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I am an undergraduate student in Canada. I have academic accommodations from the accessibility centre since I have autism and ADHD. I informed the instructor of my 1.5x exam time at the start of the course, before the midterm, and before the final. Each test is made up of a timed multiple choice section and a timed written section.

Unfortunately, the professor has not correctly implemented these accommodations:

  • For the midterm, my multiple choice time was increased appropriately, but the time allowed for my written section was decreased so that I would finish at the same time as everyone else. Thus, the written section was 1.5 hours long, I was entitled to 2.25 hours, but I only got 1 hour.
  • For the final, she told me that I had 75 minutes for multiple choice and 165 minutes for the written part. But she demanded I submit the written part just 135 minutes after the start of the exam (and just 60 minutes after the start of the written section). So, I was only half finished.

In both cases, I messaged her over Zoom during the exam, but I feel that she brushed me off during the midterm, and she didn't respond at all during the final.

I'm worried about failing this course, and I'm unsure what to do and if my professor would even penalize me. I felt that my academic accommodations weren't properly implemented. And even if she didn't penalize me, I could've had so much more time to complete my final exam. I don't know if I could do anything about this.

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  • Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on Academia Meta, or in Academia Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed.
    – cag51
    Dec 9, 2023 at 3:39

5 Answers 5

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If you were not accommodated according to the rules, you should go to the accommodation center and inform them of what happens. In your case, the fact that the accommodation offered to you was not what you thought it should be had pretty disastrous consequences because you were not able to handle the stressful situation very well. The accommodation center will be able to inform you on how to proceed with your case.

Different institutions have different ways for student complaints about teachers, though no-one can give you an answer without knowing your institution.

It is very easy and natural to feel anger at your professor. It will not serve you well however to express those feelings and it is best to stick to the facts. Also, while the professor seemed to have done you a wrong, accommodation to time and a half has become a standard regardless of the severity of the issue that causes an accommodation. Therefore, as a professor, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the accommodation gives preferential treatment for students who like to complain. Furthermore, the cost of accommodation often fall on the professor who needs to adjust their manner of giving the exam, instead of the accommodation center. I am saying this to make it easier for you to not fall into the trap of making it a personal thing. As you report it, you were not treated as you should have been, which put you into a panic. Thus, something need to be done.

Try to make your statement easily readable, maybe by having someone else read over them. Do not speculate on the professor's state of mind, etc. but you should include the effect the lack of accommodation had on your state of mind.

TLTR: Find out from the accommodation center what the steps are if you were not accommodated. Then report the facts, including your attempts at remediation by contacting the professor and YOUR state of mind that resulted from the lack of accommodation.

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    Thanks for the support...I know that it's always hard not to make this emotional. Dec 8, 2023 at 18:24
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This answer assumes you are in the US (which was my guess since your profile says college student).

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires universities to provide requires reasonable accommodations for students who have a documented disability. At most universities and colleges this verification process is handled by a special office (often called the "disability office", or "accessibility office"). This office determines what "reasonable accommodations" means. If individual instructors believe the given accommodations are are not appropriate, they must contact the accessibility office. If an instructor unilaterally denies the accommodations (as what seems to be your case), my experience is that the university will take this very seriously.

I would recommend immediately contacting the office through which you got the accommodations to provide them with basically the info you have here. If the school does not respond in a suitable manner, there are also a number of legal resources (ADA is taken seriously by the government).

Also note it would have been entirely appropriate (and a good idea) to reach out to the disability office after the first midterm (or whenever you first realized that you wouldn't be receiving your accommodations). This way they can rectify the situation and avoid issues with future exams. This isn't helpful to your situation, but it might be relevant to someone else reading this post in the future.

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    Re last paragraph: It's definitely helpful, especially if the OP attends other classes at university in the future and might encounter a similar situation again.
    – Stef
    Dec 8, 2023 at 16:12
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    Oh I live in Canada but this is definitely helpful! Dec 8, 2023 at 18:18
  • Ah, I don't personally know if Canada has similar procedures, but I would not be surprised if they do. Dec 8, 2023 at 23:28
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This isn't really an answer per se -- the other answers here address your options pretty well -- but there's something important to be said that wouldn't fit in a comment.

