Accommodations, Exceptions, and Exemptions

Blackboard Ultra has multiple features which can alter course settings for individual students based on disability accommodations or other needs or circumstances. Three are highlighted here: Accommodations, Exceptions, and Exemptions

Customizing Gradebook Settings: Accommodations, Exceptions and Exemptions 

In casual conversation, you might use the terms "accommodate" and "make an exception" more-or-less interchangeably to describe special circumstances for a student in one of your courses. However, in Blackboard Ultra, accommodations, exceptions, and exemptions describe distinct features that are designed with different functions in mind. Before you decide which features(s) to use in a particular individual case, it is important to understand the distinctions between them. 


Many students registered with the Center for Disability Resources require accommodations for extended time on in-class and web-based tests and assignments in Blackboard. 

Accommodations in Ultra course view are set for individual students and then apply to all graded items within the course. Accommodations can include adjusting or overriding time limits, or overriding due date restrictions. 

An accommodation is a proactive, global setting applied to a specific student profile. An accommodation gives the student special permissions that automatically apply to time limits and/or due dates for all graded items in the course. Once set, an accommodation should generally not be altered or bypassed, and should be treated as part of the default format of the course when planning and delivering course content. 

Not all disability accommodations registered with the CDR can be addressed with the Blackboard accommodations feature, which is designed specifically with graded coursework in mind. Some CDR accommodations not related to the submission of graded work, such as providing lecture slides ahead of time, or granting course access to a note taker or helper,  can be managed in Blackboard using other individual settings features; for more information see the second section of this guide. If you have questions about how to meet a specific accommodation request through Blackboard, you can reach out to Online Learning Services through

Add student accommodations from the Roster by clicking the three dot menu (...) next to the student's name.  A panel will open where you can set a due date or time limit accommodation: 

  • Due date accommodation: Students with a due date accommodation may submit work any time after the due date for no penalty.  Students with this accommodation will never have their work marked late.
  • Time limit accommodation: Students with a time limit accommodation have a 'percentage of extra time' that you define to finish their work during timed assessments.  For example, if the exam has a time limit of 30 minutes, a student with an accommodation of 50% extra time (aka time-and-a-half) will have 45 minutes to complete the assessment. A student with an accommodation of 100% extra time (aka double time) will have 60 minutes to complete the assessment. 

A student with an accommodation(s) set will appear with a purple banner icon next to their names in both the roster and gradebook.

Other instructors and TA's can see the accommodations flag in the course roster. Students cannot see accommodations you have assigned. 

For more detailed instructions, see the Answers page on Accommodations.


Individual circumstances cannot always be planned for in advance. When a student has a sudden change in circumstances such as an illness or unavoidable conflict, you can use the exceptions function in the Gradebook to make individual changes to due dates, or re-open assignments for extra attempts, to resolve problems when they occur. 

An exception is a reactive, individual change to the permissions for a specific graded item, to allow a student to access, re-take, or revise work after the original submission deadline has passed. Exceptions are designed for one-time, individual events such as allowing a student to re-take a quiz they missed due to an excused absence, or changing a due date for a student to accommodate a religious observance. Exceptions are not designed for repeating/ongoing individual accommodations, or for universal changes that apply to all students in a course or section. 

Exceptions can be used to change a due date, allow extra attempts, or allow a student early/extended access to an item with date restrictions. Certain uses of exceptions, such as for accommodating a religious observance, are governed by university policy. Other uses, such as the decision of whether to allow an exception for a student to re-take a quiz they failed to complete on time, are generally up to the discretion of the instructor. 

To set an assignment exception for an individual student, open the Gradebook in list view. Then, click on the name of the assignment to view all individual attempts. 

Find the student(s) in need of an exception and click the three dot (...) menu to the right of their name to access the exception/exemption settings. 


You can set exceptions for the item due date, the show/hide dates for item visibility, and/or the number of attempts allowed. These changes will apply only to permissions for the individual student. For all other students, the default settings for the item set in the Course Content view will still apply. 

Exceptions can be set only for assignments or tests. Other graded items like discussions or attendance do not have an exceptions option, but see exemptions below. 

For more detailed instructions, refer to the Answers page on exceptions and exemptions.


Exemptions in Ultra course view are used to remove items from an individual student's gradebook record entirely. In circumstances where a student cannot reasonably complete an assessment in the standard way, such as due to a serious health emergency, or a visa issue or other legal barrier, an instructor can exempt that individual from the assessment in Blackboard as part of offering an alternative grading/evaluation plan. 

While the other two functions described above are used to customize the individual requirements around submitting graded assignment requirements, exemptions alter the coursework submission requirements themselves, and represent a more significant change to the student's course experience. 

An exemption is a reactive change which removes a graded item from an individual student's Gradebook calculations entirely. Exemptions can be applied to any graded item including attendance and discussions as well as assignments or tests. Exemptions can alter a student's overall grade profile. For example, in a course with ten discussions worth 10 points each, and a total discussion grade calculated out of ---/100, a student with an exemption for one discussion will have their discussion grade calculated out of --/90 instead. 

To set an assignment exemption for an individual student, open the Gradebook in list view. Then, click on the name of the assignment to view all individual attempts. 

Find the student(s) in need of an exemption and click the three dot menu to the right of their name to access the exception/exemption settings. 


Select "Add or edit exemptions" and then check the box labeled "Exempt grade" in the panel that opens on the right. Once saved, the student's grade for the item will display as "Exempt" in the gradebook, in both list view and grid view. 

If the exempted grade is included in the Overall Grade or any other other calculated columns in the gradebook, the total number of points possible in that column will change for the student with the exemption. 

Because exemptions can potentially create noticeable differences between students in terms of grading expectations and outcomes, they should be evaluated for their potential to create unfair situations before being used. Consult with your department, program, or college administration if you have questions about best practices for altering grading policies or granting exemptions. 

Other Individual Student Information and Settings

The features outlined above are all designed specifically with graded coursework in mind, but not all student accommodations or other individual needs pertain directly to graded content. This section outlines some other Ultra features that can also be used to view and manage Blackboard course settings on an individual basis. 

Individual Release Conditions

Items can be hidden or revealed for students on the Course Content page using the release conditions function. Separate release conditions can be set for specific individual students to allow them access to items which are otherwise hidden from students. This can be useful for granting a student early access to content which is normally date-restricted in Blackboard, or for sharing additional readings or other materials with a student who is taking an independent study, for example. 

To set an individual release condition, open the drop-down menu below the item title on the Course Content page and select "Release conditions." 

Check the circle next to "Specific members or groups" to open the individual access options. Type in the name of the student(s) who need access to the item, then scroll to the bottom and click Save. Once saved, the specified student(s) will be able to see and access the item on the Course Content page. All other students will be governed by the other release conditions you have set, such as date/time restrictions. If you have set no other release conditions, only the students you have individually specified will be able to access the item. For more information on release conditions, see the Content Visibility and Release Conditions page