Faculty Accommodation HandBook (FAHB)
We consulted with the Associate Deans, Chairs, and many of you for feedback on how to provide additional support in promoting access and providing accommodations. This resources is the result of the the collaboration among the SDC and faculty. Teamwork makes the dream work!
Remote Access & Lecture Capture
For students who require remote instruction, SDC will work with students and their advisors to identify:
- Online and remote instruction courses already being offered that satisfy degree requirements
- Refer students to their department to request a waiver or substitute course that is offered online or through remote instruction
In the cases that the above options are not able to be satisfied, the SDC will contact you (faculty) to fulfill accommodations that may include:
- Remote access to hybrid or face-to-face lectures through lecture capture technology
- Providing the student advance copies of lecture presentation materials (e.g. PowerPoint slides)
- Audio recording lectures for note-takers and transcribers who cannot be present in class
- Other relevant accommodations necessary to provide remote access and participation in course activities, including but not limited to lecture, recitation, labs, and other activities.
In addition, due to social distancing practices recommended by the CDC, the Alternative Testing Center will not be able to provide the 700+ weekly exams typically provided in the ATC space while maintaining social distancing. The SDC will require support with providing accommodated exams from faculty during this time. Many departments at CSU have always proctored their accommodated exams and this has been a tremendous service and support for students. For some departments, this is new territory. These responsibilities will include:
- For in-person exams:
- Identifying and reserving rooms
- Identifying and scheduling a proctor for each student who requires an accommodation for extended time, use of notes/ notecard/ word bank, use of calculator, bathroom breaks, breaks in the room, snacks, use of medical device, and others.
- Maintaining confidentiality in the exam accommodation process
- For online exams:
- Adding extended time on Canvas
- Adding extended time and noting other accommodations in proctoring platforms if utilizing online proctoring services
- Maintaining confidentiality in the exam accommodation process
You may also notice some other accommodations in your courses:
- American Sign Language interpreters will be back in face-to-face courses to provide communication services for Deaf and hard of hearing students, so plan your space accordingly. For remote instruction or online courses, interpreters must continue to be invited to all live streamed content such as Zoom/Teams meetings.
- You will continue to be contacted about captioning videos if you course includes audio/visual content and you have a Deaf/hard of hearing student in your class who needs this accommodation. Auto-captions (e.g. Youtube or Zoom) are insufficient for access to video content. If you are contacted, your participation is mandatory.
- Transcribers and note-takers will continue to provide services to students with these accommodations, but depending on the space needs for the class, they may not be physically present in the classroom. This may mean your class is audio-recorded to allow the accommodation to be provided.
- When possible, the use of face shields or clear masks will provide enhanced access for students who are Deaf or hard of hearing. We encourage these options for instructors and interpreters and SDC staff will be wearing these in the classroom.
- Assignment extensions and/or attendance flexibility may be added to some students’ accommodations if their health conditions are exacerbated by the pandemic crisis, contract an illness, may need additional care or are quarantined due to exposure.
If you find yourself in need of support, here are your resources:
On Campus Exams
Students with an extended time accommodation will need either 1.5x or 2x the class test time.
- If the class is taking an exam that is 50 minutes a student with 1.5x will have 75 minutes for the exam, and a student with 2x will have 100 minutes.
Limited Distraction Environment:
This is a classroom with 15 students or less. Faculty will need to find a space on campus to provide this accommodation.
- Classroom availability and room reserve can be found at https://schedule.colostate.edu/EMSWebApp/.
- Look for a classroom with at least 20 seats.
- Building Proctors are also fantastic resources and might have rooms to reserve that are not available on the room reservation list.
- Conference room, small 4 person conference rooms.
Small Conference Room:
Students with a small conference room accommodation will need a room that holds 4 people or less.
- Small conference rooms in buildings are typically ideal.
- Building proctors will be able to reserve small conference room spaces.
Students with a room alone accommodation will need to be in a room with only a proctor.
- Students can take the exam in your office with you as the proctor.
- Several buildings on campus have study rooms that would be ideal for a room alone accommodation with a TA or GTA as the proctor if you are not available.
Students with the Accommodation use Technology to assist them during the exam.
