Faculty play a critical role in providing accommodations to students. The following resources are available to assist faculty in orientating themselves with Disability Services and when preparing accessible classes.
Contact Disability Services
You can always consult the Disability Services Office (DSO) with any questions or concerns. Open communication between faculty and Disability Services is important to us, and we thank you for your continued partnership.
Resources and Guides
Frequently Asked Questions about Disability Services
FAQ's modified from Rutgers University Office of Disability Services website
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act requires that reasonable academic adjustments (accommodations) be provided to “otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities” in order to compensate for the disability and make the material and college program/activity equally accessible. A disability under the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Amendment Act (ADAA or ADAAA) is described as a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits a major life activity or major bodily function. One such disability that students often struggle with in college is a learning disability. There are several specific types of learning disabilities, but the term is used to describe a classification of a variety of disorders which involves problems in neurological processing involved in understanding, perceiving, or in using language, spoken or written, which may manifest in problems related to listening, thinking, speaking, reading, writing or doing mathematical calculations.
In disability law, accommodations are not spelled out for any particular disability. Accommodations must address each disability individually along with its relationship to acquiring the information or skills required in each course and its affect on major life activity. A few commonly-requested accommodations include extended time on tests, testing in a reduced distraction environment, use of a calculator, use of a reader, permission to type all written responses and recording lecture. There are many other accommodations that are also available to students under specific circumstances.
Ideally, the accommodations are agreed upon at the beginning of each semester through a cooperative effort that includes documentation, disability services, the student and sometimes the faculty member. This situation is not always possible when questions of confidentiality arise such as when a student chooses not to disclose information about a disability to an instructor. In the ideal situation, the instructor is the expert in course content and academic expectations; the student knows best what may or may not work for his or her particular disability, and the disability services representative is a resource for ideas as well as the responsible individual for determining that the college is doing everything legally necessary to meet the needs of students with disabilities with reasonable accommodations and assistive devices in a timely manner.
If an instructor receives an accommodation form from a student with a disability and has a question about accommodations requested in the letter, the instructor should take the form to Disability Services. A discussion can occur concerning the accommodation. Instructors should not make any changes to accommodation forms and the current accommodation notification form should be followed until a determination is made by the Disability Services Coordinator. If changes in accommodations occur, a new form will be issued. Instructors may not prohibit a student’s use of a reasonable auxiliary aid or accommodation if that prohibition limits the student’s full access to or participation in class. However, accommodations should never alter the academic standards and requirements of the class. Academic accommodations do not guarantee success; they only provide access for the student with a disability.
Confidential medical reports and psychological information may contain specific information and diagnoses that result in a recommendation for an accommodation that may not seem appropriate at first glance. Disability Services gives careful attention to each student’s evaluation/test results/diagnoses and accommodations are not recommended without thoughtful, detailed consideration of disability law along with opinions from licensed medical professionals.
Accommodations may change at any time during the semester if new medical or psychological information is obtained, if current accommodations are evaluated as ineffective, or in the status of the student’s disability changes. Certain disabilities may not affect a student’s learning or behavior. However, certain medical conditions, such as multiple sclerosis and cancer, may affect a student’s attendance and learning only at certain times during the semester and not at other times. Each student’s situation must be evaluated individually.
The instructor should refer the student to Disability Services, 3rd floor library on Main Campus. Students should identify themselves to Disability Services as early in the semester as possible so that individual circumstances can be addressed and referrals can be made, if applicable. Accommodations are not applicable retroactively.
Speculating or suggesting to a student that you think there is a disability present is not recommended. Ask the student to meet with you privately and discuss problems you have observed in class. Ask if the student has had similar problems in other classes or in past educational experiences. If the student discloses a disability or seems interested in pursuing further information about a possible disability, please recommend that student to Disability Services, 3rd floor library on Main Campus.
The student is responsible for contacting and working with Disability Services, providing expert medical and/or psychological evaluations, requesting academic accommodations in a timely manner and distributing the accommodation letter to each instructor. The student with a disability is also responsible for meeting the essential academic requirements of the class and abiding by the procedures and processes outlined in each class syllabus. Students with disabilities must also meet the standards of the college’s Student Code of Conduct.
Reasonable accommodations are never unfair. The law does not require preferential treatment, but it does require that accommodations be sufficient for the student with a disability to have an equal opportunity to access and benefit from the programs and activities offered by the college. Since some disabilities are “invisible” (such as ADD/ADHD and Learning Disability) other students may have questions. Explain that you are doing what is best for the student and what is required by law. Do not discuss the disability or the student or try to justify the accommodation.
