It is the responsibility of faculty to cooperate with reasonable requests by the student with a disability, and/or by the staff of Disabled Students Services (DSS), to provide authorized accommodations in a fair and timely manner.
Under the provisions of Section 504, Santa Monica College faculty may not:
Measure student achievement using modes that adversely discriminate against a student with a disability; or Establish rules and policies that have the effect of limiting participation of students with disabilities in educational programs or activities.
Faculty are not allowed independent discretion to refuse the implementation of an approved academic adjustment nor may the instructor modify the accommodation unless a formal appeal process has been conducted, as detailed in Admin Reg (AR) 4115 - Academic Adjustments for Students with Disabilities. The instructor should contact the Disabled Student Service (ext. 4265) with concerns and questions, and avoid approaches that may be perceived as intimidating by the student.
Faculty may and should raise appropriate questions about:
Whether an accommodation would result in a fundamental alteration of the academic program or course in question; Whether the faculty member is being asked to assist with a personal need (i.e. a need which does not arise as part of the educational process per se).
Accommodations must give the student the opportunity to access the course material and communicate to the instructor, so long as the accommodation does not alter the fundamental nature of the course or program. If a faculty member has questions about the appropriateness of a required accommodation, he or she should consult with the DSS staff.
Generally, the student will make the initial contact with the instructor, but this also may be done directly by Disabled Student Services (DSS). A statement on the course syllabus informing students that they should discuss their disability-related needs in a timely manner can help all parties to do their parts. We recommend a statement such as the following:
All students who are requesting disability-related accommodations (academic adjustments) should contact Disabled Student Services as soon as possible and talk with me about any modifications needed. Providing an appropriate accommodation in a timely manner requires that students notify me in reasonable time.
It is also recommended that during your first class you make a similar announcement, suggesting that anyone in need of a disability-related accommodation contact you after class, during office hours, or by voice-mail or e-mail.
Other Responsibilities and Expectations
The instructor is subsequently responsible for meeting with the student, as early in the semester as possible, to establish the best ways to provide the accommodation. The DSS is available to assist in determining appropriate academic adjustments. If the student is uncomfortable discussing disability-related needs, refer him or her to the DSS. Faculty who independently reach an agreement with a student to accommodate a disability should notify the DSS about the agreement.
Students in lecture hall - Faculty can expect to receive an official notification of a recommended accommodation, signed by one of the College's disability specialists. For example, real-time captioning may be necessary during your lecture or a student may need to tape record your lecture to supplement notes. If no such official notification has been received, the instructor should refer the student to DSS. If the requested accommodation is easily managed, such as moving seat assignments, the faculty may proceed with the request.
It is not the faculty's responsibility to determine whether the student has a disability or not. DSS staff or other college disability specialists are responsible for interpreting the documentation regarding the nature of the disability and functional limitations which the student is required to provide. These trained staff can then decide whether an accommodation is warranted.
This policy protects students, faculty and the college by ensuring consistency, while taking the burden off individual faculty members, who rightfully feel ill equipped to determine whether an accommodation is appropriate or how to provide it.
If a student who appears to be having disability-related difficulties has not identified him or herself to the instructor, faculty are encouraged to contact the Disabled Students Center [(310) 434-4265] to determine whether or how to approach the student.
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