Online Courses, Accommodations, and Accessibility FAQ

As UTRGV shifts to online learning environments, consideration of accessible instruction and course materials is necessary. During this time, SAS is available as a resource to students and faculty regarding online accommodations and accessible learning environments. Feel free to contact SAS with any questions.

Student FAQ

To download Student FAQ, click on the link: Student FAQ PDF

Contact SAS for alternate format of this information. 

  • Is Student Accessibility Services (SAS) still operational?

    • Yes! SAS is still operating Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. All appointments and services will be conducted virtually or via phone until further notice.
    • SAS will be unable to proctor in-person exams while all UTRGV classes are online.
    • Feel free to call or email SAS should you have any accommodation or accessibility questions. Brownsville: 956-882-7374 or Edinburg: 956-665-7005
      ability@utrgv.edu
  • What are synchronous and asynchronous online courses?

    • Synchronous learning occurs on set schedules and time frames. Students and instructors are online at the same time since lectures, discussions, and presentations take place at specific hours. All students must be online at that exact time in order to participate in the class.
    • Asynchronous learning allows students to complete their work on their own schedule. Students are given a set period of time – usually a one-week window – during which they need to connect to their class at least once or twice.
    • For additional information, please see Synchronous and Asynchronous Classes
  • What is the next step in the online process with our scheduled exams?  How do I request extended time for an online exam?

    • SAS will not be proctoring exams at the office while classes are meeting online.
    • Individual academic instructors will be responsible for setting up appropriate approved timed exams in Blackboard.
  • On campus I had a volunteer note-taker, how will I receive copies of my online notes?

    • SAS students can retrieve class notes in mySAS once the volunteer note taker has uploaded notes. For additional information, please see https://youtu.be/-To7M3qvf_o
    • For synchronous classes, if you have been receiving class notes through mySAS, SAS will email volunteer note-takers who have registered with SAS to continue this.
    • If you have previously received notes from a classmate who has not registered as a volunteer in mySAS, continue communicating with this student to obtain notes. If you do not have contact information for this classmate, please contact SAS to discuss options.
    • In an asynchronous class, if there is a recording of your instructor’s lecture, you will be able to view the recording as many times as necessary, which precludes the need for a note-taker to assist you.
    • If you require assistance with note-taking, please contact SAS.
  • How will online classes affect my attendance accommodation?

    • Approved accommodations will continue forward through the semester.  However, if your online course is asynchronous, attendance should not be a concern (since there are no real-time class meetings). Please contact your SAS Counseling Specialist, as needed, to discuss accommodations.  
    • If you have any concerns about attendance in your courses, please contact your instructors.
  • What if I have new accommodation requests because my in-person class moved online?

    • Please call SAS to discuss further.  We will have an interactive discussion regarding your access concerns and related accommodation request(s).
    • If additional supporting documentation is needed to support your request, SAS staff will let you know.
  • Resources for online learners

General

  • How can Student Accessibility Services (SAS) help me?

    Each student is unique, so the answer to this question is different for each person. You, in consultation with the Counselor, will discuss reasonable and appropriate accommodations.
  • Can I visit SAS even if I don’t have documentation with me?

    Yes. SAS encourages you to contact the Office whether or not you have documentation of a disability on hand. We recognize that third party documentation can be difficult to obtain, and we don’t want to create unnecessary barriers. However, any external documentation you can provide, such as IEP/504 plans, recent evaluations, hospital reports, and letters from doctors, psychologists, the VA or Social Security, etc., can be helpful.
  • How can I find out if I qualify for support from SAS?

    The best way to find out if you qualify is to visit the office. Online or distance students can begin by emailing ability@utrgv.edu or calling. You will then be able to have a conversation with a SAS staff member about your academic goals and any barriers related to your disability that you previously experienced or anticipate encountering in college. 
  • How will my professors know what accommodations I need?

    Through mySAS each semester, students can select from approved accommodations.  The accommodation letter can then be sent via mySAS to instructors. It is recommended that students contact instructors to schedule a time to discuss accommodations and how they will be implemented in each course. 
  • If I register with SAS, will my information be kept confidential?

    Yes, the fact that you are registered with SAS is a private matter and does not appear on any of your official college records. However, when you talk to your instructor about your accommodations, he or she will become aware that you qualify for these services. The accommodation letter indicates that the information is to be kept confidential.
  • Can you help students with disabilities in online classes?

