Accommodating students with disabilities in the classroom can seem like a daunting task. Some accommodations may appear to give a student an unfair advantage or to challenge the integrity of a course. We assure you this is not the case. At the beginning of each academic term, you will receive the Letters of Accommodation for each student in your class who is registered with our office. Whereas these letters will never contain medical diagnoses, they will outline the accommodations to be made by you throughout the term. Our process for intaking students is thorough. Academic accommodations are approved by our office only after supporting medical documentation issued by a licensed healthcare provider is supplied and we've had ample time to consider the unique needs and history of the student. If you would like to become more familiar with our intake process, you can visit our registration page and/or download our guide outlining the qualifications of supporting medical documentation here. if you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to us. You can direct general inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Out main line is (352) 588-8464. Below, you will find some helpful resources. It is important to know your own rights in terms of accommodating students; you will come to these first, and the Faculty Rights and Responsibilities document is attached as a download at the end of the section. The staff of the OAS is grateful for your continued support of our students with learning differences. Your patience and understanding are invaluable gifts, even if sometimes they seem to go unnoticed.
Rights and Responsibilities
Faculty members have the right to:
- Maintain academic standards for courses
- Confirm a student’s request for accommodations and ask for clarification about a specific accommodation with the Office of Accessibility Services
- Deny a request for accommodation if the student has not been approved for such accommodation
- Award grades appropriate to the level of the student’s demonstration of mastery of 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 documented disability
- Challenge the legitimacy of a student’s disability
- Review a student’s documentation, including diagnostic data
Faculty members have the responsibility to:
- Understand the U.S. laws and the university’s guidelines regarding students with disabilities (for further information regarding compliance, view this resource offering an overview of legal regulations with government regulations.
- Refer students to the Office of Accessibility Services when necessary
- Provide requested accommodations and academic adjustments to students who have documented 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
- Provide handouts, videotapes and other course materials in accessible formats upon request
- Evaluate students based on their abilities rather than their disabilities
Download your Rights and Responsibilities as a PDF!
Please copy and paste the following statement into your syllabus:
"Students with learning differences, who may need accommodation, should contact the Office of Accessibility Services (room 121, Kirk Hall, first floor) at (352) 588-8464 or at email@example.com."
Going the Extra Mile: Universal Design for Learning
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a standard that refers to the design of products and environments. To comply with this standard, a product or environment must be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. The intention of UDL is to simplify every-day activities for everyone by making products, communications, and built environments more usable at little or no extra cost. Universal Design for Learning benefits people of all ages and abilities, and meeting this standard will make your classroom immediately more accessible.
Examples of UDL in the Classroom:
- Making book lists and syllabi available prior to the beginning of the term
- Making appropriate seating arrangements
- Speaking only when directly facing the class
- Providing copies of PowerPoints and lecture notes
- Providing printed or Web-based materials that summarize content that is delivered orally
- Providing multiple ways for students to obtain and demonstrate knowledge
What are the rights and responsibilities of an instructor when working with students with learning differences?
An instructor has the right to confirm a student’s request for accommodations and to ask for clarification about a specific accommodation with the OAS. Instructors do not have the right to refuse to provide an accommodation or to review a student’s documentation including diagnostic data. Instructors have a responsibility to work with the OAS to provide reasonable accommodations, to keep all records and communications with students confidential, and to refer a student to the OAS who requests accommodations but is not currently registered. Instructors do not have to provide accommodations for students not registered with the OAS.
Why does an instructor have the responsibility to provide accommodations for students with disabilities?
The ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act guarantee students with disabilities equal access to education. When a student qualifies to receive appropriate academic accommodations under either of these laws, changes must be made in the coursework and/or classroom to level the playing field and guarantee that the university is in compliance.
How are appropriate accommodations for a student determined?
Registration with the OAS requires a student to submit supporting medical documentation issued within the past three years. The OAS approves academic accommodations based on this documentation, on an extensive intake interview with the new student, and on any additional supporting documentation provided during the intake. The requirements of the academic program and courses being pursued by the student are also taken into consideration.
If an instructor feels that a particular student may have a substantially limiting disability, where should he or she refer the student?
If an instructor feels that a particular student may have a substantially limiting disability, he or she should refer the student to the OAS. Do not ask if the student has a disability, label him/her with a specific disability, or express any thoughts or feelings of the student being incapable or inferior.
For more information on providing accommodations, see our guide