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  • Frequently Asked Questions by Faculty

Disability Resource Center

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  • Frequently Asked Questions by Faculty

    How will I know if a student needs accommodations?

    A student requiring accommodations will present an Accommodation Letter (AL) from the Disability Resource Center (DRC) identifying the accommodations for which he/she is eligible for the duration of the semester. ALs are dated when the request is made, but accommodations are not in effect until the instructor receives the AL.

    Can I provide accommodations to a student who does not present an Accommodation Letter (AL)?

    If a student asks for an accommodation but does not present an AL from the Disability Resource Center verifying eligibility for accommodations, it is strongly recommended that you ask the student to contact the Disability Resource Center. If a student asks you for an accommodation, and that specific accommodation is not listed in the AL, you are not obligated to provide it.

    Do I have to provide accommodations listed on the Accommodation Letter if they do not fit with my philosophy or style?

    Yes. Federal law requires that students who are registered with the Disability Resource Center are entitled to the accommodations listed in the AL. Providing accommodations is a shared obligation of MSUM faculty and staff. The accommodations should not compromise the essential elements or objectives of the course.

    What accommodations are appropriate?

    The Disability Resource Center grants accommodations to students with documented disabilities based on the recommendations of medical or mental health professionals and based on the needs of students. These accommodations should not compromise the essential elements or objectives of the course. For more specific information, please see Examples of Academic Accommodations.

    If I receive a student’s Accommodation Letter in the middle of the semester, am I obligated to provide accommodations?

    Yes, accommodations are in effect once you receive the AL. However, accommodations are not retroactive and only apply upon receipt through the end of the semester.

    If I receive a student’s Accommodation Letter dated from a previous semester, am I obligated to accept this?

    Students are required to request new ALs from the Disability Resource Center every semester. Please have the student contact our office to request ALs for the current semester.

    Can I talk to students about their disabilities?

    The decision to disclose disability information is made by the student. Some students may wish to keep specific disability information confidential and others may choose to openly discuss their diagnoses and related information with you. You can ask students about their needs related to learning and fulfilling the requirements of your course, but you should avoid asking specific questions about their disability. Please be respectful of the student's disability and accommodations and understand that there are hidden disabilities that are not obvious or easily identified.

    How can test accommodations be arranged in the classroom?

    There are advantages for students to take the exams with the rest of the class or within the department. If only extended time is required, students can either come before or stay after the rest of the students. If that is not possible, you can arrange to have the exam proctored by you or another staff member in your office or a separate room. Please be mindful of the confidentiality of students when making arrangements.

    Does extra time for exams apply to take-home or online exams?

    Yes. Extended time on take-home exams should be agreed upon by the student and instructor when the take-home exam is given, and the Disability Resource Center recommends that the extension be put in writing. For online exams, the amount of time given to take the exam can and should be adjusted by the instructor according to the extended time described on the student’s AF.

    What if I am unable to proctor the student's exams?

    If you are unable to proctor the student’s exams because of their need for accommodations, alternative testing arrangements can be made with the Disability Resource Center. Students are responsible for setting up a testing time two business days prior to each exam they need to take in the Disability Resource Center. Once the student registers with the Disability Resource Center you will be emailed an Exam Form and are responsible to return that and the exam to the Disability Resource Center prior to the scheduled exam time.

    How do I accommodate a student who has occasional missed classes as an accommodation?

    The Disability Resource Center encourages students to meet with their instructors to discuss how these absences can be reasonably accommodated. Students should not be penalized for lack of participation on days they are absent. If a student exceeds a reasonable number of absences and these absences have not been discussed with you, please contact our office so we are aware of the situation and can assist you in how to proceed. If the student does not complete the coursework or does not meet the course expectations after accommodations have been put into place, they should be graded accordingly.

    How is an instructor involved in the note taking process?

    If a student has a note taking as an accommodation and decides that they need a note taker in your class they bring a Note Taker Recruitment Memo (NTRM) to you. Upon receiving a NTRM it is essential to identify a capable note taker during the first or second class meeting. Please take a few minutes at the beginning of your first class meeting to announce that the Disability Resource Center needs a volunteer note taker for the class. There is a statement on the NTRM that you can read however it is important to maintain confidentiality so please do not mention the Disability Resource Center student’s name. When a volunteer has been identified you give them the NTRM to bring to the Disability Resource Center where we will get them set up and answer any questions. If you have no volunteers, please contact the Disability Resource Center as soon as possible.

    If a student has note taking accommodations, do I have to give them notes when they are absent?

    Instructors and note takers are not obligated to give students notes for the times they are not in class unless prior arrangements have been made. Note takers should not take notes for a student if they have missed more than two consecutive classes, unless this has been previously discussed. If the student begins missing class regularly, the note taker should notify the Disability Resource Center. If the student has occasionally missed class as an accommodation, we recommend they talk with the note taker at the beginning of the semester to make arrangements for those days' notes. Some students may choose to contact their instructor to get a copy of their notes or PowerPoint slides for those missed days.

    How does an instructor accommodate the need for a scribe or reader?

    If a student needs a scribe or reader for an exam, the test can be administered in the Disability Resource Center where a student worker will provide the accommodation to them. Scribes and readers do not assist the student with course content and are only used to either write what the student says, or read the exam questions aloud. Whenever possible, we scan the exam into e-text and use a program to read the exam to the student.

    How does new technology impact accommodation needs?

    The US Department of Justice Office of Civil Rights and the US Department of Education Office of Civil Rights has issued a joint letter regarding the use of electronic book readers. The letter outlines the issues related to emerging technologies and ensuring equal access to individuals with disabilities. The letter specifically states, “Requiring use of an emerging technology in a classroom environment when the technology is inaccessible to an entire population of individuals with disabilities – individuals with visual disabilities – is discrimination prohibited by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) unless those individuals are provided accommodations or modifications that permit them to receive all the educational benefits provided by the technology in an equally effective and equally integrated manner.” Therefore, all information – regardless of the method of distribution – must be made accessible to all students either through document conversion or other procedures.

    This video demonstrates the importance of making classes accessible to all.