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Message from the Vice Provost – September 2023

This reminder is sent yearly to all UW instructors and academic personnel across the University of Washington.

Dear colleagues,

Each University of Washington student deserves an equal opportunity to succeed academically, and instructors and academic personnel play a crucial role in our students’ success. Disability is an aspect of diversity, and the University is committed to educating a diverse student body to become responsible global citizens and future leaders.

This message includes tips and new resources for making your classes more accessible for all students, University accessibility requirements, information about the academic accommodation process and resources for students.

By making reasonable modifications, instructors can increase students’ access to their content and courses and meet instructors’ legal obligations. As you prepare for autumn quarter, here are four things you can do now:

  1. Review University accessibility guidance on documents and digital content.
  2. Use Canvas for student submissions, class announcements and to post assignment instructions and course content when appropriate.
  3. Post your syllabi to Canvas at least two weeks before autumn courses start so students can determine whether they will need accommodations and can contact UW Disability Resources for Students (DRS) on each campus for assistance.
  4. Review the University’s course-based accommodation policy and obligations to comply with state and federal regulations regarding access for students with disabilities.


Each year, Disability Resources for Students (DRS) teams on all three campuses assist more than 5,000 UW students who have disabilities in areas such as mental health, chronic health, mobility, vision, hearing, ADHD, and learning. In this work, DRS teams collaborate with over 5,800 faculty and academic personnel to ensure UW undergraduate and graduate students have equal access to academic programs and services. To begin the process:

  1. The student notifies DRS of a disability accommodation request, and DRS determines the accommodation plan.
  2. The student selects which accommodations to activate each term. DRS notifies instructors of the accommodations and timelines for implementation.
  3. Course instructors implement the accommodations in a timely manner.
  4. The student and course instructors communicate questions or concerns to DRS.

In many cases, academic accommodations are straightforward, such as providing copies of presented lecture materials or extra time on exams. Others, such as disability-related absences, may require instructors to consult with the student or DRS. DRS will reach out as early as possible when significant work is required to remove an access barrier for a student.


If your students are seeking assistance, please direct them to the DRS team on your campus.

DRS on the Seattle campus also has posted some general advice for students on developing academic skills and talking with instructors about the accommodation process.

Thank you for your ongoing work in support of the academic success of our students.


Philip J. Reid
Vice Provost for Academic and Student Affairs
Professor, Chemistry

Bree Callahan
ADA/Section 504 Coordinator
Compliance Services