Faculty Resources

Faculty Specific Frequently Asked Questions

Faculty may find the following faculty specific frequently asked questions helpful. Questions are also welcome to be send to us at disability@richmond.edu.


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  • How should I take disability status into account when grading students’ work?
    Once accommodations are granted/taken into account/applied, disabled students should be graded like any other student. Their accommodations are meant to level the playing field so that they have equal access. Many students with disabilities are successful thanks to accommodations, ability, and/or hard work. However, students with disabilities deserve to be held to the same standards as their peers, and they deserve the right to earn lower grades--or even fail classes!--if it is justified.
  • I don’t agree with the appropriateness of an accommodation that is included on a student’s DAN. What should I do?

    Please contact Disability Services! Not all accommodations are appropriate for every class and/or setting based on technical standards or goals of a course. However, we cannot anticipate every possible opportunity when this may happen, so we do our best when adding items to a student’s DAN. It’s best to contact us if you want to chat this through--we are happy to help!

  • I’m not sure I believe this student’s situation and their need for accommodations. Can I ask them for a doctor’s note or other proof?
    NO. (This is a very hard no.) Disability Services exists so that students only need to disclose specifics about their disability to one entity on campus who is an expert in making decisions about appropriate accommodations. However, if you have concerns about the appropriateness of an accommodation as it pertains to your particular class, please reach out to us so we can discuss it together! Sometimes, an approved accommodation may not necessarily be appropriate in every instance (see above FAQ).
  • Woah! You just used the word "disabled" in the above FAQ. Isn’t that rude/hurtful/bad/not PC?
    Nope, not necessarily! The disability community is relatively split regarding person-first language (e.g. “person with a disability,” “person with Autism,” etc.) and identity-first language (e.g. “disabled” or “Autistic”). This is because some people take the stance that they are more than their disability--they are a person first, and they happen to have a disability. Conversely, many people are reclaiming the term “disabled,” and see it as a point of pride because it is an extremely important part of their identity that should not be shameful. To respect both parties, Disability Services uses both approaches to language.


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  • I just received a student’s DAN. What do I do now?

    When providing a DAN to an instructor, students are strongly encouraged to request a short meeting to discuss the logistics of using their accommodations that semester (this is not to say that it is optional to provide accommodations--it just means that some accommodations do require collaboration and/or planning with the instructor, so chatting this through is helpful). Simply providing a DAN is typically not helpful, as no planning about using accommodations been done (such as communication about absences, plans for whether or not to use the Testing Center, how their assistive listening system microphone works, etc.). If a student does not request this meeting, we encourage you to recommend the student set up a time to chat with you during office hours. This way, you all can have a more personal, face to face conversation for planning around accommodation logistics. Plus, you have the opportunity to work through any potential bumps in the road so that you can reach out to Disability Services in case there are any questions or concerns that arise--we are here to help!

  • Students are waiting until we are far into the semester to disclose their disability status. How do I encourage them to disclose this information sooner?

    While a student technically has the right to disclose at any time, they are strongly encouraged to disclose at the beginning of the semester for planning purposes--it often makes for a smoother semester for everyone! To help encourage them even further, we recommend that faculty touch upon the topic of various campus resources on the first day of class, and include DS in that list, along with a syllabus statement regarding disability and accommodations. We recommend saying something along the following lines: “I’ve designed this class to be as accessible and inclusive as possible, but I know there may still be instances when barriers may disrupt your learning or things still get in the way of all students having equal access to the same opportunities. If you’re registered with Disability Services, I’d really like to chat with you during office hours about any approved accommodations so we can make sure you have access to what you need. And if you think you might have a disability but aren’t sure, Disability Services is an office that can help you navigate that process, and you can reach out to them at any time.”