    Yes. If you have a disability and plan to take UTRGV courses online or at an extension site, we encourage you to contact SAS. Don’t worry about whether you have documentation at first. Our first priority is to get to know you. Just contact us in the way most convenient to you. (If you reside in the Rio Grande Valley, we prefer to meet with you personally, in either Edinburg or Brownsville.)
  • I have a disability but don’t need accommodations. Am I required to register with SAS?

    It is entirely your choice whether to register with Student Accessibility Services. However, even if you don’t need accommodations, there can be an advantage to doing so. Students with disabilities are protected from discrimination by federal laws, and they often sign up just in case they have a need for services or support in a future semester. 
  • Is there financial aid for students with disabilities?

    Financial aid programs such as Pell grants and student loans are available to students with disabilities just as they are to other students. There are no special scholarship or grant programs. However, Texas residents who are legally blind or substantially deaf and meet certain other requirements can apply for a tuition waiver. Also, some students apply for and receive help from the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) Vocational Rehab and/or VAIL Center for Independent Living.

Services

  • Does UTRGV provide tutoring?

    Yes, offices on campus such as the Learning Assistance Center, the ASPIRE program (Brownsville only) and some academic departments do provide tutoring services. Online tutoring is available as well. SAS can help you find the tutoring resources you need.

  • Does SAS offer testing for learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD, or other disabilities?

    University disability support departments are not required by law to provide evaluation for a disability.  Instead, we often refer students to state or local agencies and other professionals in the community, such as educational diagnosticians or psychologists. Any costs associated with such disability evaluations are the responsibility of the student.
  • I have to miss class sometimes because of my condition. Is there an accommodation for absences?

    It depends. (This accommodation is necessary because some students have chronic health problems which occasionally cause them to be absent from class, whether for doctor’s appointments or because of a flare-up of symptoms).  Faculty set their own attendance policies, but SAS can help request some flexibility in the policy. The amount of flexibility depends on the nature of the class and whether class participation is a factor in the final grade. Visit or call the office for more information.

  • I need more time on tests. How can I arrange for that?

    If extended testing time is one of your approved accommodations, you must first notify your instructor by providing him/her with your accommodation letter. Students are required to follow SAS procedures regarding requesting to take tests at SAS 5 business days in advance of an exam date.. Note that in some cases, you may be able to have extra time on your exam (based on your approved accommodation) in the classroom.
  • Where can I take tests with extra time or in a distraction-reduced setting?

    SAS has testing centers in both Brownsville and Edinburg where students can take accommodated tests. You may also be able to make arrangements with your professor for extended time and/or distraction-reduced testing (if these are your approved accommodations).
  • What are alternate format textbooks?

    Traditional textbooks are printed on paper. Alternate format versions of the same books may be digital (e-books), recorded (human-narrated), or Braille, for example. In order to listen to a digital book or e-book, you will need to download a screen reading program on your computer. (Basic screen readers are available at no cost on the internet. Some students buy screen readers for added quality and convenience.)
  • Who is eligible to get textbooks in alternate format through SAS?

    Students who have significant problems reading print often meet the eligibility requirements. For example, students with dyslexia, ADD/ADHD, legal blindness, and limited dexterity may benefit from this accommodation.
  • How can I get books in an alternate format such as digital, audio, or Braille?

    Students registered with SAS and approved for alternate format of books are able to make such requests through the SAS department. SAS will work to secure a student's specific textbook(s) from one of our sources. In most cases, students will need a receipt showing they have purchased (or rented) the book before SAS can order it. In some rare circumstances,  book binding may need to be cut off and the pages scanned at SAS. These processes can be time-consuming, so students are advised to request the books at least two to four weeks before they are needed.
  • Can you help students who can’t use regular classroom furniture?

    Yes. SAS understands that some students are very uncomfortable using the seating in some classrooms due to their disability. SAS makes classroom furniture arrangements upon request for those who are registered with SAS and approved for accessible furniture accommodations.
  • I am Deaf/Hard of Hearing and need captioned videos. Can you help?

    Yes. SAS can contact your professors to determine if they plan to use videos and whether the videos are captioned. For more information, email SAS at ability@utrgv.edu.