Examples of the Accommodation Process

Examples of the Accommodation Process

Let’s look at some examples of how accommodations might be determined.

Example #1: Matthew has very low vision and finds that he has trouble following what is going on during lectures.

To determine an appropriate accommodation, information is collected about the person, activity and environment.

  • Person - How good is Matthew’s vision? In case an alternate method of presenting the information is proposed, how good is his hearing? Does he know Braille?
  • Activity - When he thinks more about the tasks that occur during the lecture, he decides that the problem mainly occurs in classes where the instructor solves problems on the board. He has trouble seeing what the instructor is writing.
  • Environment - How is the classroom set up? How far away is the board, and what type is it? What type of desks are provided? What type of material is being written on the board (e.g., text, numbers, symbols, diagrams)?

Solution brainstorming will depend on the answer to the question of how much Matthew can see. Would an effective accommodation make use of his remaining vision? Or would it be better to present the information in another format?

If Matthew uses his remaining vision, accommodations might include:

  • Reserve a seat in the front row and ask the instructor to write larger
  • Make sure the board is cleaned well to provide sufficient contrast
  • Use a monocle to improve vision (with guidance from a low vision specialist)
  • Get a printed (and possibly enlarged) copy of the instructor’s notes
  • Get a digital copy of the instructor’s notes that can be viewed on a laptop, possibly with magnification software
  • Use a video magnifier that can be aimed at the board and provide a magnified version of the board on a display screen at Matthew’s seat
  • Provide a table for Matthew to sit at if the lecture hall seats can’t hold the equipment that he needs

If Matthew’s vision isn’t sufficient for these accommodations to work, he might consider:

  • Are the instructor’s examples typically taken from the textbook? If so, Matthew may already have an accessible version of the problem.
  • Ask the instructor to voice every element that he writes on the board. Use a digital recorder to capture this information.
  • Get a digital copy of the instructor’s notes and…
    • Review it using screen reader software. Unfortunately, screen readers have some difficulty reading equations and Greek letters, so the material may need to be reformatted in advance of the lecture.
    • Review it using Braille. This would allow him to review the equations on a character-by-character basis. However, most people who are blind are not fluent in Braille. Has Matthew considered taking a class to learn Braille over the next summer break?

Example #2: Jessica is taking a chemistry class this semester. She uses a manual wheelchair and is concerned about being able to access the laboratory facilities.

To determine an appropriate accommodation, information is collected about the person, activity and environment.

  • Person – Since Jessica uses a manual wheelchair, potential problems might involve her need for work areas in the lab to be at a height that she can reach easily, the need for knee clearance under work surfaces, and the need for clear pathways that are wide enough for her wheelchair.
  • Activities - What are the tasks that Jessica needs to perform in the lab? Of course, she needs to be able to access a primary work area with a sink. But at times, she will need to access the fume hood. How will she wheel around the lab while transporting chemical samples? And hopefully, she will never need to use the eye wash or fire extinguisher!
  • Environment - Keeping the issues of reach and clearance in mind for these tasks, we need to make some measurements of the lab to measure work heights and aisle widths.

Remember that solution brainstorming may include ways to adapt the environment, or ways to change the performance requirements. Solution brainstorming comes up with the following list:

  • Accessible work areas
    • Move the class to a lab with a wheelchair accessible workstation
    • Register for the lab section that meets in the accessible lab
    • Add a wheelchair accessible workstation to the lab
    • Use a fume hood that is designed to be used from a seated or standing position
  • Transporting chemicals
    • Work with a lab partner, who can assist with some of the reaching and carrying tasks
    • Provide a tray or some type of holder that can attach to the wheelchair and can be used to carry a beaker across the lab
  • Lab safety
    • Provide a larger safety apron that can fully cover her lap and seat
    • Position safety equipment at a lower height
    • Position safety equipment close to her workstation
    • Provide a hand-held eye wash bottle that could be located at her workstation

The list is reviewed to see which options provide the best fit.

Remember, the accommodations you received in high school are not guaranteed in college. Accommodation determinations are based on the documentation you provided to the disability office at your college. So that you receive the maximum benefit from accommodations, it is important to present a comprehensive report of your disability office that details your disability needs in an educational setting.