How do I decide if a request is reasonable?
You should not question the existence of a disability when the student has a signed test accommodation form signed by a DSS specialist. If the student has requested an accommodation that conflicts with the goals of your class, please discuss your concerns with a College disability specialist. In this way, a reasonable compromise can be achieved which upholds the goal of equal opportunity for students with disabilities while maintaining the academic integrity of your class.
What should I do if I have questions about the accommodations requested for a student, or disagree with them?
The instructor should promptly contact the student’s disability specialist. If the instructor and the disability specialist cannot agree, the instructor should seek review of the requested accommodation within five (5) days of being asked for the accommodation. The instructor must provide the requested accommodation until it is either set aside or modified in the appeal process.
The 504/ADA Compliance Officer will try to resolve the disagreement informally. If this effort does not succeed, the Compliance Officer will refer the instructor to the Academic Appeal Process, which will review the matter and whose decision will be final.
If a student with a disability is already getting good grades in my class, why is it necessary to provide accommodations?
Title 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 establish that students with disabilities must have equal opportunity. A disabled student’s excellent performance in a class (or his ability to finish exams on time or early) is not, by itself, a compelling argument that the student is being given equal opportunity. In order to have equal opportunity, the student may require accommodations: extended exam time, the use of a computer, or other techniques specified in the Request for Accommodation letter.
What should I do if a student does not present a Request for Accommodation letter from DSS, but instead speaks with me personally to negotiate accommodations?
You should refer them to DSS. Providing an accommodation without verification of disability-related needs can establish an approach which is unwarranted.
What if a student asks for a test accommodation the day before an exam?
Some accommodations may take a while to prepare or acquire. The instructor may be wise to warn students that certain accommodations may take longer to ensure. One way to aid timely arrangements is to be sure to provide a notice on your syllabus alerting students with disabilities who are requesting accommodations to give you and the Disabled Students Services office reasonable advance notice of their needs.
You should know, however, that denial of a legitimate request is unacceptable. The college must provide the student with appropriate accommodations required under law, regardless of when the student requests those accommodations. Encouraging cooperation by all involved can result in productive actions.
Is it appropriate to let a student take an exam home?
Only if you let all other students take the exam home and work unsupervised. Fair treatment of students with disabilities does not mean that you give up good teaching practices.
Can I authorize unlimited time for a test?
Never offer unlimited time on tests as an accommodation. Never offer untimed tests. If extra exam time seems like a necessity for accommodation, offer it as extended time.
It may seem like semantics, but unlimited and untimed suggest that the student can tell you when the test is done. Extended time puts the time limit in your hands. So, unless you bring your sleeping bag and toothbrush to campus to provide proctored tests, only authorize extended time test accommodations.
Most commonly testing time is extended 1-1/2 times the amount of time your other students have to take a test. When an interpreter is needed, the student has especially labored use of equipment, or there are extraordinary problems, then twice the time or even longer may be recommended.
May I require that a student start the exam at the same time as the class? How can I know that the questions will not be shared?
Ideally proctored exams are scheduled close to the time when your class is being tested. Sometimes a student must take the exam at a different time or date. You can help by writing on your test the day and time you are giving the test. We will indicate on the test returned to you when it was proctored. Unfortunately, we cannot prevent students from asking others in the class about the test. But such conduct is a violation of the Student Conduct Code and can result in sanction by the College Disciplinarian. Some instructors use alternate forms to reduce security problems. Alternate forms are useful, as long as they are comparable in difficulty.
I'm an "evening/ weekend" instructor. How can I get an exam proctored? Won't the student have to take the exam either a day before or after the rest of the class?
Proctored test services are available through Disabled Student Services Monday through Friday during daytime hours only. The scheduling of the exam should be negotiated as far in advance as possible. For students who are in evening or weekend classes, we prefer that they take tests during the weekday, when the test-proctoring room is open. Arrangements can be made to have the test given in the DSS office, which is open until 7 p.m. (Mon-Thurs).
