Ability Services

20-21 COVID-19 Ability Services

Updates and News

The Ability Services Office will be sending updates regulary, informing students of upcoming changes and campus policies that may impact student accommodations. 

UWRF Face Covering Accommodation Process

Basic Requirements

All students who would like to pursue a face covering accommodation request are required to complete all outlined eligiblity standards.

What is Disability

To be considered for a face covering accommodation for a medical or disability-related issue, students are required to have a documented condition. It must be determined that as a direct result of the student's medical or disability condition that they are unable to wear a face covering. The Americans with Disabilites Act defines disability as a physical or mental impairment which substanially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such impairment, or is regarded as having such impairment. 

Identifying a Reasonable Accommodation 

It is essential to identify the true root of the student health issue or concern. Before approving an accommodation that would allow for a student not to wear a face covering, all available reasonable accommodations must be identified and reviewed.  For example, if a student is unable to wear a face covering due to a lung or breathing issue, they will be asked to explain why a face shield would not meet their specific diagnosis-related need. The student could also be approved for an academic accommodation that will allow them to take all of their courses in the online format.

1. Do you have a diagnosed condition that impairs your day-to-day functioning?

2. Does your diagnosed condition put you at higher-risk for developing COVID-19, if you do not wear a face covering?

3. Have you talked with your doctor about the potential implications about not wearing a face covering? 

4. Have you considered the overall risk to campus and community saftey, if you do not wear a face covering? 

1) Complete the Student and Clinician Face Covering Accommodation forms. Students are required to provide medical/disability documentation before being considered for the request. 

2) Once a student completes the student request form and the clinician completes their form, the student will be asked to complete the New Student Application as listed on the homepage of the Abilty Services website. In the "additional comments" box of the application, please state "Face Covering Accommodation Request." Students can upload electronic copies of their completed documentation forms during the application process. 

3) After submitting the New Student Application as well as the appropriate clinical documentation, the student must contact the Ability Services Office to conduct an intake appointment. The purpose of this appointment is to learn more about the barriers associated with wearing a face covering and how that may impact the student's ability to obtain equal access to all the university has to offer. Students will be expected to discuss their needs and work through possible solutions and options that will reduce their barriers, while also maintaining the outlined community health and safety standards as identified in the UW-River Falls Administrative Policy.

4) It is the responsibility of the student to provide appropriate medical/disablity documentation to support their request for a reasonable accommodation. If a student is unable or unwilling to provide medical documentation to support their need for a face covering accommodation, they will be required to adhere to UWRF's campus face-covering policy. Such students can be offered courses in an alternative online format. 

5) If the student has completed the intake appointment and supplied the necessary documentation, their application is ready for final review by the Ability Services Office. Completion of these steps does not guarantee automatic approval. Completion essentially means that the application is finished and ready to be reviewed. A decision will be made based on the student's self-report, and medical/disability supplied documentation. 

6) The student will be notified of the decision with a formal letter distributed via email from the Ability Services Office. 

7) Students can file appeal of the decision, via the traditional UW-River Falls Academic Accomodation Appeal Process. 

1) A student who does not have a documented health/disabilty condition

2) A student who has concerns about irritated skin while wearing a face covering, where not connected to an underlying disabilty. 

3) A student who expresses that a face covering is merely uncomfortable to wear. 

4) A student who simply prefers to not wear a face covering.

5) A student who feels wearing a face covering does not align with ther personal beliefs. 

  • A student who wants to pursue a face covering accommodation, should complete all neccessary requirements no later than Friday, September 4th.
  • Those who are unable to meet this requirement by the identified deadline, will be required to adhere to the university's established face covering policy. 
  • The only exception to this policy is for students who have a newly diagnosed condition (within 1 month). The unexpected nature of a new diagnosis allows for an exception to review a request after the established deadline. 

Considerations for High-Risk Students to Review Before Returning to Campus


1. Students who are at high-risk for developing COVID-19 with increased risk for potential severe illness, should assess their own personal health and safety when making the decision to return to campus. 

2. Students are asked to review and check regularly the newest CDC guidelines on who is at greatest risk for contracting COVID-19 with severe illness. 

CDC Updated Guidance for People who are at Increased Risk of Severe Illness 

3. For students unsure about what information to consider before returning to campus, please review the guidance listed below. 

Considerations for High-Risk Students to Review Before Returning to Campus (PDF Guide)


Notetaking Requests for Fall of 2020

Students with a peer notetaking accommodation, will be required to email each individual professor their completed notetaker request form to request a peer notetaker for any course (regardless of course format).

The physical blue notetaker request forms will not be utilized in the Fall of 2020. The Ability Services Office is identifying safe ways for all indviduals involved in the peer notetaking process (accomodated student, faculty member, notetaker) to ensure access is maintained and virus transmission reduced. Implementing an electronic request system, will eliminate touching request forms, as well as reducing the overall number of visitors in the office. The Ability Services Office only allows safely for two visitors at one time, thus it is vital there are a very limited number of unexpected visitors in the office.

Notetaker Request Form and Application


Audiobooks Requests for Fall of 2020

Students with an approved audiobooks accommodation will be required to complete the alternative text request form for each individual textbooks they would like to receive in the alternative format. 

The physical green alternative text request forms will not be utilized in the Fall of 2020. As stated above, moving these forms online is a necessary safety requirement to reduce the risk for potential transmission of COVID-19, and to ensure safe occupancy requirements in the Ability Services Office. As part of our safety plan, we are moving as many physical forms to the online format as possible. Completed requests can be sent to ( 

Alternative Text Request Form 

As faculty are finishing up their curriculum for fall and Textbook Services is finalizing their textbook distribution plan, we will provide relative updates to this page.

Students with audiobooks accomodations are encouragd to check out the steps in arranging their alternative text accommodations. 

Directions to Arrange Alternative Text Accommodations

Equal Access for Students

Fostering Independence, Reducing Barriers, & Promoting Inclusion


Ability Services

Confidential Fax: 715.425.0742
Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
123 David Rodli Hall