- Text to Speech,
- Connect with the Student Disability Center to move forward with this accommodation
Breaks/ Bathroom Breaks:
Students with this accommodation will take breaks throughout their exam.
- Breaks: Student stays within the proctoring environment, but they might need to stand or move around.
- Bathroom Breaks: Students with this accommodations are approved through our office to use the bathroom when needed based on their disability and documentation.
Notes, Word Banks, Formula Sheet:
Students with the accommodation of notes, word banks, and formula sheets will be working with you to create these to use on the exam.
Please do not hesitate to give the Alternative Testing Center a call with any questions. You can reach us at 970-491-3574 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and Alisha.Zmuda@colostate.edu.
Add extended time through Canvas. Follow this process to implement this accommodation in your course:
- Click “Quizzes” on the left course menu
- Click on the name of the exam/quiz you want to update for this student
- Click “Moderate This Quiz” on the right side of the screen
- Click the checkbox next to the student’s name on the list that appears
- A button will appear that says, “Change Extensions for 1 selected students,” click that (it may appear at the bottom of your list of students)
- In menu that pops up, type the extra amount of time that student should get in addition to your currently allotted time in the box labeled “Extra Time on Every Attempt. ”For example, if your exam is timed for 90 minutes, and the student’s accommodation allows for double time, you would type “90” in that box.
- Click Save
- Respondus will pull the extended time from Canvas.
- Students with Assistive Technology are not able to use Respondus for exams.
Please do not hesitate to give the Alternative Testing Center a call with any questions. You can reach us at 970-491-3574 or via email at email@example.com and Alisha.Zmuda@colostate.edu.
What is a reasonable accommodation?
A reasonable accommodation modifies the environment (including policies and/or procedures) or a task in order to provide access to a program or activity in the most equitable and feasible manner available. In Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, these accommodations are also referred to as auxiliary aids and academic adjustments.
An accommodation is designed to minimize the effects of a disability so a qualified student can benefit or participate in an activity to the fullest extent possible. Accommodations are determined individually for each student and are to be appropriate to the specific limitation manifested by a disability.
A reasonable accommodation is not required if such accommodation would significantly alter the essential or fundamental objective of an academic program or class. Students are responsible for requesting accommodations in a timely manner and must first be recognized as eligible for the accommodation through the Student Disability Center (SDC).
The underlying purpose of reasonable accommodations is to enable students to participate and be evaluated on the basis of their abilities, not their disabilities, as well as providing equal access to information in the classroom. Reasonable accommodations are mandatory based on federal regulations. As faculty and staff, we share the obligation to participate in the process of providing them.
Students with physical/learning impairments or chronic physical/mental illnesses or conditions are categorized as ‘disabled’ according to federal non-discrimination laws. As such, they are eligible for reasonable accommodations based on the limitations that are manifested. Needs vary among individuals with the same disability and a student may have multiple disabilities that have to be taken into consideration. Some students may have disabilities that are not readily apparent. Therefore, please do not assume that a student is not disabled. If a student presents you with a letter of accommodation from the SDC, the student has submitted sufficient information to verify the disability (impairment/illness/condition) and is officially identified as having a disability. For more information on why reasonable accommodations are necessary, go to Why Provide Accommodations
Reasonable accommodations may require adjustments to how courses are conducted and/or how program requirements can be met. However, reasonable accommodations are not meant to alter the fundamental nature of the course or program or the essential learning outcomes of the course or program.
Students are encouraged to meet with SDC staff at the beginning of the semester; however, they may choose to identify as having a disability at any time throughout the semester. Although you may encourage students to identify themselves at the start of the semester, you cannot require students to identify by a specific point.
Reasonable accommodations can range from a need to change the presentation of materials to provide different ways for the student to demonstrate meeting the learning outcomes of a course/program. Reasonable accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis and not all students with disabilities need them. While the primary driving force in the process is the student, faculty also have a stake in the process and the SDC exists to be partners to both you and the student in achieving the end goal – a reasonable accommodation.
In certain situations, reasonable accommodations may require modifications of standard classroom practices. The following are examples of accommodations that may be necessary to ensure equal access to education:
- Provide necessary accommodations for exam taking, e.g., provide a copy of the exam to the SDC where the student can receive the accommodations needed.
