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Reasonable Accommodations Overview

What is the purpose of a reasonable accommodation?

The purpose of a reasonable accommodation is to provide a modification or adjustment that enables a qualified student with a disability to participate in courses, programs, facilities, activities, or services.  A reasonable accommodation assures that a qualified student with a disability has rights and privileges equal to students without disabilities.  Reasonable accommodations may include academic adjustments, auxiliary aids, services, or modifications for facilities.  Accommodations do not guarantee academic success; the student is still responsible for learning subject knowledge, demonstrating mastery of content, and meeting the same demands required of all students.

What does the term “reasonable” mean?

An accommodation is considered reasonable if it does not require substantial change in the curriculum or alteration of any essential elements or functions of a course, program, service, or activity.  SDR may consider reasonable alternatives to accommodation requests, though significance is given to a student’s preference.

What are the differences among academic adjustments, auxiliary aids, services, and modifications?

  • An academic adjustment minimizes or eliminates the impact of any disability that would unfairly restrict a student’s access to Penn State’s courses, programs, activities, or facilities. Examples might include: extension of time for tests, course substitution of nonessential requirements, priority registration, etc. (this is not an exhaustive list).
  • An auxiliary aid might include adaptive equipment, assistive technology, FM systems, electronic textbooks or books in alternative formats, computers for testing, etc. (this is not an exhaustive list).
  • A service may include a reader for tests, notetaker for a course, test proctors, sign language interpreters, real-time captioning, etc. (this is not an exhaustive list).
  • A modification may include the removal of architectural barriers. Penn State’s University Access Committee leads efforts to remove architectural barriers.