January 12, 2022

College of Natural Sciences Memorandum of Understanding

Memorandum of Understanding
Working with Students with Accommodations (including in laboratory and other non‐timed assignments and communication practices)

March 5, 2021

The following is a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Student Disability Center (SDC) and the College of Natural Sciences (CNS), acknowledging the commitment of both parties to provide students with environments that support their learning.

Departments: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics, Psychology, and Statistics, and includes all LIFE and DSCI courses in these departments

To help ensure equitable access in our courses, SDC and the CNS agree to the following as best practices:

  1. Letters of accommodation will be emailed from the SDC to the student’s instructor/TA/coordinator. Students will be encouraged by SDC to discuss their accommodations privately with their instructors during the first two weeks of the semester, or within two weeks of the letter being sent to the instructor for students who begin receiving accommodations mid-semester, to work out the logistical planning of their accommodations. Instructors should provide the student with this opportunity in a timely manner. The discussion with the instructor/TA/coordinator should address logistical planning for the provision of the specific accommodations listed on the SDC memo. If there are questions about the appropriateness or applicability of an accommodation to a course, the faculty member/TA/coordinator should contact the student’s Accommodations Specialist to discuss the concern. The name of the students Accommodations Specialist can be found in the student’s accommodation letter. See the process for resolving accommodation questions if an accommodation request cannot be resolved between the SDC Accommodation Specialist and the faculty member/TA/coordinator.
  2. To the extent possible, students registered for laboratory courses who may need the accommodation of a make-up lab are advised to register for lab sections that meet on Monday or Tuesday to allow for possible rescheduling later during the week if circumstances require. Since labs follow a weekly cycle, in general, it can be logistically challenging to make up a lab the following week for labs that require special setup or specimens that spoil after a specified time. Students and faculty should review the specific labs and identify which might provide these challenges in advance, if applicable. Faculty should contact the SDC Accommodation Specialists if there is an accommodation request for a makeup lab and they have identified barriers that makes this makeup lab challenging, so the SDC Accommodation Specialist and faculty can come up with an alternate accommodation that would provide an equitable access for the student.
  3. To assist students in planning, course syllabi will include expected, typical completion times for out‐of‐class assignments (e.g. laboratory reports, homework assignments, etc.). While the exact completion time may vary from student to student (with some students completing the assignment in less time than expected and some students taking longer to complete the assignments), scheduled due dates will be sufficiently long to accommodate students who require extended time to complete assignments. Therefore, all students (including those with extended-time accommodations for assignments through SDC) are expected to submit all assignments, as defined in the course syllabus. Students with disabilities whose conditions may impact them severely and unpredictably within these deadlines may require an extension on these assignments’ deadlines. The student’s accommodation letter will differentiate between accommodations of extended time on assignments and deadline extensions. Students and faculty should review the assignments for the course, the extension identified in the accommodation letter, and a process for communicating when the student will need an extension. If there is a concern about the extension and course requirements, the faculty member should contact the SDC Accommodation Specialist to discuss how to effectively and reasonably accommodate the student.
  4. It is understood that accommodations cannot fundamentally alter the essential objectives of a course. The Assistant Director for Access and Accommodations within the SDC will engage in a review of the accommodation if a faculty member has concerns related to providing accommodations that may fundamentally alter any course objectives. 
  5. Faculty members have discretion to provide retroactive accommodations (accommodations requested after the due date for an assignment/lab has passed) if they feel it is appropriate but retroactive accommodations are generally not required.

Process for Resolving Accommodation Questions:

In the event that an accommodation for makeup lab or extension on an assignment cannot be resolved between the SDC Accommodation Specialist and the faculty member, and to streamline communication and facilitate timely and equitable resolution for unique situations that may arise, the CNS and SDC have identified department contacts to be used by faculty/TA/coordinators and SDC specialists if concerns arise. For the SDC, please contact Brittany Otter, Assistant Director for Access and Accommodations within the SDC at Brittany.Otter@colostate.edu or 970-491-0844. For CNS departments, please contact:

  • Biochemistry & Molecular Biology – Jeff Hansen (Jeffrey.C.Hansen@colostate.edu)
  • Biology – Joe von Fischer (Joe.von_Fischer@colostate.edu)
  • Chemistry – Alan Kennan (Alan.Kennan@colostate.edu)
  • Computer Science – Elisa Cundiff (Elisa.Cundiff@colostate.edu)
  • Mathematics – Patrick Shipman (Shipman@math.colostate.edu)
  • Physics – Marty Gelfand (Gelfand@rams.colostate.edu)
  • Psychology – Tracy Richards (Tracy.Richards@colostate.edu)
  • Statistics – Piotr Kokoszka (Piotr.Kokoszka@colostate.edu)

When needed, the Assistant Director of Access and Accommodation may reach out to the department Chair if there is a consistent, recurring concern regarding fundamental alteration of essential course objectives. This would occur in collaboration with the CNS Dean’s office:

  • CNS Dean’s Office Contact: Lisa Dysleski – Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs (Lisa.Dysleski@colostate.edu). The Dean’s office will be responsible for updating the list of department contacts and communicating with the department contacts regularly on an ongoing basis.

We appreciate the ongoing collaboration and communication between the academic departments, faculty members, teaching assistants, coordinators and Student Disability Center in providing equitable access for students with disabilities at Colorado State University