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Conversation Starters

Interacting with Faculty

The provision of some accommodations or auxiliary aids often requires the student to have specific contact with individual instructors. Prior to requesting an accommodation from an instructor, students must be evaluated by an ODS Specialist to determine if accommodations are supported by the needs created by a disability. Once evaluated, a student will be given an accommodation letter and an academic accommodation form. This accommodation letter will list the accommodations approved for the student. The student is responsible for obtaining signatures from their instructors on the academic accommodation form. After all of the signatures are obtained, the student will need to return their accommodation letter and academic accommodation form to the ODS in order for the accommodations to be in effect. It is encouraged that students with disabilities discuss their needs with their instructors as soon as their accommodations have been approved.

Should an instructor seem unfamiliar with the accommodations needed or hesitant to work with a student, the ODS staff will help facilitate or negotiate a request for specific accommodations.

Requesting a Meeting with an Instructor Email Templates

Dear (insert professor's title and name),

I am contacting you to set up a meeting to discuss the accommodation letter you recently signed from the Office of Disability Services. I plan to stop in during your office hours (insert day your professor has office hours). Unfortunately your office is not physically accessible to me. Can we find an alternate space to meet?

Dear (insert professor's title and name),

I am contacting you to set up a meeting to discuss the accommodation letter you recently signed from the Office of Disability Services. Unfortunately, I have class during your office hours, so I am hoping we can find an alternate time to meet. I am free all day Thursday and after 12 pm on Friday. What time works for you?

First Meeting with an Instructor

Think about your specific accommodations beforehand so that you're prepared to express you needs to your professor.

"Hi, my name is (insert your full name) and I'm in your (insert class and course number) class. You signed an accommodation letter from the Office of Disability Services, and I would like to talk to you about my accommodations."

Disclosing Your Disability (to faculty, classmates, roommates, supervisors, social groups, advisors, etc.)

In order to be successful, students may need to disclose their disability with faculty, roommates, advisors, etc. Typically, when disclosing your disability it is best to focus not on the condition itself, but how the condition impacts your education and what you need in order to be successful.

Conversation Starter A

Situation: A student with ADHD is meeting with their instructor about getting a reduced-distraction testing location.

"When I'm in a full classroom taking a test, I have difficulty tuning out some of the sounds that other students can, like papers shifting, throats clearing, etc. A separate testing space will allow me to focus on the test and perform to my best ability."

Conversation Starter B

Situation: A student with a learning disability is registering for classes with an advisor who suggests they take a 17-credit load.

"It takes me longer than other students to get through reading material. I want to do well this term, so I think we should look at 12-15 credits and mix up classes so that I have some that don't require a great deal of reading."

Conversation Starter C

Situation: A student who uses a wheelchair is in a group whose members have proposed meeting in a non-accessible location.

"That building doesn't have a ramp for me to get into it. How about we meet at the library instead?"

Communicating with Group Members Conversation Starter

"Hello, my name is (insert your name) and I am assigned to work with you on the group project in (insert class name). In order for our project to go smoothly, there are a few things I'd like to share with you about my working style."

  • "I communicate better in writing and would like to provide my comments by e-mail."
  • "I tend to be a perfectionist and might need encouragement to say, 'Good Enough.'"
  • "I have difficulties with public speaking and would prefer to be assigned duties other than a spokesperson."
  • "It might take me a few minutes to respond to your questions. I'll appreciate your patience."
  • "I struggle to hear in noisy environments and might need you to repeat some things."
  • "I can't follow a conversation if more than one person is speaking at the same time."
  • "I can be sensitive to noise, lights, or smells. I work best in a quiet, distraction-free environment. Perhaps we could reserve a group study room in the library?"

Requesting Extra Help E-mail Template

Dear (insert Professor title and name),

I am experiencing difficulties understanding and being able to complete the assignment for (insert class name and course number) that is due (insert due date). Would it be possible to meet with you during your office hours on (insert date) so I can receive some additional help?

In the meantime, are there other resources you could recommend that might help me understand the material better?


(Insert your name)