- Provide alternative ways to fulfill course requirements.
- Allow assistive technology such as audio recorders, electronic note-takers, and laptop computers to be used in the classroom.
- Modify attendance requirements and/or assignment deadlines unless these are fundamental components of the structure of the course.
- Share copies of PowerPoints and/or other lecture notes.
- Consider alternative ways of assessing students that allow for the student’s academic abilities to be measured and not their disabilities.
- If you are located in a classroom that is not accessible you may be asked to move classrooms if a student with a mobility impairment is enrolled in your course.
- You are encouraged to implement Universal Design for Learning principals when designing your course.
Why Provide Accommodations
The University is required through federal mandates to be non-discriminatory based on disability in all its programs and services. These obligations apply to all individuals employed by the university. The process of non-discrimination has as its goal to minimize the effects of a disability that results from an environment created without consideration for the vast diversity of human characteristics in physical and/or mental ability. Accommodations are provided to ensure that qualified students are able to participate in and benefit from any university program or service.
What is Section 504/ADA
No otherwise qualified student shall be excluded solely on the basis of disability from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination under, any academic, research, occupational training, housing, counseling, financial aid, physical education, athletics, recreation, transportation, other extra-curricular, or other postsecondary education program or activity (from Section 504, Rehabilitation Act of 1973).
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 established certain procedures and obligations for all higher education institutions that receive federal funds. The rules and regulations associated with this law are the guidelines by which the university is held accountable for non-discriminatory behavior towards individuals with disabilities. These rules and regulations went into effect in 1977 after several demonstrations by people with disabilities who took over federal buildings across the country. The protest was specifically over the publishing delay of these rules and regulations.
The ADA, or Americans with Disabilities Act, and its amendments represent federal legislation that reinforces the requirements that ensure the University does not discriminate, based on disability, against qualified individuals who have disabilities. It was signed into law in 1990. The non-discrimination obligations of the ADA are patterned after the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504. Both acts stress providing equally effective access to all university programs.
Students who meet the basic requirements (otherwise qualified) of a program or activity cannot be denied access to any program or activity offered or sponsored by the University solely on the basis of disability. Eligibility criteria that screen out or tend to screen out individuals with disabilities are also not allowed UNLESS such criteria are necessary for successful participation in the program or activity.
The regulations of both acts also outline the types of auxiliary aids and/or reasonable accommodations the university is to make for qualified students with disabilities. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Moving classes/activities to accessible locations
- Providing alternatives to print material
- Allowing the digital recording of lectures
- Providing sign language or oral interpreters
- Changing the length of time for completion of assignments and other academic activities
- Providing adaptive computer equipment
- Adapting or modifying testing situations
However, accommodations are not meant to change the fundamental or essential elements of a program or activity and they are not designed to guarantee a student’s success.
As defined by Section 504 and the ADA, a person with a disability is someone who currently has, has a history or record of, or is considered to have, a physical or mental impairment or condition that significantly limits a major life activity. These activities include, but are not limited to: walking, seeing, hearing, learning, breathing, etc. While some disabilities are apparent, others may not be. Verification of the presence of a disability is supported by appropriate documentation when necessary.
Although the majority of students with disabilities have permanent conditions, students with temporary disabilities may be eligible for support services depending upon the availability of resources (although not required by law). Accommodating a student with a temporary disability can aid in the retention of the student since many temporary disabilities can disrupt a student’s normal functional abilities for academic activities (e.g. taking notes or writing exams due to hand surgery).
An otherwise qualified person is anyone who meets the basic requirements of a program or activity. Students with disabilities at Colorado State University have all met the basic requirements for admission to the University. Eligibility for accommodations or auxiliary aids is determined by information supplied by the student including appropriate diagnostic documentation by qualified professionals.
This is a sample accommodation letter for Mary Test, our fictional test student. The main components of an accommodation letter include:
- Student name and CSU ID
- Course name and Professor Name
- Exam Accommodations
- Classroom Accommodations
- Confidentiality Statement
- Fundamental Alteration Statement
- Accommodation Specialist contact information
When reading an accommodation letter, it is helpful to check:
- Is this student in my class?
