Frequently Asked Questions (Students)

No, accommodations do not give the student with a disability an unfair advantage. Rather, reasonable accommodations give students with disabilities the same opportunity as students without disabilities to access course information and materials, to participate fully in the course, and to demonstrate their mastery of the essential learning outcomes of the course. By definition, reasonable accommodations do not lower the academic standards that all students in the course must meet.

If the college environment were designed to meet the needs of students with and without disabilities, there would be no need for reasonable accommodations. But that is not the present reality: the college environment is designed to meet the needs of students who have no disability.

When a student with a disability encounters an environmental barrier, such as a timed test they are not able to finish or an assigned reading that is not accessible, they are placed at a disadvantage in relation to their nondisabled peers. The purpose of providing a reasonable accommodation is to remove the environmental barrier, thus giving the student with a disability an equal opportunity for success by leveling the playing field so they are no longer placed at a disadvantage. So while an accommodation could be an advantage to students without a disability, it is not an advantage for a student with a disability, but an equalizer.

EXANPLE: A student who is limited in the physical task of writing may be an excellent writer even though they cannot print or type the letters and words. The physical act of writing is a non-essential task; therefore, under the law, the student's mastery of the course material must not be judged by their ability to use a keyboard or manipulate a pencil or pen. ARC CAN SET UP accommodations FOR the student during timed tests such as providing a scribe or allowing the student to use dictation software to compose answers to essay questions. These accommodations would ENABLE the student to DEMONSTRATE whether they can write effectively and whether they have acquired the information and critical skills the instructor wished to convey in the course.

Not necessarily. The goal of accommodations in higher education is to promote equal access and equal opportunity. Accommodation decisions are made on a case-by-case basis with reference to the specific barriers the student encounters in the college environment related to the disability. For students who have an IEP and are receiving specialized instruction or classes with modified curricula, some accommodations they received in high school may not transfer to the college setting. For example, the ability to retake tests to obtain a higher score is not an accommodation that can be provided in college. On the other hand, other accommodations that were not used in the secondary school environment (e.g., technology to assist with note taking) may be appropriate in college. For more information about the differences between accommodations in high school and college, see our Transitioning To College page.

The only information that would be shared with your professors is that you are working with our office and that you have specific accommodations available to use, but you have complete control over which professors receive this information. Details about how you go about setting up accommodations each semester can be found on our How Do I Request My Accommodations For The Semester page.

Services provided by the Accessibility Resource Center are confidential. We do not release information to any persons or agencies without the written consent of the student, who must fill out a Release/Disclosure Authorization Form. If the student has not signed a release, then information can only be released pursuant to a subpoena, under circumstances that might pose a danger to the student or others, in situations of suspected child abuse, or under circumstances where UNM officials have a need to know.

The only way that your employer, a potential graduate school, or any other entity would know that you have a disability is if you disclose that information to them yourself. There is no national database of people with disabilities for anyone to search. The disability documentation you give to ARC is strictly confidential; it is kept in a locked file cabinet in a locked file room at ARC.

Services provided by the Accessibility Resource Center are confidential. We do not release information to any persons or agencies without the written consent of the student, who must fill out a Release/Disclosure Authorization Form. If the student has not signed a release, then information can only be released pursuant to a subpoena, under circumstances that might pose a danger to the student or others, in situations of suspected child abuse, or under circumstances where UNM officials have a need to know.

No, because ARC will accept disability documentation regardless of how old it is. However, there is an additional factor you will want to consider, if you are going to need accommodations for standardized tests (that is, tests that are separate from your UNM classes). For instance, you may be considering the idea of applying to graduate school, so eventually you may need to take an entrance exam such as the GRE, LSAT, MCAT, or GMAT. Or you may be planning to enter a field that requires you to take licensure or certification tests, such as the teaching field.

If you will need accommodations for standardized tests, then it is important for you to know that the accommodations for standardized tests are not approved by ARC: they are approved by the specific agency administering the test you are taking (for instance, ETS administers the GRE exams). Unlike ARC, testing bodies such as ETS have very strict requirements for how current a person’s disability documentation has to be in order for them to accept it. For a learning disability, a typical requirement would be that the documentation be no more than 3-5 years old. Therefore, if you have an opportunity to obtain a new evaluation that is more current, it would be a good idea to do so.

