Reframing Accommodations

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As teachers, we’re always trying to design our classes to make our classes equitable and accessible to all students. Here is some language around accommodations I use in my classes to make learning equitable and teaching more sustainable. I’ve copied the policies directly from my syllabus to show you the language I use. Again, please use or adapt as you like with a credit to my website as the source.


My belief is that we ALL need accommodations. What we need to be successful in our learning will be different from person to person, and I believe that acknowledging and valuing those differences will make our class more powerful and rewarding. Therefore, I am committed to making individualized accommodations under an anti-oppressive Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework for equitable access to education. I recognize that there are structural barriers preventing students from accessing their education, and I do not view accommodations as an exception, a handout, a special exemption, or a favor. Instead, I view accommodations as necessary tools to dismantle the inequities in our educational system. 

I have put many of these anti-oppressive UDL practices into the design of the course, but I believe in designing the class in collaboration with you, so please let me know what accommodations you need to access the class fully. I am always learning in collaboration with students to design sustainable accommodations.


As I said, we all need accommodations, so in an attempt to normalize the language of accommodations, I will be transparent about what I need to be successful as your teacher:

  • Understand that I need holidays and weekends off, so I will stop checking or responding to student messages at 3:00 PM on Fridays. I will resume responding to student messages on Monday morning.
  • Allow me a full 24 hours on instructional days to respond to your messages. If you don’t hear from me after 24 hours on instructional days (not on weekends or holidays), please message me again.
  • Use Canvas messaging (the “Inbox” icon on the left hand navigation bar in Canvas) to contact me. Although individual assignments allow you to leave “submission comments,”  I don’t see those submission comments unless I’m actually grading your assignment. Therefore, if you want to be sure that I get your message, please send me a standard Canvas message, using the “Inbox” icon on the left hand navigation bar in Canvas.
  • Understand that you might receive a form response (indicated in the syllabus) to common questions and issues. I set up the form responses to help me respond quickly to the many messages I receive. It is not meant to be impersonal; it is simply an accommodation I need to manage messages. I do read all student correspondence and try to respond within 24 hours on instructional days.
  • Allow me a full week to grade your assignments. If you don’t see your assignment graded after a full week, please let me know. If I need longer than a week to complete my grading, I will let you know through a class announcement.
  • Follow the extension request process if you need an extension. Understand that I have set up the process to make it possible for me to accommodate the many extension requests I receive, so please try to follow the extension process as this helps keep it sustainable for me to make these accommodations.
  • Take ownership of and honor your own voice, ideas, and writing. Plagiarism cases (the intentional use of someone else’s words or ideas without giving that person credit, including submitting someone else’s writing as your own, using any words, phrasing, and/or ideas from a source without proper citation, having someone else write your assignments or assisting so much that the phrasing or ideas are no longer your own, and using an A.I. program to write your assignments) take up an inordinate amount of my time and energy. Our school has a discipline policy that includes getting a “0” on the assignment and disciplinary action from the office of Student Services. I absolutely dread going through that process—not only because it’s a lot of work on my part, but because it’s painful to take disciplinary action against a student. Please work with me to avoid a situation that’s not good for any of us. If you find yourself overwhelmed or unsure about an assignment, reach out so we can figure out how to make the assignment doable and avoid having you resort to using someone else’s ideas or words.
  • Communicate with me to let me know what you need to be successful. I can’t anticipate all the educational barriers that each individual student faces, so it’s helpful for me to know what’s keeping you from accessing the class in order to figure out useful accommodations.
  • Understand that I will be making and taking accommodations under a collaborative model. Accommodations need to be sustainable for all of us, so they might not be exactly how you envisioned, but please be open to collaboration as we work together to make the class an equitable and transformative experience for all of us!
Ma, D. (2022, Nov. 11). Reframing Accommodations.