Faculty Guide for Students with Disabilities (FAQ)

What exactly is an accommodation?

An academic accommodation is defined as any alteration in the usual manner of teaching, demonstrating, or evaluating a course objective, that enables a qualified student with a disability to have an equal opportunity to participate in the educational experience.

How do you determine accommodations?

The particular accommodations that a student utilizes will depend upon their particular characteristics and needs, as well as the demands of the course and learning environment. Accommodations are developed from the individual student’s documentation that is provided to Accessibility Services. Two students with the same disability may qualify for and be eligible to receive different accommodations.

What accommodations are appropriate?

Accessibility Services staff grants accommodations to students with documented disabilities based on the recommendations of medical or mental health professionals and based on the needs of students. These accommodations should not compromise the essential elements or objectives of the course. 

Am I being fair to other students by granting one student an accommodation?

Appropriate accommodations do not compromise the essential elements of the course, nor do they weaken the academic standards or integrity of the course. Accommodations simply provide an alternative way of accomplishing the course requirements by eliminating or reducing disability-related barriers. The goal of accommodations is to provide a level playing field, not an unfair advantage.

When do I have to comply with a student’s request for accommodations?

The law provides the student with a disability the right to request accommodations from SCTCC once he/she has provided the college with appropriate documentation. In some cases, SCTCC may allow for temporary services while a student is in the process of obtaining documentation of his/her disability. The documentation is kept by Accessibility Services, and is held in a confidential manner. Privacy laws protect students from having to disclose such information from most people, including faculty and staff. Accessibility Services staff ask students to discuss their accommodations with faculty and staff directly and to provide you with their Accommodations Plan once it is approved. When you are notified of the accommodation(s), you should honor them immediately.

What happens if I do not provide the formally requested accommodation?

The student can take legal action against you and/or SCTCC. Denial of accommodations could be considered a violation of a student’s civil rights. Colleges and universities cannot discriminate against qualified people with disabilities in recruitment, admission, or treatment after admission. If you have concerns about a particular accommodation request you should discuss it with Accessibility Services.

How do I know if a student is “faking” a disability?

Accessibility Services has established policies and procedures for the documentation needed for each disability. It is the job of Accessibility Services to determine eligibility for accommodations. Faculty and staff members should not expect to see diagnostic information.

If I receive a student’s Accommodation Plan in the middle of the semester, am I obligated to provide accommodations?

Yes, accommodations are in effect once a student has an established Accommodations Plan. In a college setting, it is the student’s responsibility for requesting and initiating all disability-related services and accommodations. If a student does not have an Accommodations Plan, please refer him/her to Accessibility Service. Accommodations begin when the Accommodations Plan is established and are not retroactive and only apply upon receipt.

How can I encourage the student to talk to me about a disability?

Each student has the right to determine when, and if to disclose the nature of a disability to faculty or staff. We know that communication is important and we encourage students to discuss their learning needs, as well as their strengths and weaknesses. Some students, especially those with non-visible disabilities, such as psychological or learning disabilities, may need time to feel comfortable to discuss their disability. Some students may never choose or need to discuss their disability.

Why does Accessibility Services keep asking me to choose a textbook for my class in the fall? It’s two months away, and I can’t decide right now.

Students whose disability impacts their reading may receive an accommodation for their course reading materials (textbooks, handouts, syllabi, lab manuals) to be in an accessible format. Formats include Braille, large print, audio or e-text. Advanced planning is essential in the provision of alternate format print materials. Depending upon the particular format, it can take up to 3 weeks for e-text and 3 or more months for a Braille document. 

I have a student with a disability who is behind in the assignments. This student has not done well on the exams. May I fail the student if she or he does not earn the required points to pass the class?

A student with a disability should be held to the same standards as any other student in the class. You may wish to contact Accessibility Services and discuss your concerns, and you would certainly want to talk to the student just as you would with any other student.

Can I provide accommodations to a student who does not present an Accommodation Plan?

If a student asks for an accommodation but does not present an Accommodation Plan from Accessibility Services verifying eligibility for accommodations, it is strongly recommended that you ask the student to contact the Accessibility Services. If a student asks you for an accommodation, and that specific accommodation is not listed in an approved Accommodations Plan, you are not obligated to provide it.

Do I have to provide accommodations listed on the Accommodation Plan if they do not fit with my philosophy or style?

Yes. Federal law requires that students who are registered with the Accessibility Services are entitled to the accommodations listed in the approved Accommodation Plan. Providing accommodations is a shared obligation of SCTCC faculty and staff. The accommodations should not compromise the essential elements or objectives of the course.

If I receive a student’s Accommodations Plan dated from a previous academic year, am I obligated to accept this?

Generally speaking, yes. It is rare that a student’s disability changes over time which would lead to different accommodations. However, students are asked to update/request new Accommodations Plans from Accessibility Services every academic year. Please advise the student to contact Accessibility Services to update/request a new Accommodations Plans if needed.

How can test accommodations be arranged in the classroom?

There are advantages for students to take the exams with the rest of the class or within the department. If only extended time is required, students can either come before or stay after the rest of the students. If that is not possible, you can arrange to have the exam proctored by you or another staff member in your office or a separate room. Please be mindful of the confidentiality of students when making arrangements.

Does extra time for exams apply to take-home or online exams?

Yes. Extended time on take-home exams should be agreed upon by the student and instructor when the take-home exam is given, and Accessibility Services recommends that the extension be put in writing. For online exams, the amount of time given to take the exam can and should be adjusted by the instructor according to the extended time described on the student’s Accommodations Plan.

Can I give pop quizzes if I have students who have approved accommodations?

Yes. However, please know that this will involve coordinating the exam with staff in Accessibility Services. We ask that you administer pop quizzes at the beginning or end of class periods to help maintain confidentiality of the student.

How do I plan for accommodations of students with disabilities on field trips, practicums and internships?

Students should be made aware of upcoming field trips, practicums, and internships with enough notice to arrange accommodations. The accommodations to be made will depend on the job requirements, destinations, and the disabilities involved. We advise faculty and staff to contact Accessibility Services as soon as field trips, practicums and internships are established.

What if I am unable to proctor the student's exams?

If you are unable to proctor the student’s exams because of their need for accommodations, alternative testing arrangements can be made with the Accessibility Services. Students are responsible for setting up a testing time three school days prior to each exam they need to take with Accessibility Services. Once the student sets up a testing appointment with Accessibility Services, you will be emailed a confirmation of the scheduled exam. 

Once you receive the appointment confirmation, you are responsible to provide Accessibility Services with the exam prior to the scheduled time.  Additionally, please notify Accessibility Services with any specific instructions for the exam (for example, open book, use of notes, use of calculators, no cell phones, etc.) 

When the student has completed the exam, it will be promptly returned to you. Additionally, you will be notified immediately if the student does not arrive for the exam.

If a student has note taking accommodations, do I have to give them notes when they are absent?

Instructors and note takers are not obligated to give students notes for the times they are not in class unless prior arrangements have been made.  If the student begins missing class regularly, the faculty or staff member should notify Accessibility Services.

How does an instructor accommodate the need for a scribe or reader?

If a student needs a scribe or reader for an exam, the test can be administered in Accessibility Services where a staff member will provide the accommodation to them. Scribes and readers do not assist the student with course content and are only used to either write what the student says, or read the exam questions aloud. Whenever possible, we scan the exam into e-text and use Assistive Technology to administer exams.  

What is Universal Design and how can I use it?

According to the Center for Universal Design (CUD) at North Carolina State University, Universal Design "is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design".  For more information and resources, please visit the University of Washington’s Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology (DO-IT) initiative.