Types of Accommodations

Alternative Formats
  • Electronic text (Word, PDF, straight text)
  • Audio recordings
  • Braille version
  • Tactile drawings

Requesting Alternative Format Course Materials

Give the DRC materials to be adapted at least six weeks before they are needed. Copyright issues and conversion can take weeks. Many publishers' response time is six to 10 weeks.

Requests are processed in the order received. The DRC will make every reasonable effort to ensure you get accessible materials in a timely manner. If this isn't possible, you, DRC staff and the course instructor will discuss alternative reasonable accommodations.

The alternative format is copyrighted and may not be reproduced or distributed.

Returning Alternative Format Course Materials

Some publishers require students to return alternative format course materials at the end of the semester. In most of these cases the DRC will have an agreement from the publisher that you will sign. If you do not return the materials, an encumbrance is placed on your NIU account which will suspend the release of grades, registration of classes, release of transcripts or receipt of diploma upon graduation.

Alternative format request

Producing Your Own Alternative Format Course Materials

Use the assistive technology available in the NIU library to produce alternative formats.

Closed Captions

It takes time to create captions. If closed captions on video media is one of your accommodations, notify your professor before the beginning of the semester by emailing your Letter of Accommodation or setting up a meeting to discuss captions. If your professor has questions, the DRC or the Interpreter/CART coordinator can help.

Exam Accommodations

Exam accommodations can minimize the impact of disability by giving you an equal opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and ability.

  • Large print
  • Braille version
  • Low distraction room
  • Extended time
  • Use of a computer

Accommodated exams are scheduled at the same time as the rest of the class. Exceptions will be made only with instructor approval. If the class schedule will not allow exams to be taken at the same time as the class (e.g., back-to-back classes do not allow for extended time), the student and the instructor must indicate the agreed-upon alternative on the exam accommodation form.

Exams are scheduled between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

For registered student to schedule an exam at the DRC, please sign on to the DRC Portal and follow the prompts. For guidance, please refer to this video: How to Schedule a Test/Exam with the DRC.

Equipment Needs

When scheduling and/or turning in each exam accommodation form, please make both written and verbal requests for any equipment needs (e.g., software, computers, CCTVs, VCRs). You must know how to use the software or equipment before taking exams. No instruction will be provided during the exam.

During the Exam

If you have questions or concerns while at the DRC taking an exam, we will make every effort to contact your instructor. Since instructors are not always be readily available, you may request that your instructor contact the DRC office at some time during administration of your exam to see if you have questions or problems.

Be on Time!

If you arrive more than 15 minutes late, you will not be allowed to take the exam with the DRC. If a change in exam arrangements is necessary, notify the DRC as soon as possible. If you cancel an exam and/or need to reschedule, the DRC office must have written or verbal approval from the instructor.

Extended Time on Assignments

If you have a problem finishing an assignment on time due to the nature of your disability, you may be eligible for extended time on assignments. When this accommodation is needed, discuss how to make these requests with your instructor.

Should you ask for an extension when the assignment is given or before the assignment is due? Should you ask for extensions on all assignments? By collaborating with your instructor early in the semester, a process can be developed and expectations can be discussed.

Flexible Attendance

You are responsible for following each instructor’s requirements regarding attendance and make-up policies. Most professors include this information in their course syllabus. If you're not sure about a professor’s policies, request clarification.

For episodic conditions (i.e., chronic conditions that may unpredictably debilitate), the DRC may include a statement on your accommodation letter noting that periodic disability-related absences may occur. This statement verifies the legitimacy of periodic absences and can initiate discussions of attendance and make-up policies and procedures with professors.

Discuss this accommodation with your instructor at the beginning of the semester. Each time you're absent, email your professor to say you were absent for a disability-related reason and will follow up.

Getting Class Materials in Advance

Getting class materials in advance allows more time to process information before class.

Talk about how to get materials in advance during the initial meeting with your professor. For example, will the professor place materials on Blackboard or email them to you?

Interpreter/CART Services

NIU interpreters are expected to follow the Code of Ethics established by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf and the policies and procedures of NIU Interpreter Services.

If you requested interpreting services for classes, email the Interpreter/CART coordinator as soon as you have registered each semester. Immediately notify the coordinator if there are any changes in your schedule. Late notification of changes in a student’s schedule or late registration may result in delayed provision of interpreter services.

Interpreter/CART Request Form

To request an interpreter for anything other than regularly scheduled class time, complete the Interpreter/CART Request Form or call 815-753-6257 if you have questions. At least two business days notice is recommended to allow time to find Interpreters/CART providers. Off-campus interpreter requests should be turned in at least five business days in advance.

