Accommodations Glossary

Professors and students, please note the following:

  • Accommodations are not intended to reduce academic requirements or alter the standards by which academic performance is assessed.
  • Accommodations are not retroactive.  Accommodations are valid on the day the professor receives the letter of accommodation from the SAS office via email.
  • Accommodation letters are valid for one semester and must be requested by students each semester.  
  • Last minute student requests for accommodations that need advance planning time may pose barriers to the provision of accommodations for a particular test/exam or course assignment.
  • If you have any questions regarding accommodations, please contact SAS (Edinburg: 956-665-7005; Brownsville: 956-882-7374).


Note: This glossary does not include all accommodations that are approved through our office. Each accommodation is approved on a case-by-case basis.


  • Attendance Accommodation: Accommodation is valid from the date the professor signs the Attendance Agreement (provided by the student to the professor).

    • Attendance Accommodation Agreement
    • This form should be completed by both the student and professor during mutual discussion. The form is valid once it is completed, signed by professor and student, and submitted to SAS.
  • Extended time for completion of assignments: It is the student's responsibility to initiate communication with the instructor. Granted on a case-by-case basis, this accommodation must be negotiated with the professor in advance each assignment due date. A student will typically receive 1 to 3 extra days to complete assignments.

    • In certain situations, extended time on course assignments may be a reasonable accommodation because one’s condition poses challenges to completing the assignment by deadlines with short notice. Those assignments with longer notice are a time management issue and not a disability-related issue. For the short notice assignment extension specifically, Student Accessibility Services (SAS) recommends this accommodation when:
    • An assignment was not listed on the syllabus initially and is given to students with one week or less to complete and/or
    • The assignment deadline is listed on the syllabus but students do not get the necessary information to complete it until there is one week or less to the deadline.
    • SAS promotes good time- and project-management skills as well as effective decision-making. Students must factor in the reality of their own personal situation and use time effectively to complete assignments. For example, if a student is prone to frequent migraine headaches and waits to the last day to complete an assignment, having a last minute migraine headache may not be an effective reason to extend a deadline. Adequate work should have been done prior to the fact in order to avoid such a situation knowing that the possibility of a migraine existed.
    • Students are required to have communication with their professors regarding when assignments will be completed and give professors adequate (at least three days) notice before each use of this accommodation.  Deadline date adjustments must be pre-arranged with the instructor. Assignments cannot be submitted whenever desired. Students are required to complete all assignments by the end of the semester.
    • Accommodations are not meant to be retroactive. Missed assignments that occur prior to the instructor receiving the accommodation letter are not covered under the accommodation process. SAS recommends that those missed assignments be handled in accordance with the course assignment policy.
  • Allow student to use what YOU consider to be an appropriate memory aid/cue sheet on exams (i.e. formula card, keyword list, etc.): Cue sheet must be signed by Professor prior to the exam & returned with completed exam. Student should submit draft cue sheet to professor for approval 7 business days prior to exam.

  • Alternate format: Class materials

    • Students with various disabilities (low vision, blind, dyslexia, limited mobility, etc.) require course materials in an appropriate alternative format (large print, braille, electronic, audio, etc.) so that they have access to the same information as other students with equivalent ease of use. If the materials need to be converted, the professor will need to provide the course material to SAS prior to the class period the material is needed (with at least one week notice).
  • Alternate format: Alternate format textbook

    • Students with a variety of disabilities including, but not limited to, blind or low vision, physical disabilities and learning disabilities, may require their books to be produced in an alternative format (electronic, audio, large print or Braille).  This process takes time.  Therefore, it is critically important for students to provide alternative format requests to SAS for the upcoming semester 4 weeks prior to the start of the semester.  Faculty can assist by getting their book lists into the bookstore early. There is a 4 to 6 week turnaround time, depending on availability.
  • Allow student to work independently on assignments that are originally designed as group projects.

    • The student may require independent study for group projects.
  • Arrange for alternative method(s) that you and the student agree upon, of oral communication requirements (e.g. written communication that might be shared with the class or one on one presentation with Professor)

    • A student may not be able to speak orally for various reasons. The professor will decide the alternative method the student can use to meet oral communication requirements. When in-class participation is required, the professor may request the student to write an essay in lieu of speaking in class, or to send e-mails to the professor after each class period summarizing what they have learned.
  • Avoid requiring student to speak aloud in class unless improved speech, language acquisition, and class participation is course objective.

    • The professor should provide an alternative assignment when required for course, to replace reading aloud in class.  This may include 1-to-1 communication w/ professor and student so that student may demonstrate course knowledge.
  • Sign language interpreter (provided by SAS).

    • Students who are hearing impaired often prefer to use a Sign Language Interpreter to ensure that they can understand and learn the material presented and understand course content. The student will request the sign language interpreter for classroom lecture and other class and related activities.
  • Use of CART (Communication Access in Real Time) services in class.