If the information you present here is accurate, you can and should make a fuss about it. This isn't a case of an instructor incorrectly applying accommodations or forgetting to apply accommodations; this is a case of an instructor penalizing a student who has requested accommodations. Here's why I think that:

  • For most students with extra-time accommodations, the type of work that most benefits from those accommodations is writing. On the midterm, the fact that your multiple-choice time was extended and your writing time reduced means it is reasonable to expect that you were worse off than you would have been without accommodations.
  • You have 1.5x exam time accommodations. On the final, you were told you had 75 + 165 = 240 minutes; if that was an appropriate number, that means that the standard exam time was 160 minutes. But you were told to turn in your work after 135 minutes -- you had 25 minutes less than the rest of the class. 135 minutes would have been appropriate if the standard exam time had been 90 minutes; but in that case, informing you of a 75/165 breakdown would have been an egregious error.

The thing is, some professors are vehemently opposed to disability accommodations, believing (despite the extensive evidence to the contrary) that these accommodations give students an unfair advantage. The only way these professors can be held accountable is if people in your situation do reach out to complain when they are mistreated. If you report this to the disability office at your school, regardless of whether they are able to take action, you will be doing a service to other students with disability accommodations.

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    I think it's far more likely that this happened from inattention and while it certainly needs to be addressed so that OP doesn't see negative consequences I don't think that going in assuming they were intentionally disadvantaged is going to be helpful. Better to stick to what is known and fixable: OP didn't get the proper time.
    – Bryan Krause
    Dec 9, 2023 at 16:29
  • @BryanKrause I'm not sure I understand how this could happen just from inattention. In any case, I'm not claiming intention; I'm just observing that OP didn't just fail to receive their accommodations, they were worse off than if the accommodations hadn't been requested at all. And honestly, it's overwhelmingly common for students entitled to disability accommodations to decide "well, I don't want to get the professor in trouble for an honest mistake, so I'll just let it go and hope it doesn't happen again". Speaking as an instructor myself, I hope that my students would hold me accountable. Dec 9, 2023 at 18:14
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    I definitely don't think they should let it go. As for how it would happen, the professor likely has dozens of other students and possibly multiple courses running together as well as other responsibilities. I'm not saying this is acceptable, either, but to me saying they are "penalizing" suggests intent that I don't think is necessarily there.
    – Bryan Krause
    Dec 9, 2023 at 18:41
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How it works at my university

At my university if you need exceptions and accommodations the dean of the faculty gives students those exemptions. For example I have autism and an official diagnosis. I made an appointment in my first academic year and a dean got me extra time on all exams. This accommodation is valid during my whole study and I'm in my second year now and I still have this accommodation.

Check where you could ask

Check the rules and regulations of your institution and where you could ask for those accomodations. Usually it's the faculty dean, but it could be someone else.

Edit after OP's clarifications

OP has already accommodations and the professor is simply either ignoring it or being difficult about it. Since OP has already tried to amicably solve this matter with the professor I would recommend OP to go to the dean at this point and discuss it with them.

If going to the dean feels a step too far (yet) I could also recommend to discuss it with a student counseler or student mentor whatever you have or whatever feels easier is up to you.

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  • The thing is, I already got accommodations from the accessibility centre, and I informed my teacher of those accommodations. I'm just not sure what to do because I felt they weren't implemented properly Dec 8, 2023 at 7:28
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    @strawberrycow Okay, would have been better if you also included this in your original question. Your question becomes another question, now your question is about a conflict with a professor. You already tried to settle this amicable and maybe going to the dean to discuss this is your next option. Dec 8, 2023 at 7:30
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    Noted! I'll edit my original question right now Dec 8, 2023 at 7:36
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You need to check first with the accessibility office.

  1. It is possible that the accommodations sent to the instructors are not those you expected.
  2. It is possible the accommodation only covered part of an assessment, or specific types of assessments.

Before blaming the instructor, remember that instructors may receive multiple accommodation requests, all of which are different, so individual accommodations can sometimes not be managed correctly. I have certainly had classes (in COVID times) where the number and types of accommodations for students in my class was nearly overwhelming, and errors did occur not because of malevolence but simply because of the complexity of each individual circumstance.

Because of the multiplicity of possible accommodation schemes, instructors where I work do not themselves handle accommodations for in-person assessments: rather this is done by accessibility center. In particular, it is for students with accommodations to make arrangements with the center if they want to use their accommodation privilege.

So: before throwing a stone anywhere, make sure the process was followed (or not followed) by all involved. Accommodation is not at the discretion of the instructor and if indeed you have an accommodation and it was not properly done, the accessibility center and the instructor can discuss how to rectify your situation, and eventually present you with their solution.

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