Student Rights and Responsibilities

Rights and Responsibilities of Students with Disabilities Regarding Access to Florida Gateway College

Student Rights

  • To an equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from courses, programs, services, and activities offered through the College.
  • To an equal opportunity to learn, and to receive reasonable accommodations, academic adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids and services.
  • To appropriate confidentiality of all disability-related information and to choose to whom, outside of the college disability-related information will be disclosed, except as disclosures are required/permitted by law.
  • To information, reasonably available in accessible formats.

Student Responsibilities

To meet qualifications and maintain essential institutional standards of course, services, and activities.

  • To self-identify as an individual with a disability when an accommodation is needed, and to seek information, counsel, and assistance as necessary.
  • To follow published procedures for obtaining information, services, and reasonable accommodations.

Rights and Responsibilities of Florida Gateway College Regarding Disability Access

College Rights

  • To identify and establish essential functions, abilities, skills, and knowledge for courses, programs, services, and activities, and evaluate students on this basis.
  • To request and receive, through the Disability Services Office, current documentation that supports requests for reasonable accommodations, academic adjustments, and/or auxiliary services.
  • To deny a request for reasonable accommodations, academic adjustments, and/or auxiliary services if the documentation demonstrates that they are not warranted, or if the individual fails to provide appropriate documentation.
  • To select among equally effective reasonable accommodations, adjustments, and/or auxiliary service.
  • To refuse an unreasonable accommodation, adjustment, and/or auxiliary services or one that imposes an undue hardship or fundamental alteration on a program or activity of the College.

College Responsibilities

  • To provide information to students with disabilities in accessible formats upon request.
  • To ensure that courses, programs, services, and activities when viewed in their entirety, are available and usable in the most integrated and appropriate settings.
  • To evaluate students on their abilities and not on disabilities.
  • To provide or arrange reasonable accommodations, academic adjustments, and/or auxiliary services for students with disabilities in course, programs, services, facilities, and activities.
  • To maintain appropriate confidentiality of records and communication, except where permitted/required by law.

Suggested Syllabi Statement

We suggest that a statement similar to the one below be included in the syllabus for each course:

If you are a student with a disability: In compliance with Florida Gateway College policy and equal access laws, the Disability Services Coordinator is available to discuss appropriate academic accommodations that you may require as a student with a disability. Request for academic accommodations need to be made during the first week of the semester, except for unusual circumstances, so arrangements can be made. You must be registered with the Disability Services Office (DSO) in Building 17, Room 21 for disability verification and determination of reasonable academic accommodations.

Effective Communication Strategies

Simple misunderstandings can be a source of conflict between people who are different from each other in some way. Poor communication is the cause of many such situations. The absence of effective communication and feedback may give rise to a perception of discrimination. Better communication at the onset of the relationship is one way to offset this. Better communication, while not a panacea, can help to reduce the scope and severity of misperceptions. This site is designed to help you interact and communicate with people who have disabilities. In a classroom setting it is important for professors and students to show the same understanding and support to students with disabilities as they would to other students. While there is really nothing extraordinary about meeting and communicating with people with disabilities, using the suggested behaviors could bridge some of the perceived and real differences that exist between people with and without disabilities.

General Strategies for Communicating Effectively with Students with Disabilities

Effective communication and consultation are often vital to students’ adjustment and success at college. The following strategies are important for communicating effectively with students who have disabilities.

  • Use person first language when referring to students with disabilities as it emphasizes that you view students with disabilities as individuals and avoids labeling.
  • When interacting with students with disabilities, students’ individuality rather than their disability, should be the focus of communication. Only refer to a student’s disability if it is essential to the conversation.
  • Avoid using words which imply pity for the student with disabilities, such as “suffering from”, “victim of”, “unfortunate”, “afflicted with.”
  • Emphasize abilities, not disabilities. Say, “uses a wheelchair” rather than “cannot walk” or “confined to a wheelchair.” A wheelchair provides new opportunities it does not confine.
  • When describing a person without disabilities use “non-disabled” instead of “normal”. “Able-bodied” is less appropriate because it implies that all people with disabilities have physical disabilities.
  • Avoid patronizing stereotypes that imply students with disabilities are courageous in the face of adversity, patient, endowed with special gifts as compensation for their disability, or childlike.
  • Speak directly to the student with the disability rather than the person who may be assisting them.
  • Ridiculing a student because of a disability, either in class or one-to-one, is obviously demeaning. Equally demeaning is an attitude that is patronizing or shows fake enthusiasm for a student’s contributions. Students with disabilities require the same sincerity and professionalism you would accord all students.
  • Ask students with disabilities for suggestions about ways in which you might be able to help them work effectively in your course. Students with disabilities are likely to have already found that certain strategies are effective for their particular situation.
  • Confidentiality is an import issue. When you assist a student with a disability, it is extremely important to respect that student’s privacy. Do not make comments about them to other students or your colleagues.
  • Include a statement in your syllabus that notifies students with particular requirements that you are available to talk after class. The statement should notify students that in order to receive accommodations they must be registered with the Disability Services Office. This approach preserves students’ privacy and indicates that you are willing to provide assistance.
  • Do not make students with disabilities discuss their needs in front of other people.
  • Keep an open mind and avoid skepticism or hostility.