    • Student will be using a captionist via the Internet who will transcribe classroom instructions, lecture and conversations in real time.
  • Captions for all videos. Instructors: If media is not captioned, contact SAS 3 weeks in advance.

    • All DVD’s, video tapes, streaming digital media, video files and other course materials that include an audio portion should be captioned. If captioning is not available, a transcript of the audio must be provided before the media is used. Inaccessible materials cannot be assigned as a course requirement. 
    • Often acceptable captioned educational materials can often be found on the internet.
  • Face student when lecturing and speaking.

    • The student requires a face view of professor when lecturing and/or speaking as environment permits.
    • A good practice for all students is to repeat the question for large groups.
  • Instructor clarifies verbal or written information as requested by student.

    • The student will contact professor for clarification after class if professor is available or during instructor office hours or via e-mail.
  • Furniture

    • Student is required to complete Accessible Furniture Request form for any furniture accommodations. The form is located at the SAS office.  After the student completes the form, the furniture requested will be placed in the classroom. Please allow a 48 hour turnaround period for available furniture. (Tables, chairs and other assistive furniture are placed in strategic locations per student accommodations and are not to be relocated.)
  • Preferential seating

    • Preferential seating means that a student is seated in a location that is most beneficial for his/her learning in the classroom allowing the student to see, hear, pay attention to, or participate in activities in the same ways as his/her peers.
  • Personal Care Attendant (PCA) may accompany student. Attendant will not participate in or disrupt instructional process. Student is responsible for discussing presence of attendant with professor.

    • Student requires the services of a Personal Care Attendant (PCA) who may, or may not, be present in the classroom.  It is the student’s responsibility to obtain a PCA and to communicate with professors regarding the PCA’s presence in the classroom.  The PCA is required to follow UTRGV SAS procedures for PCAs.  As required, the PCA may assist with a student’s personal care needs in the classroom but may not assist with academic needs. It is the not the responsibility of the PCA to be an academic advocate. The PCA is expected to allow the student to take responsibility for his/her own actions, refrain from speaking on behalf of the student and discussing confidential information with others.
  • Allow student to have drink/food in class (except where prohibited, e.g. science labs)

    • The student may require food or drink in class. If this is a disruption or prohibited due to classroom environment professor can allow student to step out to eat and drink for a short period.
  • May take short, frequent breaks.

    • The student is allowed to step out of the class for short breaks as needed. Students are expected to discuss the duration of breaks with the professor. This does not mean student is allowed to leave class early or arrive late on a regular basis.
  • Student may be tardy to class on occasion.

    • It is the student’s responsibility to make arrangements to make up any missed work or obtain notes during the period of absence.
  • Student may have seizures in class

    • Seizure Handout
    • The student may have a seizure in class. SAS will attach a document to the accommodation letter sent out stating the safety procedures to be follow if this is to occur.
  • Use of smartphone to take photos of notes or slides on board/screen OR provide student with copies of notes, slides when possible. (Use of phone during testing is not allowed.)

    • Students with various disabilities may not be able to write notes from the board or the screen. This accommodation allows the student to use their smart phone to take photos of the board in in an unobtrusive manner, i.e., sound turned off and taking the photos from their seat. The student is allowed to use this accommodation during class lecture.
  • Use of audio recorder in class.

    • Student may record class lectures and discussions.  Recording class materials in audio format is allowed when the student provides notification of the accommodation to the instructor via a current accommodation letter.  SAS will loan audio recorders to the students on a first come, first serve basis.
  • Use of auditory calculator.

    • Provides auditory feedback of math calculations entered into calculator.
  • Use of color overlay.

    • The student may request color overlay from SAS.
  • Use of magnification device.

    • Student requires specialized equipment for magnification of all course material and during lecture.
  • Use of amplification device.

    • Students may check out an amplification device from SAS on a first-come, first-serve basis. The professor will speak into a small microphone and the sound will be amplified so the student is able to listen through head phones.
  • Use of Smart Pen in class.

    • The student will be allowed to use a Smart Pen in class. The Smart Pen audio records lecture and will assist student in note taking.
  • Use of audio dictionary.

    • Student may use talking dictionary for course material.
  • Use of language/spelling aids for written classroom assignments.

    • Student requires an assistive aid in the form of a thesaurus, dictionary or similar for classroom assignment.
  • Use of a personal computer during class.

    • When appropriate, a student will be permitted to use a laptop in class to support their note taking efforts.
  • Use of Perkins Brailler for in class assignments.

    • The student can check out the Perkins Brailler at SAS to utilize for coursework.
  • Use of smart phone to record lecture (Use of phone on tests/exams is not allowed.)

    • The student may use their smartphone for only the purpose of recording lecture. The professor has the choice of allow the student to allow the smart phone during exams.
  • Testing: Use of word processor during exams and quizzes. (Provided and monitored at SAS Testing Center).

