Notifying Students of Services
Students are notified of services for disabled students through brochures, the webpage, statements in the handbooks and bulletins, and through other means. Instructors are strongly encouraged to help with this notification process by informing students about available services and related procedures. A good two-fold strategy is to include on your syllabus a statement about disability services and to announce to the class at the start of each semester that any student with a disability who needs accommodations or related services can see you in private to discuss how this will be done. This will help students with disabilities feel more comfortable in speaking with you about their needs, and also show a good faith effort on your part to make students aware that the school does have a system set up to help them obtain equal access.
Notification to Instructors
It is a student’s responsibility to notify instructors of his or her need for reasonable accommodations. The instructor is most often the person directly responsible for ensuring that these accommodations take place and for helping the student address any problems or concerns related to the accommodations. One of the designated administrators will assist the student in filling out a form called the Academic Adjustment Notice. This form lists the accommodations the student requires and is signed by both the student and the administrator. It then becomes the student’s responsibility to arrange a meeting with the instructor to present the form and discuss the accommodations listed. Students are strongly encouraged to make sure this form is presented as part of a face to face meeting. This helps develop a working relationship between the student and the instructor and helps ensure that any problems or concerns are addressed early on in the semester. The importance of this face to face meeting cannot be stressed enough. If a student somehow provides you with the notice (ex: through the mail) and does not talk with you about the request, arrange a meeting with the student. Under certain circumstances a letter may come directly from the disability coordinator, but the student will still be expected to speak with the instructor about his or her accommodation needs.
Arrangement of Services
How services, specifically academic accommodations, are arranged depends on several factors. Some services are relatively simple to arrange. For example, if a student presents a notice to you that he or she is to use a tape recorder to record lectures, you and the student should be able to come to an agreement on how this will be done. Other accommodations, such as providing an exam in an alternative format (ex. Braille), would require you to seek the help of the designated administrator. Generally, if an accommodation requires the assistance of another person (such as a sign-language interpreter) and/or adaptive equipment (such as specialized computer software), the coordinator will handle the arrangements. Providing extended exam time is generally the instructor’s responsibility. In cases where it is not possible to provide extended time, you should talk to the coordinator. Some accommodations require ongoing dialogue between the coordinator and the instructor. For example, a student who is deaf needs class notes. The instructor can help identify a responsible student in class who takes legible and comprehensive notes to share with the student. The coordinator can then provide the student with carbon-type paper to use in taking the notes.