Providing Academic Accommodations to Students With Disabilities


Thank you for joining
us for this training on providing academic
accommodations for students with disabilities. I am Vanessa Goepel, the
Director of the Office of Disability Services. And I am Brittany Gregg,
the Assistant Director of the Office of
Disability Services. This presentation
is closed captioned. And if you need to request
an alternate format, please contact us at [email protected] By the end of this
presentation, we hope you have gained
a better understanding of the following– types of
disabilities and accommodations that are common among the UA
student population, purpose of academic accommodations,
responsibilities of faculty in providing academic
accommodations to students, post-secondary
disability compliance mandates, recommendations for
faculty, and campus resources. Under the purview of
the Provost’s Office, ODS functions as the legal
entity which regulates academic accommodations. ODS determines
reasonable accommodations and, in collaboration
with students and faculty, provides support to ensure
equal access to an education for students with disabilities. We are located in
Houser Hall, Room 1000. Our office hours are Monday
through Friday from 8:00 AM until 4:45 PM. The ODS Testing Center
has extended hours until 10:00 PM Monday
through Thursday. For additional information
or guidance regarding accommodations, please visit our
website site at www.ods.ua.edu and click on the Faculty tab. We find that students
and instructors don’t realize the variety
of diagnoses which may qualify as a disability. So we’ll review those here. The Americans with
Disabilities Act defines disability as a
physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one
or more major life activities. ODS can offer accommodations
for a variety of disabilities, including cognitive disorders,
such as ADHD, learning disorders, and
traumatic brain injury, psychological disorders, such as
depression, anxiety, and autism spectrum disorder, any
medical condition that is impacting the
student academically, and sensory or
mobility impairments. In limited
circumstances, students with temporary
impairments resulting from injury or surgery may also
qualify for accommodations. Pregnant students
needing to request temporary accommodations should
be referred to the Title IX Office. Students who are unsure
if they can be considered a person with a
disability should contact ODS to obtain more information. The accommodation process,
mission, and function of ODS are informed by federal
mandates regarding access for individuals
with disabilities. These mandates clarify the
university’s obligations to provide equal educational
access, barrier removal, and protection from
discrimination. As part of ensuring
equal access, students are entitled to
reasonable and appropriate accommodations, confidentiality
of their disability, and information and course
materials in accessible formats. Accommodations are
determined based on an individualized assessment
of the student’s needs. So there is no way to outline
every possible accommodation. However, there are several
common accommodations which may be included on the
accommodation notices you will receive from students. Testing accommodations
include extended testing time, reduced distraction
environments, or the use of technology
for assistance with reading and
writing during exams. While the ODS Testing Center
is available as a convenience location to assist in providing
testing accommodations, the responsibility for providing
accommodations ultimately lies with the faculty. Note-taking assistance
may be provided by allowing the student
to audio record lectures or have access to technology,
such as a laptop or tablet. In some cases, it may
be necessary for faculty to identify a peer
note-taker for the course. If this is the
case, instructions will be included with
the accommodation notice. Syllabus modifications
may include disability-related
absences, with permission to make up missed assignments,
participation points, and quizzes or exams. These accommodations
allow the student a reasonable amount
of flexibility when their disability causes
chronic or episodic limitations that can prevent class
attendance or assignment submission. Faculty will receive an
attendance modification agreement with the
accommodation notice and should complete this form in
collaboration with the student. Technical assistance regarding
attendance modifications is available on our website. Accessible communication
and materials are often provided
in conjunction with the use of
assistive technology and therefore are
facilitated collaboratively between ODS and faculty. Faculty play a vital role
in providing accommodations to students. Many students report that
a positive experience with faculty providing
classroom accommodations makes for a positive overall
experience in the course. Faculty have a responsibility
to include the ODS syllabus statement on course syllabi. Please instruct students to meet
with you during office hours to discuss the implementation
of accommodations. This method is more effective
than allowing students to give you their accommodation
notice after class and then leave without
discussing their needs. Faculty are encouraged to
document their meetings with students. You may either send a follow-up
email to the student or request that the student send
a follow-up email to you confirming understanding
of how the accommodations will be provided in the course
and noting any accommodations the student declined. Each accommodation
notice also comes with a receipt for
faculty to sign and return to ODS as an indication you
have met with the student. Faculty also have
a responsibility to maintain confidentiality. There is no legal
right for faculty to know a student’s diagnosis. Keep in mind that a
student may present you with an accommodation
notice but may choose not to use