- Am I prepared to provide these exam accommodations?
- Am I able to provide these classroom accommodations?
- Are there any accommodations that fundamentally alter an essential objective of my course?
- Are there any barriers preventing me from providing me these accommodations?
If you are not able to provide any accommodations, believe that an accommodation may fundamentally alter an essential course objective, or experience barriers preventing you from providing the accommodations, please reach out to the Accommodation Specialist listed on the Accommodation Letter immediately for assistance.
Resources for how to provide:
Accommodations you actively provide:
- Extended time on proctored exams in the Alternative Testing Center
- Extended time on online proctored exams in Canvas
- Reader, Scribe, Part-time Reader
- Breaking tests into multiple sections
Accommodations you allow during exams:
- Word bank, Note-card, Notes page, and Formula sheet
- Medical device
- Breaks during the exam
- Assistive technology on exams
Resources for how to provide:
Accommodations you actively provide:
- Deadline extensions for assignments
- Attendance flexibility for various course format
- Closed Captioning audio/visual content
- Accessible electronic text
- Wheelchair accessible classroom
- Leniency with spelling on coursework
Accommodations you allow to occur:
- ASL interpreter
- Ability to record lectures
- Use of computer/tablet in the classroom
- Peer note-taker
- Classroom transcriber
- Permission to leave classroom
Federal mandates mean the role faculty play is not an optional one. In fact, it is an essential part of the process that involves:
- Participation in providing reasonable accommodation
- Providing access to classroom and materials
- Maintaining confidentiality of student
- Determining essential or fundamental learning outcomes for course/program
While the process of providing reasonable accommodations begins when the student requests them, it is an instructor’s responsibility to ensure that the learning environment is accessible and welcoming of that request. Instructors should include a statement on their syllabus which directs students with disabilities to the steps they need to take to receive classroom accommodations. The following is a sample statement:
“If you are or think you are a student with a disability or chronic health condition, please contact the Student Disability Center (SDC) at (970) 491-6385 (https://disabilitycenter.colostate.edu/), located in TILT 121 and they will work with you to develop appropriate accommodations. I will not question your disability or your need for accommodation; however, I will need an accommodation letter provided by the SDC prior to implementation. Once you have your letter, please meet with me to further discuss your needs.“
Faculty members have the right to:
- Maintain academic standards for courses/programs
- Determine course content and how it will be taught
- Contact the SDC if you have questions about the appropriateness of a given accommodation for a particular course
- Confirm a student’s request for accommodation and ask for clarification about a specific accommodation with SDC
- Deny a request for accommodation if a student has not been approved by the SDC for the accommodation
- Award grades appropriate to the level of the student’s demonstration of meeting the learning objectives of the course and/or mastery of the material.
- Fail a student who does not perform to passing standards
Faculty members do not have the right to:
- Refuse to provide an approved accommodation for a verified disability
- Determine what is and is not a reasonable accommodation for a given student
- Challenge the legitimacy of a student’s disability
- Review a student’s documentation, including diagnostic data
Faculty members have the responsibility to:
- Understand the laws and University’s guidelines regarding students with disabilities
- Refer students to the SDC when necessary
- Participate in an interactive process of accommodation with the student and the SDC.
- Provide requested accommodations and academic adjustments to students who have verified disabilities in a timely manner
- Maintain appropriate confidentiality of records concerning students with disabilities except when disclosure is required by law or authorized by the student (in writing)
- Provide handouts, videos and other course materials in accessible formats upon request and in a timely manner
- Evaluate students based on their abilities rather than the manifestations of their disabilities
Confidentiality in the accommodation process must be maintained by all parties. Disclosure of the type of disability is a personal choice and may be freely shared with you by the student but asking for that personal information is not allowed. Nor is asking for any information from the student that would further disclose such personal data beyond what is shared in an SDC accommodation letter. Accommodation letters should be filed in a safe place, and faculty should refrain from discussing students’ disabilities and necessary accommodations in the hearing of fellow students or others who do not have an “educational need to know.”
