Educational accessibility information for faculty

The following answers to Frequently Asked Questions will assist faculty in navigating the disability accommodation process at TCC. Faculty are urged to contact Beth Callahan, College-wide Coordinator for the Office of Educational Accessibility, at 757-822-7752 or with any questions or concerns.

How do students register with the Office of Educational Accessibility?

Students should call their campus Educational Accessibility Counselor to schedule an appointment to begin the registration process. students should begin this process as early as possible so accommodations can be implemented most effectively. 

Steps for registering with The Office of Educational Accessibility
  1. Come prepared. The students should be ready to discuss disability-related barriers and, if applicable, their history of using reasonable accommodations.
  2. Provide documentation. In the best case scenario, the students will bring documentation to the appointment that describes the disability and its impacts. If they do not have any documentation on hand, or have difficulty getting it from the health care provider, Educational Accessibility can assist with obtaining the appropriate documentation.
  3. Meet with Educational Accessibility Counselor. Through an interactive process, students and the Educational Accessibility Counselor will discuss eligibility for services and identify reasonable academic accommodations.
What is the role of an Educational Accessibility Counselor?

An Educational Accessibility Counselor provides or arranges for reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities to ensure access to courses, programs, facilities, services and activities on campus. 

An Educational Accessibility Counselor’s role includes:

  • Providing information, referral and support to students with disabilities
  • Maintaining strict confidentiality of protected information
  • Facilitating communication and providing ongoing consultation and problem solving assistance for instructors, staff, students and guests with disabilities
  • Assisting students with obtaining disability documentation and determining reasonable accommodations
  • Assisting students in understanding their disabilities and their legal rights and responsibilities
  • Promoting student self-advocacy, independence and development
As an instructor can I be confident that a student with an accommodation form has a disability?

Yes, the Office of Educational Accessibility has a process to determine reasonable accommodations based on disability impacts. You can feel confident that if students present accommodation forms, their disability conditions (as defined by the ADA) have been confirmed by an Educational Accessibility Counselor. 

How does the Office of Educational Accessibility determine reasonable accommodations?

Through an interactive process, the Educational Accessibility Counselor and student will identify impacts and discuss accommodations that may assist in removing barriers. Accommodations are not intended to compromise core course requirements and may require input from instructors.

How will I be notified that a student should receive accommodations?

In most cases, students are responsible for providing you with an accommodation form prepared by their Educational Accessibility Counselor. The accommodation form should be considered effective the date you receive it. You and the student should work together to determine how these accommodations can be implemented in your course. If any questions arise, please contact the Educational Accessibility Counselor who signed the form.

Am I obligated to comply with the accommodations request?

An instructor should not simply refuse an accommodation they feel is unreasonable without first engaging in an interactive process. It is important to discuss any concerns this with the Educational Accessibility Counselor to explore reasonable alternatives to the request.

Why don’t I receive all accommodation forms at the beginning of the semester?

Students can register with the Office of Educational Accessibility at any point in the semester; however, accommodations can be most effectively implemented when they are requested early.

Accommodations become effective on the date the student delivers the form to the instructor. As a practice, the Office of Educational Accessibility does not require instructors to provide retroactive accommodation.

The accommodation form indicates that accommodations are not retroactive. Can I provide them if I feel it is appropriate?

The Office of Educational Accessibility does not require instructors to retroactively accommodate a student. However, you may find it to be reasonable in some circumstances.

What should I do if I suspect a student has a disability?

If students are struggling for reasons unknown to you, consider presenting them with a list of resources, which may include:

Learning Assistance Center/Tutoring Centers

Women’s Center

Office of Educational Accessibility

If students approach you and disclose that they have a disability, please refer them to our office. (Contact information is at the bottom of the page.)

Should I refer someone with a temporary disability to the Office of Educational Accessibility?

Temporary health conditions, such as a broken arm, are not disabilities. Therefore, the instructor can provide reasonable informal accommodations to the student.

If you have questions about how to accommodate a student with a temporary disability, please call our office at 757-822-7752.

A student has indicated that I am not providing appropriate accommodations. What can I do?

Please contact the Educational Accessibility Counselor who signed the accommodation form to discuss any issues or concerns regarding accommodations.

How do I accommodate a student in a lab and/or clinical setting?

There are many accommodations that can be provided in a lab or clinical setting. If you have questions about how to accommodate a student, please contact their Educational Accessibility Counselor to discuss things in greater detail. Collaboration between the student, instructor and Educational Accessibility Counselor can determine what accommodations are reasonable on a case-by-case basis.

I have a blind student in my lab course. How can I ensure proper participation in class and grade their work?

If possible, assist the student in getting a lab partner or assign a student assistant to work with the student who has the disability. In either situation, the student who is blind should direct the assistant to carry out the functions of the lab assignment.

