We get lots of questions from faculty and are always very interested in hearing from you! However if you find a question on here that is frequently asked, we hope our answer helps you in the moment when it comes up. We always encourage and welcome you to reach out to the SDC to talk with a staff member with any questions you do have.
When the SDC verifies that accommodations are needed for a student, letters are generated for each instructor who may be asked for the accommodation. This letter is emailed to the instructor by a member of the SDC staff.
Students and instructors are encouraged to meet and discuss the accommodations and establish an effective communication plan for when accommodations are needed.
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 accommodations 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.
Please contact the SDC if you feel the need for 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 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.
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.
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 in room 121 of the TILT building. You can reach them by phone at 970-491-6385 by email at email@example.com or visit www.disabilitycenter.colostate.edu”
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 do I do if a student requests additional accommodations, that are 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 the assistant director first. You could be setting a dangerous precedent.
In The Classroom
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.
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.
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.
Some students 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.
Students who are Struggleing
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.
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.
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.