Access Services

Faculty Resources

Resources for Faculty

Notification of Accommodation Information

Students must provide documentation from a professional with appropriate qualifications for treating their disability; the nature of their disability, however, is not disclosed to faculty unless the student chooses to disclose this information or gives written permission to Access Services to share this information.

The ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act both use the same definition of disability, and neither law outlines a list of conditions that are considered to be disabilities. Students are considered to have a disability if they have either a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record of such impairment, or are regarded as having such impairment (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 1992). Therefore, some students with mental health impairments will have a disability covered under the ADA and some will not, depending on how each individual’s disability impacts his or her situation.

Important Changes Regarding Professor Notification Letters for the Disability Services Office

Letters will be sent electronically to professors.  Please either save them electronically or print copies for your records, as they apply to accommodations throughout the entire semester

Details Regarding the new Policies:

  • The professor notification letters are being sent electronically in an effort to save paper.  The accommodations listed in the letters will apply to students throughout the entire semester, so that it will be important for faculty to retain either an electronic or hard copy for your records on each student who receives accommodations.
  • Students will be encouraged to meet with each of their professors to explain and answer any questions regarding the requested accommodations
Faculty Responsibilities

Faculty members have the direct responsibility to:

  • Be aware of and comply with Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota’s policies and procedures for providing academic accommodations. 
  • Refer students with a disability to Access Services. 
  • Announce to class at the beginning of the semester that students who may need accommodations due to a disability should see you during your office hours to privately discuss their needs or contact Access Services to receive accommodations.
  • Maintain confidentiality of a student’s disability/accommodations except when disclosure is required by law or authorized by the student. 
  • Provide students’ exams online or to Access Services prior to test time for students who are taking their exams in Access Services. 
  • Provide handouts, videos and other course materials in accessible formats upon request
  • Permit the use of approved accommodations if needed. (i.e. recording devices, laptops for notes, sign language interpreters, note takers, etc.)

Contact Access Services at with questions, concerns or clarification if needed.

What is Universal Design for Learning?

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is the concept that products and environments should be designed to be usable by all people, without the need for adaptations, modifications, or alterations.

UDL assumes that any difference and variation in human characteristics is ordinary.  Accessibility and flexibility should be integrated into design.

In the university setting, UDL principles provide a basic framework that encourages faculty members to actively utilize inclusive instructional practices into their courses. These inclusive teaching methods reach a broader range of learners than many traditional classroom approaches.  By creating inclusive instructional practices, the need for modifications and accommodations is greatly reduced.

Students are incredibly diverse in their learning needs, preparation, and approaches. UDL offers a practical instructional method to anticipate this learner variability and provide every student with equal opportunities to learn.

Universal Design at SMU

Utilize this presentation for creating a Universally Designed Learning atmosphere for your students

Tips for Teaching an Accessible Online Course

The Center for Universal Design in Education has published a new tutorial that can be used by instructors to guide them in the creation of accessible online courses. It complements the popular checklist

Universal Design “Plus One” Thinking

As you think about how students experience your course, consider ways to enhance something you already do in your course.  Universal Design for Learning (UDL) does not mean implementing all strategies at once.  Instead, as you renew a course for a new semester, consider “Plus One” thinking!

Universal Resources

11 Steps to Digital Accessibility

1. Use clear and consistent layouts.  Avoid background colors.

2. Use styles instead of individual style buttons.

3. Create Hyperlinks using descriptive language.

4. Use concise alt-text for images and tables and consider audio description for videos.

5. Caption or transcribe video and audio at 99% accuracy.

6. Use high contrast color combinations and consistent fonts throughout.

7. Avoid overuse of underlining words, CAPS, bold, italics, or animated and blinking graphics.

8. Create Accessible Documents and NCDAE Cheatsheet for application(s) you often use.

9. Include the SMU Accessibility Statement and Access Services Website on your syllabus for resources.

10. Please consider access issues using Zoom. 

11. Post syllabus and open course 2 weeks prior to the start of the course.

Digital Accessibility PPT

Here is the Digital Accessibility PowerPoint created by Access Services for insight into useful tools and information regarding Accessibility. 

Higher Education Compliance Kit

Higher Ed Compliance Kit: by the Rev Higher Education Team meets the needs of your students in the post-COVID-19 era. Get the resources you need to understand the laws affecting your university in this new world–including tips on how to make your content far more accessible.

How to Add Captions to a Video with Panopto

Utilize this resource to add ASR (Automatic Speech Recognition) to your course videos!

Resources for Online Teaching

Below you will find a number of useful resources to support you as your classes go online.

Helpful articles for online learning:

Useful Resources for online learning:

Digital Technology

Access Services Syllabus Statement Winona Campus

Saint Mary’s University is committed to assuring that students with documented disabilities have access to equal educational programs and activities at the university. If you believe that you have a disability that may interfere with your ability to participate in the activities, coursework, or assessments of this course, you may be entitled to accommodation.  Please contact Karen Hemker, Director of Access Services, as early in the semester as possible to arrange a confidential discussion about your need for accommodation. Karen’s office is located in the Student Success Center.  Please schedule an appointment or email

Access Services Syllabus Statement Twin Cities Campus

Saint Mary’s University is committed to ensuring that students with documented disabilities have access to equal educational programs and activities at the university. If you believe that you have a disability that may interfere with your ability to participate in the activities, coursework, or assessments of this course, you may be entitled to accommodation. Please contact Laura Lanning at as soon as possible to arrange a confidential discussion about your need for accommodation.

