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Faculty FAQs

Questions and Answers: Faculty Guide to Accommodating Students with Disabilities

"Questions and Answers" is designed to guide faculty in providing accommodations to students with disabilities in compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

"How does the student arrange for a distraction-reduced test site and/or a test monitor for my class?"

You must first check with the student, since students with disabilities are best served by accommodating them in the most integrated setting possible. For example, a student will be at a disadvantage if the professor allows for test clarification and the student is not nearby. Therefore, Disability Services encourages faculty to provide test accommodations within their own department. However, if it is necessary for the student to use Disability Services for exam proctoring to have the accommodation of extended test time, testing in a distraction-reduced environment, a test reader, or scribe, then the student is responsible for meeting with his or her professor to discuss the exam arrangements and to schedule the exam with the Disability Services Office.

Please note that tests should be received in our office at least 24 hours before the time and date of any test.

The Disability Services Office may send a courtesy email reminder to the professor. The student is to notify the professor and then the professor will submit the test to our office.

Tests will be accepted through email, if sent to:

Please be sure to include in your email how you would like the test returned to you through the following options:

  • Email Return
  • Fax Return
  • Campus mail
  • Picking it up in person
  • Student return

"How can I make students with disabilities more comfortable in my class?"

You can help make students with disabilities more comfortable in your class by including an accommodation statement in your course syllabus like the following: 

"If you have already disclosed a disability to the Disability Services Office (215 Stratton Administration Building) and are seeking accommodations, please feel free to speak with me privately so that I may assist you.  If you have an injury sustained during military service including PTSD or TBI, you are also eligible for accommodations under the ADA and may contact the Disability Services Office." 

It is also helpful to verbalize such a statement in the classroom.

You can also arrange an office appointment with the student rather than talking in the classroom or hallway where confidentiality can possibly be violated. 

"Is it okay to acknowledge the student who needs a note taker in front of the class?"

No, it is not okay to acknowledge the student who needs a note taker in front of the class, as students with disabilities are protected under FERPA and the civil rights laws. At no time should a faculty member overtly or covertly state or imply that the student is any different than the general student population.

"How can I recognize learning disabilities?"

Learning disabilities may be indicated when a person's performance is significantly lower in some area(s) than would be expected given his or her intelligence. Some symptoms include serious difficulties in keeping letters and words in order when writing or reading, remembering information, staying focused on a task, following directions, being organized, understanding time and number concepts, and maintaining consistent levels of performance.

"What are learning disabilities?"

Learning disability is a generic term that refers to a heterogeneous group of neurological disorders that interfere with an individual's ability to receive, process, store, retrieve, or produce information. These disorders create a gap between an individual's true capacity and his or her productivity and performance. Learning disabilities typically affect reading, spelling, comprehension, written and spoken language, social interaction, organization, mathematics, and/or reasoning abilities.

"What should I do when a student requests accommodations for a disability in my class?"

You should ask the student for a letter of verification from the Disability Services Office signed by the Director of Services, which describes the accommodations required for your class.

"What if the student doesn't have a letter?"

Refer the student to the Disability Services Office and if the student has the proper documentation, the Director of Services will discuss such accommodations with the student and then a letter of verification will be prepared. If there is no documentation, the student will be given guidelines for obtaining appropriate documentation.

"What if the student has never been tested for learning disabilities?"

The Disability Services Office will make (offer a list) the appropriate referral.

"Does a student who is blind require extended time on tests?"

A student who is blind or who has low vision may require up to double the time that is allotted for sighted peers due to time necessary to utilize accommodations, such as readers or magnification systems.

"How can a student who is blind follow a video?"

If all essential information contained in the video is provided verbally and if another person watching the video describes important visual content, the student who is blind is entirely capable of benefitting from the video. Some videos provide audio description. 

"How can a student who has a visual impairment participate in labs that require computer graphing?"

A student who has low vision may be able to use the graphing software if the text and graphics on the screen can be enlarged using either features built into the operating system or adaptive software. A student who is completely blind can work with a partner who can describe the graphs.

"What is the best way to speak to a student with a hearing impairment?"

The best way to speak to a student with a hearing impairment is to face the student when you speak, do not overemphasize words, speak clearly and at a normal speed, and communicate in a quiet area if possible. Do not obstruct the student's view of your lips; keep your hands and other objects away from your face while you are speaking (though mustaches can make lip reading more difficult).

"What can a professor do to make sure a student who is hard of hearing hears information in a large lecture?"

Do not turn your back to the group; avoid lecturing against a window since the light through the window may throw a shadow over your mouth, making lip reading difficult; and finally, avoid obscuring your mouth with books, hands, or other materials.

"I have several instructional videotapes that I use.  How can I make sure students with hearing impairments are able to access the content?"

Choose a video with captions.  The "Films on Demand" series found on the Rohrbach Library website are captioned.

Video or file information can be accessed by those who cannot hear the audio in three ways:

  • Captioning
  • Sign-language interpreting
  • Scripting/transcribing

Closed captioning requires the use of a decoder to view the captioning. Open captioning displays the text automatically during every viewing. No special equipment is needed to view open captioning. Ask the publisher for captioned versions of videotapes you use in class. If a captioned version of a video tape is not available, a sign language interpreter can translate verbal information from the video for a student who knows sign language. Scripting/transcription can be provided as a last resort. Ask the videotape publisher for a transcript of the tape. Be sure the student has time to read the transcript before the videotape is shown since the student cannot read the transcript and access visual content at the same time.

"What are Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs)?"

ALDs consist of a microphone/transmitter positioned close to the speaker's mouth that sends the speaker's voice through the air or by cable to the receiver worn by the student. ALDs can provide clear sound over distances, eliminating echoes and reducing the distraction of surrounding noises, allowing the student to more easily attend to the instructor.

"What are some of the accommodations I might be required to provide in the classroom?"

Accommodations might include:

  • Additional time to complete tests
  • Distraction-reduced testing environment
  • Use of mechanical devices (brail/laptop) or note takers
  • Alternate forms of examinations

What other services are available for students with disabilities?

  • Readers, note takers
  • Test scribes
  • Interpreters
  • Large print materials
  • Assistance ordering electronic texts
  • Screen reading software
  • Magnification software
  • Networking and support group
  • Learning Strategies tutoring
  • Priority registration

"What if I disagree with the accommodations listed in the letter?"

If you have questions or comments concerning the accommodations please contact the Director of Disability Services, by calling (610) 683-4108.