Testing Center

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  • My student is approved for testing accommodations. Do I have to use the Testing Center?
    No. The Testing Center is a resource offered by Disability Services to aid in the accommodation implementation process. As long as the student receives all of their approved testing accommodations, there is no requirement to use the Testing Center. Conversely, a DAN does not need to include language around the Testing Center as a specific accommodation in order to utilize this resource, as the Testing Center itself is not an accommodation.
  • My student is approved for testing accommodations and I’d like to opt into using the Testing Center. How does that work?
    Students are responsible for making an appointment with the testing Center at least 4 days prior to their test date (they are encouraged to review their syllabus at the beginning of the semester and book everything all at once, but this is not a requirement). They are also told to schedule the appointment so it overlaps with their peers, or starts at the same time to preserve an equitable experience. Once we confirm an appointment, Disability Services will reach out to you with the appointment details and give you access to our Instructor Testing Center Booking Form. This will allow you to give us all the important details we need to know to proctor your test, as well as an opportunity to upload any files/documents we need to administer your test. We then take care of the rest, including administering/proctoring the test, and returning it to you in your preferred format (typically scanning in order to email it to your Richmond email).
  • I’ve heard the Testing Center does not enforce rules around testing. Is this true?
    Yes or no depending on your interpretation of enforcing rules. The Testing Center is a proctoring service that is here as a resource to help faculty manage their many responsibilities and high workload. Testing Center proctors go over all expectations and allowable items for an exam with each student prior to their starting each test. The student then signs a Testing Agreement prior to starting each and every semester. This includes that they understand that:
    • They are obligated to abide by the Honor Code, and
    • They are aware they are being video recorded, and
    • Questionable behavior will be reported to their instructor in order for them to make a determination regarding the outcome
    If a proctor notices behavior that is questionable during testing (for example, potentially using a phone or refusing to turn in a test), the Testing Center policy is that it is not up to us to make a determination about the dishonesty or consequences of the behavior, as the rest of the class would be monitored by their instructor, who is not present. If a student refuses to turn in their test, they are shown a card that makes it clear they are going beyond their accommodated time, which can be considered an Honor Code or Code of Conduct violation, and that their accommodations do not exempt them from these policies (however, a proctor cannot physically take a test from a student). For this reason, the proctor then records the behavior to send it to the instructor to make the final call of how to handle the concern. This policy was determined based on this decision matrix.


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  • One of my students is approved for audio recording of lectures. What does this mean, and when is it (or isn’t it) allowed?

    Audio recording of class content is considered a note taking accommodation. This clarification is important for two reasons:

    1. It means the student is responsible for recording the content (exception: School of Law students may access their recordings via Panopto), and 
    2. There may be instances when note taking would not be appropriate (for anyone), as it would disrupt the conversation, alter what students are willing to share, etc.. An example might be a psychology class that includes students sharing experiences around very personal information about self and others. These are times when recording is not appropriate, because no one should be documenting this information (some people refer to this concept as "Vegas rules").

    The best way to frame this is from the angle of when the whole class may and may not take notes. To help clarify this, we recommend making an announcement to the class at large to please not take notes on certain portions of the class if that is something you would require of all students. Because all students with DANs should request a meeting with instructors after they send them their DAN, this would be an excellent opportunity to discuss this possibility and what this announcement would mean. This way, no single student is called out because the announcement applies to *all* students, but it also means in no uncertain terms that the approved student knows they are not allowed to record audio.

    Additionally, all students approved for this accommodation are required to sign a Lecture Recording Agreement. It is impressed upon students that this agreement is taken very, very seriously.

  • One of my students is approved for "occasional" extensions regarding assignments or rescheduling tests. They seem to be requesting this very frequently. Is this Ok?
    Maybe, but probably not. Students are explicitly told when approved for this accommodation that it is meant to be used on a more “emergency” basis as a result of unpredictable flares/symptoms, and that if they ask to use this accommodation frequently, they may need to re-evaluate their accommodation needs with Disability Services (in other words, this accommodation doesn’t seem to be addressing the barrier in question regarding their disability and/or there are limitations as to what is appropriate). We encourage you to reach out to us with more details so we can work through each specific case individually.
  • The DAN I received says that a student is approved for 50% additional time for physical and virtual-based tests, quizzes, and exams. Does this 50% additional time also apply to take-home tests or papers?
    No. Extra time for tests is an accommodation that is meant to be used in instances that a student could/would be expected to use the fully allotted time (in other words, work continuously and complete the task in one sitting). If the expectation is for the student to complete a task within a certain timeframe, but it is not expected for students to use the full time, the extra time does not apply. For example, if students have a week to complete a take-home exam, the expectation is not for students to work on the test 24 hours a day for 7 days. Therefore, students are expected to complete the test within the standard time frame allotted, planning ahead for the fact that they may need to budget more time than their peers within the large time frame.

Informational Video