Fundamental Alteration and Accommodation Review Procedure
Under the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008, “A public entity must reasonably modify its policies, practices, or procedures to avoid discrimination. If the public entity can demonstrate, however, that the modifications would fundamentally alter the nature of its service, program, or activity, it is not required to make the modification” (ADA Title II Technical Assistance Manual). Through various Department of Justice Office of Civil Rights case resolutions, the federal government has clarified that colleges and universities must:
- engage in an individualized, interactive process with each student request for accommodations and avoid blanket statements or policies regarding accommodations (OCR No. 10-16-2203),
- the student must not be put in the place of requesting their accommodation more than once and must not be left to negotiate their accommodation with faculty (OCR No. 01-16-2113)
- the decision of whether an accommodation may fundamentally alter an essential course/ program objective must be made by a group of knowledgeable and trained individuals at the college within the program the disability services office (OCR No. 01-16-2120; 03-14-2248),
- the group pursues a thoughtful, careful, rational review of the course/program essential objectives and requirements (OCR No. 01-16-2120), and
- considers a series of alternatives and modifications that does not fundamentally alter the course/program even if it is not the accommodation originally requested (OCR No. 01-16-2120).
Whether accommodations “would fundamentally alter the nature of its service, program, or activity” are reviewed on a case-by-case basis using the following procedure (Title II, Americans with Disabilities Act). The goal of this procedure is to distinguish the nature of how the course has always been taught from the truly essential objectives and requirements of the course or academic program. Through this procedure, methods of instruction and assessment may be examined to determine how the course or program information is taught and whether there are opportunities for alternate format of materials, alternative teaching and learning methods, additional skills or strategies, etc.
Essential course and program objectives are identified as the core learning outcomes (such as skills, knowledge, or licensure requirements) that all students must demonstrate, with or without accommodations, which are part of the interconnected curriculum of the degree or academic program.
Established essential objectives and requirements:
- Clearly articulate the overall purpose of the course/program
- Identify required mastery of specific skills, knowledge, principles, and concepts
- Convey the framework used to set academic and program standards
- Ensure a fair deliberation with qualified campus professionals when determining if a requested accommodation would be a fundamental alteration
If a faculty member is concerned that an accommodation fundamentally alters an essential requirement or course objective of a course or academic program, the following deliberative process will be followed:
- The SDC Accommodation Specialist identified on the letter of accommodation is contacted to consult on the concern
- The SDC Accommodation Specialist may involve campus partners as needed, such as the SDC Assistant Director of Access and Accommodations, SDC Director, faculty member within academic program/course, the Chair of the academic department, and other knowledgeable and trained administrators deemed appropriate in determining the reasonableness of the request, fundamental requirements of the course or program, or the possible alternatives to accommodate the student.
- After deliberation, the SDC Accommodation Specialist informs the student of the final decision from the group of knowledgeable college professionals engaged in the process. If the accommodation is denied or modified, the Accommodation Specialist will provide written explanation of the reasons why it was denied or modified and opportunities for the to respond to the decision.
To determine the essential requirements for a course or program, faculty and SDC staff will consider the following questions:
- What fundamental course objective does this accommodation alter?
- What practical function does this fundamental objective serve in the academic program?
- Please provide documentation of the fundamental course objective (e.g. syllabus, professional association certification requirement, technical standard, etc.)
- How does the requested accommodation alter this fundamental course objective?
- Has this this accommodation been approved to students without disabilities or for any other situation or reason in your class in the current semester or in the past? If so, Why?
- Is there any alternate way the student could demonstrate competence without undermining the essential course objectives? For example, an alternate accommodation that would not alter the essential objective of the course/program.
The student may appeal the decision through the Dispute Resolution Procedure.
Are accommodations fair?
No two students are alike. Therefore, the need to treat them as if they were all the same, or equal, is an inequitable and unjust expectation. A disability inherently can put a student at a disadvantage in comparison to the other students in your class. An accommodation for the particular limitations of a disability is meant to minimize this disadvantage and to “even out the playing ground” – or to provide an equitable environment for the student with the disability. Therefore, it can be considered unfair to the disabled student to not provide an accommodation.
An accommodation is related to the presence of a hearing, visual, mobility, learning, psychiatric or other disability. Since the majority of your students will not have such conditions, it is unnecessary to accommodate them in the same way because their needs as individual students will be different than those of a student with a disability. In addition, research indicates that accommodations such as extra time on exams does not benefit the student without a disability while it significantly improves test scores of students with disabilities (time constraints may actually test students’ limitations rather than their knowledge).