Updated Syllabus Statement**

Saint Mary’s University has a continuing commitment to providing reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities.  Like so many things this Spring, the need for accommodations and the process for arranging them may be altered due to the COVID-19 changes we are experiencing and the safety protocols currently in place.  Students with disabilities who may need accommodation in order to fully participate in this class are urged to contact the Access Services Office, as soon as possible, to explore what arrangements need to be made to ensure access.  During the Spring 2021 semester, the Access Services Office can be reached by emailing or by scheduling an appointment using Google Calendar for a Zoom meeting with Karen Hemker. 

Spring 2021 Faculty Testing Form

Please fill out the Faculty Testing Form for all students who plan to take your exams/quizzes in the SSC

Faculty Testing Protocol and Processes

Access Services will notify faculty of student accommodations via email.

Faculty have the option to administer tests / exams in Blackboard using Respondus Lockdown Browser and Respondus Monitor. If faculty select this option, please follow these procedures:

  • If faculty choose to administer a paper test / exam, please follow these procedures:
    • Students will notify faculty via email one week prior to the exam and copy Access Services ( that they will be taking a test in the Student Success Testing Center. ***It may be a good idea to ask students if their intent is to take each exam in the SSC and therefore eliminating the need to wait each time for email notification. 
    • Faculty will submit their exam with instructions via this Faculty Testing Form 48 hours prior to the exam. 
    • Access Services will print or prepare an electronic exam for student
    • Access Services will email student with instructions for taking the exam
    • Upon completion of the exam, students will notify Taylor and place their exam in the drop box across from the box where they picked up their exam.
    • Access Services will scan the student’s exam and email faculty the exam within 24 hours. 

Faculty teaching classes in the evening, will need to discuss alternative times for exams during the SSC testing hours of 7:30 am and 4:30 pm.  Special arrangements can be made for evening hours if the option of the daytime hours is not possible.


Saint Mary’s University of MN Licenses Lockdown Browser and Respondus Monitor

These applications are used to deter cheating during online examinations.

  • LockDown Browser prevents students from printing, copying, going to different URLs or accessing other applications during an online exam. It’s ideal for use in testing centers and proctored environments.
  • Respondus Monitor enhances LockDown Browser by using a student’s webcam to record the assessment session. This enables online exams to be taken in non-proctored environments and deters students from accessing other resources during an exam (such as a phone, a second computer, etc.). It also ensures the right student is taking the exam, and that the student isn’t getting help from others.
 Helpful Tools

If you’d like to attend a training webinar hosted by Respondus, you’ll find dates and registration information here:

Mental Health Task Force

As you are well aware, we have seen a sharp rise in the number of students who experience distress that impacts their lives, and their educational pursuits. The administration has been supportive and determined we need to put together a task force to examine some of the issues involved on campus and in the classroom. I will share more information as it becomes available.

National Disability COVID-19 Healthcare Support and Advocacy Hotline

Announcing the National Disability COVID-19 Healthcare Support and Advocacy Hotline

  • Call 800-626-4959  Available 24/7
  • Call via Voice or Relay if you are disabled and need COVID-19-related medical advocacy or other support.

A project of the Disability Underground, a newly formed group of activists, in collaboration with The Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies.

For more information:
Contact Disability Underground

Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies  

Resources for Mental Health

Frequently Asked Questions

How are students at Saint Mary’s University determined to have a disability in need of accommodations?

Students are required to work with Access Services and follow the procedure for obtaining accommodations.

A student with a disability who requests academic assistance must provide professionally recognized documentation of the disability and the need for services requested.  Students are responsible for furnishing current documentation of their disability to the Access Services Director or Coordinator at the campus where they are enrolled.

Determination of eligibility for academic support services will be made by the Access Services, with input from any appropriate administrative and faculty members, taking into account the eligible student’s stated preferences. The services provided will be within the legal parameters of “reasonable accommodations”.

While requests to determine eligibility may occur at any time during the student’s career at the university, a request for specific services relating to a preexisting condition should be made as soon as possible in the semester. This time frame allows the university to secure the approved services.

Absolute confidentiality is important. Please do not make any reference to a student’s disability in class or in front of other students.  A student may opt to tell you about his or her disability, and you are free to ask for details about the ways in which the disability impacts his/her class performance and learning.

Is it really fair to the other students to grant one student an accommodation like extra time for an exam?

Accommodations for students with disabilities do not weaken the academic standards of your course.  An accommodation provides a student with an alternative or modified way of accomplishing the requirements of the course, by eliminating or reducing disability-related barriers.

What if the student asks for accommodations but I have not received an email letter of accommodation?

If a student identifies themselves as having a disability and requests accommodations, but you have never received an accommodation email, please refer the student to Access Services on their respective campus.

Are all students with disabilities registered with Access Services?

No. It is possible that a student with a disability has chosen not to submit documentation or register with Access Services. In either instance, faculty do not need to provide accommodations for those students.  If a student requests an accommodation and you have not received an official notification letter from Access Services, please refer the student to Access Services.

What if I have concerns about how an accommodation will affect my course?

Accommodations should not alter or compromise the basic nature of your course.  Accommodations and other learning aids are provided to “level the playing field” for students with disabilities.  If you are concerned that an accommodation will fundamentally alter the nature of your course, please contact Access Services to discuss your concerns.

How does Access Services assist faculty?

Access Services advises faculty members throughout the accommodation process and also makes recommendations for the ways in which needs of students can best be met. Access Services can also provide additional information on various disabilities and the accompanying barriers to learning.

I have a student who is having difficulty in my class. I think this student may have a disability. What should I do to help the student?

You may talk privately with the student to discuss your observations. Do not openly suggest that a student may have a disability.  Do not assume that the student’s difficulties are a result of a disability, but if, through discussion with the student, it appears appropriate, refer the student to Access Services.  If the student discloses that he or she does have a disability, suggest that the student contact Access Services to explore options for accommodations.