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Academic Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Student Accessibility Services provides academic accommodations as supported by the student's documentation and those required by Section 504 and the ADA laws.

At St. John Fisher College, support services, such as exam proctoring and sharing class notes are provided by students under the supervision of the coordinator of student accessibility services.

*Note: The process for accessing academic accommodations for graduate-level courses may vary.

Types of Academic Accommodations

Extended Exam Time/Distraction Reduced Location

At the college level, extended time is generally defined as 1.5x the standard exam time. Students whose documentation supports extended time, and who have approval from their faculty, may take their exams under proctor supervision in the Student Accessibility Services Test Center. To be eligible for exam accommodations, the student must have their Academic Accommodation Verification Form signed by their faculty and returned to Student Accessibility Services (Kearney 300) within the deadline each semester. To utilize the exam accommodations, students must complete a Test Accommodation Request at least four business days prior to each scheduled test date.

Exam Readers/Reading Software

Students with supporting documentation may be provided with a reader or reading software so they can hear the exam questions. The proctor will read the questions aloud and may repeat a question if requested. The reader may not coach the student toward an answer. Students also have the option of using Kurzweil, or Read:OutLoud reading software. Kurzweil is available on the adaptive computers in the library and in the Kearney lab. Read:OutLoud is available on all academic computers.

Class Notes

Unless a student is physically unable to take notes, we recommend using a Livescribe Smartpen for recording and taking class notes. Student Accessibility Services has a limited quantity of Smartpens available for loan to eligible students. Instructional assistance and support is available through OIT via the training support specialist.

Students whose disability necessitates note taking service will be provided with notes from a classmate enrolled in the same course(s), who is hired to share their notes via email.

Audio/Electronic Textbooks

Students who require audio textbooks:

  • Apply to Learning Ally, (formerly RFB&D- Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic) and if applicable, to the New York State Library for the Blind and Visually Handicapped (CBVH).
  • Request these services as early as possible so texts may be available in time for each semester.

Note: If the disability mandates an alternative format textbook, and the book is not available through Learning Ally, the coordinator of student accessibility services will assist in obtaining the required text from the publisher.


  • The best practice when choosing a textbook is to select one that has an ETEXTBOOK format, in addition to a standard format. An ETEXTBOOK is a digital, downloadable version of the physical textbook that works on both PC and Mac platforms.
  • Order textbooks as early as possible in consideration of students who require books in an alternate format. It can take several weeks to process requests for alternate formats if the text doesn’t include an ETEXT format.
Classroom Assignments and Equipment

In response to the needs of students with mobility or hearing impairments, an effort is made to assign their courses to accessible classrooms. Specified classrooms are equipped with freestanding, height adjustable tables and/or cushioned straight-back chairs. The furniture labeled, “for use only by individuals with special needs” is most often placed in the front of the classroom, relatively close to the door. The faculty is asked to assist the effort to keep the furniture in place and to prohibit use by anyone except the designated students.

Assistive Listening Devices

Many students who use hearing aids effectively in quiet environments have a difficult time following information presented in large college classrooms. Some students who have an auditory processing disorder may also struggle to tune out extraneous noises. In the classroom, the instructor’s voice is competing with background noise, room echo, and distance. Most Assistive Listening Device systems (ALDs) use a microphone/transmitter positioned close to the instructor’s mouth to send the instructor’s voice through the air or by cable to the receiver worn by the student.

If a student’s impairment requires the use of an ALD, the student will bring the necessary equipment to class. The faculty will be asked to wear a lapel microphone approximately three to five inches from the mouth, to speak slowly and clearly, and to make sure that their voice intensity is not too loud. Since the ALD user may not have access to questions raised by others in the room, remind students to speak one at a time. Be sure to face the student when speaking and to repeat questions and comments from other students.

Assistive Technology Equipment and Software

The adaptive computer stations located in Lavery Library and in the Kearney Open Lab (accessible 24/7 by card swipe) are primarily for use by students with disabilities. Both computer stations feature Kurzweil 3000, a reading software program. The library station also includes Dragon Naturally Speaking, a word processor with voice activation capabilities. Kurzweil 3000 scans any printed document, displays an exact image and reads the text aloud, while highlighting the spoken word and sentence. In addition, the Kurzweil program can magnify text larger than a conventional copy machine. Students can use Dragon Naturally Speaking as a hands-free way to compose papers, reports, etc. by speaking into the computer with the use of a headset and microphone. Individual training to use the Naturally Speaking program will be provided as needed. Both programs are potentially useful for students who need readers for tests and for those who are better able to produce essays using a computer rather than handwriting.

Read:OutLoud software is installed on all of the College’s academic computers. Read:OutLoud provides accessibility support with text-to-speech and includes study tools that assist with reading comprehension.

A Merlin LCD desktop electronic magnifier is also located in the Library. Similar in function to a CCTV, this high quality flexible LCD magnifier allows individuals with low vision to read and write independently.

More information can be found on the OIT Accessible Software/Workstations page.

Foreign Language Requirement for Bachelor of Arts Degree Programs

A student whose documentation verifies a waiver of the high school foreign language requirement will be exempt from taking the foreign language sequence for the B.A. degree program. However, the student must complete the two-course College Core requirement for "Intercultural Perspectives & Languages” (P5). The course options to complete the P5 Core include non-language courses and American Sign Language.

Foreign Language Requirement for NYS Teacher Certification

A two-course sequence in one foreign language or in American Sign Language fills the requirement for NYS Teacher Certification.


Writing Center tutors provide assistance with all writing assignments, and the Math Center tutors provide assistance with most math courses, as well as some computer science, statistics (including economics and psychology), chemistry, and physics courses.

Tutoring services are free of charge to all Fisher students. "Walk-ins" are welcome but subject to consultant availability. The Centers are located on the top floor of the Golisano Gateway.

Peer tutoring in other 100 and 200 level courses is also available free of charge.

Implementing Academic Accommodations

The coordinator of student accessibility services prepares an Academic Accommodation Verification form based on each student’s documentation of disability. View a sample Academic Accommodation Verification Form [pdf].

Student Responsibilities

  • Meet with the coordinator of student accessibility services (Kearney 300) to pick up the form and review the accommodation plan.
  • Read and comply with the exam policy and procedures (outlined on the Test Accommodation Request).
  • Meet with each instructor within the first two weeks of each semester to discuss the accommodations and plan for exams.
  • Ask each instructor to sign the schedule/verification form to indicate that the meeting has taken place and that instructor and student have agreed on an accommodation plan for the course.
  • Return the signed schedule form with attached verification form to Student Accessibility Services by the designated date.
  • Check Fisher email account regularly to maintain communication with Student Accessibility Services.

Faculty Responsibilities

  • Meet with the student to review their Academic Accommodation Verification form and the Exam Accommodation Request Process.
  • Discuss the course requirements and exam plan relative to the student’s accommodations.
  • Sign the schedule form next to your printed name and return it to the student with the attached verification form. If you would like to receive a copy of the verification form, put a "CC" next to your name. Student Accessibility Services will send a copy to you after the student returns the signed form.