Why does W&J provide accommodations?
W&J complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. These civil rights laws ensure equal opportunity for people with disabilities. Section 504 states that "no qualified individual with a disability in the United States shall be excluded from, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination solely on the basis of a disability." As a program that receives federal financial assistance, W&J is required to provide academic adjustments and auxiliary aids to ensure equal access for students with disabilities who are admitted through the College's regular admission process.
What is my responsibility as an instructor when it comes to students registered with the disability support services office?
Instructors have the responsibility of implementing the approved accommodations listed on a student's accommodation letter and to discuss any issues with the disability services office. Instructors and students should meet in-person to discuss the accommodations and how they will be applied to the course. These meetings should take place in a separate appointment - not before or after class - in order to protect the privacy of the student. Students are asked to follow this process when they receive their letters. If a student has not made an appointment, please ask them to do so.
Is there proctoring assistance available should I need it for a student with extended time or a solitary/low distraction testing environment?
Yes. You can submit proctoring requests here:
What recommendations do you have for structuring the discussion with a student when s/he presents the accommodation letter?
First review the listed accommodations and make a notation of any issues that you will need to discuss with the disability services office. Also make the student aware of any accommodations that are not applicable to your course and why they are not applicable. The rest of the discussion should center around how the accommodations will be implemented in your course. Below are a few examples based on the most frequently requested accommodations:
- Time 1/2 on tests: Review the course syllabus. What are the dates of the exam? Are there any scheduling conflicts? Do you need to set up a reminder with the student?
- Testing in a solitary/low distraction environment: Same as above, and discuss where the student will take the exam. Does a proctor need to be arranged?
- Permission to record lectures: Student should provide a permission form for you to sign. If recording is not applicable to your course or it would fundamentally alter your course, please explain this to the student and provide this information to the disability services office.
- Access to PowerPoint slides or lecture notes: Discuss how these will be available to the student (posted on Sakai, provided in-person) or alternatives for the student to access and understand course content if lecture notes or Pp presentations are not used.
- Flexibility with attendance or assignment due dates: Due to the complexity of these accommodations and the recent court cases with the Office of Civil Rights, it's recommended that the disability services office negotiate these terms on behalf of the student. Instructors will be contacted via email if a student has either of these accommodations.
- Periodic meetings with instructor to review course content: Discuss how these will be arranged. Will they be scheduled as needed or set at a regular day/time?
May I ask a student what his/her disability is?
No. Instructors should provide the approved accommodations listed on a student's accommodation letter. Students may not be comfortable sharing what their disability is with an instructor, and it is not necessary for instructors to know this in order to provide accommodations. Focus on providing access, not on the disability itself.
I received a letter of accommodation for a student, and there are some accommodations that I can't provide or they don't apply to my course. What do I do?
If there are any issues with providing the accommodations listed or you have questions, please contact the disability services office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-223-6008. If any of the accommodations fundamentally alter the nature of your course, please provide that information to the disability services office as well. Accommodation letters are written to all course instructors and not all of the accommodations would apply to your course. For example, permission to use a calculator would apply only to courses with math content.
The student presented the letter of accommodation but has told me that s/he doesn't need to use all of the accommodations. Is that okay?
Yes. Accommodation letters are written to all course instructors, and a student may not need every accommodation for every course. For example, a student may say that s/he does not need to test in a solitary/low distraction environment if your class size is small.
What if I suspect one of my students has a disability?
Please recommend that the student contact the disability services office: email@example.com or 724-223-6008.
I referred a student to the disability services office, but s/he has not yet presented a letter of accommodation.
A student who has been referred to the disability services office may not always end up receiving academic accommodations. There could be a number of reasons: the student does not wish to request accommodations, the student does not have a disability, or the student is in the process of getting documentation or testing.
Are accommodations retroactive?
No. A student can request accommodations at any time, but they can't be applied to previous work or courses. Every effort will be made to complete the accommodations process in a timely manner.
Are there particular teaching strategies that I may use to assist students with disabilities?
Yes. Many institutions are exploring Universal Design for Learning (UDL), which supports the development of curricula and educational environments that are inclusive of increasingly diverse student populations. Also, the strategies listed below help to decrease the need for formal academic accommodations:
- Make lecture notes and/or PowerPoint slides available to all students
- Allow students to audio record lectures so they may check notes for missing information
- Design exams so that there is additional time already built in for those who may need it
- Choose textbooks that are available in audio format
- Provide course materials in PDF format so they may be used with reading software applications or Adobe read-out-loud
- Explore the possibility of a flipped classroom (For example: lectures recorded ahead of time and available to view online; class time used for hands-on course work)
- Choose a text with a study guide
- Provide a detailed syllabus, clearly noting course objectives, assignments, assessments, readings, due dates, exam dates, etc.
- Write reminders on the board/whiteboard
Can I talk about a student's disability with his/her parents?
Only if the student has given you permission to do so by setting up a FERPA password, though it's recommended the discussion take place with the student, who can then share information with parents. You may also contact the disability services office to help navigate the discussion.
The student is struggling in my course even with accommodations. What are the next steps?
There may be a number of reasons why students continue to struggle even with accommodations. The best next step would be trying to find the root of the issue. You can discuss this with the student or refer the student to disability services.