An Accommodation Notification is a document provided by Disability Services that explains to faculty, and/or Campus Center staff, the reasonable accommodations to be provided to a student. An Accommodation Notification is given to students who have met all of the following criteria:
- Submitted appropriate documentation to verify their disability
- Connected with a representative from Disability Services
- Have been approved as an individual who is covered under Section 504
- Are eligible to receive reasonable accommodations at Finger Lakes Community College
The letter contains course/test accommodations approved by Disability Services based on the student’s disability. The notification serves as a way for the student to make themselves and their approved accommodations known to you. It is your responsibility to work with the student and Disability Services to ensure their accommodations are met.
Students are encouraged to present the Accommodation Notification to their professor(s) as early as possible. However, it should be understood that under some circumstances (e.g.. student was approved for accommodations later in the semester, student was recently diagnosed, temporary disability) the student may submit their letter later in the semester. Keep in mind that accommodations are not retroactive and are effective only upon submission of the Accommodation Notification to the professor.
Please discuss the notification in private and not in front of other students. This approach protects the student’s confidentiality regarding their disability and promotes a more healthy exchange between the student and the professor. During this meeting, you should not ask the nature of the student’s disability, nor make assumptions regarding the type of disability. The purpose of this meeting is for you and the student to both understand the approved accommodations, and the specific manner in which these accommodations will be implemented in your course. If further assistance is needed, you can contact the Disability Services office at 585.785.1441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If a student has not given you an Accommodation Notification, you are not legally required to provide any accommodations to the student. Please direct the student to contact Disability Services directly.
If a student is asking for assistance due to a temporary condition such as a broken arm, or sudden chronic illness, please refer to Disability Services.
For administrative and courtesy purposes, students should submit the test request form located at www.flcc.edu/test. On the form, students provide details about the course, the date and time of the exam and whether they have any potential time conflicts on the exam time. The purpose is so that Disability Services can secure space for the exam and make sure we have the necessary resources to proctor their exam. Students are aware of this process. Upon submission of the test request form, a confirmation email is sent to both the student and Disability Services. A Disability Services staff member will then forward the confirmation to the professor.
Faculty may accommodate students directly for evening classes and/or weekend classes. The student does not need to submit an exam request if the professor will accommodate the student. It is advised that instructors who wish to accommodate their students consult with Disability Services regarding the requested accommodations and what this will look like.
If a faculty member is unable to proctor an evening/weekend exam due to time or limited resources, Disability Services asks that the instructor be flexible with the text date/time so that we can proctor the exam with accommodations for them.
Disability Services is very flexible with how and when we receive the exams. You can submit the exam any of the following ways:
- Email attachment to email@example.com
- Hand deliver the exam to Disability Services, 3rd floor library (for campus center proctoring, you will bring the test to the Academic Support Center or send electronically to the Assistant Director)
- Sent via Interoffice Mail to Disability Services
NOTE: If a student signs up for testing at the very last minute and the faculty member is unable to deliver the test in time, a Disability Services Staff member will pick up the test from your classroom at the beginning of class time.
Disability Services recognizes the importance and sensitivity of administering exams for faculty. We make every effort to ensure the security and integrity of each exam. No phones or backpacks are allowed with the student. Every exam is strictly proctored.
Once acquired, exams are placed in an envelope with all the instructors’ instructions for the proctor, and carefully monitored up until and throughout the exam administration. If tests are given to Disability Services well in advance, please know that the exams are kept in a locked office and cannot be accessed by students. Upon completion, exams are returned to faculty by their preferred method as soon as possible.
Exams taken on a computer are constantly monitored by a proctor, with internet access on the computer disabled (unless the student requires internet access – Blackboard exam, Stat Crunch). Only a computer provided by our office is used for exams, unless the instructor gives specific instructions that the student may use their own laptop (possibly on open note/book exams).
You are not responsible for providing a copy of your personal notes to the student. If a student has note-taking assistance (peer note taker) listed on their Accommodation Notification and the student lets you know that they will be using this accommodation, your assistance is requested in recruiting a note taker from the class. This can be done by making a general announcement to the class “A fellow classmate is in need of a note taker and I am asking for a volunteer. It is a paid position – you must have good handwriting, excellent attendance and take detailed and organized notes. If you are interested, please see me after class.” Please refer one volunteer of your choosing up to Disability Services to fill out necessary paperwork as soon as possible. The note taker then supplies a copy of his/her notes to Disability Services. Copies can be made free of charge in the Disability Services area.
If you provide notes and/or slides needed for this class, and you do not feel that an additional note taker is necessary, please let us know.
If a student has permission to record lecture as part of their note-taking assistance accommodation, they shall present you with the Recorded Lecture Agreement prior to recording.
We strongly encourage all professors to consider accessibility when creating/choosing their course materials (i.e. PowerPoint slides, handouts, textbooks, etc.). Students use an array of tools and devices to read and access alternate format materials. One example includes text-to-speech readers such as JAWS and Kurzweil. When formatted correctly, this provides student with the audio version of the text which supplements what they might be missing when reading the document on their own.