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Accommodating Students with Disabilities: Faculty Guide

Reasonable Accommodations Definition

Students with physical/learning limitations or chronic physical/mental illnesses or conditions are categorized as ‘disabled’ according to federal non-discrimination laws. As such, they are eligible for reasonable accommodations based on the limitations that are manifested. Needs vary among individuals with the same disability and a student may have multiple disabilities that have to be taken into consideration. It is very common for people to have disabilities that are not obvious to others.  The student is legally entitled to privacy about the exact nature of the disability. If a student presents you with a letter of accommodation from the L/AC, the student has submitted sufficient information to verify the disability and is officially identified as having a disability.


The underlying purpose of reasonable accommodations is to enable students to participate and be evaluated on the basis of their abilities, not their disabilities, as well as providing equal access to information in the classroom. Reasonable accommodations are mandatory based on federal regulations. As faculty and staff, we share the obligation to participate in the process of providing them.

Learning Outcomes

Reasonable accommodations may require adjustments to how courses are conducted and/or how program requirements can be met. However, reasonable accommodations are not meant to alter the fundamental nature of the course or program or the essential learning outcomes of the course or program.


Students are encouraged to meet with the Learning/Access Center (L/AC) staff at the beginning of the semester; however, they may choose to identify as having a disability at any time throughout the semester. Although you may encourage students to identify themselves at the start of the semester, you cannot require students to identify by a specific point. A statement on your syllabus about accommodations for students with disabilities can help encourage students to seek assistance from the L/AC. View a sample syllabus statement. It is also included in the standard Pratt syllabus.

Accommodation letters are sent to faculty via their Pratt email. Accommodations listed in the letter are of a general nature. Students or the L/AC staff may request more specific accommodations directly with a professor. Professors may agree to provide the accommodation to the student. If a professor wants to discuss the request or is not certain how to accommodate the student, the faculty member must contact the L/AC to begin an interactive process to determine a reasonable accommodation. The professor should not attempt to negotiate an accommodation directly with a student. The interactive process includes a review of the learning outcomes for the class under consideration and a collaborative process to determine a reasonable accommodation that meets those learning outcomes.


Despite all of our best efforts to accommodate students fairly, some students may file a 504 Complaint with the 504 Coordinator. 504 refers to the section of law that specifies regulations preventing discrimination of persons with disabilities. The law requires that all 504 complaints be investigated and evaluated justly. At Pratt, these complaints are investigated by the Pratt 504 Coordinator, Elisabeth Sullivan. Please also be aware that any student, at any time, can file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights.

For more information please visit the Faculty Resources page of the Learning/Access Center web page.