Working With Students With Disabilities ~ FAQ
1. What should I do if students tell me they need an accommodation?
Answer: Begin by asking the students if they have requested accommodations from Learning Support Services. If students have not, they should be informed that all accommodation requests are coordinated through Learning Support Services. These requests will be substantiated by appropriate documentation and reviewed by the Learning Support Services Staff who are trained to examine the documentation and determine eligibility for appropriate accommodations.
2. Do all students with a disability at Linfield College need to register with the Learning Support Services?
Answer: No, it is likely that some students may choose not to disclose a disability. However, if they seek accommodations from you, they must register with the Learning Support Services before they can receive accommodations.
3. What if students informs me that they will not need all the accommodations in my classroom? (Example: The student is eligible for a note-taker, but does not want to use this service.)
Answer: Although students may be eligible for an accommodation, they do not necessarily have to make use of the accommodation. Students have autonomy to decide in which class they wish to use each accommodation.
4. What if students request an accommodation for extended test time after they have failed an exam?
Answer: Accommodations are not provided retroactively. Once students provide appropriate documentation to Learning Support Services, a determination of eligibility will be made.
5. What happens if students request an accommodation letter six weeks into the course, do I still have to provide the accommodation?
Answer: Yes, from that point on the students are eligible to receive accommodation(s), which must be arranged within a reasonable amount of time. Sometimes students will attempt to complete a course without having to use an accommodation, or without disclosing to a particular professor that they are eligible for an accommodation due to a disability. If eligible students decide they need accommodations, and the students make a request to receive the accommodation, the college must comply.
6. If students requests extended time on tests (the day before or the day of the exam) am I required to provide the accommodation?
Answer: Not necessarily, the issue of timeliness in requesting and arranging for testing accommodations is an integral part of receiving accommodations.
7. What if I plan an activity or assignment for my class, but students in the class have a limitation due to their disability preventing them from being able to participate? For example, let's say it is an outdoor field trip, such as a geology trip that includes climbing a mountain to obtain rock samples to examine in a lab, and I have a student who uses a wheelchair?
Answer: According to ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, institutions may not prohibit students with disabilities from having access to a course or program. Keeping the students and the requirements of the course in mind, you should notify the students of the requirement and discuss any modification/accommodation that might help, or any options that may be available so that the students can meet the requirement. For example: Is the students being assessed on their ability to climb the mountain and extract rock samples? Or are the students being assessed on their knowledge in examining the rock samples? If the answer to the latter question is yes, then perhaps the students could attend the outdoor field trip, another students could gather the rock samples, and the students with a disability could examine the samples in the lab.
8. What if there is a problem with a classroom’s physical design that potentially prohibits access to enrolled students with a disability? For example, what if a student who uses a wheelchair cannot fit through a door or the lab tables are too high? How should I respond if I am the faculty member instructing the course or an advisor who is aware of potential problems the student might encounter?
Answer: If students enrolled in a course notify you that they have a disability which prevents their access to the classroom or building, or if students inform you that certain physical limitations exist in the classroom that prevent them from participating, please contact Learning Support Services immediately.
Section 504 and the ADA do not require schools to physically alter historical buildings to accommodate students with disabilities, however schools do need to provide the same access to courses and programs equivalent to nondisabled students. If necessary, the physical location of a particular class may need to be moved to an accessible classroom or location. Also, if necessary, physical adjustments may need to be made to classroom equipment in order to allow access for enrolled students with physical limitations.
In advising, methods that guide students with disabilities away from particular courses or majors for which they are "otherwise qualified" are deemed discriminatory and are not a recommended practice. Keep in mind, however, that general requirements for the degree and the various courses of study offered at the college allow students to choose from a wide range of courses in order to complete their degree or major. Students with disabilities should be advised about the academic requirements for each course they are considering enabling them to make the appropriate decision in their selection. Students should be provided with accurate, detailed information regarding course expectations before selecting a class or a major. Help students to match course selections with their strengths and interests.
9. How should I implement an accommodation for extended time on tests and quizzes?
Answer: Instructors can either provide the extended time to students or students can arrange to take their tests and/or quizzes in the testing room at Learning Support Services.
