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Disability Services FAQ's

Who is a person with a disability?

The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act define a person with a disability as someone who:  a) has a physical and/or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity; b) has a record of such an impairment; or c) is regarded as having such an impairment.  Major life activities include, but are not limited to:  walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, and learning.  A person may have a visible disability (e.g. a person who is deaf or uses a wheelchair) or a hidden disability (a person with a learning disability, psychological disability, or chronic health impairment).

What is an accommodation?

It is a modification, adjustment, or elimination of a barrier to a program or service to enable an individual with a disability to participate on an equal basis. Individualized accommodations are not designed to give the student an advantage over other students, to alter a fundamental aspect of the course, nor to weaken academic rigor.  Examples of accommodations include:  extended time for test taking, document conversion of print material to alternate formats, and remote captioning. 

What are a student’s responsibilities when working with Disability Services?

  1. Self-identify as a student with a disability.
  2. Present appropriate documentation of disability and request accommodations.
  3. Present Accommodations Letter to his/her professor(s) and ask to set up a time to discuss his/her accommodation needs.
  4. Follow the Disability Services procedures for accessing accommodations.

What are a faculty member’s responsibilities when working with a student with a disability?

  1. Maintain the same standards, including behavioral expectations, for students with disabilities as are applied to all students.
  2. Inform all students of procedures for accessing accommodations at the beginning of each semester, preferably through a statement in the syllabus.
  3. Provide and arrange for accommodations addressed in the Accommodations Letter in a timely manner.

I would like to include a statement in my syllabus to ensure students with disabilities are aware of their right to accommodations.  Do you have an example of what I could use?

Though it is the student’s responsibility to initiate the discussion regarding accommodations that may be needed, instructors can help to facilitate this process. Students will feel more comfortable about identifying themselves as having a disability if they are approaching someone they believe to be receptive to the discussion. Many instructors include a disability/access statement such as this one on their syllabi:

If there is a student in this class who has a documented disability and has been approved to receive accommodations through Disability Services, please come and discuss this with me during my office hours.

Many instructors also make a similar announcement to each class at the beginning of each semester. By doing this, you will identify yourself as someone who understands that accommodations may be appropriate and perhaps has some knowledge about the accommodation process. You did not say, “I’ll give you anything you want.” You merely said, “Let’s talk about it.” Such an invitation can go a long way toward encouraging students with a disability to approach the professor early in the course.

Sample Syllabus Statements

  1. Any student eligible for and needing accommodations because of a disability is requested to speak with the professor during the first two weeks of class or as soon as the student has been approved for services so that reasonable accommodations can be arranged.
  2. The College will make reasonable accommodations for persons with documented disabilities. Students should apply for services through Disability Services located on the second floor of the Bluffton Campus Library, 207. Students approved for accommodations are responsible for notifying me as soon as possible and for contacting me one week before accommodation is needed.
  3. This College abides by section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act. If you have a documented disability that may have some impact on your work in this class and for which you may require accommodations, please contact Disability Services at 843.208.8375 or me so that such accommodation may be arranged.

What is considered timely notice of the need for accommodations?

Although students are encouraged to identify themselves early in the semester in order to receive academic accommodations, they are not required to do so and some students may not be aware of having a disability until they are diagnosed later in the semester.  Also, some students may try to take a class without using accommodations, but find that they are not doing well and need to use them.  In either situation, professors are not required to retroactively provide accommodations unless notified by Disability Services regarding an extenuating circumstance.

Who decides what academic accommodations are appropriate for a student and how is that decision made?

College personnel are required to provide reasonable accommodations upon notification of a student’s disability (Accommodations Letter). When the accommodation request involves the modification of a student’s enrolled course, Disability Services is the office designated to determine which accommodation(s) is/are reasonable and must be provided. Professors who believe that providing an academic accommodation would fundamentally alter a course or impact a student’s ability to demonstrate the essential skills required of the course should contact Disability Services as soon as possible.

