What is a reasonable accommodation?
A reasonable accommodation is an accommodation that must first and foremost be based on an individual’s documented need. According to the law, a reasonable accommodation cannot produce “undue hardship” on the college. An undue hardship is defined as “an action requiring significant difficulty or expense” when considered with various other factors, including the nature and cost of the accommodation in relation to the size, resources, nature and structure of the college. Also, the accommodation cannot require a fundamental alteration of any essential aspects of the program. A member of the Disabilities Services Center (DSO) staff would be glad to provide further specification and discuss these issues more fully with you.
What types of accommodations are instructors required to make?
Faculty are required to make only the reasonable accommodations stated on an individual’s accommodation letter. After the instructor receives the student’s accommodation letter, the student is responsible for meeting with the instructor to discuss the accommodation arrangements for the particular course.
What if a particular accommodation is inappropriate for my class?
Professors are encouraged to contact the DSO if they believe the requested accommodations are not reasonable or that they fundamentally alter the course. The DSO staff are available to consult with instructors to determine the primary functions of the class and what, if any, accommodations may meet the goal of providing reasonable access to the student without changing required course learning outcomes.
What should I do if I disagree with, or have questions regarding an accommodation?
Contact the DSO immediately. Accommodations are designed to level the playing field for students with disabilities to receive equal access to educational experiences. The intent is not to compromise the essential components of a class. The DSO staff are available to consult with instructors to determine the primary functions of the class and what, if any, accommodations may meet the goal of providing reasonable access to the student without changing required course learning outcomes.
How do I refer a student that I suspect may have a disability to the Disability Services Office (DSO)?
Students may be referred to Building 17, Room 21, the Disability Services Center. It then becomes the student’s responsibility to seek out services.
What should I do if a student identifies him/herself to me as having a disability and I have no verification from the Disability Services Office?
You should refer the student to the DSO, Building 17, Room 21. Do not accept documentation or try to provide accommodations. The DSO is exclusively charged by the college to review a student’s documentation and determine any reasonable accommodations which are to be made. We all need to follow the policies and procedures outlined or we expose ourselves and the college to potential legal action.
Are instructors required to alter test format (ex. number of multiple choice questions, essay, short answers, etc.) or course standards for a student with a disability?
No. All students, regardless of disability, are expected to be evaluated in the same manner. DSO determines and coordinates reasonable accommodations to ensure the exams are accessible to students with disabilities.
If an individual discloses a disability midway through the semester, am I required to provide accommodations before a student has completed registration with DSO?
Instructors are not required to make reasonable accommodations for disabilities before students register with DSO. Reasonable accommodations are determined by DSO based on the request of the student and need for accommodations based on supporting documentation. You will know a student has completed registration with DSO if you receive a copy of their accommodation letter.
If a student registers with DSO midway through the semester am I required to accommodate past assignment/exams, etc.?
Accommodations are not retroactive. Reasonable accommodations begin after a plan is created with DSO and the Accommodation Letter has been submitted to the instructor based on the student’s request.
What is the process for students to be proctored for alternative exams in the DSO once I have received the accommodation letter?
The student is expected to sign-up for each exam with the Test Center or the DSO three (3) school days in advance or earlier if they have been informed of the exam. The student must also confirm their intention to take the test with the instructor at the Test Center or the DSO.
As a faculty member am I able to schedule an exam for a registered DSO student in my class?
No. The student is expected to sign-up for each exam with the Test Center or the DSO three (3) school days in advance or earlier if they have been informed of the exam.
When DSO proctors exams for my students, how will the Test Center or DSO know what my proctoring conditions are for students in my class?
Once a faculty member has received the notification from the Test Center or the DSO that the student has signed up for an exam, you will have an opportunity to fill in the proctor portion of the email and return it with an electronic copy of the exam. If a paper test is to be used, attach a sheet of paper with the proctor instructions.
How will the completed exams be returned to me?
Faculty members will receive an email that the test is completed and can be picked up, scanned and emailed, or faxed back. Please make sure to check the electronic copies to make sure they are legible and you have received all the pages.
As the professor of the college can I call to inquire about one of my students who has self-identified?
Yes. The DSO can share relevant information with faculty when there is a legitimate need to know.
How do I maintain a student’s confidentiality?
By law, confidentiality is a right guaranteed to students with disabilities. This means that you as a faculty member may not single them out in class as a student with a disability. You cannot say things like, “Well, Jamie needs to take her test in the Test Center because she has a disability” or “John has a learning disability so he needs notes, can anybody see him after class to give him the notes?”
Remember, the student chooses who he/she wishes to identify to and the faculty member you are talking to may not be one of them. Unless the student has given us express permission, the DSO staff cannot discuss confidential reports or testing with you, the faculty member. Without the student’s permission, we cannot even tell you the student’s particular disability, but merely share with you the reasonable accommodations which must be made on the student’s behalf.
Where can I go to get more information and answers regarding students with disabilities and how to make my classroom accessible?
Faculty may contact the DSO many ways, including:
Office: Building 17, Room 21 during regular business hours