Frequently Asked Questions from Faculty

    What is a reasonable accommodation?

  • A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a course, program, service, job, activity, or facility that enables a student with a disability to have an equal opportunity to enjoy the benefits, opportunities, and privileges that are available to all students with or without disabilities. Reasonable accommodations are identified to mitigate the educational impact of disabilities; they should not lower the curriculum standards or allow changes that fundamentally alter essential course requirements. Refer to our services and accommodations page to look at the specific accommodations your students may have.

    Reasonable accommodations are determined by examining, the barriers resulting from the interaction between the documented disability and the campus environment; the possible accommodations that might remove barriers; whether or not the student has access to the course, program, service, job, activity, or facility without accommodations; and whether essential elements of the course, program, service, job, activity, or facility are compromised or fundamentally altered by the accommodations.

  • What are academic access (AA) letters?

  • The AA letter lists the specific accommodations authorized for each student. A copy of these letters is sent directly to the department from the DRC as a courtesy for students requesting services for the term who are eligible for testing accommodations.

    If a student asks for a course-related accommodation without an AA Letter, faculty and staff are not obligated to provide it.

    Do not feel obligated to provide accommodations if a student with a known disability has not requested them. You are not asked to guess or predetermine what a student may need. Students have the right to choose not to use accommodations.

    On the other hand, if a student asks retroactively to fix a problem because they have failed to use accommodations, you are not under any obligation to do so. Contact the student’s DRC Coordinator (whose name is printed on the AA Letter) before denying the accommodation.

  • If a student asks me to provide them with a disability-related accommodation in my course, what should I do?

  • Ask if they are affiliated with the DRC and have an Academic Access AA Letter. If they do not, please see how to refer a student. If they have a letter and you do not know how to provide accommodations, please go to our Providing Accommodations page. If you have more questions about specific accommodations, please partner with the DRC and contact a service coordinator. 

  • Why are some accommodations listed as considerations?

  • There are some accommodations that are listed as considerations, such as consideration for lateness, absents, short breaks, extensions, etc. (not including Webcasts). These are only to be used on an occasional, or case by case basis and for disability related reasons only. They are considered unreasonable if the request fundamentally alters learning outcomes or essential requirements of the class as it relates to the course syllabus.

    The accommodations on the AA letter is usually a support plan in case there is an unsuspected flare-up of their condition. This does not require faculty to honor these requests if they are  are deemed unreasonable. These considerations require the students to meet with you and discuss if these considerations will be suitable for your course.

  • What if the accommodation is a fundamental alteration to the class?

  • Consult with a DRC service coordinator to collaborate on potential solutions before denying any accommodations.

  • When is a student required to notify me of a need for accommodations?

  • Students that have a history of affiliation with the DRC are expected to provide their AA letters by the end of the 2nd week of each quarter. However, disabilities often manifest themselves unexpectedly and medical conditions can flare up. Thus, a student may affiliate with our office at any point during the quarter. if a student is experiencing medical issues, please refer them to our office so we can coordinate reasonable accommodations considering the time constraint. 

    Faculty and staff are expected to make a "good faith effort" in arranging reasonable accommodations, even if a student makes a late request. Contact the DRC and consult with a DRC Coordinator before denying a student’s accommodations.

  • Who is responsible for exam accommodations?

  • Students are responsible for notifying instructors that they need exam accommodations. 

    During the academic school year: the instructor and department are responsible for coordinating exam accommodations (e.g. finding exam rooms and proctors). Instructors are also responsible for notifying the DRC if the student needs a scribe or a reader, not the student. For a detailed step-by-step process, please refer to our exam accommodations guide.

    During summer session: the DRC helps instructors find exam rooms, proctors, scribes and readers. Instructors are responsible for notifying the DRC if exam support is needed, not the student.

  • How do I make course materials accessible?

  • Here are 5 quick tips for inclusive course design:

    1. Select and use video content (DVDs, YouTube videos, etc.) that has closed captioning. Best practice is to always turn captions on. This benefits not just Deaf or hard-of-hearing students, but students whose first language is not English.
    2. Select textbooks and readings or update existing course materials at least five weeks before classes start. Many of our students require course materials in alternate formats. Students with print disabilities require texts in Braille, large print, electronic and/or audio formats. The DRC works in advance of each quarter and then throughout the first weeks to convert required readings into formats that are usable by students with disabilities. A delay in providing updated course materials results in delays for our students, a challenge that is difficult to overcome in a 10-week quarter.

    3. Include the following language in your syllabus:

      "UC Santa Cruz is committed to creating an academic environment that supports its diverse student body. If you are a student with a disability who requires accommodations to achieve equal access in this course, please submit your Academic Access Letter from the Disability Resource Center (DRC) to me privately during my office hours or by appointment, as soon as possible in the academic quarter, preferably within 1 week. I also encourage you to discuss with me ways we can ensure your full participation in this course. I encourage all students who may benefit to learn about the DRC and the UCSC accommodation process. You can visit the DRC website at You can make an appointment and meet in-person with a DRC staff member. The phone number is 831-459-2089, or email"
    4. Provide clean copies of articles for course readers, library or ERes holdings, and Canvas postings (e.g. not crooked, and free of underlining and/or notes in the margins).

    5. Learn about and use accessibility and universal design practices. Examples include website PowerPoint Slides with Alt Tag descriptions and text instead of image PDFs.

    Please also refer to our Creating Accessible Course Materials page for online resources.

  • How do I refer a student?

  • The DRC encourages faculty and staff to refer students to our office. We serve students with both permanent disabilities and some temporary medical conditions (e.g. a broken arm or pregnancy related complications). We are also available to consult with those who suspect they have a disability, but have not yet been diagnosed.

    If you see a student who would benefit from services due to a disability, or a suspected disability, refer the student to our website and/or our office which is located at 125 Hahn Student Services. Let the student know they are not obligated to use services if they contact us. All information is confidential, and services are free of charge.

    Please consider keeping our brochures at your office! You can request hardcopies by contacting us directly.

  • Do you give university employees accommodations?

  • The DRC serves as a resource to faculty and staff providing accommodations to students only. Employees seeking accommodations should contact their Department Chair, Academic Human Resources, or the Disability Management Coordinator at x9-4602.