Faculty and Staff Resources

Frequently asked questions

What is the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and how does it affect my class?

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibit discrimination based on a qualified disability. (42 U.S.C. § 12101) The ADA protects persons with disabilities from discrimination in the areas of employment and access to state and local government programs and services. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. §§ 701-796) provides similar protections against discrimination with regard to programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.


How does the Ability Services Office determine accommodations?

The student must self- identify as a person with a disability, complete an intake application, and provide documentation of the disability. The ADA Counselor reviews all documentation and determines appropriate academic accommodations. The Ability Services Office provides the student with accommodation letters, which the student must give to his/her instructor(s). Please note: Accommodation letters will soon (Spring 2013) be provided in an electronic format.


Is Ability Services allowed to provide faculty with documentation of a student’s disability?”

Documentation about a student’s disability is confidential. Students will not receive accommodations or an accommodation letter without providing documentation that a disability exists. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires implementation of all approved accommodations. Faculty should not ask students to disclose their disability. Students may share information about their disability with faculty if they choose to do so.


A student walks into my classroom and states he/ she has a disability and will need certain accommodations. Am I obligated to provide those accommodations?

You are not obligated to provide academic accommodations without first receiving an accommodation letter from Ability Services. You should refer students requesting an accommodation to the Ability Services Office on campus.


Classes started September 1 and a student gives me an accommodation letter on October 1. The student now wants to re-take the previous September 25th exam but with accommodations. Am I obligated to allow the student to re-take the exam?

No. Accommodations are not retroactive. The effective date faculty must provide the accommodation is the day faculty receives the letter. Even if the accommodation letter has an earlier date than the day the student presents it, instructors are not obligated to allow re-take exams simply because the student waited weeks or months to provide the letter to the instructor.


A student has what I believe is a disability, and I would like to refer them for disability services. How should I handle this situation?

Faculty should not assume that a student has a disability. In order to receive an academic accommodation, the student must identify himself/herself as having a disability. If a student self-identifies his or her disability to the instructor, the instructor should immediately refer the student to the campus Ability Services Office. Faculty may make a general class announcement about students receiving disability services. Appropriate actions include referencing Ability Services when reviewing the syllabus, class review of disability services in the HCC catalog, or referring the student having academic challenges to the Counseling Department via Early Alert.


If the accommodations listed on the accommodation letter result in a substantial change in an essential element of the curriculum (educational viewpoint), can I deny the request?

No. The ADA Counselor is the only individual authorized to refuse, reject or modify an accommodation. Refusal, rejection, and/or modification of any accommodation are implemented by the Ability Service Office issuing a new accommodation letter to the student, when appropriate. Accommodations for “alternative assignments” are permissible in some situations. When in question, consult with your campus Ability Service Office. 


If I am teaching in Eagle Online and I am unable to determine how to create quizzes or tests and provide an accommodation of extended time, can I just ask the student to take the test on campus?

No. If you do not request that all students take the test on campus, you cannot ask the student with a disability to take the test on campus. Ask Distance Education Technical Support for assistance with creating extra time for online quizzes, assignments, and tests. You may also use the online help form.


The class has an opportunity to earn extra credit by watching a video and writing a short synopsis. Considering that it is an extra credit assignment, am I still obligated to have the video transcribed or captioned for my deaf student who is already doing well in class?

Yes. All videos and audio clips used for class should have captioning and/or transcripts for equal access by deaf or hard of hearing students. If one student benefits from the extra credit assignment, you must make the assignment accessible and available to all students. Applicable Title II Regulation: www.ada.gov/regs2010/titleII_2010/titleII_2010_regulations.htm#title2regs

Regardless of the disability, a student is obligated to meet the academic standards and code of conduct established by HCC and the instructor. Instructors are not required to lower standards to ensure that a student is successful.

Your syllabus should reflect the correct location and contact information for the Ability Services Office.

It is the student’s responsibility to remind the instructor of testing accommodations at least one week prior to an exam requiring accommodations in the Testing Center.

  • If accommodations are approved in the Testing Center be sure to have the student’s test in the Testing Center at the agreed upon time.
  • Remember that the choice of whether or not to utilize the Testing Center is for the student to decide rather than the instructor.

If you have questions or need more information about the accommodation a student is receiving, please contact your Ability Services Office.


ADA syllabus statement

Students with disabilities

Houston Community College is dedicated to providing an inclusive learning environment by removing barriers and opening access for qualified students with documented disabilities in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Ability Services is the designated office responsible for approving and coordinating reasonable accommodations and services in order to assist students with disabilities in reaching their full academic potential. In order to receive reasonable accommodations or evacuation assistance in an emergency, the student must be registered with Ability Services.

If you have a documented disability (e.g. learning, hearing, vision, physical, mental health, or a chronic health condition), that may require accommodations, please contact the appropriate Ability Services Office below. Please note that classroom accommodations cannot be provided prior to your Instructor’s receipt of an accommodation letter and accommodations are not retroactive. Accommodations can be requested at any time during the semester, however if an accommodation letter is provided to the Instructor after the first day of class, sufficient time (1 week) must be allotted for the Instructor to implement the accommodations.

 Ability Services

Central College
Coleman College
Northeast College
Northwest College (Katy Campus)
Northwest College (Spring Branch Campus) 
Southeast College
Southwest College

(713) 718-6164
(713) 718-7082
(713) 718-8322
(713) 718-5408
(713) 718-5422
(713) 718-8397
(713) 718-7910

Approved by Dr. Charles Cook, Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs

Faculty handbook

ADA Faculty Handbook download [238 kbs]

College success for students with different abilities

Download pdf - College success for students with different abilities [882 kbs]

Providing accommodations for students with disabilities

Download PPTX - Providing accommodations for students with disabilities [1,173 kbs]

Note taking brochure

Download pdf - Note taking brochure [359 kbs]