10. How should I implement an accommodation for testing in a reduced-distraction environment?
Answer: If you are able to provide students with a reduced-distraction environment that is agreeable to you and the students, then please do so. Otherwise, students can arrange to take their test in the testing room at Learning Support Services.
11. If a students needs to use a laptop computer for tests and quizzes, how can I be sure that it is secure so academic dishonesty does not take place?
Answer: Students who need to use a laptop for their tests and quizzes should take them in the Learning Support Services Office. LSS will monitor the student’s use of the laptop.
12. Is it the responsibility of the faculty member to assist students in locating a note-taker?
Answer: No, Learning Support Services makes the arrangements for note-taking assistance. If students request a note-taker, please refer them to Learning Support Services (Malthus Hall). However, if you could recommend a couple of students from the class who you believe would be appropriate note-takers that would be great.
13. What if students have an accommodation to use a calculator, but the course requires the students to know how to perform calculations?
Answer: Use of a calculator is appropriate only if its use does not fundamentally alter the standards of a course. If students are being tested or are required to know how to calculate a mathematical equation then the use of a calculator is not appropriate.
Faculty members set the requirements and standards needed to complete courses and faculty members are able to make decisions that may prohibit the use of an eligible accommodation when such accommodation/modification will "have an adverse impact on the integrity" of a course.
According to civil rights attorney Salome Heyward, faculty members are not required to make modifications that alter the nature and content of what they are teaching. They are also not required to provide accommodations that have an adverse impact on the integrity of the academic program. However, modifications that essentially provide equal access to students with disabilities must be and should be made.
14. What if students have an accommodation to tape-record class lectures and I feel this is a copyright infringement?
Answer: Students can tape record lectures for their personal academic use as an accommodation as established by law; however, a Confidentiality Agreement acknowledging copyright can be created between the professor and the students upon request by the professor to Learning Support Services.
15. What is an assistive hearing device or FM system and what is my role in providing the accommodation?
Answer: Students with hearing impairments may request your assistance in the use of an assistive hearing device such as an FM system that amplifies sounds a hearing aid cannot pick up. This system also allows the students to amplify the speaker’s voice, which may be farther in proximity, without amplifying everything within close proximity. The speaker will wear a transmitter, which attaches to a pocket or can be worn around the neck and a receiver will be attached to the student’s hearing aid. Students will have a device to control the volume, which links the two wireless components (transmitter and receiver) together. Students who use FM systems are well versed in the operation of these devices and will be able to orient you to their use. Students also keep the equipment with them, carrying the equipment from one class to another. If you have any questions, please contact the Learning Support Services Office (Malthus Hall) 503-883-2562.
16. If my students have an accommodation for tests and quizzes in either an accessible word document format or in Braille, how do I implement this accommodation?
Answer: Time is of the essence in accommodating students who have low vision or blindness, because valuable information in the class can be lost quickly with delays in implementing the accommodations. Tests, quizzes, and all class handouts should be provided to the students in a Microsoft Word document format or another format that is deemed compatible with the student’s reader or speech recognition software program. The student’s accommodation notification will address any specialized needs and provide information regarding the appropriate format for all documents.
17. How do I implement the accommodation for a scribe?
Answer: Scribes are utilized for students who are unable to write, and are generally used during test-taking or some in-class assignments. If students are eligible for a scribe, check with them to see if they will need to use a scribe for in-class assignments as well. If so, contact Learning Support Services (503-883-2562) in advance to arrange for a scribe. Students eligible to use a scribe for test-taking will take their tests in the office of LSS with a professional staff member serving as their scribe.
18. What if students have a medical condition or disability hindering their ability to attend class? Is permission to miss classes given as an accommodation and if not, how should these issues be addressed?
Answer: Modification of an attendance policy is not automatically provided as an accommodation at Linfield College, instead such issues are deferred to the specific faculty member involved since they are the one who sets the requirements and standards needed to complete the course. Professionals in the field of disabilities in postsecondary education suggest that attendance policies be established and clarified in advance, instead of retroactively.