As an instructor, you share a very important role in promoting and providing an accessible learning environment for students with disabilities. As such, you need to be well-informed about the roles, rights and responsibilities postsecondary institutions have towards supporting students with disabilities. These roles, rights and responsibilities are supported by several federal laws which support students with disabilities and allow them the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of a postsecondary educational experience.
- Make Reasonable Accommodations
- Provide Access to Classroom & Materials
- Maintain Confidentiality
While it is the instructor’s responsibility to ensure that the learning environment is accessible, students with disabilities must request accommodations, when needed. Instructors will find the disability statement they include in their syllabus useful to inform students about the steps they need to take to receive classroom accommodations through the ODA. In certain situations, reasonable accommodations may require modification of standard classroom approaches. The following are examples of accommodations that may be necessary to ensure equal access to education:
- Provide necessary accommodations for course exams or provide the exam to the ODA Test Center where the student can receive the accommodations needed.
- Allow assistive technology such as audio recorders, electronic note takers, and laptop computers to be used in the classroom.
- Consider alternate ways of assessing student’s knowledge of the course content which allows the student’s academic abilities to be measured.
- Provide alternative ways to fulfill course requirements.
- Confidentiality in the accommodation process must be maintained by all parties. Any printed letters of accommodation should be filed in a safe place, and faculty should refrain from discussing students’ disabilities and necessary accommodations in the presence of fellow students or others who do not have an “educational need to know.”
- ODA staff are always available to answer questions and serve as a resource for faculty seeking assistance in providing accommodations to students.
Faculty members have the right to:
- Maintain academic standards for courses
- Determine course content and how it will be taught
- Confirm a student’s accommodations and ask for clarification about a specific accommodation (listed on the student’s accommodation letter) with ODA
- Deny a request for accommodation – if the student has not been approved for such accommodation by ODA and/or if an accommodation letter has not been received via email through the online accommodation system (AIM)
- Award grades appropriate to the level of the student’s demonstration of mastery of material
- Fail a student who does not perform to passing standards
Faculty members do not have the right to:
- Refuse to provide an approved accommodation for a documented disability
- Challenge the legitimacy of a student’s disability
- Review a student’s documentation, including diagnostic data
Faculty members have the responsibility to:
- Understand the laws and university’s guidelines regarding students with disabilities
- Refer students to ODA when necessary
- Provide approved accommodations and academic adjustments to students who have documented disabilities (and provide their accommodations letter to instructor) in a timely manner
- Maintain appropriate confidentiality of records concerning students with disabilities except when disclosure is required by law or authorized by the student
- Provide handouts, videos and other course materials in accessible formats