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DSS Instructor FAQ
How do I contact Disability Support Services?
Are ALL students with disabilities registered with UCO Disability Support Services?
No. It is possible that students with disabilities have chosen not to register nor have a need to register with UCO Disability Support Services. It is also possible that they may not have met the eligibility criteria for services. In these cases, instructors do not need to provide accommodations for those students.
Who registers with Disability Support Services?
DSS serves 700-1,000 students with disabilities each academic year.
Students register with one or more of these disabilities:
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Blindness or Low Vision
- Deaf and Hard of Hearing
- Developmental Disabilities
- Health Conditions
- Learning Disabilities
- Mental Health Disabilities
- Orthopedic or Mobility Disabilities
- Temporary Conditions/Injuries
- Traumatic Brain Injury
Who is responsible for determining reasonable accommodations?
University of Central Oklahoma Disability Support Services is the only office on campus that determines appropriate accommodations for students with disabilities. Decisions regarding accommodations are based on disability documentation provided by the student and their interactive process with a DSS staff member.
How do students register for accommodations?
Students first complete an online application requesting accommodations where they will upload their disability documentation and class schedule. Once received, reviewed, meeting with DSS Coordinator, and reasonable accommodation(s) determined, an accommodation letter will be created and sent to the student via email. They can then share with instructors/staff as needed.
Are there accommodations for someone with a temporary injury/condition?
Yes, DSS will determine reasonable accommodations for someone experiencing a temporary injury/condition. Students first complete an online application requesting accommodations where they will upload their documentation and class schedule. Once received, reviewed, meeting with a DSS coordinator and reasonable accommodation(s) determined, a temporary services letter will be created and sent to the student via email. They can then share with instructors/staff as needed.
How am I notified of an accommodation?
Students are encouraged by DSS to share their accommodation letter with instructors via email, in person or both and discuss ways to implement the needed listed accommodations in your course.
Do I have to honor accommodations listed on a doctor’s letter?
No. You only have to honor accommodations determined by DSS. Best practices are to refer the student to DSS for official accommodations.
Can I require that students provide me with their accommodation letter at the beginning of the semester?
Require? No. However, in order to encourage students to present letters early, DSS requests that each faculty member include the DSS syllabus statement located in the DSS Handbook in their syllabus. Instructors are also encouraged to point this out on the first day of class when reviewing course requirements.
Students do have the right to disclose their accommodations at any point of the semester; however, accommodations are not retroactive and while instructors cannot set a limited timeframe for accepting accommodation letters, they are not required to provide accommodations until receiving the letter. The best way to ensure accommodation arrangements are planned for is to discuss arrangements with students when receiving accommodation letters.
If a student discloses a DSS letter midway through the semester, am I required to accommodate previous work submitted in the course?
No. Accommodations are not retroactive of when the student delivered the accommodation letter to you.
Don’t accommodations make students successful?
Accommodations provide equal access to your course as their peers without disabilities experience. Even with accommodations, students with disabilities have the same chance to be successful as their peers.
A student requested to meet with me to provide an accommodation letter, or has given me one, what do I do now?
DSS encourages students to meet with instructors in their office to provide their accommodation letter, as this provides a confidential environment for a discussion. Instructors are responsible for discussing with students the manner in which the accommodations will play out in their course. Ideally, this is done when the student provides the accommodation letter to you (in your office), but can also be done by email.
Once you receive an accommodation letter, keep it in a confidential location for reference throughout the semester. Additionally, discussions and arrangement options are to be made in a confidential manner so as not to disclose the names of the students to each other or others in the course. While it is expected that a student will advocate for their individual needs directly with you, DSS may assist in the process if requested.
How should I address a student who identifies they have a disability?
When addressing a student with a disability, use People First Language—put the person before the disability, if needed. Eliminating descriptors moves us in a positive direction. People First Language demonstrates good manners, respect and professionalism. Focus on their abilities rather than their disabilities.
Can I ask the student about their disability?
No. DSS encourages you to focus on their abilities rather than their disabilities. You can however ask them questions about their learning style, organization, time management and/or studying techniques as you would any other student.
Why am I not given information about the student’s disability?
A student’s disability is considered confidential information and therefore is not normally divulged to persons outside Disability Support Services. DSS is only able to share disability-related information to university personnel when a need-to-know basis exists.
What if a student states their disability, or asks for an accommodation without providing a DSS letter, or requests an accommodation not included in the DSS letter they provided?
