Rock Valley College

Chapter 17: Accommodation for Spelling

Correct spelling at the College level is expected of all students. However, students with a specific learning disability which impacts spelling may be eligible to receive a reasonable accommodation for in-class assignments and exams. Some such accommodations or aids may include the use of spell-check devices or not penalizing a student for spelling errors. The academic decision of whether or not spelling is essential to the course is typically the prerogative of the faculty and/or academic unit involved. However, this decision must be made within legal parameters and in consultation with DSS.

The use of an accommodation for spelling and grammar-related course work would be reasonable so long as the accommodation does not lower standards, compromise an essential component of (or fundamentally alter) a course or program. Faculty should contact Disability Support Services (DSS) if they are concerned that the accommodation is unreasonable because of a belief that the accommodation will lower standards, compromise an essential component of or fundamentally alter a course or program.


  • DSS will consider requests for use of a spelling aid on a case-by-case basis.
  • Students must select this accommodation when requesting their accommodations through the DSS Accommodations Portal.
  • If approved, faculty will be notified by the notification letter emailed by DSS. Faculty should contact DSS if they have any concerns regarding this accommodation.
  • For exams and in-class assignments, students should meet with their instructor to identify the method that will be used to accommodate the disability (example: spell check device or the student will not be penalized for spelling errors).

If the student/faculty selects a hand-held spell checker as the accommodation, the student will be held to the same spelling standards as other students. In addition, the spell checking device should typically not provide access to definitions or synonyms.

Important to Note

  • Given the specific analysis for each course, it is entirely possible that the use of a spelling aid will be allowed for some exams, and not allowed for others.
  • DSS will consider requests for use of a spelling aid on a case-by-case basis.
  • DSS will not approve use of spelling aides as reasonable accommodations when using is a fundamental alteration of academic standards.