If a volunteer lab partner cannot be found, suggest to the student that they need to contact the Office of Educational Accessibility as soon as possible for assistance in getting the appropriate support. The speed in making these arrangements is critical so that the student will not get behind.

How should I handle a student’s request for accommodations beyond those stated in the accommodation form?

Accommodations beyond what the accommodation form recommends can be provided at the instructor’s discretion. If you do not feel comfortable navigating the request, you can contact Educational Accessibility Counselor who signed the accommodation form, or refer the student back to the Office of Educational Accessibility to discuss additional accommodations.

Is accommodating one student unfair to other students?

Students with disabilities have the right to equitable access to education, and accommodations are intended to mitigate barriers. The method for achieving access may differ for each person or each course.

Do students with a disability need to meet course requirements?

Yes. All students must meet essential course requirements whether or not they are using accommodations. An accommodation is considered reasonable if it meets four criteria:

  1. It must not compromise essential requirements of a course, program, activity, or facility
  2. It must not cause an undue administrative or financial hardship
  3. It must not jeopardize safety of the student or others
  4. It must not fundamentally alter a course or program 
What should I do if a student with a disability is displaying disruptive or concerning behavior?

All students must abide by the Code of Student’s Rights and Responsibilities. Even if you believe the behavior is a manifestation of their disability, they are held to the same standards as all other students.

What should I do if an accommodation does not work in my class?

Please collaborate with students and their Educational Accessibility Counselor to discuss alternative options. Every course may require different accommodations and there is often more than one way to accommodate a student. There is no standard accommodation plan, as each is tailored to the student’s impacts and courses.

An accommodation is considered reasonable if it meets four criteria:

  1. It must not compromise essential requirements of a course, program, activity or facility
  2. It must not cause an undue administrative or financial hardship
  3. It must not jeopardize the safety of the student or others
  4. It must not fundamentally alter a course or program
I am providing the accommodations specified in student’s accommodation form but they are failing my course. What should I do?

Consider arranging a meeting to discuss the student’s performance as you would with any student in a similar situation.

Additionally, you may want to:

  • Ask students if they are using all of their accommodations. If they are not, talk about implementing them, as this may provide better access.
  • Consult with the Educational Accessibility Counselor to discuss ideas and options.
  • Suggest campus resources that might be useful to the student such as Learning Assistance Center, Tutoring Center, Writing center or Math lab.
  • Accommodations are intended to provide equal access—not guarantee success.
How should I deliver presentation materials to a student?

Please speak with the student and agree on a convenient method for delivering the materials. Options include posting the presentations in Blackboard or emailing them to the student before class. Posting them in an accessible format in Blackboard for all students has the added benefit for everyone in your course.

Are students allowed to record classroom lectures and am I required to notify other students that the class is being recorded?

Audio recording can facilitate access for students whose disability conditions make note taking difficult or impossible. Instructors can notify the class when recording is permitted but it is not required.

You may request the student sign an Agreement for Recording Lectures and Use of Digital Material form, which you will keep on file.

What are the guidelines for service animals in an academic setting?

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), only dogs and miniature horses can be service animals.

The ADA states that there are only two questions one may ask of a person with a service animal:

  1. Is the dog required because of a disability?
  2. What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

However, it is not appropriate to ask the student to have the animal demonstrate these tasks.

Other factors are considered in the cases of miniature horses. The ADA’s website offers additional information about service animals.

Does the Office of Educational Accessibility offer training for staff and instructors?

Yes. With the help of the Batten Center for Teaching Excellence, the college-wide coordinator routinely presents on a variety of topics on students with disabilities. Please visit the faculty professional development page for a schedule for your campus.

How do I work with a Deaf student and/or an interpreter in my classroom?

Learn more about working with an interpreter and a Deaf student here.

Educational Accessibility Office

Office hours:
Monday and Tuesday: 8:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday - Friday: 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.


Elisabeth Jakubowski

George B. Pass Building, Room 141

1428 Cedar Road
Chesapeake, VA 23322


Phone: 757-822-5127

Fax: 757-822-5134


Tiffanny Putman

Martin Building, Room 2518

300 Granby St.
Norfolk, VA 23510


Phone: 757-822-1226

Fax: 757-822-1229


Ted Tyler

Building A, Room 142

120 Campus Drive
Portsmouth, VA 23701


Phone: 757-822-2208

Fax: 757-686-5173

Virginia Beach

Vickie Rogers

Bayside Building, Room B207

1700 College Crescent
Virginia Beach, VA 23453


Phone: 757-822-7216 or -7211

Fax: 757-822-7346

Looking for help?

Send us your questions
* All fields are mandatory