accommodations in other classes. Therefore, it is
best not to discuss a student’s accommodations with
other faculty or colleagues. Finally, faculty must
provide accommodations as outlined on the
accommodation notice. It is the student’s
responsibility to deliver an
accommodation notice to all faculty, including
lab instructors and the MTLC. Faculty have no obligation
to provide accommodations until they have received
the accommodation notice. ODS expects that students
meet with faculty during scheduled office
hours or by appointment. Faculty are encouraged to
promote student accountability by reminding them
of this expectation. When requesting
accommodation, students must present in a timely manner. It is not acceptable
for a student to approach you
right before an exam and expect to be accommodated. We instruct students to provide
accommodation notices ASAP. Please keep in
mind that students are permitted to
register with ODS and to present faculty
with an accommodation notice at any point
during the semester, meaning there is no
deadline for students to request accommodations. However, arrangements to
receive accommodations must be made within
a reasonable time frame, preferably a
minimum of seven days before the
accommodation is needed. Faculty are not required
to apply accommodations to assessments or
assignments that take place prior to the date on which
they received the accommodation notice. If you disagree with an
accommodation due to a concern that it jeopardizes the
integrity or requirements of your course, you must
contact ODS promptly in order to determine if an
alternate accommodation can be provided. This is an important part
of the interactive process to resolve
accommodation disputes. It is not permissible to deny
students use of an approved accommodation. And until the matter is agreed
upon by knowledgeable parties, faculty must provide the
accommodation as determined by ODS. Additional information regarding
the conflict resolution process is available on our website. When you call us with a
question or a concern, please provide the student’s
name and a few details in order to be connected with
the appropriate accommodations specialist. There are a few
things faculty can do to prepare for providing
accommodations each semester. As you review the
syllabus with students, remind them to meet with
you if they wish to request accommodations in your course. Students may need to discuss
the use of an audio recorder, laptop, or Tegrity. Some students may also
require a note-taker. More information regarding
how to facilitate this accommodation is
available on our website. You may have students who
request exam accommodations. The ODS Testing Center is
available as a convenience location. And you may instruct students
to schedule exams at ODS. Testing Center staff will
communicate with you regarding exam delivery methods. The ODS Testing Center
cannot proctor every exam. So faculty must work
with their department to have a plan in place
for providing exam accommodations when needed. Some students also require
syllabus modification. So it is helpful to think
through how you can incorporate flexibility with
attendance, participation points, and assignments
to accommodate students who may need to miss
class or make up work due to their disability. Please remember to
consult with ODS any time you have questions or concerns. All authorized accommodations
must be provided to the student during the conflict
resolution process with ODS. If students disclose
a disability, please refer them to ODS. If you suspect a student
has a disability, please refer them to ODS along with
other helpful resources, such as the Center
for Academic Success or their academic advisor. Several campus resources are
available to assist faculty with compliance and
accessible course design. For assistance with the use
of technology in your course, such as Tegrity, UA Box,
and other instructional technologies, the Faculty
Resource Center is available. For resources regarding
accessible technology and the university’s
accessibility policy, please contact the Office
of Emerging Technology and Accessibility. As you are preparing
course syllabi, remember to include the most
updated version of the ODS Disability Statement, available
through the Online Syllabus Management System. For questions or concerns
regarding ADA and Section 504 compliance beyond
academic accommodations, the university’s compliance
officer is Gwen Hood. And there is also an ADA Hotline
in which barriers or concerns may be reported. Additionally, each
college or division has an ADA/504 liaison
who may be contacted. Judy Thorpe is the Director
of Special Accommodations and is available to answer
questions regarding service and emotional support animals. In summary, we have reviewed
ODS contact information and common types of
disabilities and accommodations. We have also discussed
disability compliance mandates which inform the
university’s responsibility to ensure equal educational
access for students with disabilities. The purpose of accommodations
and the faculty role in accommodating
students were also reviewed as part of
the functions which help the university meet its
responsibilities to ensure access. Finally, we’ve reviewed
recommendations for faculty and available campus resources. We each have a role to play
in accommodating students. ODS and faculty collaboration
is essential to providing educational access. So we invite you to contact us
with any questions, concerns, or additional
guidance you may need. You may visit our website
for guidance and FAQs that provide quick answers
to common questions. Additionally, our staff
are available to provide individualized trainings or
Q and A sessions on request. We look forward to
working with you in order to best serve students. And we thank you for joining
us for this presentation.

Paul Whisler

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