Q: How will I know if I have students with disabilities in my classes?
The following are responses to questions commonly asked by college faculty. Faculty members needing additional information are encouraged to contact the Learning Resource Specialist (Rm. 420Moore, 562-4252).
A: If the student is registered with the Accommodative Services Office, they should bring an instructor notification form to you and ask you to sign it. The sheet verifies that the student is legally eligible for certain accommodations that are listed on the form. If a student tells you he/she has a disability or asks for accommodations and does not have this form, he/she should be referred to the Learning Resource Specialist (LRS).
Q: Can I obtain more information about a students's disability?A: Often the best sources of information about a student's disability comes the student him/herself. Some students are very knowledgeable and open about their disability; others are very uncomfortable about discussing it. One of the best times to initiate a discussion is when the student presents the instructor notification form. An instructor might then inquire if the student has any particular concerns about the course related to his/her disability.
The Learning Resource Specialist generally does not discuss the content of a student's documentation without the written consent of the student. Exceptions are made if, in the professional judgment of the LRS, the faculty member has a particular need to know certain information about the student or if there is a concern that the student may be a danger to him/herself or others.
Q: May I discuss this student's disability with other members of faculty?
A: An instructor may not identify a student as having a disability to students or other faculty in or outside of the classroom or institution without the student's consent.
Q: How are the accommodations a student receives determined?
A: A student's accommodations are primarily determined by the documentation he/she provides from a psychologist, physician or other qualified professional. These reports include testing results and professional observations. They identify the student's strengths and weaknesses and describe the probable impact of the disability on the student's ability to learn or perform other major life functions. The impact of the disabling condition on the specific courses a student is taking each semester is also considered when the student and the LRS meet each semester. In some cases, input from the instructor is solicited in order to work out the most appropriate accommodations for a class.
Q: Can I require a student to use accommodations?
A: No, the student makes that decision. Some students faithfully use them. Some may use them occasionally or not at all. Students who wish to take their tests in our testing center are required to give us three school days notice that they intend to do so. Students who miss our deadline will have to take their test in class. It would then be the instructor's decision as to whether or not he/she will accommodate the test.
Q: Who is responsible for scheduling an accommodated test?A: It is the student's responsibility to notify our test center if they wish to take their exams with us. The only exception would be if an instructor gives pop quizzes. Most students do not require accommodations for short pop quizzes but they are legally entitled to them if they so choose. It then becomes the instructor's responsibility to notify the test center. It is recommended that the instructor meet with the LRS in order to determine how best to schedule these quizzes.
Q: How will I know if a student is going to take his/her test in the your test center instead of in class?A: You will receive a test security envelope in your mailbox, so it is important that you check your mailbox on a regular basis. The cover sheet will tell you which test we are requesting and the date and time the student has scheduled the test. Please look at that carefully and let us know if there is a problem with the time or date the student has scheduled. It is also very important that you fill out the envelope label sheet completely so that we can administer your test properly and so we will know whether you plan to pick up the exam or would prefer that we put it in your mailbox.
Q: What should I do if a student requests a note-taker for my class?
A: A student's instructor notification sheet may indicate that the student is eligible for a note-taker, but students are encouraged to sit through a few classes or talk with the instructor before making a formal request for a note-taker for a particular class. The student makes the request through the Accommodated Services Office. The LRS sends a memo to the instructor to inform him/her of the request and to explain the procedure that the note-taker should follow. Instructors should provide notes to the student until a suitable note-taker is found. The student receiving notes should not be identified unless the student gives consent
.Q: What if a student asks to record my lectures?A: If a student has this accommodation listed on his/her instructor notification form, he/she should be allowed to record the lecture. An instructor has the right to require the student to sign a tape recording agreement (available in the Accommodative Services Office). This form states the conditions under which the student will be allowed to record. Some instructors choose to operate the recorder themselves. This way the student will have a tape with less background noise. Also, the instructor is able to turn off the machine when appropriate (i.e., a student is discussing personal information in class).
Q: What if I disagree with an accommodation a student is receiving?
A: A student whose documentation makes them legally eligible for certain accommodations is entitled to those accommodations, except in the following circumstances:
Faculty should be aware that failure to provide an accommodation to which the student is legally entitled could result in legal action and significant fines against the college. Faculty who fail to make a good faith effort to provide an accommodation after being informed by the college that he/she must do so may be held personally libel.
- The accommodation places an undue burden on the instructor or the institution.
- The student would not be performing an "essential component" of the course. (Essential components should be identified in the course syllabus.)
- Another equally effective accommodation can be arranged.
If an instructor has a concern about an accommodation, he/she should contact the LRS to discuss the issue.
Q: What should I do if a student with a disability has a behavioral problem in my class?
A: Once properly accommodated, a student with a disability must meet the same academic and behavioral standards as non-disabled students. An instructor should contact the LRS so she can meet with the student to determine if adjustments need to be made to the student's accommodations. Insubordinate behavior, behaviors that are dangerous to the student, faculty, or other students, and discourteous behavior should not be tolerated.
Q: How can I help these students?
A: One of the many challenges colleges face is getting students with disabilities to disclose this information. Often the students worry about the attitude of other students or they are afraid that their professors will think less of them if they ask for accommodations. They don't like to feel as if they are "different". Professors are more likely to get students to disclose their need for assistance if they are approachable and express the desire to be of help.
- Instructors should include a statement in their syllabi encouraging these students to speak to them so they can help them obtain the proper assistance.
- Components of a course deemed to be "essential" should be identified in the syllabus. This assists the student with choosing a course appropriate to their ability and also assists the LRS in determining accommodations.
- Students with learning disabilities benefit from plenty of advance notice of upcoming assignments.
Faculty web pages, on-line notes, etc. should be accessible to students with all types of disabilities.
- Instructors should apply the principals of universal design to their teaching. Universal design incorporates as many different learning styles as possible during instruction.
Students with documented disabilities are legally entitled to receive their testing modifications on all tests and quizzes. Although most students are comfortable with completing short quizzes within the allotted class time, there will be those who are not comfortable doing so. Those students must be accommodated. This would be the only circumstance in which an instructor would have to make accommodated testing appointment arrangements for a student through the Accommodated Services Office. Most instructors, however, find it more practical to accommodate the student in the regular classroom situation. Below are some suggestions from a list compiled by Cathy Tretheway from Columbia Green community College.
*Administer the quiz at the end of the class period.
*Allow the student additional time at end of class to complete the quiz .
*If the quiz has, for example, four questions, require the accommodated student to complete only
two or three of them.
*Allow the student to take the quiz in a previously agreed upon location near the classroom and
return to class at the end of the extended time period.
*Give all students the time they need to complete the quiz.
If you prefer not to take extended time from class for quizzes:
*Brainstorm possible solutions directly with the student.
*Ask the student to come to your office for an oral pop quiz.
*Reflect upon your purpose for giving "pop" quizzes and consider other methods for achieving the same goal i.e.,
**Hand out questions at end of class to be turned in at the beginning of the next class.
**Send out questions via e-mail at a set time prior to class for the students to
complete prior to the beginning of class time.
**Put questions on a website for students to answer before class.
**Distribute questions during class and have small group discussions.