Advising Students with Disabilities FAQ

Academic advisors are integral to fulfilling the teaching and learning mission of Butler University, and as such are valued partners in our joint efforts to support and empower students with disabilities. The office of Student Disability Services offers the following to address questions academic advisors often have when working with students with disabilities.

Students with disabilities have qualified for admission under Butler University’s regular admission requirements, and as such, will require the same support and services offered to any advisees. If the student is registered with the office of Student Disability Services and has given SDS written permission to do so, advisors will receive a copy of the student’s accommodation letter each semester. This letter will document the accommodations the student is eligible to receive;  some of which may impact class scheduling.  Students with extended time accommodation for exams typically benefit from a course schedule that avoids back to back classes as it helps to facilitate this accommodation.

No, students are not required to tell advisors or instructors the nature of their disability or to provide copies of their disability documentation. Some students are comfortable sharing the functional limitations of their disability with their advisors; some students are not.

If a student says he or she is registered with our office, but you have not received a copy of his or her accommodation letter, please contact Student Disability Services at 317-940-9308 or by email at

Any information, documentation, or issues related to the student’s disability including a student’s accommodation letter must be kept confidential. This information cannot be shared with a third party without the student’s written permission. Faculty should not expect to see diagnostic information for a particular student and discussion with the student about his or her disability and/or accommodations should be in a private setting.

Typically, extended time for degree completion results from a legitimate disability related need for reduced course loads. For some students, reducing the number of credit hours attempted in a given semester is an accommodation that gives them the “equal access” guaranteed by the law. There are many reasons why students with disabilities may need to request a reduced course load.

  • Students with physical/medical disabilities may have to devote an unusual amount of time or effort toward the activities of daily living and may request a reduced course load to have adequate time for studying, projects, term papers, etc.
  • Students with chronic medical disabilities may request a lower credit hour load in order to ensure they have time built into their daily schedule for medical treatments, physician’s appointments, and clinic time.
  • Students with many types of disabilities rely on alternate media or assistive technologies for processing their assignments and these sometimes require additional time to complete course requirements.

Not all students with disabilities need reduced credit hour loads, nor do they necessarily require these reductions every semester. There is no reason to grant an academic load below the usual number of credit hours for full-time status if a student’s disability does not impact his/her academic courses.

If you learn that your advisee is experiencing academic difficulty, and you suspect it may be due to an undiagnosed disability such as a learning disability or Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, you are encouraged to privately refer the student to the office of Student Disability Services, Jordan Hall 136. You might ask the student if it would be helpful to speak with someone to explore the possible reasons for the academic challenges the student is experiencing but never attempt to diagnose or imply that the student has a disability.

The student would then make an appointment with Student Disability Services to discuss his or her academic difficulties by calling our office at 317-940-9308 or stopping by our office in Jordan Hall 136. If warranted, we will suggest that the student pursue a full evaluation with an outside professional. We do not test for learning disabilities or Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder at Butler University, but we do have a number of resources and referrals we can share with the student. We may also refer the student to campus resources such as the Learning Resource Center or the Butler University Counseling Center.

As with other aspects of college life, it is ultimately up to the student to contact SDS. Once the suggestion is made, he or she is free to follow up or not; faculty are encouraged to document the conversation for record of their referral.

Advisors are encouraged to refer students to the office of Student Disability Services if any aspect of a student’s university experience is adversely affected by a disability. However, students with disabilities cannot be required to register with Student Disability Services.

Students who are experiencing difficulties and who do not have a documented disability will need to seek documentation in order to be eligible for accommodations and services through the office of Student Disability Services. SDS can help a student with the procedure for documenting a disability.