What is an Accommodation?

The Office of Accessibility Resources and Accommodations (ARA) recognizes accommodations as adjustments, alterations or supplementary aids and services intended to reduce barriers providing equal access to students with varying abilities. Accommodations are determined through an interactive process between one of the professionals in our office and a student. In that process, accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis, based on appropriate documentation, the student’s history, and specific functional limitations. 

Did You Know?

Students with a documented disability are qualified to obtain accommodations that are reasonable and appropriate to their disability.

To receive accommodations students must be registered with the ARA, have their health care provider complete our form, provide suitable documentation, and meet with one of our ARA professionals. Suitable documentation includes an IEP or 504 plan, a psycho/educational assessment completed within three years after high school graduation, a description of the condition with the diagnostic code and which accommodations are recommended.

Faculty and staff at our institution cannot refuse to provide the reasonable accommodations approved by the ARA.

Having an accommodation is not a guarantee for success, rather accommodations are provided to eliminate discrimination and equal access to those who are differently abled.

Student accommodations are determined on a one to one basis through an interactive process between a student and an ARA professional based on the student’s documentation and an assessment of their limitation(s).

Accommodations and services offered to students who are differently abled are intended to alter the way in which material is presented, but in no way, are intended to modify course content or program requirements as established by their professor and Saginaw Valley State University.

Registering for Classroom Accommodations

Presentation Versus Modification

Accommodations and services offered to students with disabilities are intended to alter the way in which course material is presented, assessed, etc., but in no way, are they intended to modify course content or program requirements as established by Saginaw Valley State University and their professor.

Certification & Documentation

In most cases, to be eligible for services, students must provide documentation of their disability issued within the last three years. Certification of a disability - documentation may be requested annually, to provide updates on the disability or diagnosis changes. 

Stay Informed

Any accommodations that are requested after the start of the term will be implemented in 7 to 14 days after the student has notified the ARA of a disability and they have received appropriate documentation. Any grades, activities, tests, quizzes or other student responsibilities cannot be subject to accommodations prior to the date of request.

Additional Help

Accommodations are based on the documentation students provide. If a student finds they need additional help beyond the accommodations provided, then they should contact the ARA for help.

Students Must Register

Students must be registered with the ARA, have their health care provider complete our form, provide suitable documentation, and meet with one of our ARA Professionals. Suitable documentation includes an IEP or 504 plan, a psycho/educational assessment completed within three years after high school graduation, a description of the condition with the diagnostic code, and which accommodations are recommended.


  1. Register with the ARA
  2. Have a health care provider complete the necessary form(s)
  3. Acquire and provide suitable documentation
  4. Meet with an ARA Professional
  5. Keep all important documentation or certifications up-to-date
  6. Stay informed on SVSU expectations for those registered through the ARA
  7. If you need help, reach out to the ARA in a timely manner 

List of Accommodations

The following is a list of the kind of accommodations students might require. It is the ARA's hope that this document will help with understanding students who require accommodations to be academically successful. For accommodation questions, please contact the ARA Office. 

The student requires a nut or allergen-free learning environment.

This equipment amplifies sound directly into the ear.  It is a wireless system that uses radio waves to deliver speech directly from the speaker’s mouth to the listener’s ears.  For this accommodation, faculty are asked to wear a lavalier clip.

The student receives temporary accommodations due to their injury.

Assistive technology software that allows the user to import digitized audio to their computer or portable device.  This technology also allows the student to upload a PPT presentation, type their own notes, and record lectures.

Tests that are verbally recorded for students with specific learning disabilities.

Students are accommodated with 5-10 minute bathroom breaks in order to alleviate the effects of their condition.

A form of written language for individuals who have blindness.  With this accommodation, students use their fingertips to “read” characters which are represented by patterns of raised dots.

This accommodation allows the student to leave the classroom for 5 to 10 minutes to alleviate the effects of their condition.


Computer-assisted speech to print transaction system.

A student with dyscalculia is accommodated with a calculator for mathematical in-class assignments, tests, quizzes and homework.

Text version of the spoken part of a television, movie or computer presentation. Closed captioning was developed to aid hearing-impaired people.

The student is accommodated with the use of a computer for any in-class assignments or note-taking.  Please discuss with the student whether internet access is allowed.

The student is accommodated with a computer for testing.  Some students require programs like Dragon (speech recognition software), Natural Reader (text to speech software) or other programming to complete their exams.

A list of formulas or words for a student whose disability affects their memory recall.  Such cards are a tool that can help a student trigger their memory.  These should be created by the student using ink and they must be approved by the professor who also adds his signature in ink.


A student who has issues with processing or fine motor skills might require additional time in the classroom for completing typed assignments.

A student that has cognitive disabilities or disabilities that affect fine motor skills requires additional time for tests that necessitate writing essays or responses.

