Faculty plays an essential role in supporting student success and ensuring access for students with disabilities. We suggest you get started by looking over the Faculty Guide to Accommodating Students with Disabilities.
Here are five accommodations faculty members should make before the start of each course.
Include a disability-related statement on the syllabus.
While it is the faculty member's responsibility to ensure the learning environment is accessible, it is the student's responsibility to request accommodations. Faculty may find it useful to include a statement on the syllabus that educates students with disabilities about the steps they need to take to receive classroom accommodations. Faculty members are further encouraged to include a statement that invites students with disabilities to meet in a confidential environment to discuss arrangements for accommodations.
There are several reasons why the syllabus statement is critical. The statement both normalizes the accommodation process and helps create a positive and welcoming environment for students with disabilities. It also creates a collaborative environment for providing legally mandated accommodations. Lastly, it is a tangible reminder for students who need the accommodations that arrangements must be made with sufficient lead time to ensure successful implementation.
Below is a sample of a syllabus statement.
If you have a disability and need accommodations, please register with the Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES) office or the National Center on Deafness (NCOD). The DRES office is located in Bayramian Hall 110 and can be reached at (818) 677-2684. NCOD is located on Bertrand Street in Jeanne Chisholm Hall and can be reached at (818) 677-2611. If you would like to discuss your need for accommodations, please contact me to set up an appointment.
Provide access to classroom and course materials
Faculty members are responsible for ensuring that all course materials are accessible to all students. Faculty members are encouraged to learn how to create accessible materials by utilizing the resources and assistance provided by the Accessible Technology Initiative (ATI). ATI and DRES recommend the following to ensure that students are equipped prior to the start of the semester.
- Complete textbook orders as soon as possible. It is university policy that textbook requests are in place eight weeks prior to the start of the semester. The two-month window ensures that students registered with DRES have enough time to convert material to an alternative format if necessary.
- Make sure online materials are created in an accessible format. ATI can assist faculty with captioning and strategies for orally describing visual media.
- Utilize the assistance of ATI coordinators when reviewing the accessibility of online resources, such as personal websites and Moodle.
- Review training guides and other ATI accessibility resources.
Faculty members can contact the Universal Design Center if they have further questions about ATI or making their classroom and materials accessible.
Assist students in receiving their accommodations
When a student initially approaches a faculty member regarding his or her accommodations, faculty should ask the student to explain his or her accommodations according to the (DRES) service agreement. Second, faculty should discuss the course curriculum with the student and anything pertaining to accessibility. Third, faculty members must review and approve any alternative testing agreements through the Student Access and Accommodation System (SAAS). The instructor is responsible for creating an exam profile.
In certain situations, reasonable accommodations may require modifying pedagogical approaches. The following are examples of accommodations that may be necessary to ensure equal access to education.
- Provide necessary accommodations for exam-taking or submit the exam to DRES, where the student can receive necessary accommodations. Exams for alternative testing can be submitted to the alternative testing coordinator.
- Provide alternative ways to fulfill course requirements.
- Allow adaptive technology to be used in the classroom, such as audio recording, electronic note-takers and laptop computers.
Confidentiality in the accommodation process must be maintained by all parties. DRES cannot provide specific information about a student's disability; however, DRES can verify if a student is eligible to receive accommodations for a specific course. It is important that faculty members maintain confidentiality and do not discuss a student's disability or accommodation request with other faculty or students, including any discussions in a classroom setting.
While some students may be more comfortable disclosing the nature of their disability, many choose to keep their disability private. This will become apparent during the initial discussion between the faculty member and student requesting assistance.
Staff members at DRES are always available to answer questions and serve as a resource for faculty seeking assistance in providing accommodations to students with disabilities. If you are a faculty member in need of assistance or want to consult with a staff member regarding reasonable accommodations, please contact DRES at (818) 677-2684 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.