It is important, however, to remember that all students should have the same expectation to learn the material of a particular class. Some students will do well and some others will not; sometimes due to individual student effort and motivation and sometimes due to the method you choose in teaching and/or measuring their learning. The latter can present artificial barriers to students with disabilities regardless of their effort and motivation. Accommodations are means by which disabled students have the opportunity to transcend these barriers as they participate in the educational process. Another way to minimize barriers to learning is to consider the principles of Universal Design for Learning when developing your courses. These principles, when incorporated, facilitate learning for all students who may not learn exactly the same way effectively.
Accommodations are by no means fool-proof and even with a reasonable accommodation, a student may still fail to learn the material. Nevertheless, what is important is that the student is given the opportunity to learn, and a fair chance to show how much they have learned, through methods that facilitate both those processes.
What are the consequences of failing to accommodate students?
Both the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 are civil rights laws. A student who feels discriminated against based on their disability have the right to file an informal or formal complaint internally with the University’s Office of Equal Opportunity and or an external formal complaint with the U.S. Office of Civil Rights for further investigation. In addition, the ADA allows an individual direct access to the courts as a means to address the claim of discrimination and you can be held personally responsible for your actions. For more information concerning your individual responsibility, please contact the Office of Equal Opportunity, 970-491-5836
Resources for Faculty
The CSU Accessibility by Design website provides information and resources or creating accessible documents, presentations, websites, and other electronic information. It also provides information about how to have your content tested to assess its accessibility.
The ACCESS Project was a three-year initiative designed to promote Universal Design for Learning and student Self-Advocacy created by the Department of Occupational Therapy. The ACCESS Project provides resources for incorporating the principles of Universal Design for Learning into courses, as well as information about different disabilities and accommodations.
This webpage contains information about service dogs and emotional support animals (ESAs) including the differences between them, a protocol for handling situations that may arise, campus policies, and other useful information about the two types of support animals.
TILT offers a variety of resources for faculty including professional development opportunities and instructional design support,
This page contains information about Universal Design for Learning and how to incorporate it into instruction.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know an accommodation request is legitimate?
When the SDC verifies that an accommodation is recommended for a student, letters are generated for each instructor who may be asked for the accommodation. The student is to present this letter and discuss with the instructor how best to ensure the provision of the accommodation.
A student must be verified to be eligible for an accommodation prior to providing one. The SDC is given the authority to make that verification. The process of determining if a student is eligible for an accommodation is based on substantiating whether or not a student has a disability. An accommodation is determined based on whether or not it is appropriate for a particular limitation presented by the disability.
Instructors have an obligation to provide the accommodation, listed on the accommodation letter, or otherwise communicated by the SDC, to ensure compliance with the university’s federal obligations. If a student has not identified themselves with the office, please refer them to the office so that the SDC staff can help in the process of determining the most appropriate and reasonable accommodation concerning your class. If you have questions on whether an accommodation is applicable to your class, please contact the SDC staff.
Even though you may be able to provide a specific accommodation independently from the assistance of the SDC, please discuss the accommodation with SDC staff if the accommodation is because the student has a disability. A student may explain that a specific accommodation has been provided by other instructors in the department. However, faculty are not given the authority to determine what accommodations should be provided. Not all requests for accommodations by a student may be appropriate or necessary for a given situation. SDC staff are available to assist both the student and faculty member in negotiating what may be most effective as an accommodation.
What if I have questions about a request?
Please contact the SDC if you feel the need for an accommodation is valid but the accommodation does not appear reasonable or workable for the requirements of your class. It may seem that the accommodation would substantially alter the fundamental nature of your course. Often other accommodations can be determined that will not alter the fundamental nature of your course without affecting the mandates against discrimination based on disability.
If a student requests an accommodation you feel is unreasonable, or for other reasons question its validity, please contact the SDC (970-491-6385). Please know that the accommodation must be made until the matter is resolved.
Most students who identify as having a disability will have had contact with this office and their needs verified by SDC staff. If a student does not present a verifying accommodation letter to an instructor as part of the request for accommodation, the instructor is not obligated to provide the accommodation. If a verifying letter does not have the correct name of the instructor, the accommodation request may be refused. However, not providing an accommodation in a timely manner for a student once they have made the need known may be in violation of the law. Therefore, please call SDC for 1) verification to determine if the student is recognized as a student with a disability and 2) advice on what to do next.
How can I encourage students with disabilities to talk to me about accommodations?
Let all students, whether they have a disability or not, know that you are willing and open to discussing any potential concerns they may have. You are encouraged to use a statement on your syllabus and to include it during the first class session announcements. Including a link or URL address to the SDC website (www.disabilitycenter.colostate.edu) is also helpful.
What is an example statement I should include in my syllabus?
It is a best practice to include on your syllabus a statement that invites students to talk to you if they have a need for an accommodation due to a disability or other situation. Students are sometimes intimidated with the act of speaking to instructors because of negative experiences they have encountered in the past concerning their needs. Your demonstrated willingness to work with a student can often make it easier for a student to approach you early in the semester rather than in the middle of a crisis. Again, if a student has not yet had contact with the SDC, this may be a good time to inform them of university procedures for obtaining accommodations.
“If you are a student who will need accommodations in this class due to a disability or chronic health condition, please provide me the SDC accommodation letter. If you do not already have these accommodation letters please contact the SDC as soon as possible to initiate the process of setting up accommodations. The SDC is located on the room 121 of the TILT building. You can reach them by phone at 970-491-6385 or visit www.disabilitycenter.colostate.edu”
Is the student's disability information and need for accommodation confidential?
Yes! Instructors and teaching assistants must maintain a policy of confidentiality about the identity of a student, the nature of the disability and the accommodations required.
What should I do if a student comes up to me right before, during, or after class and hands me an accommodation letter?
Tell the student with respect for their confidentiality you would like to meet during office hours during which the two of you can discuss the request further. Tell the student this will give you both an opportunity to review the letter. During the visit, if needed, you can call the SDC at 970-491-6385 for clarification.
What do I do if a student requests an accommodation that is not on the accommodation letter?
Do not provide additional accommodations for which you have not received documentation from the SDC without talking with an accommodations specialist, the director or assistant director first. You could be setting a dangerous precedent.
What if a student's behavior is disruptive to the class?
While some students with disabilities may need to occasionally leave the room or stand instead of sit, they are expected to be as unobtrusive as possible. Any behavior that is unacceptable for students in general, is unacceptable for students with disabilities as well. All students are held to the same code of conduct and are subject to the same disciplinary procedures. However, some students may exhibit behaviors that are not typical, e.g., asking many questions, that may appear problematic. This behavior may be a manifestation of a particular type of disability. It is suggested that you meet with the student privately first to discuss the behavior and suggest alternative action before taking the case to student conduct.
What do I do if a student brings an animal with them to class?
In accordance with university policy animals are not allowed in academic buildings except for service animals. A service animal is a dog (or occasionally a miniature horse) that is trained to perform an active task for someone with a disability.
Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) are animals that provide comfort or emotional support to a student. ESA’s are not allowed in university buildings other than university-owned residence halls and apartments. They are not allowed to accompany students to class.
If a student brings a dog to class two questions can be asked of the student:
- Is the dog required because of a disability?
- What work or task has it been trained to do?
If the above inquiries are made and as a result, it becomes clear that the dog is not a service dog, the dog may be excluded from the building or area.
If a student brings an animal other than a dog to class, the animal is not allowed to be there.
What do I do if a dog is disruptive or aggressive in class?
Some student may be accompanied by a service dog. These dogs are legally permitted to accompany the person on campus, including classrooms. Service dogs are not required to have any outward signs of their purpose so the best indicator is based on the dog’s behavior. Service dogs should be trained to be inconspicuous in the class and quiet. If the behavior of the dog is disruptive to the class (e.g. the dog is not quiet and inconspicuous), you have the same options to respond to the behavior as you would the student’s behavior. The student is responsible for the behavior of the service dog.