A speech recognition software package that allows the student to speak into a microphone allowing their words to appear on their screen which can then become a Word document or email, as examples.

Electronic books or documents that are stored as digital images to assist a student with sensory, physical, learning, or reading disabilities.  Such books or documents should be formatted to allow the student to search for words or passages.

Small pliable piece of foam inserted into the ear to deaden sound while testing.


Documents that are digitized allowing the student to interact with said document on a computer.

A domestic animal that is permitted in a student’s dorm room as a part of treatment for their condition.

A student who has cognitive disabilities or disabilities that affect fine motor skills might require additional time for tests that require writing essays or responses.

A student might have a condition that may be episodic in nature causing attendance difficulties.  The student receiving this accommodation needs to speak with their professor to decide upon what reasonable absences look like. A Flexible Attendance Agreement should be completed during this discussion and each party should retain a copy. 

Seating that will reduce a student’s medical condition/disability.

The facilitation of spoken or signed language communication provided for a hearing-impaired student.  The student might require two interpreters to sit in the classroom and relay your lecture and class discussion. This can also be done through a real-time live transcription service.

The formatting of books or other documents where the font or medium is considerably larger to accommodate those with poor vision.

Is a text to speech software with natural sounding voices. This easy to use software can convert any written text such as MS Word, web page, PDF files or emails into spoken words.

Headphones that reduce unwanted sounds using active noise control when testing.

A student might need assistance taking notes.  Faculty can provide the student with a copy of their notes or get a volunteer note-taker using care to protect the confidentiality of the student requiring assistance.

Standard testing with a paper document and pencil for a student whose disability prevents them from using a computerized test.

A person who assists the student with their daily business or personal tasks.  The student or the student’s family would personally pay for this service, should the student require assistance with daily living skills.  This aide might attend class with the registered student.

A pregnant student can be provided with temporary accommodations during their pregnancy.  These temporary accommodations can include flexible attendance, bathroom breaks, and breaks to alleviate the impact of their condition.

The student must be seated alone in a room, free from all distractions while testing.

A testing room that minimizes auditory, visual, or other distractions by eliminating noise and movement by others.

A person hired by ARA transcribes the lecture live for the student via two connected computers.

An accommodation which allows the student to record lectures.  Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act specifies that audio recording is an appropriate academic accommodation.  Students are required to sign an “Agreement for Recording Lectures” document in our office system which demonstrates they understand that any misuse of a recording would be a violation of the Student Code of Conduct and that they would be subject to some form of punishment. Faculty can also ask their student to complete a separate agreement which outlines any consequences for violating their agreement.

The student is exempt from using scantron answer sheets by using an alternative method to answer test questions. 

The student may require additional paper while testing.

Software that interfaces with a computer’s graphical output for the student with visual impairments to see enlarged images.

A person who records a student’s answers on an exam verbatim.

The student is assisted by an animal that is specifically trained to provide a service that alleviates one or more medical conditions.  Service animals are allowed any place on campus and do not have to be registered with ARA.

An accommodation that allows a student to pick a seat in class. This student is allowed to maintain a preferred seat for the entire semester.

Student may need to stand, stretch or walk for a few minutes every 45 to 60 minutes either during class or while taking an exam.

The student requires a standing table for the classroom.

The student is comfortable taking their exam within the confines of the ARA office.

The student can talk to themselves during an examination to process answers.  Such student requires private room testing.

A student requiring a wheelchair must have the ability to attend class.  Therefore, every classroom should be wheelchair accessible.  If not, contact facilities to have them rearrange the classroom to make it ADA compliant.

A machine which provides a consistent high-frequency noise which helps to eliminate distractions while testing.

A written schedule of assignments, tests, quizzes and deadlines which serve to provide a concrete reminder to the student who has trouble sequencing or taking in verbal information.  Also helpful is a syllabus that provides clear, detailed information about the structure of the course, assessment requirements and deadlines.

Special Note:  Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are diverse and might require support through specific directives.  Students who are on the spectrum are best served using the following methods (Atwood, 2009):

  • Make directions clear and provide step by step instructions in written format
  • Ask student to repeat instructions to verify they understand what it is they are supposed to do.
  • Ask for another student to volunteer to be a mentor by assisting with organization, turning in assignments, and navigating social situations
  • Allow for student to have short breaks if necessary-pacing is sometimes calming for people with ASD
  • Allow delivery of assignments in different formats such as electronically
  • Provide students with the option to work in a group or independently if they feel uncomfortable in a group work setting


Ann Coburn-Collins, Director of Academic Support Programs
Wickes 260
(989) 964-7000

Shawn Wilson, Associate Director of Accessibility Resources and Accommodations
Wickes 260
(989) 964-7000

Debbi Abeare-Jacobs, Administrative Secretary
Wickes 260
(989) 964-7000