University of Minnesota

Disability Issues — Temporary Disabilities

Identifying the Problem

Students may inform you that they have a temporary health condition (e.g., broken arm or leg, a virus or a complicated pregnancy) that is interfering with their learning. Temporary health conditions may result in hospitalizations and extended absences. Students may ask you to make a modification (e.g. extra time on exams, a change in due dates, or assistance with getting to and from class) to allow them to complete your course.

It can be difficult to determine what is fair for students requesting modifications and what is fair to the other students in the class, without compromising the integrity of your course. Understanding your role when presented with these situations will allow students to get the assistance they are entitled to and allow you to provide optimal educational opportunities for all students.

How to Respond:

  • Talk with the student in a private setting.
  • Talk with departmental administrator or supervisor to learn of departmental policies and procedures related to health-related absences and allowances for make-up work.
  • Contact Disability Resource Center.
    Disability Resource Center will assist you with determining if a referral to Disability Resource Center is appropriate and will assist you with identifying possible campus or community resources for the student. Generally, health conditions that last less than six months are not considered a disability. If the condition is not a disability, you may request medical verification of the condition, however after reviewing the information return the medical verification to the student.
  • Clarify the course requirements and discuss with the student how he/she may meet these requirements.
  • See the Center for Teaching and Learning Services web site for more information on "Make-up exams, Late Assignments and Incompletes".
  • Be proactive. Include course-specific information regarding requirements and grading criteria on your syllabus. See the Center for Teaching and Learning Services web site for "Syllabus tutorial"
  • Consider using the Principles of Universal Instructional Design in your course. (See link below) The premise of universal instructional design is that curriculum should include alternatives to make it accessible and applicable to students with different backgrounds, learning styles, abilities and disabilities.

University Resources:

  1. Disability Resource Center
    612-626-1333 V/TTY
  2. International Student and Scholar Services
    612-626-7100 (If you need assistance with referring an international student.)
  3. Curriculum Transformation and Disability: Implementing Universal Design in Higher Education  
  4. Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action
    419 Morrill
    100 Church St. S.E.
    Minneapolis, MN 55455
    Phone: 612-624-9547

    To consult about and/or report possible discrimination or systemic barriers to equal access.

Twin Cities Campus: