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Guidelines for Accommodating Students with Disabilities

Once we know someone has a disability, we must follow two rules:

  • Rule 1: No discrimination. Ways to avoid discrimination are: not to make assumptions about what persons with disabilities can do; do not prejudge a person with a disability; never request a student to state whether they  have a disability even if it's a voluntary answer; do not discourage students with disabilities from participating in any activity or project unless you think it will jeopardize their safety or others.
  • Rule 2: We must reasonably accommodate students with disabilities. You must take positive steps, if requested, to place a person with a disability on equal footing as long as it does not impose undue hardship on the University.

For professors, the types of accommodations you must make will generally relate to: 1) the way in which you teach your course or where you teach your course; and 2) the way in which you give your exams and where you give them.

Changes to the environment may have to be made such as allowing guide dogs, changing physical structure of classroom for wheelchair users to move, changing location of classrooms, etc. Additional equipment may be needed (Braille text books and tests, large print books, books on tape, readers, transcribers, notetakers, etc.). The University is not required to provide auxiliary items of a personal nature.

We do not have to relax our standards of performance. We are called to provide reasonable accommodations--not perfect accommodations. Do not offer an accommodation unless it is requested. Be creative. As long as it is still a reasonable accommodation to the student, choose the one which is the least expensive, the least disruptive, or the most convenient for the University.

Below are a few examples of types of requests you can expect and how these requests are accommodated:

  1. With visually impaired and students with learning disabilities, you may receive a request for the use of a tape recorder in class.
  2. With any disabled student you may receive a request for special test arrangements (proctoring). A test may have to be read to or written for a student, for example, or a student may request additional time on a test.
  3. Visually impaired students or students with learning disabilities may have difficulty in meeting the reading requirements of a course and you may be asked to make reading lists and handouts available in advance. This will allow students to have the materials taped and ready for use at the appropriate time.
  4. Students may wish to bring a talking calculator or a lap-top computer to class, use a portable lab station, or run their hands over a 3-D model or map.
  5. Students may have more than the average number of absences from class due to their disability. Clear communication between the student and the professor will foster understanding of and appropriate expectations for both.
  6. Consideration about accessibility in the planning of field trips may have to be made.

In short, you may receive a request for service that appears to be out of the ordinary, or at least beyond any previous experiences with students. Contact the Disability Services Office anytime you have a question.