Common Academic Adjustments/Accommodations

Exam Accommodations

  • Extended time – The request for extended time (typically 1.5x) is one of the most common accommodations for all disability groups. Students may need to use assistive technology or services that require additional time. Also, students with learning disabilities may require extra time in order to process and comprehend the information on the test or to write their answers to test questions. This does not mean extended preparation time for exams or for out of class assignments, except in rare instances. Unlimited time is not recommended, unless this option is available to all students.
  • Scribe services – Exam scribe service is provided by DSO staff and involves physically writing/typing the student’s answers verbatim or filling out a Scantron answer sheet according to the student’s instructions.
  • Alternate format for exam access – This may include large print, Braille, tactile graphics, or audio format exam material.
  • Computer access – Students may need technology, such as print enlargement, reading support adaptive software (screen-reading), speech recognition or a spell-check program, available through the DSO.
  • Distraction-reduced testing environment – Some students may require a low distraction environment due to concentration issues, or they may need to verbalize exam questions or responses.

Recording Lectures

Reviewing material presented orally in class may be a vital aid for some students. Faculty has the right to protect intellectual property and ensure that the use of recordings are for the sole use of the student as an accommodation. Students approved for the accommodation of audio-recording are required to sign an audio-recording agreement that protects the rights of the instructor and students in the course.

Note-taking Assistance

Students who have difficulty taking notes due to physical, processing, or sensory limitations may need a copy of class notes from a note-taker. Notes are not a substitute for attending class. Students are expected to pick up their notes in a timely fashion. If notes are not picked up, this service is subject to being withdrawn. Note-takers do not know anything about the student they take notes for and they should not actively participate in the class. Note-takers must demonstrate appropriate classroom behavior.

Sign Language Interpreter

The DSO contracts with qualified sign language interpreters to facilitate communication in the class setting and for meetings and events. When working with an interpreter, it is important that the instructor speaks directly to the student, not the interpreter. There is a processing time for the interpreter to interpret the message from English to sign language, or vice versa. When responding to questions, or seeking comments, it is useful to allow for enough time for the interpreter to accurately interpret the message. Team interpreting is used when the class is more than 60 minutes long or is particularly complicated. Interpreters cannot answer personal questions about the student, interject personal opinions, or assist a student with schoolwork. They only facilitate communication.

Alternate Media

Classroom materials, textbooks, and college publications can be made available in an alternate media format for students who have a print disability. These include print enlargement, audio format, electronic text, Braille, and tactile graphics. Students who benefit from alternate formats will work with the DSO to identify accessible formats for textbooks, but faculty assistance is required for ensuring accessibility of online assignments or assessment interfaces, handouts, overheads, and other materials. We work to ensure materials are available in accessible formats before the class session in which they are to be used. If requested, please provide an early syllabus for students needing textbooks in alternate format, so the DSO can plan for the order of materials to be converted.

Adjustable Furniture in Classrooms and Labs

The DSO arranges for placement of adjustable tables and alternative chairs in classrooms and labs.

Service Animals

The Americans with Disabilities Act defines service animals as dogs and miniature ponies that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who experiences seizures, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medication, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder during an anxiety attack or performing other duties. Service animals may not be excluded from the Florida Gateway College facilities. If you are unsure if a dog in your classroom is a service animal, please contact the DSO.

Personal Attendant

Florida Gateway College is not responsible for locating or paying for personal attendants. The College recognizes that in some instances, personal attendants may be necessary. Attendants perform the functions for which he/she was hired (e.g., personal care duties such as turning pages, giving medication, retrieving books, etc.). Attendants should not actively participate in the class or in conversations between the student and faculty, staff, or other students. Attendants must demonstrate appropriate classroom behavior.

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