilizing this service remain anonymous unless they wish to self-identify to the volunteer note taker. SDSC employs a graduate assistant who works with faculty and the student to coordinate note taking assistance.


Because the nature of each course is different, attendance requirements vary. As such, each instructor has attendance requirements which may or may not be flexible. For example, lecture courses may provide more flexibility with absences than labs and other hands-on activity courses that involve in-class learning. If you believe that you will miss class due to your disability, please speak with a SDSC staff member about absence leniency. 

Approval of absence leniency is a process. First, staff will determine if your condition warrants leniency. This determination may need to be made each semester depending on individual circumstances. Next, your instructors will use the (Absence Leniency Guide PDF/Absence Leniency Guide Word) to determine the extent of leniency appropriate for their respective courses. Finally, your professor will use the Plan for Absence Form to define the parameters of the accommodation. For example:

  • How you will make-up missed work?
  • Where will you take missed exams?
  • How and when you will tell the instructor if you have to miss class?
  • How limits on the number of absences will be determined?

Approval of absence leniency does not give you license to miss class whenever you'd like. You are responsible for all class work and will need to plan for how you will make-up missed work. Extensions for assignments and arrangements to make-up missed tests may need to be worked out individually.

Please report any difficulties with the implementation of this or any other accommodation to the Disability Resources staff. If absences become excessive unexpectedly, talk to a staff member about a medical withdrawal, late drop or 'incomplete' as reasonable accommodations.


WIU hires interpreters and CART reporters to provide communication services to students who are deaf and hard of hearing. All interpreters hired have a valid license and, at least, an intermediate proficiency level. All CART providers have proper National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) certification. If you are planning to request these services, it is best to contact the SDSC as soon as you know that you will be attending WIU.

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.

Accessible Classrooms and Classroom Furniture

Although WIU is making progress in the area of classroom accessibility and inclusion, you may experience accessibility issues that we have not foreseen. Please contact the SDSC if you experience physical barriers to your classrooms. The SDSC will work with faculty and departments to ensure classroom access. In addition we will notify departments of the need for appropriate equipment and classroom furniture.

Other Accommodations

The list of accommodations provided above is not an exhaustive list. Accommodations can be any modification made to University programs, policies or procedures. If you are experiencing any barriers to participation, you are encouraged to contact the SDSC to make requests for or discuss possible accommodations.