Academic Accommodations

Seattle Pacific University provides a number of academic accommodations for students with disabilities.

Seattle Pacific University can provide academic accommodations for students with disabilities. These accommodations may be available during regular class time and also during tests, mid-term exams, and final exams. Not all students are entitled all these accommodations.

Class-time accommodations

Permission to record lecture or lab

  • It is the student’s responsibility to provide their own recording device. If they are unable to obtain one of their own, they should talk with DSS about options.
  • A student will be asked to sign a recording agreement with DSS to ensure ethical use of recordings.
  • In some classroom situations, such as nursing classes where specific patients may be discussed (although we understand patients should not be identified), the need for confidentiality may take precedence over this accommodation. When this occurs, the assistant director for DSS may work with the professor to find another accommodation that gives the student access to the material. If there is any concern about the need for confidentiality, the student and/or professor should contact the assistant director for DSS to discuss the situation.

Assignments and handouts in alternative format

  • Students may need printed materials in alternative format in order to access the material. Alternative formats may include enlarged print, Braille, or a readable-text digital copy.
  • Students should contact their professors during the first two weeks of the quarter if they will need this accommodation.
  • Whenever possible, the professor should put the information into the format requested. Professor and students are welcome to use SensusAccess (please provide link here to page) to translate their materials into a readable format that works for them free of charge with their SPU email address. 

Lecture outline/notes

  • Students with this accommodation should notify their professor to request this accommodation.
  • Whenever possible, the professor should give the student lecture notes/outline prior to the beginning of each class session in either digital or hard copy, depending on the student’s disability.  If this is not available, then the student should receive lecture notes/outline after class.
  • Not all professors use lecture notes/outlines. When these are not available, the student can request a different option when speaking with DSS.

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Test- and exam-taking accommodations

  • For testing accommodations, professors may need to identify a location for the student to take the exam.
  • The DSS office has limited space for students to take tests, if no other location is available.
  • Students taking tests in the DSS office should not be allowed to bring any personal items into the testing room, except as permitted by the professor, or as otherwise permitted.
  • If scratch paper is need for the exam, the DSS office proctor should provide it.
  • Students are responsible for bringing their own blue book or scantron when needed.
  • Any other materials allowed during the exam must be identified by the professor on the Exam Accommodation Form.
  • Because students may not have the opportunity to ask clarifying questions of the professor, the student may write a brief explanation of how they understood the question so the professor may have a better understanding of the point of view of the answer. The Testing manager will make ever effort to contact the professor during the time of testing to seek an opportunity for student to ask a question.
  • Tests should be delivered to the DSS office at least 24 prior to the exam time, so the student does not have to go to the classroom to get it. This may also help keep the student’s disability confidential.
  • It is the student’s responsibility to let the professor and the DSS office know when they want to take their exams in the DSS office.
  • Students should sign up with DSS for a test at least one week ahead of time to ensure space is available and give the Exam Accommodation Form to their professor at least three days before the exam.
  • Generally, the test should be taken during the normal class time, unless that is not possible due to the accommodated time and other classes scheduled.
  • If the DSS office testing locations are full, then arrangements should be made with the professor’s permission to give the student the exam during another time or at another location.

Extra time on exams

  • Extra time does not mean unlimited time.
  • For most students, extra time may be one-and-a-half times the normal allotted time.

Quiet location

  • Some students with disabilities need a quiet location for exams to reduce distractions.

Readers for exams

  • The reader will read only what is written on the exam, and not offer clarification.
  • To request a reader during the exam, a student must notify the DSS office at least one week in advance.

Scribes for exams

  • Scribes are to write accurately what the student dictates, and are not to offer clarification.
  • To request a scribe for the exam, a student must notify the DSS office at least one week in advance.

Computer use for exams

  • Some students may need to use a computer during tests due to physical limitations impacting writing or other disabilities. The DSS office has computers available for testing purposes.
  • To request the use of a computer for an exam, the student must notify the DSS office at least one week in advance.

Exams in alternative format

  • Alternative formats may include oral, multiple choice, or essay exams that differ from the exam given to the rest of the class.
  • Documentation should be provided to support the need for an alternative testing format, and this should be discussed with the professor.
  • If the professor can demonstrate that the alternative format considerably changes the nature of the course, then the professor has the right to refuse to provide such an accommodation.
  • Students should contact DSS as soon as possible if they want to request an alternate format.
  • Discussion of changes to alternative formats should begin as soon as possible, but in no event later than the second week of the quarter. Discussions should include the professor, student, and assistant director for DSS.

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Additional accommodations

Assistive listening devices

An assistive listening device works as a personal amplifier. Students who need an assistive listening device can check one out from the DSS office for the needed amount of time.

  • It is the student’s responsibility to return the assistive listening device in working condition.
  • Professors or speakers will need to wear a lapel microphone that will transmit their voice to the student’s headset.
  • Information on how to use the assistive listening device can be obtained from the DSS office.