How do I know if a student is connected with Disability Services?

Upon student request and verification of eligibility, an accommodation letter is prepared by Disability Services.  Students are responsible for meeting with instructors, providing a copy of their accommodation letter and making arrangements for accommodations for the course.  If a student requests accommodations without providing the accommodation letter, you should advise the student that the accommodation letter is necessary.  However, if the disability is obvious (e.g. vision disability) and the request is reasonable (e.g.  Use of laptop to type notes), you should provide the accommodation while waiting for the accommodation letter.

What should I do if a student provides me with an accommodation letter from Disability Services?

Students are encouraged to arrange a private meeting with their professor(s) to discuss accommodations listed on the accommodation letter.  Some professors meet with students before or after a class or in their office.  Professors can greatly assist the student by asking what can be done in the course to facilitate learning and access to the class

One accommodation listed on the accommodation letter I received is “Permission to audio record lectures.”  Why might this accommodation be necessary?

Under Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act and its Amendments, institutions of higher education must provide auxiliary aids and services to students with documented disabilities and may not deny equal access to the institution's programs, courses and activities. For a variety of reasons, some students are not able to take adequate notes during class. Audio recorders are a legitimate auxiliary aid to supplement or substitute note taking for some students with disabilities.

Faculty members have the option to request a student who uses a recorder to sign an agreement for recording and present the form to the instructor.

I am considering prohibiting laptops in my classroom. How will this affect students with disabilities?

The current trend of faculty members limiting or prohibiting electronic devices (e.g. laptop; digital recorder) in the classroom is understandable, given the increasingly disruptive habits of students accessing non-class related material during class. However, for students who need to take notes on their laptops or audio-record the class as a disability-related accommodation, the issue becomes sticky. We recommend against professors making a statement such as “No one may use laptops except those with disabilities.” This essentially requires a student with a disability to identify him/herself to others just by using his/her laptop. You want to avoid putting students in this position. If you are considering prohibiting laptops, one professor used the following wording in her syllabus:

"The use of Laptops/Netbooks/iPads, etc. is strictly prohibited for use during all class sessions...Failure to follow this technology policy without prior approval of the Instructor can result in dismissal from that class session."

This professor then met with students individually and discussed their issue. If there was a documented need for laptop usage, she allowed it and had them sign an agreement that laid out the expected behavior (use only for class related purposes, wireless internet will be turned off, will sit on an aisle or front row in order to be less distracting to other students). She can then enforce her classroom policy, while still providing the appropriate accommodation. If someone asks why others are allowed to use laptops, she simply says that they made special arrangements with her, with no details given.

What is my role in accommodating students who request a copy of peer notes?

Some professors provide their PowerPoint presentations to the class which, while helpful, may not always be an appropriate substitute for class notes. If the information being provided during the lecture is substantively different from the typed or written content being provided, the student may need to use audio-recording or class notes to mitigate any barriers with acquiring the relevant information for later use.

Disability Services recruits fellow classmates as note takers.  Students are expected to discuss their request for notetaking services with their professor(s) as early in the semester as possible. Students email the disability services office of those classes for which they are requesting a note taker.  The professor is asked to inform his/her class about the need for notetaking services (without disclosing information about the student who has made the request) through one of the following ways:  1. In-class announcement; 2. Email to all students in the class.  However, if the student knows someone in class who is willing to share their notes, he/she can make those arrangements independently. Interested note takers are asked to contact disability services. 

I have a student who has requested an accommodation for exams (e.g. extended time, testing in a room with less distractions).  How do I arrange for these accommodations?

Students arrange these accommodations in one of two ways:

  1. Using a Test Proctor Form to request to take tests in the Testing Center.  Disability Services houses and manages several rooms for testing.  This site provides an area for students approved for services to take their tests using extra test time, testing in isolation, use of readers or scribes, and access to assistive technologies.  If a student needs certain accommodations for a quiz/test/exam, they complete and submit a Test Proctor Form to Anita Lank at least 7 days prior to the test.
  2. Negotiating the time and place directly with the professor.  Some professors will allow students to take the tests in the classroom, their office, or elsewhere. 

