Reasonable versus Unreasonable Accommodations

A reasonable accommodation is one that reduces or removes the impact of a disability to provide equal access to the learning environment, decreasing an  adverse effect resulting from an interaction between a person’s disability and the environment or activity.

An accommodation is not reasonable when it:

  • Fundamentally alters the course or program standard
  • Threatens personal or public safety
  • Creates an undue financial or administrative burden

Related Considerations

Many students are proactive in completing the disability eligibility process before requesting reasonable accommodations, yet it’s not uncommon for some students to wait until they’re struggling academically to open a file with Disability Services.  This can result in students asking for retroactive credit or points for missed assignments submitted after the deadline.  Such accommodations are not considered reasonable. Instructors are not required to give retroactive credit for such assignments after the deadline or to allow exams to be re-taken with accommodations that were not requested and approved prior to the first administration of an exam.  Students with disabilities are strongly encouraged to open a file with Disability Services to access accommodations, when needed, and avoid processing delays. 


Disability documentation is maintained confidentially in the Center for Accessibility and Disability Resources office, and is not released to other personnel on campus.  It’s advisable for students to keep a copy of any documentation they have in their possession as this information is not released back to the student or to third parties at a later date, even at the student’s request.  This is significant, since some students need disability documentation to apply for accommodations for licensure or career preparatory exams.

To implement reasonable accommodations, it can be necessary to communicate limited disability-related information with NDSU personnel on a need-to-know basis (ex: instructor, academic advisor, etc.) in order to coordinate the accommodation and/or effectively serve the student.

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