These additional requests are covered on a first come/first served basis. If your request cannot be filled, we will notify you ahead of time.

If You Will Miss a Class

If you will miss a class or assignment, email or text the Interpreter/CART coordinator with at least 24-hour advance notice. In case of an emergency, notify the coordinator as soon as possible.

If you miss a class without advance notice, services can be suspended. Please refer to the student guidelines you were given at the beginning of the semester for the no-show policy.

If You Will be Late

The interpreter will wait for ten minutes. If you know you may be late, contact your interpreter or the coordinator to let them know when you will arrive.

Lab and Non-lecture Settings Assistant

In a lab or non-lecture settings, an assistant may read, write/scribe or manipulate tools and materials for you. Clear boundaries are absolutely necessary. In all cases, you are responsible for directing the actions of the lab assistant, not vice versa.

If you qualify for this type of assistance, contact the DRC at least four weeks in advance. In addition to the date and time, include information about dress requirements for the assistant.


If you have a note-taking accommodation, connect with your Access Consultant.

The note-taking accommodation does not mean you are exempt from taking notes or attending class.

  • You are still required to take notes in class unless disability precludes it. Using a note-taker lets you fill in missing information.
  • You must attend class to receive note-taking services. Exceptions are made when absences are due to an emergency.
  • Note-takers are not required to take notes for students choosing to be absent from class. If you are absent more than twice in a semester, the note-taker will bring his/her notes to the DRC. To retrieve notes from unexcused absences, schedule an appointment. Your access consultant will discuss attendance and reserves the right to suspend the note-taking accommodation.

Contact the DRC if you know you will be absent for a significant amount of time. This allows the DRC to notify the note-taker about the absences and approve continued note-taking services.

Pre-professional Placements

Disability-related accommodations for an internship, practicum, student teaching, clinical experience, or any other pre-professional placement:

Students must contact the Disability Resource Center to make an appointment for an intake.

Once the intake is completed and the student has participated in the interactive process, eligibility will be determined and accommodations developed as appropriate. Current and relevant documentation of disability from the student’s medical provider must be received by the Disability Resource Center before or at the time of the intake.

When determining eligibility and establishing accommodations for these placements, the Disability Resource Center staff, the student, and the student’s program coordinator (at a minimum) are required to:

  • Meet in person or in a virtual format to ensure the proposed accommodations are applicable to the experience and are not in direct conflict with policies at the site or within the program.
  • Once accommodations have been identified and established, the student will receive a Letter of Accommodation addressed to the program coordinator.
  • It is incumbent upon the student to pursue these requirements and follow these steps well in advance of the placement. Accommodations, if applicable, will not be afforded before the above process is completed.

If a student is already registered with the Disability Resource Center for classroom and exam accommodations (or housing, dining, transportation, etc., or other accommodations), but are going to be participating in an internship, practicum, student teaching, clinical experience, or any other pre-professional placement, they must meet with their access consultant to begin the process anew as outlined above to be eligible for non-academic (or housing, dining, transportation, etc., or other accommodations). It is incumbent upon the student to pursue these requirements and follow these steps well in advance of the placement. Accommodations, if applicable, will not be afforded before the above process is completed.

Service and Assistance Animals

NIU, through the DRC, may require documentation provided by an appropriate and reliable healthcare provider (e.g., physician or mental health provider) to determine:

  • That the individual has a disability for which the animal is needed.
  • How the animal assists the individual.
  • The relationship between the disability and the assistance that the animal provides.

The DRC will determine, on a case by case basis, in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, whether the animal is a reasonable accommodation.

Animals whose behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, would cause substantial physical damage to the property of others, would pose an undue financial and administrative burden or would fundamentally alter the nature of the university’s operations may be excluded regardless of training, documentation or certification.

Service Animals

A service animal is defined as a dog (and, under limited circumstances, a miniature horse) that is trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability. The work a service animal has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability.

Federal law does not require an individual to provide documentation that a service animal has been trained as a service animal. NIU may ask if the service animal is required because of a disability, as well as what work or tasks the animal has been trained to perform.

Service animals whose behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others or is disruptive to the campus community may be excluded regardless of training, documentation or certification. Animals whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support, or to act as a crime deterrent, do not qualify as service animals.

Emotional Support Animals

Emotional support animals are defined as an animal that may be necessary and otherwise reasonable to provide an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling as well as animals needed for emotional support within a housing setting.

