Guidance for Faculty

General Guidance

ODS has developed guidance and FAQs for instructors, to help address some common questions and concerns.  Please review the links on the side of this page for information pertaining to specific types of accommodations.

What information about ODS should I include on my syllabus?

ODS recommends including the following statement on all course syllabi:

The University of Alabama is committed to ensuring the full participation of all students in its programs. If you have a documented disability (or think you may have a disability) and need reasonable accommodation(s) to participate in this class, contact the Office of Disability Services (or ODS; 205-348-4285,, Houser Hall 1000, as soon as possible. If you have been approved to receive accommodations through ODS, please meet with your instructor or your College designee during office hours or by appointment to review your accommodation letter and discuss how accommodations can be implemented in this course.

What should I do if I have questions regarding a student’s accommodation?

Accommodations Specialists are available to discuss any questions or concerns that instructors may have about requested accommodations. Each accommodated student has an assigned Accommodations Specialist whose name appears on the accommodation letter. Feel free to contact or (205) 348-4285 with the student’s name and the course information, and an Accommodations Specialist will be happy to answer your questions.

How should I respond to students upon receiving an accommodation letter?

Below are some example email templates you may use to acknowledge receipt of an accommodation letter and encourage the student to communication with you:

Example 1

Hello [Student],
I’m writing because I received the Faculty Notification Letter regarding accommodations you will be utilizing in my course. I want you to know that I’m eager to make those accommodations. Please feel free to set-up an appointment to talk with me about how I can best support you. Do let me know if there are moments in the course when I can better support your particular approach to learning. I am committed to providing a learning environment that is inclusive and accessible to all students. Please let me know how you would like to proceed.

[Professor’s Signature]

Example 2

Hi [Student],
I received your Faculty Notification Letter from ODS and want to invite you to come and meet with me during my office hours. Providing access to this course is important to me and I want to ensure that we get an opportunity to discuss your accommodations and learning needs fully. We can also talk by phone if that is more comfortable for you. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

[Professor’s Signature]

What if a student requests an accommodation but hasn’t provided an accommodation letter from ODS?

Please remind the student that you must receive an accommodation letter first, and refer the student to ODS if they are unsure how to send their accommodation letter.

Who is responsible for determining appropriate accommodations?

ODS is the office on campus designated to review students’ disability documentation and determine eligibility for accommodations. ODS reviews documentation and meets with students to determine whether a disability is present, to evaluate the functional impact of the disability in an academic setting, and to determine reasonable accommodations that will provide equal access to the learning environment.

Will I need to change the way I teach my course to accommodate students with disabilities?

Generally, no. Most students do not need any change in teaching style; however, some students need adjustments or modifications in order to access course content. For example, instructors may be asked to verbalize when writing on the board to accommodate a student with a visual impairment.

Am I required to lower the standards of a required assignment because a student has a disability?

No. Standards should be the same for all students. However, some students with disabilities may need to demonstrate their knowledge or meet course expectations differently than their peers. For example, a student with a learning disability in writing may produce an essay exam by using a computer or scribe rather than writing out an answer by hand. The quality of the work should be the same.

What should I do if a student declines an accommodation listed on the accommodation letter?

Accommodation letters are specific to the student, but not to the course. If a student declines an accommodation, or if the instructor and the student mutually agree that an accommodation does not apply due to the nature of the course, we recommend documenting this via email.

My email address is incorrect in the ODS Online Portal and I am not receiving messages. How can this be resolved?

The ODS Online Portal receives it’s data from Banner. ODS cannot alter Banner data, it must be changed at the Registrar level. OIT guidance is that faculty set up forwarding on the email account listed in Banner to the preferred email account to ensure messages are received. Please review these OIT instructions.

Faculty may also use MyBama credentials to log into the portal and view all accommodations information for assigned courses.

How do I refer students to ODS?

A student may disclose that they are struggling in your course, and they may or may not indicate that this could be due to a disability. Below are some example email templates you may use when you need to refer students to ODS.

Example 1: Student has NOT disclosed disability

Hello [Student],
I am sorry to hear you are experiencing some difficulty in this course. I appreciate you letting me know. UA has many options for you in terms of support. These include the Capstone Center for Student SuccessWriting CenterDisability ServicesStudent Health CenterCounseling CenterWomen and Gender Resource Center, and Student Care and Well-Being. I encourage you to check out these resources as they may be able to provide you with support. Many students find them helpful and they are an integral part of what the University offers you as a student.

[Professor’s Signature]

Example 2: Student discloses disability to you

Hi [Student],
Thank you for talking with me today. Because you self-identified as having utilized disability-related accommodations in the past, I wanted to follow up with some information about UA’s Office of Disability Services (ODS). Their office is in Houser Hall 1000 and they can be reached at (205) 348-4285 or Here is a link to the ODS website where you can register or get additional information. I encourage you to make an appointment with them to explore the possibility of using accommodations.

[Professor’s Signature]

What should I do if my classroom is not architecturally accessible?

Accessibility concerns should be reported to Facilities through the ADA hotline: 205-348-5882, or If needed, ODS can negotiate to have course sections moved to accessible locations for students with mobility impairments who are registered with the office.

A student sent their accommodation letter to me in the 8th week of the semester. Do I have to provide accommodations for a student this late?

Yes. There could be numerous reasons why a student makes a late request. Please keep in mind that students are permitted to register with ODS and send accommodation letters at any point during the semester, meaning there is no deadline for students to request accommodations. However, arrangements to receive accommodations must be made within a reasonable time frame, preferably a minimum of 7 days before the accommodation is needed. Certain accommodations require additional advance notice to ODS.

Also, accommodations are not retroactive, so instructors are not required to retroactively apply accommodations to assessments or assignments that take place prior to the date on which they received the accommodation notice.

What should I do if a student comes to class with a dog? How do I know it is a service animal?

Service animals are not an accommodation. Therefore, a student’s use of a service animal is not something that appears on an ODS accommodation notice. Students who use a service animal in UA facilities are not required, but are strongly encouraged, to contact ODS so we can assist in making recommendations on how the student can respond to inquiries regarding their service animal.

Instructors are not allowed to request any documentation for the dog, require that the dog demonstrate its task, or inquire about the nature of the person’s disability. In situations where it is not obvious that the dog is a service animal, instructors may ask only two specific questions:

1. Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?

2. What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

Please contact the Office of Disability Services at (205) 348-4285 if you have any questions or concerns about providing accommodations. The student’s assigned Accommodations Specialist can provide assistance.