Why can't I get a list of students with disabilities? Why can't the College indicate which students on my roster have disabilities? If I had a list of students with disabilities I would know who may have problems.
Information about a student's disability is confidential. It is the individual's choice whether to ask for an accommodation or not, or how much to reveal about his/her disability. In post-secondary education it is up to the adult student to decide whether an instructor is to be made aware of disability-related information.
Such information might prejudice an instructor's opinion about the student. The only information an instructor needs to know is what accommodations (academic adjustments) are recommended by the Disabled Student Services counselors and specialists.
What if I don't believe a student really needs an accommodation? Or I don't believe he or she is disabled?
DSS specialists base their recommendations on current medical/educational information and their professional knowledge of the student's disability. If a student presents you with an Accommodation Request Form signed by a Disabled Students Services Specialist, that student's disability has been documented. You may contact the DSS if you have any questions. But, as the student's records are confidential, DSS staff will not be able to provide you with any information about the student's specific disability.
If a student says that a medical condition prevents them from handing in an assignment on time, how can I be sure without offending them?
Disabled Student Services has Report of Absence forms for documentation by a medical practitioner of treatment dates and/or dates incapacitated.
Do all students with disabilities receive support from the Disabled Student Services?
Students with disabilities are not required to accept services from the DSS. In order to receive an Accommodation Request Form, they may have to go through the DSS in order to verify eligibility.
Can I ask the student if he/she has a disability? Should I use that word?
"Disability" is the appropriate term. See the Etiquette Section for information on preferred terminology.
What if a student with a disability causes discipline problems?
Students with disabilities are expected to conform to the college's conduct rules.
Must a student with a disability be readmitted following conduct disqualification?
A readmission committee, which should include someone who is knowledgeable about the student's disability, will make this decision. Conditions of continuing treatment and/or absence of the behavior(s) that led to disqualification may be imposed.
What if I give the whole class extra time for a test? Do I still need to give extended time for the student with a disability?
Yes, the civil rights laws specify that you do so.
As an instructor, how can I work more effectively with students who have disabilities of various kinds?
Please consult the web-pages on Specific Disabilities. For more information on particular topics, consult DSS’ disability specialists by telephone or e-mail.
How can I learn more about disability in general, or particular disabilities?
The Disabled Students’ Services welcomes the opportunity to offer presentations on disability in general, or particular disabilities, to academic departments and staff. To arrange such a presentation, contact Mary Jane Weil. We can also provide lists of relevant books, articles and other information (for example, names of support organizations for people with specific disabilities). In addition, you may find other helpful information on this website.
What should I do if a student needs help to use the restroom?
Students are expected to provide their own assistance for personal care such as toileting, eating, and other activities which are not strictly school-related, activities which must be attended no matter where the student might be.
What if a student has an aide come to class with him/her? What should I expect?
Both a personal assistant and a class aide provided by the college should be authorized by Disabled Student Services. If the student has a personal aide, ask the student to register that person with Disabled Student Services.
Can students bring motorized "scooters" into classrooms?
Sometimes mobility equipment is used by those who are able to ambulate relatively short distances. The equipment may be "parked" inside a classroom while the qualified student with a disability participates in the class.
Are students with disabilities allowed to tape classes as an accommodation?
According to the US Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, the tape-recording of classroom sessions as an accommodation for students with disabilities is required under Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The legal reference, found in the Code of Federal Regulations 34CFR104.44 (b) for Section 504 reads as follows:
Sec. 104.44 Academic Adjustments
(b) Other rules. A recipient to which this subpart applies may not impose upon handicapped students other rules, such as the prohibition of tape recorders in classrooms or of guide dogs in campus buildings, that have the effect of limiting the participation of handicapped students in the recipient's education program or activity.
While students with disabilities who need it as an accommodation must be allowed to tape classes, they may be required to sign an agreement which indicates that the tapes will not be sold or used for any other purpose than their own education needs. Some colleges even require that the tapes be turned into the DSP&S office after the student has completed the class. If you have further questions, contact Sandi Burnett, SMCC District ADA/504 Compliance Officer, x4442.