  • Excessive absences due to a disability may not necessarily be accommodated, and requests for absences from class should be considered on an individual basis.
  • The course syllabus should outline expectations and assignments with due dates so the student has notification of expected coursework and can work on assignments well in advance.
  • The student should be aware of the potential adverse impact absences may have on learning the material and on course completion.
  • If a portion of the grade is dependent on classroom participation or attendance, and the student has — or may have — too many absences, the student should contact the professor to explore what accommodations (if any) might be possible.
  • It is the student’s responsibility to obtain any missed lecture notes or other information if not in class.
  • The professor may want to work with the student to make reasonable due-date adjustments for assignments with short turn-around time, such as assignments given that day in class and due the following day.
  • If at all possible, the student should plan ahead and communicate proactively with their professors about absences before they occur.


  • The University’s academic policies regarding withdrawals and incompletes should be followed.
  • If a student has gained the major portion of the information disseminated to the class and has failed to complete a final exam, project, or paper due to mitigating circumstances, the professor can choose to give that person an incomplete.
  • The assistant director for DSS may act as liaison as needed.
  • If the condition is such that it may not be possible to complete the coursework in one year, the assistant director may encourage the student to petition a withdrawal from the course so the student’s GPA will not be penalized by an incomplete becoming an E.
  • Dependent upon the student’s financial aid, an incomplete could affect the financial aid for the upcoming quarter or year. Please refer to the Satisfactory Progress Policy [LINK] in the University Undergraduate Catalog for more information on financial aid.

Relocation of classes

Because not all classrooms are wheelchair-accessible, the assistant director for DSS should work with the University’s room scheduler two weeks prior to a new quarter to relocate classes for students who need wheelchair accessibility or who have other mobility difficulties that require a class be relocated. This should help ensure that the student has access to their program.

Students who have temporary disabilities that make mobility difficult may also need classes relocated. If a student has special mobility needs, they should contact the assistant director for DSS at least four weeks prior to the start of the quarter to make an accommodation request.

Students seeking this accommodation should register for classes as early as possible to give ample time to ensure accessible locations on campus.

Books in alternative format

It is the student’s responsibility to notify the assistant director for DSS when they will need books in alternative format. Requests should be made at least four weeks before a quarter begins to give the DSS office enough time to order materials or assign readings.

Requests that are made after the quarter begins will start with the readings for the following week. Readings may be slightly behind until the production assistant has time to catch up.

Students may also use the SensusAccess Conversion Tool to translate their own readings.  Any student with an SPU email account can access this resource for free.

  • Audiobooks may be needed for a student to gain access to the reading material. Whenever possible, books may be ordered through Learning Ally or other talking-book libraries. When books are not readily available through those sites, the DSS office may produce the book in house from a hard copy of the book provided by the student.
  • Books in Braille may either be borrowed through Braille libraries or translated into Braille at the University. This may also be a needed accommodation for classroom handouts or exams. Students should discuss these needs with their professors. Professors should then send electronic (whenever possible) or hard copies of the materials to the assistant director for DSS at least three days in advance for a four- to six-page document (larger documents will require more advance notice).

Technology accommodations

The University recognizes that having accessible computers for doing research, accessing the internet and writing papers may be crucial to a student’s learning. There are three computers on campus that have adaptive technology.

At present, the computer in the computer lab on the lower level of the Ames Library has JAWS for Windows (4.0) and Arkenstone Openbook (5.0).

One computer in the DSS office has Dragon Naturally Speaking (4.0) and Zoom Text (7.0). Another computer in the DSS office has Arkenstone Openbook (5.0), Kurzweil 3000 (6.0) and Zoom Text (7.0).

Students are expected to have their own headphones when using this software. Use on all these computers is currently on a first-come, first-served basis. If the need should arise, a sign-up sheet may be used.

Priority registration

Students may receive priority registration so the DSS office has time to arrange accommodations, such as interpreters, classroom relocations, or books in alternative format. Students should be notified of their registration times every quarter through an email from the registration office. Students may also check their registration time on Banner.

It is the student’s responsibility to make sure no holds are in place that would keep them from registering, and should register as early as possible. If a student does not register early, services and accommodations may be delayed.

Foreign language substitutions

When a student has a disability that impacts the student’s language acquisition, the possibility of a foreign language substitution may be explored. The substitution courses cannot count for another General Education category or toward a student’s major requirements and must be taken from the approved list. The procedures for substitution course approvals are included on the Foreign Language Substitution form.

Study abroad programs

Unless required by law, accommodations may not be provided for study abroad programs. However, a student with a disability may still apply to participate in overseas programs.

Participation should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. When a student with a disability cannot participate in an overseas program that is a part of his or her academic program or major requirement, the assistant director for DSS may work with the faculty of the academic program or major to determine if alterations can be made to the program or major that do not substantially alter the program or major.

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“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
Saint Francis of Assisi