In any particular year, 500 or more students at Iowa are recognized as having psychiatric, learning, attention deficit, or physical disabilities. The majority of these students have learning (LD) or attention deficit (ADD) disabilities. Students with LD often struggle with acquiring, processing, or remembering new information. Students with ADD are easily distracted by any stimuli and need assistance with structure.

Federal and state laws require the University to provide equal access to academic programs and to provide reasonable academic accommodations to students with disabilities. “Reasonable accommodation” means removing physical and instructional barriers to learning so that academic success can be achieved. According to the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity, accommodation should not be construed as giving special advantages to help students with disabilities pass a course or as grading them on a different scale.

The following guideposts can help you interact appropriately with students with disabilities:

  • Accommodations include alternative ways to fulfill course requirements, assistive technology, tutorial assistance, seating arrangements, or modified testing procedures.

  • Course syllabi should inform students that accommodations are available for students with disabilities and that they must register with Student Disability Services in order to receive consideration for alternative testing and assignments.

  • Some students may want to avoid this process and will simply ask you for the appropriate accommodation. Tell them that you are required to follow the University’s protocol, and refer them to Student Disability Services.

  • In addition to language in the syllabus, a few remarks on the first day of class can encourage students with special needs to speak with you outside the classroom as soon as possible so you can help provide any accommodations.

  • Create an atmosphere in which students feel comfortable discussing their needs with you. Provide appropriate help when asked but avoid placing undue attention on the student in class.

  • Maintain the student’s confidentiality at all times.

  • Don’t single out any student as a representative of people with disabilities.

  • Remember that students with disabilities are students first.

​For more information about how instructors can assist students with disabilities, refer to Student Disability Services.