    • This accommodation allows students to use a dictionary or spell check device during exams so that they will not be penalized for basic spelling and grammar errors when they are otherwise able to provide accurate responses to the questions being asked.
    • Students approved for this accommodation may request a computer for essay exams. Using a computer allows these students the opportunity to avoid physical fatigue and/or to provide legible, better-organized answers to essays.  Students making such a request may use a computer in the SAS office or a personal computer that is pre-approved by the instructor.  Computers in the SAS office allow for word processing and assistive technology programs without Internet access.  First preference for SAS computers is awarded to students who need assistive technology assistance.
  • Testing: Use of 4-function calculator on math test and quizzes (unless testing calculation skills).

    • The student may use a 4 function calculator.
  • Testing: Use of a scribe for written tests and quizzes.

    • Scribes are available to assist with tests for students who do not have their dominant hand or for students with visual impairments. The scribe may write the answers to essay questions or show work for math exams. The scribe may also be used to fill in Scantron responses provided by the student.  Students using scribes may make arrangements to take their tests through SAS according to testing procedures.
  • Testing: Distraction-reduced testing environment.

    • Student Accessibility Services has a testing center available for students registered with the office.  Students are responsible for registering for each exam 5 business day prior to the exam. SAS will send an e-mail to the professor requesting the exam for the exam date indicated on the test request. The professor can e-mail the exam to the SAStesting@utrgv.edu, request our office pick it up, or drop it off at the SAS office in person. The student is required to notify the professor and SAS if they are requested to take their exam on another day other than the class date. SAS needs to receive confirmation from the professor for any changes the student is requesting (e.g. change of exam time and date or materials used during the exam).
  • Testing: Extended time on exams and quizzes Testing: Separate testing area, as needed, to accommodate extended time on test and quizzes.

    • Extended testing time is provided for any type of test given to students including exams and quizzes. Extended time on testing is usually time and a half. (If the class is 1 hour then the student will receive 90 minutes). Extended time can be longer depending on the student’s specific disability. If the professor cannot accommodate the extended time on testing in class, the student can take the exam at the SAS testing center.  If the exam cannot be proctored by the instructor due to scheduling conflicts, the student is responsible for contacting SAS and submit a test request according to SAS testing guidelines. This does not mean the student should reschedule the exam for a later date.
    • Professors should not determine the amount of extended time, but rather, hold to the time stated in the student’s accommodation letter.  If the professor believes the amount of time should be adjusted, he/she should contact SAS for discussion.
  • Testing: No Scantron (Allow student to write on exam or SAS may provide a scribe to fill in responses).

    • Professor can allow student to write on the exam or a scribe will be provided by SAS to mark the Scantron with the student’s responses.
  • Testing: Use of computer with dictation software (e.g. Dragon Naturally Speaking) for written quizzes and essay tests. (Student is required to notify SAS in advance to schedule testing).

    • This accommodation allows students to use a dictionary or spell check device during exams so that they will not be penalized for basic spelling and grammar errors when they are otherwise able to provide accurate responses to the questions being asked.
    • Students approved for this accommodation may request a computer for essay exams. Using a computer allows these students the opportunity to avoid physical fatigue and/or to provide legible, better-organized answers to essays.  Students making such a request may use a computer in the SAS office or a personal computer that is pre-approved by the instructor.  Computers in the SAS office allow for word processing and assistive technology programs without Internet access.  First preference for SAS computers is awarded to students who need assistive technology assistance.
  • Use of a scribe.

    • Scribes are available to assist with tests for students who do not have their dominant hand or for students with visual impairments. The scribe may write the answers to essay questions or show work for math exams. The scribe may also be used to fill in a Scantron form with the student’s responses.  Students using scribes may make arrangements to take their tests through SAS according to testing procedures.
  • Provide student with lecture notes, Power Points, and handouts if available.

    • A copy of professor’s notes and/or PowerPoint presentations should be provided to a student if available.
  • Volunteer note taker (Professor may request a volunteer note-taker from class (paper provided by SAS). If one cannot be found, please contact SAS office. Optional - the Professor may provide lecture notes, at his/her discretion.

    • SAS utilizes volunteers for note taking. Students provide professors with the instructions for requesting a volunteer note taker. Note taker will be provided with NCR note taker paper (available at SAS). This accommodation does not, and should not replace or substitute for class attendance. Note takers will not be responsible for providing notes taken during a student’s absence. Discretion should be used when soliciting a note taker from the class to protect student confidentiality.
  • Student may have service animal in classroom and campus buildings.

    • A service animal is either a dog or a miniature horse that is individually trained to do work or perform specific tasks to assist a person with a psychological or physical disability. Service animals are distinct from companion animals, emotional support animals, or other assistive animals.