While attendance during scheduled class times is a necessary and important part of the learning process, Accessibility Resource Center staff may recommend flexibility in attendance requirements for some students. Generally, this accommodation is considered when the student has an episodic disability that causes changes in functioning at unpredictable times, i.e. “good and bad days.” With the Attendance Adjustment accommodation, flexibility in attendance is negotiable, contingent upon the student and circumstance. Variables such as the nature of the course, the material, and the necessity of interaction in the classroom are all considered.

Examples: Discourse among the students is a critical aspect of learning in a seminar course. Thus, it would not be possible simply to read the assigned texts and copy another student’s notes before an exam. Similarly, a science lab course requires students to work, often together, to observe phenomena in experiments and record findings. In these examples, minimal leniency is appropriate. In other courses, such as large lecture courses, there may be more flexibility in attendance than in the previous two examples.

It is important that students understand there is no substitution for attendance and in-class participation. Exam grades may reflect this if too many classes are missed, and the exam grades cannot be altered as a result of missed material due to absence leniency.

Classrooms may be moved if the room is inaccessible to a student registered in the course. Whenever possible, the least intrusive intervention is used. For instance, a student may be moved to another section of the same course at the same time if that section is scheduled in an accessible location. Faculty should be advised that not all students with severe mobility disabilities, who may require room changes, have visible disabilities. Instructors will be notified by Accessibility Resource Center before classroom changes are finalized.
Many courses at The University of New Mexico have experiential elements that occur outside the traditional classroom or laboratory, and many programs require the completion of such courses as part of the standard curriculum. Accessibility Resource Center adheres to its over-arching policies regarding program access, reasonable accommodations, and prohibition against discrimination with respect to these educational experiences.

Examples of experiential elements are:

  • Field trips
  • Field experiences
  • Practicums
  • Student teaching
  • Professional internships
  • Study abroad

When a student asks us to do so, Accessibility Resource Center provides reasonable accommodations such as readers, scribes, signed language interpreters, and assistive technology. Many accommodations can be easily provided on site. For example, desks can be raised by blocks of wood to permit use with a wheelchair, workstation lighting can be modified, and other accommodations can be provided upon request. At no time does a student pay fees for reasonable accommodations. However, personal services such as personal care attendants, drivers, etc. are the responsibility of the student.

The student arranges the practicum, internship, field trip, field experience, or overseas study program through their instructor, advisor, professional school or other appropriate division of the University. If accommodations are likely to be needed, the student must make the request. For example, use of an aid in student teaching would be requested by the student in advance. The purpose, activities, and time necessary for the accommodations would be discussed by Accessibility Resource Center and the student, along with the practicum supervisor. Staff at the practicum site may need to be included as well. In other cases, the student makes the requests directly to the practicum site personnel, and comes to Accessibility Resource Center only for services that would involve some cost, such as readers or scribes. Accessibility Resource Center and the student then discuss the barriers encountered and agree on which accommodations are necessary and reasonable. Supervising faculty should discuss the potential need for accommodations with students when appropriate.

Deaf and hard of hearing students who register with Accessibility Resource Center may be eligible for interpreter services. Contact Accessibility Resource Center at 277-6605 to make an appointment or request an interpreter. If you would like to request an interpreter for a University-sponsored event, class or meeting please contact the department sponsoring the event to request the interpreter. You may refer the department to Accessibility Resource Center for further information.
Accessibility Resource Center strongly encourages students to meet with professors during office hours and/or to arrange an alternate meeting time so that there is sufficient time to discuss the accommodation letter and how your accommodation needs will be met in his/her class. Most faculty are familiar with the accommodation process and should be encouraged to call Accessibility Resource Center if they have questions. Meeting with faculty face-to-face is essential in order to work out logistical details related to specific requests (e.g., where you will be taking your quizzes if you need extended time and/or a reduced distraction environment). Meeting during office hours versus immediately before, during, or after class allows for more privacy and opportunity to discuss details.
While it is not anticipated that this type of difficulty will occur, if you do have problems with a professor providing appropriate and agreed-upon accommodations, you should contact your accommodations specialist at Accessibility Resource Center . We will attempt to resolve the issue by making contact with the faculty member and/or other relevant parties as necessary.