Not all dogs, however, may be classified as service dogs. If a student brings a dog to class, to determine whether it is a service dog or not, you may ask the student “What service has the dog been trained to do for you?” If the student is not able to tell you the specific task(s) or if the student says it is an emotional support dog, the dog is not legally allowed in the class. You have the right to ask the student to remove the dog even if the dog is inconspicuous. Emotional support animals are not specifically trained to be in all public places and are not protected under the ADA. Refusal to remove an ESA from class can be considered a violation of student conduct.
If a dog (either service or emotional support) is aggressive to another person or animal you also have the right to ask the handler to remove their dog from the class. if a dog bites someone call 911 immediately.
What do I do if a dog is disruptive in class?
Some student may be accompanied by a service dog. These dogs are legally permitted to accompany the person on campus, including classrooms. Service dogs are not required to have any outward signs of their purpose so the best indicator is based on the dog’s behavior. Service dogs should be trained to be inconspicuous in the class and quiet. If the behavior of the dog is disruptive to the class (e.g., dog is not quiet and inconspicuous), you have the same options to respond to the behavior as you would the student’s behavior. The student is responsible for the behavior of the service dog.
Not all dogs, however, may be classified as service dogs. If a student brings a dog to class, to determine whether it is a service dog or not, you may ask the student “What service has the dog been trained to do for you?” If the student is not able to tell you the specific task(s) or if the student says it is an emotional support dog, the dog is not legally allowed in the class. You have the right to ask the student to remove the dog even if the dog is inconspicuous. Emotional support animals are not specifically trained to be in all public places and are not protected under the ADA. Refusal to remove an ESA from class can be consider a violation of student conduct.
What if a student in my class is missing sessions or needs extension on assignments?
We urge all instructors to be clear in their attendance policy. Students with disabilities are held to the same standards as other students in the class. However, due to the nature of the student’s disability/illness, an accommodation may be recommended for flexibility in attendance requirements. Students are encouraged to discuss possible means and/or opportunities to make-up missed work with instructors with an understanding that the accommodation is an exception to a stated attendance policy and may or may not be compatible with the course learning objectives. You are encouraged to discuss this accommodation with SDC staff to determine if the absence of a student appears to be excessive and/or would otherwise impact the student’s ability to achieve the stated learning outcomes of the class.
There are some students who cannot predict with the effects of their disability/condition will impact them. This could cause a delay in their ability to complete assignments as well as attend class. Flexibility may be required in holding students to a strict deadline of completion of assignments. When flexibility is recommended as an accommodation, extensions on completion of assignments are not to be with penalties. Again, if completion of assignments within a specific timeline is essential to a student’s ability to master material, you are encouraged to discuss this accommodation with SDC staff to determine if the extension would otherwise impact the student’s ability to achieve the stated learning outcomes of the class.
Do I have to give make-up exams to a student who misses the test?
If the course syllabus mandates that students who miss a test cannot receive a make-up then that is the policy to which all students can be held but consideration may be needed to determine whether the missed exam was due to the manifestations of the student’s disability/illness. If it is, then it may require consideration of a make-up exam or another method to demonstrate the student is achieving the learning outcomes of the course. Discussion with an SDC specialist may be helpful in determining whether or not a make-up exam is warranted.
In addition, if a student requires testing accommodations that prevent them from testing at the same time and place as the rest of the class, they cannot be penalized for this alone. Changes in test date or time must be approved by you. However, if they miss the alternate date and time that has been established, then they are liable for the same repercussions as a student who missed the in-class exam.
How do I approach a student who is having difficulty in the class and I suspect they may have a disability?
You may not legally ask students if they have a disability but you can make inquiries about the nature of their difficulties. You may ask if they had difficulty before and how they were able to succeed in their classes. The student may voluntarily disclose the disability. At this point, a referral to the SDC might be in order. If they do not disclose, you may simply tell the student that you notice they are having academic difficulty and encourage them to talk with you about gaining assistance, just as you would with any student.
What if a student with a disability is failing my class?
It is important for instructors to remember that providing reasonable accommodations to a student with a disability does not guarantee success in the course. Students with disabilities may not master the course material, just like any other student. Students with disabilities have the same right as other students to fail as part of their educational experience.
What if I have a question that is not listed here?
If you have further questions that are not addressed here, please contact the SDC directly.