Emotional support animals are welcome for an individual with a disability as a housing accommodation, but are not allowed broadly on campus nor allowed to attend classes, meetings or other events with the individual with the disability.

NIU can inquire if the owner of an emotional support animal has a disability, if the assistance animal is necessary to afford the individual an equal opportunity to use and engage with a residential dwelling and if there is an identifiable relationship between the disability and the assistance the animal provides.

Responsibilities of Animal Owners

The cost of care, food, arrangements, supervision and maintenance of a service or emotional support animal are the sole responsibility of the owner at all times.

Service and assistance animals on campus must:

  • Meet all requirements for the presence of animals in public places (vaccinations, licensure, ID tags, etc.) mandated by state or local ordinances.
  • Be clean. Daily grooming and occasional baths (at a vet or a family home) are recommended. Flea and other infestation control is essential. If a flea or infestation problem develops, deal with it immediately including, but not limited to, cleaning yourself and your animal with appropriate treatment for problem. Students who discover a flea or infestation problem are expected to notify university officials immediately. Failure to correct the problem could result in removal of the animal.
  • Be in good health. Animals housed in university housing must have an annual clean bill of health from a licensed veterinarian.
  • Be under control. You must be in full control of your animal at all times. This may include the use of a harness, leash or tether, unless these devices interfere with the animal’s work or your disability prevents using them. If your dog exhibits unacceptable behavior, you are expected to employ the proper training techniques to correct the situation, which may include voice, signal or other effective controls.
  • Not cause damage to the campus. You are financially responsible for any property damage caused by the animal while on campus.
  • Defecate in appropriate places. Take your animal to the marked toileting areas for animals, when provided, clean up waste and immediately place it in the appropriate trash receptacle.
  • Not cause undue financial burdens upon the university. All functions of animal use, including training or re-training, travel, animal food purchasing, maintenance, grooming and veterinarian care are your responsibility.

Service and Emotional Support Animals in University Housing and Dining Centers

You must make the request for appropriate housing accommodations for you and your animal.

Animals must always be kept on a leash or halter except in your own room with the door shut.

  • Vocalizations or noises from your animal must be kept to a minimum.
  • Do not bathe your animal in the shower rooms, bathtubs or sinks in the residence halls.
  • Wash food dishes only in the large sink on each floor.
  • Keep animal food in a covered container.
  • In dining centers, services animals must:
    • Remain quietly by the student’s chair or under the table out of the way of others.
    • Not disturb others at the table in any way, including other animals.
    • Keep their noses and all body parts off tables, trays and food-servicing counters at all times.
    • Stay out of food preparation areas.

Removal of Service and Emotional Support Animals

If your animal is out of control or not housebroken, you may be asked to remove the animal from university facilities.

If an improper behavior happens repeatedly, you may be told not to bring the animal into any university facility until you have taken significant steps to mitigate the behavior. Mitigation can include muzzling or refresher training for both you and your animal. If a service or emotional support animal is removed from university facilities, you must still be provided the opportunity to participate in the services, programs and activities without having the animal on the premises.

Service and emotional support animals that are ill should not be taken into public areas. If your animal is ill you may be asked to leave university facilities.

If your animal is unclean or noisy, you may be asked to leave university facilities.

If your animal is usually well-groomed, the university may consider an animal that appears messy due to environmental conditions (rain, snow, sleet, mud, etc.) well-groomed until you are able to groom the animal appropriately (give it a bath, brushing, towel dry, etc.).

Grievances and/or Complaints

If you are dissatisfied with a decision made concerning your service or emotional support animal, follow the applicable institutional Appeal/Grievance Procedure. Individuals who have a complaint regarding a service or emotional support animal in Housing and Residential Services or Campus Dining Services should direct those to Housing and Dining staff.

Personal Care Attendants

Personal care attendants (PCAs) are allowed on campus with students with disabilities. PCAs must abide by NIU policies and codes of conduct. It is your responsibility to recruit, interview, hire, train and pay for PCAs.

When hiring a PCA, know how much assistance you need. Be clear and specific when talking to potential PCAs so they will understand specific needs and expectations. Discuss the details of the work arrangement. In addition, plan on employing one or two back-up PCAs for when a substitute is needed. If you have questions or concerns about the process of employing PCAs, discuss them with your Access Consultant.

If you are working with the Illinois Department of Rehabilitation Services, consult with your counselor to determine eligibility for financial reimbursement of PCA costs.

Students living on campus at NIU who employ a PCA should familiarize themselves with the Housing Handbook and Policies.

Contact Us

Disability Resource Center
Peters Campus Life Building, Suite 180
8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
815-753-9570 (fax)
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