If a student states their disability to you, then they are protected from disability discrimination. If an accommodation letter has not been provided, then refer the student to DSS to establish appropriate reasonable accommodations. If the student requests an accommodation not listed, then you are under no obligation to honor their request and the student should be referred back to DSS for a re-evaluation of reasonable accommodations. One’s accommodations can be modified at any time during the semester with DSS. Remember, accommodations are not retroactive.
Is there a statement I should include in my syllabus about DSS?
Yes! See the syllabus statement in the DSS handbook.
When do accommodations start?
Accommodations start when the student delivers their accommodation letter to you and enough time has been allowed to implement said accommodations.
Am I required to provide the listed accommodations?
Yes, in compliance with federal laws we must provide accommodations to students with disabilities. However, the accommodations should not fundamentally alter the course/program. If you believe the student’s accommodation(s) fundamentally alters or reduces the essential elements of your course, contact Disability Support Services (ext. 2516) to discuss further.
Do I have any recourse if I disagree with an accommodation listed?
Yes. Contact Disability Support Services (ext. 2516) to discuss your concerns. If not resolved, then any faculty member who believes an accommodation requested by Disabilities Support Service is not reasonable may file an appeal with the Section 504 Coordinator or Deputy Coordinator as per the university’s Student Complaint Procedure in Cases of Alleged Disability Discrimination and/or Harassment.
What if I don’t know how to provide one of the listed accommodations?
Disability Support Services is available to consult in determining how to provide accommodations to students. Contact us any time at ext. 2516. Visit the Academic Accommodations Example page within our Handbook for a description of the most common accommodations approved for students with disabilities at the University of Central Oklahoma.
Am I required to lower the course standards because the student has a disability?
No. The standards should be the same for all students. However, some students with disabilities may exhibit their course expectations differently than their peers. Accommodations are designed to address those differences, but the end result should be the same.
Do I have a right to fail a student that has disability related accommodations?
Students with disability-related accommodations have the same right to pass/fail as anyone else. Provision of accommodations is no guarantee of academic success.
What do I do about a student with a disability who is misbehaving, threatening or rude?
All students are expected to abide by the UCO Code of Student Conduct. Poor behavior is not excused on the basis of disability. If any student is disruptive, follow standard departmental procedures such as contacting campus police at ext. 2345.
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?
Talk privately with the student. If through discussion with the student, it appears appropriate to refer the student to one or more campus resources, please do so. If the student discloses a disability, suggest they contact Disability Support Services to explore options for accommodations. Instructors can also contact the office at ext. 2516, before or after referring a student, to share concerns regarding a student.
What resources are available to students who are having difficulty in class or on tests but might not qualify for accommodations?
Check out campus resources to see if any might be of assistance for that student.
Is it fair to all students that some students receive accommodations for extra time on tests or get to take tests in a separate room?
Accommodations are in place to provide equal access to learning opportunities for students with disabilities. The accommodations do not provide an unfair advantage, but rather place the students on a level even with their peers.
Completing tasks quickly and on time is very important for students graduating and entering the workforce. Does allowing extended time for tests or due dates adequately prepare students for the real world?
If time is an essential element for your course, then that accommodation may not apply. Despite what we know or believe to be true in the workforce, we have a legal obligation to ensure equal access in our programs/services. Often times, many students with disabilities have access at work because the environment is different than an educational setting such as UCO. If needed, individuals can receive accommodations in the workforce through their employers.
What laws protect students with disabilities in post-secondary school?
- Americans with Disabilities Act
- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
- Fair Housing Act
- Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act
- Oklahoma Electronic and Information Technology Act
What animals are allowed on campus?
Service animals do not have to be registered with Disability Support Services. Service animals are allowed with their owner wherever the public is allowed (including inside buildings). Definition of a service animal: A dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities as defined by the ADA. There are two questions you are allowed to ask to ascertain if the animal is a service animal when NOT readily apparent: (1) Is the dog a service animal required because of your disability? And (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform? Students can voluntarily register their service animal with Disability Support Services by visiting the office in NUC, Room 305.
Can a service animal be excluded from any authorized area and its owner subject to disciplinary action?
Yes. If the service animal displays aggressive or disruptive behavior or noises and effective action is not taken to control it; unless said noise/behavior(s) are part of the needed disability service to the owner. Also, can be excluded if it is not housebroken. Additionally, if the animal poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others it may be excluded.
