print header


The law requires that students submit medical or other appropriate diagnostic documentation of their disability and specific recommendations for appropriate accommodations. This documentation is submitted to SSD professional staff where it is reviewed to determine whether the student's request for services and accommodations is:

  1. appropriate based on the documentation the student has provided;
  2. required under federal law;
  3. consistent with accommodations required of all postsecondary institutions; and
  4. recognized as appropriate by national organizations.

Once the request for services and accommodations is determined to be appropriate, SSD staff facilitate the delivery of the accommodations through a set of standardized procedures. Each semester the student is issued a "Verification of Individual Services and Accommodations" (VISA) form listing appropriate accommodations and signed by SSD professional staff. Faculty maintain the right to view the student's VISA prior to providing any accommodations.

The SSD office does not carry full responsibility for provision of all accommodations, but rather, assists all departments and units in meeting the University's mandated responsibilities. In addition, students seeking accommodations are expected to demonstrate initiative in obtaining and arranging assistance through discussion with their instructors.

Test Accommodations

Test accommodations are required when students with disabilities need special equipment, readers, writers, proctors, additional test time, and/or a separate room in order to take course quizzes and exams (both scheduled and unannounced), placement tests, and standardized tests. Students may also need alternate types of exams, e.g. oral, taped, large print, multiple choice, etc. Please see Student Procedures for Obtaining Test Accommodations.

Course Materials in Alternative Format

Some students with visual impairments, learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder may require alternative format materials including taped textbooks, handouts, and required readings. The student must request this type of accommodation from the SSD professional staff in a timely fashion, prior to the actual need for the materials (e.g. well in advance of classes beginning). Instructors can facilitate the timely delivery of requested materials to the student by providing information in advance to the student submitting the request for alternative format materials. Students are encouraged to contact instructors prior to the beginning of each semester to obtain the necessary information and materials:

  • For Textbooks: Complete title, author(s), copyright and/or edition number is required; ISBN number if available.
  • Handouts/Readings/Journal Articles: A copy of the materials and a copy of the course syllabus are necessary. The majority of this information must be recorded by a reader hired by the SSD office.

Please see Student Procedures for Obtaining Course Materials in Alternative Format.

Note Taking

Students with a wide variety of disabilities, including those with limited hand function, visual impairments, hearing impairments, learning disabilities, and attention deficit disorders may need assistance taking notes. Please see Student Procedures for Obtaining Note Taking Assistance. Note taking assistance facilitates access to classroom lectures; it does not substitute for class attendance.

Note taking assistance can be provided in a variety of ways. A professor may provide copies of lecture notes and/or overhead slides or power point materials if available,. Designated note takers such as teaching assistants may be used. Note taking assistance historically, however, primarily has been provided by volunteer student note takers, recruited from within the class.

In recruiting a student note taker, it is expected that student confidentiality will be maintained. Please use language similar to "A student in our class is eligible for note taking assistance. If you feel you take good notes and are willing to help another student, please see me after class."

The SSD office has training materials available for the student note taker. A student might be interested in service learning credit or in assisting on a volunteer basis. Please contact the SSD office for further information.

Audio Recording Lectures

Recording lectures allows students to review information presented by an instructor during class. When a student's disability limits his or her short-term memory or ability to take effective notes, taped lectures help ensure equal access to lecture materials. Students are encouraged to discuss their specific needs with instructors so that arrangements can be made for effective taping.

UW-Regent Resolution 1556 provides that prohibitions of tape recorders in classrooms may not be imposed upon qualified students with disabilities who, because of the nature of their disability, must utilize tape recorders to effectively participate in a class. Notwithstanding the previous statement, a teacher may, on certain occasions, such as potential copyright infringement, interdict the audio recording note or require a student to sign agreements that they will not release the tape recording or transcription to others.

Notwithstanding the above, a teacher may, on certain occasions, for reasons concerning pedagogical practice or academic freedom, interdict the taking of notes. At such times, he/she may also forbid the use of tape recorders.

Sign Language Interpreters

Students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing may need sign language interpreters to access class lectures and materials. A note taker may also be needed if the student requires a sign language interpreter. The SSD office will arrange for sign language interpreter services. Interpreters will translate oral communication into sign language and sign language into oral communication to enable students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing to communicate with instructors or other students. Interpreters are translators and remain neutral in all communication as they transmit information. They do not become involved in the students' interactions, and are not advocates for the student.

When communicating with a student who is deaf or hard-of-hearing and uses an interpreter, eye contact should be maintained and questions should be directed to the student, not the interpreter. The interpreter should sit between the instructor and the student, facing the student. All audio presentations--lecture, discussion, films, etc. should involve use of an interpreter. Captioned materials should be used when available. An interpreter can also be made available for faculty consultation(s).

C-print Captioning

Students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing may also utilize C-print captioning to access class lectures. C-print is a computerized speech-to-print transcription system which involves a hearing captionist (transcriber) typing words of the teacher and other students as they are being spoken. With this system the captionist provides a real-time display that the deaf or hard-of-hearing student can read on a second laptop computer or TV monitor to understand what is happening in the classroom. A transcribed product using the C-print system includes as much of the teacher's and student's discourse as possible rather than a word-for-word transcription. Captionists remain neutral in all communication as they transmit information. They do not become involved in the students' interactions and are not advocates for the student.

Library Assistance

It may be necessary to provide assistance to students who are unable to use the library independently due to physical or visual limitations. Students may need additional time to read assignments, or materials may need to be enlarged or recorded on tape. Some students may need assistance in locating and retrieving needed materials. Students are encouraged to discuss their specific needs with instructors and/or library personnel.