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COVID-19 Accommodation Procedures

Student Disability Services (SDS) is excited to welcome incoming and returning students to campus. In an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to adhere to health and safety measures, SDS has adjusted its operation for the Fall 2020 & Spring 2021 semesters.

Please review the information below for more details. SDS also launched a new database during summer 2020. Please review important changes related to the new system at your convenience.

Students with Underlying Medical Conditions

Students at risk of illness from COVID-19 due to an underlying medical condition may request temporary adjustments through Student Disability Services. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has identified individuals with the following health conditions to be at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
  • Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 or higher)
  • Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus

Other health conditions that might increase risks of severe illness from COVID-19 include:

  • Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
  • Cerebrovascular disease
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
  • Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
  • Liver disease
  • Pregnancy
  • Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
  • Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
  • Type 1 diabetes mellitus
  • Other conditions as identified by the CDC

Registration Process

Students who are already registered with SDS should contact their coordinator to discuss temporary disability-related COVID-19 accommodations. Documentation about the underlying medical condition may be required as part of the process if not already on file with SDS.

Students with underlying medical conditions who are not registered with SDS must:

  • Complete the Student Application from the SDS website.
  • Submit documentation related to your condition. Documentation must address concerns related to COVID-19, the need for the request, and the underlying medical condition.

Once submitted, an SDS Staff member will follow up to schedule a brief meeting to discuss potential temporary adjustments.

Students who are not immunocompromised but are concerned about COVID-19 and have in-person courses should contact their academic advisor to discuss alternative options for Fall 2020/Spring 2021 semesters.


SDS staff will engage the student and instructor to determine reasonable adjustments for a given course. Adjustments may include:

  1. Changing sections
  2. Remote attendance
  3. Additional precautionary measures for in-person courses

It is important to note that course objectives must be able to be met virtually in order to establish remote attendance. Students are encouraged to consult with their academic advisor or OneStop about alternatives if none of the options listed above are feasible.

Face Coverings

All students, faculty, and staff are required to wear a face mask while on campus, including in classrooms, elevators, and outdoors except in situations where social distancing is applicable in all directions at all times.

Students with concerns about face masks due to a medical condition may contact SDS to discuss alternative face covering options. Requests for face coverings are evaluated on a case by case basis and decisions are made with the health and safety of the community in mind.

Acceptable face coverings include:

  • Cloth face mask
  • Bandana
  • Medical mask
  • Gaiter

Accessible Masks

SDS will provide transparent masks to students with communication access needs and to their instructors. SDS staff interpreters and transcribers will wear transparent masks for in-person courses and assignments. Students with similar access needs who may or may not be registered with SDS, should contact the office at 865-974-6087, by videophone at 865-622-6566 for consumers who are Deaf, or via email at

Review the Communication Access Tips for strategies to communicate with people with hearing loss.

We are extremely grateful to the Clarence Brown Theatre’s Mask Squad for making over 150 accessible masks for SDS.


SDS will continue to hold meetings virtually and encourages students to utilize the Student Portal to schedule virtual appointments. In-person appointments are available on a limited basis and by appointment. Additionally, only students with scheduled appointments will be allowed into 100 Dunford Hall.

How to Request an Appointment

If you are currently registered with Student Disability Services (SDS), you may request an appointment via the Student Portal.

  1. Click on Request for Appointment on the left menu
  2. Complete the Appointment Request Detail
  3. Include a reason for the meeting request in the Note or Concerns section
  4. Select 3 optional day/time slots
  5. Click Submit

Once completed, a representative from SDS will be in contact with you to finalize the appointment.

If you are not registered with SDS, you may call the office at 865-974-6087 to request an appointment or email your request to; be sure to include your contact information in your email and a representative from SDS will reach out to you to schedule an appointment.

Testing Services

SDS is working diligently to provide a safe and healthy environment for students receiving services and its staff. Adjustments have been made to the seating arrangements in the Testing Center to adhere to social distancing and health safety guidelines. The SDS Testing Center will operate in a limited capacity during the Fall 2020/Spring 2021 semesters. Please note the following adjustments:

  • SDS will only proctor exams for students who have in-person exams.
  • All completed exams will be delivered via email, or may be picked up from 100 Dunford Hall, Monday through Friday between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm
  • Faculty are responsible for proctoring online exams and may consult with SDS on the provision of testing accommodations in an online environment
  • Students are responsible for securing a space suitable to take online exams.
  • Students with accommodations that cannot be provided in an online environment must consult with SDS for alternative plans regarding the provision of those accommodations. This includes students with assistive technologies that are not compatible with an online testing platform such as Lockdown Browser
  • Students utilizing the Testing Center must bring all materials needed for the exam. SDS will not provide pencils, pens, calculators, Scantrons, etc.

Please refer to our Virtual Instructions FAQs for more information on the provision of testing accommodations in an online environment.

Where can I take my exam?

Are you looking for a quiet space to study? UTK Libraries offer a variety of designated research, study, workstation, dining, and other areas to support your academic productivity. Explore this valuable resource and Find Your Place to Go Vols!

Assistive Technology Lab and Study Area

The assistive technology lab and study area are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Software such as ZoomText will be installed in several computer labs including the Commons in Hodges Library. Read and Write Gold remains available for download from the OIT software Distribution page for any valid UTK NetID. Kurzweil Firefly is available for qualified students.

Updated: January 7, 2021