Emotional support animal is an animal that provides emotional support to an individual with a significant mental health disability that alleviates one or more identified symptoms of the individual’s disability. Emotional support animals are only allowed in the student’s on-campus residence. Any emotional support animal outside of university housing shall be treated as a pet.
Pets may accompany an individual in outside areas only minus university/athletic outside events and are required to be on a leash. No pets are allowed inside the buildings. The only exception would be by way of a DSS accommodation letter identifying such a need for a student.
Therapy animals: are only allowed on campus and inside buildings by invitation.
Do you have any suggestions for working with students with disabilities?
Aside from implementing the accommodations outlined, Disability Support Services encourages you to discuss your teaching style with the student and gain knowledge of their learning style. As with any student, communication is key.
My department is purchasing a new software program or piece of equipment. How can I make sure it’s accessible to students with disabilities?
UCO is responsible for making all of its programs and facilities accessible to people with disabilities. Purchasing accessible products helps the university meet this responsibility. Vendors should be able to provide accessibility information about the products they sell, so be sure to ask and validate and include accessibility assurances in contracts.
My department has technical standards for a profession. How can I make sure these are not discriminatory?
Technical standards shall identify learning outcomes critical for a given program. Regularly reviewed ensures they are representative of the current demands in a given field. The ADA regulations state: “[schools] shall not impose or apply eligibility criteria that screen out or tend to screen out an individual with a disability or any class of individuals with disabilities…unless such criteria can be shown to be necessary for the provision of the service, program, or activity being offered. (28 C.F.R. 35.130(b)(8); 28 C.F.R. 36.301(a).) This means that a school’s technical standards must focus on the skill required, not on the characteristics of a student.
How can I ensure my online course content is accessible?
The Office of Information Technology has developed an Accessibility Checklist for Digital Media as a starting point to creating accessible content. For further suggestions, visit with the digital access consultant at ext. 3402.
If I am unable to give the student their exam accommodation(s) in my area, what can I do?
Disability Support Services Testing Center may be able to assist. The following four factors must exist:
- Students are required to take the exam on campus in which the instructor is proctoring;
- Students are required to take the exam at the same time/date/location;
- Student has a current DSS accommodation letter outlining exam accommodations; and,
- The instructor is unable to provide the accommodation(s) in their respective area.
For the DSS Testing Center, the student, after discussing with you the specific arrangements, will need to schedule their exam with DSS two business days in advance. Once the student schedules with the DSS Testing Center, you will be notified via email. It is then requested of you to complete the exam administration form and send the exam to email@example.com at least 24 hours in advance. We will then proctor per your designated instructions.
Does the student with exam accommodations testing with DSS have to take the exam at the same time as the class?
If that is possible with their accommodations and without interfering with their other course times, then yes. Otherwise, Academic Affairs expects the exam to be scheduled in a block that is as close to the time other students take the exam as possible.
If extended time is built into my test for the whole class, do I have to give the student extended time?
Yes, built-in time still allows all students additional time; therefore, the student with extended time as an accommodation would still be required.
Can I require a lockdown browser for a student with exam accommodations?
If the student is testing in the DSS Testing Center, then no. DSS staff are proctoring the student and will monitor for anything abnormal. If testing online and the student does not use assistive technology like a screen reader/magnifier then yes. Lockdown browsers prohibit students from having other programs open, so if they use another program to access your exam due to their disability, then the requirement of the lockdown browser will need to be lifted for that student. The student’s need for use of a program will be identified on their accommodation letter (i.e., ability to use a screen reader/screen magnifier, text-to-speech or speech-to-text, etc.).
Can I give an unannounced (pop) quiz if I have a student who has exam accommodations?
Yes. You have two options:
- Give the student the pop quiz in your area with their exam accommodations; or,
- Call the DSS Testing Center to schedule the student and send the exam and exam administration form to firstname.lastname@example.org in advance of the day. The DSS Testing Center will let you notify the student of the pop quiz and that it is waiting for them in the DSS Testing Center. Please know that students may not be able to come directly over to the DSS Testing Center to take the pop quiz given their other classes, but normally it is expected they come at some time on that specific day.
Do my videos have to be captioned?
It is strongly recommended that all videos be captioned before implementing into the course regardless of an identified student’s accommodation need.
Does DSS require grade checks of students registered?
DSS will never ask for a grade check of students. Our concern is access, not outcomes.
Where can I refer a student to get tested for a disability?
Can any student, even not registered with Disability Support Services file a disability-related complaint against me?
Helpful Campus Resources?
The university has outlined several Student Resources.