Resources for Faculty
9.2% of first-year college students report having a disability. For faculty and staff, students with disabilities represent both a challenge and an opportunity to re-examine customs of teaching and learning.
When working with a student with a disability, a faculty member is responsible for:
Understanding accommodations and contacting the Office of Student Accessibility Services if you think additional accommodations are needed.
Contacting the Office of Student Accessibility Services if you have concerns or questions about accommodations and how they will be provided.
Knowing the essential elements of a course or program.
What is a disability?
As defined by law, a disability is a substantial limitation in one or more major life activities. Since this legal definition is quite subjective, the Office of Student Accessibility Services focuses on what accommodations are reasonable in each individual's situation.
A student in my class is having difficulty, and I suspect it may be disability-related. What should I do?
Talk with the student privately about your observations of his/her performance in class. Refrain from speculating about a disability. Instead, offer referrals to a range of campus resources, including tutoring assistance, Student Accessibility Services, counseling, etc.
What are reasonable accommodations?
A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a course, program, service, job, facility, or activity that enables a qualified person with a disability to have an equal opportunity. Institutions are obligated to make reasonable accommodations only to known limitations of an otherwise qualified individual.
Reasonable accommodations should not alter a course's essential components or in any way "water down" the curriculum of the standards of the institution.
A student handed me a letter from Student Accessibility Services requesting accommodations.
The letter from Student Accessibility Services will list all of the student's accommodations. Go over each of the listed accommodations listed with the student and how it can/will pertain to the course.
What should I do if I have questions?
If you have questions concerning testing accommodations, contact the Office of Testing, (985) 549-3897. For other questions, please call the Office of Student Accessibility Services, (985) 549-2247. Our staff will be happy to assist you.
What if a student does not want to use one of their accommodations?
Occasionally, a student will choose not to utilize an accommodation during a test. For example, a student may choose not to go to the Office of Testing so that they can have access to the instructor in the event that they have questions. It is the student's decision not to utilize the accommodations. Should this occur for a test or a graded in-class assignment, please have the student write that he/she has decided not to utilize the accommodation(s) across the top of the exam or assignment and sign it. This will serve as documentation that it was the student's decision not to use the accommodation.
What are roles and responsibilities in the accommodation process?
Determining appropriate accommodations is a collaborative effort. The student must register with Student Accessibility Services and provide documentation of his or her disability. The student also brings an understanding of his or her own needs. The staff in Student Accessibility Services determines reasonable accommodations for the student, based on the student's documentation. The faculty member provides knowledge of a course's content, methods, and essential components.
A student has the accommodation of "consideration of absences." What should I do?
Students are expected to attend regularly all classes in which they are enrolled. Because regular and punctual class attendance is typically associated with higher course grades, it is in students' best interest to attend all of their classes.
The University recognizes the need for flexibility for students with disabilities and, at times, will provide the accommodation of consideration of absences. It is important for students and faculty members to realize that this accommodation may not be appropriate for every class. To determine whether attendance is essential to a particular course, the following factors from a 1996 Office of Civil Rights case should be considered:
- Is there classroom interaction between the instructor and the students and among the students?
- Do student contributions constitute a significant component of the learning process?
- Does the functional nature of the course rely on student participation as an essential method for learning?
- To what degree does a student's failure to attend constitute a significant loss to the educational experience of the other students in the course?
- What do the course description and syllabus say?
- What are the classroom practices and policies regarding attendance?
If a grade is dependent on participation, it is important that the student and faculty member discuss the issue so that the student can then make an informed decision about alternatives. The student with the disability is responsible for submitting verification to the instructor. The student and the instructor should discuss in detail class attendance and the policy for making up missed class work, quizzes, or exams.