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Student health 101

Faculty FAQs

Fair versus Equal

In regards to accommodations, it is important to consider the difference between fair and equal. Equal means the same.  Being fair means doing their best to give each student what he/she needs to be successful. Fair instructors do not always treat each student in exactly the same way.  What a student with a disability needs may be very different from what his/her peers need.  Instructors may always try to be fair, but that means things won't always feel equal.

Accommodations and Services:

Below is a list of common accommodations students may receive. By following the links, you will find an explanation about each accommodation as well as some frequently asked questions.









Hearing-Closed Captioned Video:

  • Video Captioning FAQ for instructors

  • Video-reviewing process for acquiring captions

    Although our office doesn't directly provide captioning, we can guide and assist you with problem-solving.  Here's the process to follow:

    Your first step is to contact the CTLT for assistance: Catherine Hillman; cehillma@calpoly.edu, 756-5576.  She provides assistance with reviewing web-based video materials and exploring more current options for online instructional materials which may already be captioned. She can also show you how to use do it yourself captioning software - the staff here are amazing!

    If there are no alternatives to captioning:
    Cal Poly has partnered with a captioning vendor, Automatic Sync Technologies (AST), to provide discounted pricing for media captioning.  Depending on how many orders they are processing, turn-around time can be from a few days to a week (they can do a rush 24 hour but it costs more). There is usually funding available to assist instructors who have been notified that there will be a student with a hearing disability in their class. 

    To begin, contact Alex Uvalle in Classroom Technologies to put in a request for service, and clarify that your request is due to a student in your class needing the accommodation of captioning (auvalle@calpoly.edu, 756-2229).  For copyrighted materials that do not contain captions, you will need to acquire the captioned content from the content owner.  It’s a good idea to contact your department librarian for more information on open educational resources offered through the library or other places.

    It is best to begin working on securing captions now as sometimes unforseen challenges arise.  Let the DRC know if you do run into any issues, as we want to make this as painless of a process as possible


Classroom Seating:

  • What is preferential seating and how do I know where a student needs to sit?

    • Students may receive preferential seating as an accommodation for a variety of reasons. Because of this, the actual location of the seat they need may vary from one student to another. Preferential seating does not necessarily mean in the front of the room; it may be that the student needs to be near an exit, the side of the room, or the back of the room. If a student has the accommodation of preferential seating, they will let you know what this means for them.


Disability Management:

  • What does Disability Management mean?

    • Disability Management refers to a wide variety of appointments that can be had at the DRC. Students can use Disability Management to discuss their accommodations, available resources, and other topics related to their disability.
  • Is there any involvement an instructor has in this process?

    • Instructors are welcome to utilize one-on-one meetings with DRC Access Specialists to learn more about services and how to assist their students. Additionally, some students may ask to include instructors in meeting with their Access Specialist so that agreements can be made about how to accommodate specific accommodations in their class.


Due Dates Extension: 

  • How does the accommodation of Due Dates Extension work?

    • Whenever possible, the instructor and student should meet at the beginning of the quarter to review upcoming due dates, explore extension possibilities, and agree on how and when the student can reasonably be expected to notify the instructor of a need. Each request for an extended due date needs to be considered. Students are responsible for notifying their instructors in a timely manner when the need arises for a due date extension. The amount of notice a student can reasonably provide will depend on the nature of his or her disability, as some symptoms may be unpredictable. DRC staff are available to support collaboration in addressing any challenges that may arise. If implementation of an extended due date would fundamentally alter the course objectives or services, pose a hardship, or create an administrative burden, the instructor needs to contact DRC staff for collaborative support in exploring how to proceed.


Excused Absences:

  • What does the accommodation of "excused absence" mean?

    • Occasionally, a student may need to be excused from class due to a disability related need. If a student's disability-related absence is predictable (e.g., a necessary medical appointment), the student is responsible for notifying instructors in advance of the absence in order to form a plan for making up participation points, a missed exam, or other missed material. Students who have disabilities that are episodic in nature, and therefore unpredictable, are responsible to notify their instructors as soon as reasonably possible. All excused absences need to be considered on a case-by-case basis; therefore, it is best to discuss this with your student in order to know what to expect.

