What are the Higher Education provisions of the American Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973?
Both of these acts basically state that students with disabilities must have an equal opportunity to participate and benefit in higher education. This includes any course, course of study or activity offered. Locations, formats and activities must be modified for equal access unless they are an essential element of a program or course for all students.
What can I do to make my classroom environment open to students with disabilities?
It is important to remember first and foremost that people with disabilities are jut that, people first. We suggest that you make an announcement the first day of class regarding your availability to meet with students to discuss their accommodation needs. We also recommend that you include the DSS sample syllabus statement. Please do not label or stereotype students. Not all disabilities are visible, not all students with a learning disability will read poorly and not all people with a visual impairment will need Braille, and so on. If you have a student who states they are "connected" with DSS, but you have not received an emailed Letter of Accommodation (LOA), please have them contact our office as soon as possible.
Does a student receive "special privileges" under ADA and Section 504?
No, students do not receive special privileges under the ADA and Section 504. An accommodation is not intended to give students with disabilities an unfair advantage, but equal access to the education offered at Baldwin Wallace. BW has a right to maintain academic standards, integrity and freedom. This includes determining fundamental requirements of courses and programs, while maintaining and enforcing conduct codes. The ADA and 504 legislation does not state that students should pass or be excused from performing essential elements and skills simply because of a disability. It is important to expect the same academic performance, with requested accommodations from a student with or without a disability.
How do I know what type of academic accommodation a student needs?
DSS determines appropriate academic accommodations through an interview with the student and documentation from a medical professional or qualified diagnostician. Before you make an academic accommodation, you should receive via email an LOA from DSS with the student's name and approved accommodations.
A student may choose to use any combination of approved accommodations in a particular class. We encourage the student to schedule a meeting with you to discuss how the accommodations will be implemented in your course. If the student does not meet with you, you can assume he or she has chosen not to use the accommodations. If you have questions about the academic accommodations, please contact DSS.
What if a student is performing poorly for no apparent reason?
Students can have academic problems for a number of reasons that may include work or family. If you are concerned about a student who is struggling in your course, we encourage you to talk to him or her directly. You may also want to submit a Because We Care so someone in Student Affairs is aware of a potential issue. You can also contact Alsace Toure who will reach out to the student directly.
If you have or have not received an LOA, treat the student as you would any other student struggling in your course. You may ask the student if he or she has had trouble in the past and how they overcame those obstacles. If the situation is due to undue stress, we suggest making a referral to the Counseling Center or referring the student for Academic Coaching as self-management may be an issue.
Do I have the right to know the students diagnosis?
In some very limited circumstances, DSS may provide faculty with information on the student's disability or diagnosis. Typically though, faculty do not have a right to know the students disability or diagnosis. If a student discloses his or her diagnosis, it is important that you maintain that confidentiality. If you have specific questions please contact DSS.
Does a student with a disability need to request accommodations within a specific time frame?
Yes and no. Once classes begin, students must make classroom and testing accommodation requests to instructors in a timely manner. As an instructor, you are not obligated to provide extended time if a student does not ask until the test is being distributed in class. Also, accommodations are not retroactive. For example, if a student fails a test then requests accommodations afterwards, he or she is not allowed a retake. In addition, some students may seek academic accommodations after the semester has begun, again the accommodations are not retroactive.
If you use handouts, online streaming media, PowerPoint or other supplemental materials and have a student who receives alternate text format such as captioning, large print or audio, please contact DSS in advance so we may assist in the preparation of these materials. If a student does not have timely equal access to the course information, grading extensions may be necessary.
Students with visual impairments or needing alternative text (books) are provided with accounts to Bookshare and Learning Ally. If they are not able to locate their textbooks on either of these two sights, they are asked to submit an Alternative Text request. Faculty are not responsible for locating alternative texts for students. If the student has this as an accommodation and contacts you, please refer them to DSS or give us a call directly. Click here for more information on the Alternative Text Request process.
Can I provide accommodations to students without receipt of a Letter of Accommodation?
We strongly discourage faculty from providing accommodations without an LOA from DSS, as it puts BW at risk when faculty provide students with accommodations who have not been formerly verified as having a documented disability. Please click here for more information on the possible legal ramifications (we call them the Three Jeopardies) when faculty provide accommodations to students with undocumented disabilities.
What if I disagree with the accommodation requested?
Some faculty are particularly concerned with students recording lectures because they feel it may infringe on freedom of speech, limit interaction or compromise potential copyright. Under most circumstances, an instructor may not deny the use of a recording device as an approved accommodation. Students with this accommodation are required to destroy recordings after the class has ended. If you have questions about accommodations please contact DSS.
How does does a disability affect the University attendance policy?
Some students with documented disabilities have conditions that can have as a consequence unexpected absences. If a student has a "Flexible Attendance" accommodation, it is included in his/her LOA. This accommodation does not allow for an unlimited number of absences or indefinite due date extensions. DSS will communicate with you at the beginning of the semester to get information on your course and discuss students who receive this accommodation. Please see the Flexible Attendance Accommodation for more information.
Am I required to provide the accommodation if the student is auditing the course, has non-degree status or is an international student?
As a faculty member, you are required by law to provide accommodations for the students as outlined in the LOA. Any student with a documented disability is eligible for all services if the institution receives federal assistance. International students are entitled to the same protection from nondiscrimination on the basis of disability as are US citizens.
What suggestions do you have regarding language in my course syllabi for students with documented disabilities?
Please click here for the syllabus statement.