Students who request testing accommodations for exams are instructed to maintain good communication with each professor.  Students must schedule exams and quizzes for the same date and time as the class unless prior permission has been granted by the instructor or if the test proctor cannot accommodate any additional students at that date/time. Students are asked to sign up for their tests using the Test Proctor Form at least one week in advance. Professors are not required to accommodate students with extended time if they do not receive advance notice. 

Professors should only submit exams and quizzes to Anita Lank once they have completed their portion of the Test Proctor Form from the student.  All submissions should include proctoring information (i.e. length of time the class is allowed, allowable aids, point of contact to address questions from our office).

 What do I tell other students regarding the exam accommodations for students with disabilities?

Since confidentiality is key, it is best not to discuss exam accommodations with other students or in a class setting. Discussing any information regarding a student's disability in the presence of other students can create an uncomfortable situation for the student. Also, confidentiality is a legal concern and a student's right to privacy concerning their disability is protected by Federal Law.

Should I evaluate students with disabilities any differently than I do the rest of the class?

All students, including those with disabilities, should be evaluated at the same level.  The requested accommodations are not in place to give the student an extra advantage or to raise or lower academic expectations.  Accommodations are designed to “level the playing field” and compensate for any deficits to the educational environment experienced by the student.  Accommodations may present an alternative manner in which a student fully participates in your class or gains access to information.

I am concerned about a student’s behavior.  I am aware that the student has a disability because he/she presented me with an Accommodations Letter earlier in the semester.  How do I handle his/her disruptive behavior?

If you are concerned about a student’s behavior in class (e.g. monopolizing classroom discussion), consider having a conversation with the student about the issue.  A solution might be to allow the student a certain number of questions or comments per class.  Creating these kinds of boundaries can be helpful for many students.  Regardless, all students should be held to the same standards of conduct. Certainly contact the Disability Services Office for further assistance or with questions: 843-208-8375.

Does USCB offer on-campus testing to diagnose different disabilities (e.g. learning; AD/HD?)

While the College does not offer on-campus testing, the Disability Services Office maintains a list of providers in the area who conduct testing for disabilities such as learning disabilities and/or AD/HD.

How does USCB accommodate students with temporary impairments (e.g. broken legs, hand)?
Students with temporary impairments such as a broken or sprained dominant arm/hand are not covered by Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, ADA Amendments 2008, or Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act.  However, the Disability Services Office will work with students to ensure that the campus is as accessible as possible, but may only be able to provide limited assistance.  Students with temporary impairments are encouraged to talk with their professors about their situation and meet with Disability Services Coordinator, if necessary. Professors should work with students, in these circumstances, to the greatest extent possible.

What are some ways I can create a positive learning environment for all of my students?  

  1. Provide students with a detailed course syllabus.
  2. Include a disability/access statement in your syllabus
  3. Clearly set out expectations before the course begins (e.g., attendance policy, materials to be covered, and due dates).
  4. Start each lecture with an outline of material to be covered that class.
  5. Present new or technical vocabulary in written form.
  6. Give assignments both orally and in written form to avoid confusion.
  7. Point out if a study guide is not comprehensive or lacks new subjects that may be covered in an exam.
  8. Provide study questions for exams that demonstrate format as well as content. Explain what constitutes a good answer and why.
  9. If possible, select a textbook with an accompanying study guide or software programs for optional student use.
  10. Provide adequate opportunities for questions and answers, including review sessions.

Where can I find more information to assist students with disabilities?

Please access the Disability Services page on www.USCB.edu.  Don’t hesitate to call us at 843-208-8375, visit us in the Bluffton Campus Library, 207, or email us at ddmiller@uscb.edu.