  • How many classes can a student miss?

    • The number of classes a student can miss is dependent on many factors, including but not limited to the teaching strategies an instructor implements in the classroom, the availability of the student’s healthcare provider, or the frequency of symptoms. The DRC Access Specialists are available to collaborate with instructors and students to work out plans that meet the student’s health needs and responsibilities as a student. DRC staff need to be consulted whenever an instructor disagrees with the provision for an accommodation (i.e., if implementation of the accommodation would fundamentally alter the course objectives or services, pose a hardship, or create an administrative burden).

  • Is it appropriate to assign the student an “Incomplete” to allow more time to complete the work?

    • Yes, as long as the student agrees. Often a contract is written up by the instructor to provide a clear understanding of the expectations for satisfying the Incomplete. The DRC is available to proctor make-up exams.

  • Because of absences, I believe the student cannot complete the course on time. What can I do?

    • Collaborate with both your student and the DRC to find appropriate solutions. Suggestions for reviewing the situation include:

      • Is the student able to demonstrate knowledge through evaluation methods other than completing an outstanding assignment?

      • Is there still time to consider a late-term withdrawal?

      • Has the student invested a significant amount of work in the course? If so, consider the possibility of an Incomplete.


Extended time w/Breaks:

  • What does "Extended time w/Breaks" mean?
    • Students who are approved for breaks during their exams are allowed a certain amount of time away from their exam per hour. For example, a student may receive a five minute break every hour or "5 min/1 hr".
  • Does a student's exam time stop while they are taking a break?
    • No, student's exam time is not paused or stopped while they are taking a break. This break is simply allow them to be away from the testing room more frequently and for longer than for other students.
  • What do students have access to during their breaks?
    • Students are not permitted access to any electronics, books, or notes during their breaks. Students are permitted to use the restroom, but otherwise are asked to remain in the room with the proctor during their breaks.


Note Taking-Recorder/Smartpen:

  • Is there anything I need to do if a student in my class has "smartpen" as an accommodation?

    • Students using a smartpen are using it entirely for note-taking purposes. In general, it is a tool that allows students to independently navigate the learning environment without having to rely on a note-taker. During each smartpen training session, students are instructed to contact each professor to let him/her know they will be using a smartpen to record lecture notes (this notification may be provided by the student via Faculty Notification Letter.). Therefore, there is nothing an instructor will need to do other than respond to a student when he/she informs you they are using this device in class.

    • What if I have a policy against the recording of lectures?

      • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states: "A recipient to which this subpart applies may not impose upon handicapped students other rules, such as the prohibition of tape recorders in classrooms of or guide dogs in campus buildings that have the effect of limiting the participation of handicapped students in the recipient's education program or activity."

        Before a student can check out a smartpen, he/she is required to sign a Recorded Lecture Policy. By signing this document, each student agrees not to share the recorded lecture notes with anyone else without the lecturer's consent.

      • Recorded Lecture Policy (PDF)


Peer Notetaker:

  • As an instructor, is there anything I need to do if a student in my class has a note-taker as an accommodation?

    • Typically, professors do not need to be involved in the note-taking process when a student is using this accommodation. If a student is using a note-taker, DRC staff will send an email to all of the students enrolled in your class. Students who are interested in acting as a note-taker will be prompted to email the DRC directly. In the case that the DRC is unable to find a note-taker using this process, or if the request is later in the quarter, professors may be asked to assist. If this occurs, the DRC will email the professor asking him/her to make an announcement to the class about the need for a note-taker.


Instructor Provided Notes:

  • What if I do not have notes for my lectures?

