Rock Valley College

Chapter 22: Classroom and Laboratory Assistants

Students whose disability limits their participation in classroom or laboratory settings may be eligible for a class or lab assistant as an accommodation. Assistants do not do the work for the student, but they may access and manipulate materials, write or complete other course-related tasks as directed by the student with a disability.   Assistants will only help carry out course-related procedures that the student is unable to complete due to their disability. All information about actual class and lab processes and procedures are the student’s responsibility.

Classroom or Lab Assistants may:

  • Act as a scribe (filling out required lab worksheets or other written materials)
  • Assist student with manipulating a mouse, keyboard, or other computer equipment
  • Carry and/or manipulate lab materials
  • Gather supplies
  • Pour/Mix liquids
  • Use tools and/or cut
  • Provide verbal description for students for students who are Blind or Vision-Impaired



  • Contact DSS office to request this accommodation by phone: (815-921-2371, Email: or stop by)
  • Eligibility for this accommodation is determined via an interactive conversation between the student and the Accommodations Specialist
  • Once the Accommodations Specialist has granted approval for this accommodation she will engage in an interactive discussion with both the student and Professor to identify the specific barriers that are present in the classroom/lab as well as determine the scope and responsibilities of the Assistant
  • Once details are established, this information will be included on the Faculty Notification Letter for each appropriate course

Although some situations may require more time than others to coordinate, DSS strives to have an Assistant in place within one week of the request.

Expectations for Using a Classroom or Lab Assistant

Student Expectations:

  • Meet with the Assistant and DSS staff to discuss the course, expectations and exchange of contact information (phone numbers, email addresses etc.).
  • The student is responsible for full participation in the course.
  • If the student is running late or will miss class, they should contact their Assistant directly.  Assistants do not stay in the classroom when the student is not present (unless the Assistant is also enrolled in the course).  If the student does not arrive within 15 minutes of the start of class, the Assistant is free to leave.
  • If the student drops the course, they should contact the DSS office.
  • The student should let DSS know if they have any questions or concerns about the Assistant.

Assistant Expectations:


  • Meet with the student and DSS staff to discuss the course, expectations and exchange of contact information (phone numbers, email addresses, etc.).
  • The Assistant should introduce themselves to the faculty member on the first day they attend.  DSS will notify faculty that an Assistant will be attending the class.
  • The Assistant is not a student in the class.  Do not participate in class discussions or engage in the class as though you are a student in the class.
  • Do not work on homework or any other personal tasks when working as an Assistant.
  • Perform only those tasks directed by the student specific to the course.
  • Do not prompt or guide the student in performing a lab or course related tasks.
  • Adhere to proper classroom/lab procedures (including wearing protective gear if required).
  • Do not act as a tutor.
  • If the Assistant cannot attend class, they should contact DSS as soon as possible to allow time for DSS to find a substitute. They should also communicate with the student that they are not able to attend and have requested a substitute.
  • If the student does not arrive in class after 15 minutes, the Assistant is free to leave.  Report absences to the DSS office.
  • The Assistant should ask the DSS office if they have questions about being an Assistant for a specific student in a specific class.

Clarification of Assistant Role

  • Assistants will not complete a lab or assignment for the student or the lab partner(s) without the student giving the Assistant explicit instructions on how to participate in the assignment or lab with the student and their partner(s).
  • Assistants are not responsible for non-academic related tasks (i.e. bathroom access, feeding, bathing, assisting with transfers, transportation, etc.).  Please refer to Chapter 23 on Personal Care Attendants for these types of tasks.
  • Assistants will not tutor the student or assist the student with out-of-class projects, assignments or homework, including submitting course projects, materials, or assignments.
  • Assistants will not censor the material, add or omit pertinent details unless directed to do so by the student.
  • Assistants will not correct errors in the students’ work, including spelling or grammar.