Faculty play an essential role in ensuring access for students with disabilities and supporting their success. Here are five considerations faculty should make before the start of each course.
- Faculty should include a disability related statement on their syllabus.
While it is faculty's responsibility to ensure that the learning environment is accessible, it is the student's responsibility to request accommodations. Faculty may find it useful to include a statement on their syllabus that educates students with disabilities about the steps they need to take to receive classroom accommodations. Faculty are further encouraged to include in their syllabus a statement inviting students with disabilities to meet with them in a confidential environment to discuss making arrangements for accommodations.
There are several reasons why this syllabus statement is critical. This statement both normalizes the accommodation process and helps to create a positive and welcoming environment for students with disabilities. It also creates a collaborative environment for providing legally mandated accommodations. And it is a tangible reminder to student who need the accommodations that these arrangements must be made with a sufficient lead time to ensure a successful implementation.
- Provide Access to Classroom and Course Materials
It is the responsibility of faculty to make sure that all course materials are accessible to all students. Faculty are encouraged to utilize the resources and assistance provided by the Accessible Technology Initiative (ATI) to learn how to create accessible materials. ATI and Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES) both recommend taking these steps to ensure that students are equipped prior to the start of the semester.
- Have textbook orders in as soon as possible. It is University policy that textbook requests are in place 8 weeks prior to the start of the semester. This will ensure that students registered at DRES have enough time to have their materials converted to an alternative format, if needed.
- Make sure that online materials are created in an accessible format. ATI can assist faculty in learning how to caption and aurally describe 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 can contact the Accessible Technology Initiative (ATI) if they have further questions about making their classroom and materials accessible.
- Assist Students in Receiving Their Accommodations
When a student initially approaches a faculty member regarding their accommodations, faculty should ask the student to explain their accommodations according to their (DRES) service agreement. Second, faculty should discuss with the student about the course curriculum and anything pertaining to accessibility. Third, faculty need to review and approve any alternative testing agreements through SAAS. Instructor creates exam profile.
In certain situations, reasonable accommodations may require modification of 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 provide the exam to the DRES department where the student can receive the accommodations needed. Exams for alternative testing can be submitted to the alternative testing coordinator at email@example.com.
- Provide alternative ways to fulfill course requirements.
- Allow adaptive technology such as audio recording, electronic note takers, and laptop computers to be used in the classroom.
- Maintain Confidentiality
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 maintain confidentiality and do not discuss a student's disability or accommodation request with other faculty or students, including discussing it in class. 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 held between the faculty member and the student regarding their request for assistance.
- Stay Knowledgeable
Staff at DRES are always available to answer questions and serve as a resource to faculty seeking assistance in providing accommodations to students with disabilities. If faculty are in need of assistance or want to consult with a staff member regarding reasonable accommodations, please contact the DRES department at: