Q: As an instructor, am I expected to make accommodation requests to the DSS office on behalf of my students who tell me they have a disabling condition or disability?
A: No. Students are responsible for requesting accommodations through the DSS office. If a student meets certain criteria, the DSS office will provide an accommodation notification letter for the student to share with their instructors. The letter will tell the instructor what accommodation(s) the student is entitled to.
Q: Who is responsible for determining appropriate accommodations?
A: DSS is the office on campus that determines appropriate accommodations. The office bases decisions upon documentation collected from a student with a disability, the student's functional limitations, and the student's clarification about specific needs and limitations.
Q: Am I required to provide exam accommodations to students who request it?
A: Yes you are. Students with disabilities are protected by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504, as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). These laws require that qualified students with disabilities get equal access to an education, including exam accommodations.
Q: A student has asked for accommodations. How do I know the student truly has a disability and needs accommodations?
A: Faculty may ask the student to provide a letter from DSS verifying that s/he has a registered disability and qualifies for accommodations while attending UCO. The student, after registering with DSS, will be given a letter within 24 hours after a request is made. DSS maintains a file with documentation of the disability for every student who is registered with the DSS office and uses services. The specifics of the disability cannot be disclosed due to confidentiality issues.
Q: A student with a disability has requested that s/he take an exam at DSS. How do I know that my exam will be safe and that the student will get no unfair advantage?
A: DSS has developed a very systematic and secure procedure for getting exams from faculty and returning them once the student has taken the exam. There is very rigid checking in and checking out procedures for exams, and no student is able to take an exam with appropriate accommodations without authorization. While exams are at DSS, they are kept in a locked file during the night. While students are taking the exam, they are monitored either through a proctor sitting with them or through video cameras. Any inappropriate behaviors or use of extra materials are reported back to the instructor as soon as possible. DSS works diligently to rectify any problems that arise immediately. Suggestions and feedback are always welcome.
Q: DSS ask me to fill out a "Exam Administration Form." I have a million things to do. I don't mind if they use exam accommodations, but do I have to fill out that form?
A: Yes you do! In order for students to arrange for exam accommodations at DSS, and in order for DSS to administer your exam to your student, you must completely fill out the "Exam Administration Form." It is often very helpful to meet with the student during office hours so that you and the student requesting accommodations can complete the form together and are in agreement about the arrangements for the administration of your exam. Not only does the administration form help facilitate scheduling and preparing to administer exams with appropriate accommodations, but it also helps DSS to administer the exams using your specific requirements for the administration of the exam.
Q: I've been debating about what book I want to use for my class, but DSS keeps asking me to select a book ASAP. Do I have to?
A: Yes you do. Textbook conversion is a time consuming, labor intensive task, and students who are print impaired need to be able to access their textbooks at the same time as others in the class. By delaying the selection of textbooks, the student may not be able to get books converted to an appropriate format in a timely fashion. This means that students may have to start the semester without access to their textbooks. None of us want to contribute to a student getting behind or failing a class.
Q: When I have a student that is deaf in class, am I required to have an interpreter in the class too? My class is very crowded and also, the students sometimes watch the interpreter instead of me.
A: There is no question about it. You are required by law to have what is essential for the student to have equal access to an education, and this includes a sign language/CART interpreter.
Q: When I have a student that is deaf in my class and I want to show a video am I required to make sure it is captioned?
A: Yes, in order to receive equal access a student with a hearing disability cannot watch the video, the interpreter, and/or read notes provided without losing much of what they are suppose to be receiving. Your are required by law to purchase videos that are captioned and should never show a video in class without the captions turned on when the accommodation request has been given to you (faculty) for any student with an accommodation request.
Q: A student in my class has asked me for assistance getting notes. After I have made these arrangements, the student has missed most of the lectures. Should s/he be getting these notes?
A: If a student with a disability regularly skips class, then s/he has no right to get notes on the days skipped. The note taker should be informed of this. If the student has a legitimate excuse for the absence, i.e. illness, death in the family etc., handle the situation as you would all other students.
Q: I have a student who is having difficulty in my class. I think this student may have a disability. What should I do to help the student?
A: Talk privately with the student to discuss your observations. The student may reveal s/he has a disability. If this is the case and the student is not registered with DSS, suggest that the student talk to DSS. The student may also be referred for diagnostic testing for a suspected learning disability or DSS may refer students to other qualified professionals for other disability diagnoses. Suggest that the student call DSS at 974-2516 for further information.
Q: Am I required to lower the standards of a required assignment because the student has a disability?
A: No, the standards should be the same for all students; however, some students with disabilities may exhibit their knowledge, production, and other course expectations differently than their peers. For example, a student with a disability may produce an essay exam by using a computer or scribe rather than writing out their answer. The quality of the work should be the same.
Q: I have a student with a disability getting behind in his/her schoolwork. This student has missed a number of classes and has not handed in several assignments. Although s/he has taken a midterm and used accommodations, the student received a "D" for the midterm. At this point, the student is not passing the class. Do I have a right to fail a student with a disability?
A: The student with a disability has the same right to fail as anyone else. Their work should be equivalent to their peers. It may be a good idea to discuss your observations with this student just as you would with anyone else in your class who is experiencing difficulty.
Q: I have a student who is blind in my chemistry lab. How is s/he going to participate and be graded in his/her lab work?
A: If possible, assist the student in getting a lab partner or assign a student assistant to work with the student with a disability. In either situation, the student who is blind should direct the assistant to carry out the functions of the lab assignment. The speed in making these arrangements is critical so that the student will not fall behind. In most situations, students have made arrangements for a lab assistant prior to classes starting.
Q: Do I have any recourse if I disagree about requested accommodations?
A: To clarify any disagreement about a requested accommodation, you can first contact DSS at 974-2516. Start with DSS, but you are also free to talk to the Equity Office at 974-2573. Occasionally, some students may ask for unreasonable accommodations and these requests are not authorized by DSS. When in doubt, call the office to discuss your concerns.
Q: We are making a decision about accepting a student with a disability into our professional degree program. I am concerned about the cost of providing accommodations, the extra time this student will require, etc. Are we required to accept this person?
A: Students with disabilities need to meet the same requirements as all other students when considering acceptance in a program. If a student with a disability meets the same requirements as other applicants and are otherwise qualified, then any disability related concerns cannot be taken into consideration.
Q: A student came to me in the sixth week of the semester requesting accommodations. I feel that this is too late to ask for accommodations and that arrangements should be made at the beginning of the semester. I even made an announcement on the first day of class to meet with me about these arrangements. Do I have to provide accommodations for someone this late?
A: Whatever the reason, students may make requests for accommodations any time during the semester. There may be a few situations where students make a request for accommodations so late that appropriate arrangements are impossible to make. An example of such a request might be a student requesting an entire textbook be converted to alternate format at the end of a semester. You must only provide accommodations at the point when a student makes a request, and you and DSS are able to make appropriate arrangements. The student is too late if s/he reveals a disability after the completion of a class and requests deletion of unsatisfactory grades.