    • This accommodation is in place for use during situations when classmate notes are not meeting the student’s needs. The student will specifically ask the instructor for his/her notes when the need arises.  Availability of notes varies depending on how instructors prepare for their lectures; any supplemental materials, including PowerPoints and/or outlines of lectures, etc., can be considered for supporting the student in acquiring the information presented during lectures.


Proctored Exam:

  • What does "Proctored Exam" mean and why is it necessary?
    • "Proctored Exam" allows students to make exam requests without extended time. This would be necessary in the case that a student has other testing accommodations, such as the use of a computer or a distraction-reduced setting, but is not approved for and/or requesting extended time. Students using "Proctored Exam" will be given the same amount of time to complete their exam as the class.


Extended Testing Time:

  • What do "Testing Ext Time 1.25", "Testing Ext Time 1.5", "Testing Ext Time 1.75",  and "Testing Ext Time 2.0" mean?
    • These specify the amount of extended time a student is approved to use on an exam. For example, 1.25 mean the student receives an additional 1/4th of the time that the class will have on the exam.


Tests Distraction Reduced (Alone or Small Group):

  • What does it mean for a student to receive a distraction-reduced setting, and is this something that I can provide as the instructor?
    • Students who are approved for a distraction-reduced setting should be provided with a testing environment that is quieter and calmer than the classroom. At the DRC, this is provided in a small testing room with dividers between each desk and headphones and earplugs available for each student.
    • Instructors can provide this for students by providing them a separate room for their exam. Keep in mind that this room should not have people frequently coming and going, nor should it be a hallway or other busy area. If you are considering accommodating your student yourself, consider discussing the available space with them ahead of time.


Make Up Exams:

  • I have a DRC student who needs to make-up an exam. What can I do?

    • To minimize the impact of the absence on instructor resources, the DRC is available to assist with make-up test proctoring. The student and instructor must provide testing details to DRC Testing services. DRC testing staff will review testing availability to support timely completion of the make-up exam; however, the DRC will need a minimum of 3 business days’ notice, depending on our resources, to be able to proctor a make-up exam for students and faculty.


Use of Computer on Exams:

  • What do students have access to when allowed the use of a computer on their exams as an accommodation?
    • If a student is permitted a computer on exams but the class is not, the student's computer use is restricted to basic applications such as Microsoft Word. Students are never permitted the use of the internet unless otherwise specified by the professor. Students often have this accommodation in order to allow them to type an exam that would otherwise be handwritten.


Talking with Students About Accommodations:

  • How can I ensure I do not breach confidentiality with my students?

    • In order to protect the confidentiality of your students, do not speak to students about their accommodations in the classroom or in areas in which you might be overheard (for example, speaking with a student in your office with the door open as other students wait outside). All information regarding a students accommodations and status as a student with the DRC are considered confidential and protected under the Family Educational  Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

    • Information that is shared with you regarding a student's status with the DRC is intended solely for the purpose of arranging and providing accommodations.

    • Information about a student's accommodations should be kept private. Please do not keep documents such as alternative test request forms open on computers, on desks, or in other places that may be visible to others.

    • Do not discuss or disclose a student's accommodation or status as a DRC student to other students, even if they are also registered with the DRC. For example, if emailing a group of students about a shared accommodation either send each student an individual email or blind copy (BCC) the students.

    • Do not discuss or disclose a student's accommodation or status as a DRC student to other faculty or staff who do not have a need to know (e.g., a co-instructor may have a need to know about a student's accommodations in order to make appropriate arrangements). Even when there is a need, only share the pertinent information (e.g., if another instructor is proctoring the exam, they only need to know the approved exam accommodations).

    • Students should only be expected to share information that is necessary in order for the professor to provide their approved accommodations. It is not appropriate to ask a student to justify their accommodations, nor is it appropriate to ask the student to share information about their diagnosis.



Test Accommodations FAQ

Please also take time to visit The Faculty Room, an online resource for faculty and administrators in postsecondary institutions nationwide.


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Phone: 805-756-1395
Fax: 805-756-5451
Email: drc@calpoly.edu

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