Information for Faculty

Faculty and dS staff make a winning team in providing equal access to students with disabilities. Assuring equal access is everyone's responsibility. Information tools and strategies are provided here in order to assist faculty as needed and to provide direction in addressing specific disability accomodation needs. We invite your feedback and ideas to add to this resource page! Please feel free to contact us by calling 215.968.8463 or 215.968.8182 or by email at cooperm@bucks.edu.

Contents

 * FAQs for Faculty -How do you score on this quiz?

 * Useful Resource Links for Faculty re: UDI, faculty responsibilities, reasonable accommodations, and more.

* So how do you REALLY provide equal access? Now that you've read about why here is the how.

 

 FAQ's for Faculty

Some beginning facts regarding students with disabilities, resources and recommendations. How many can you answer correctly?

1. What is disAbility Services and where is it located?

2. Exactly how can disAbility Services help faculty?   

3. Speaking of Academic Adjustments,how do I respond when an adjustment, such as interpreting is distracting to other students, or when other students want the same adjustment, such as extended test time?

4.How do I handle requests for accommodations when a student does not provide a Faculty Memo from dS?

5. How do I know if a student REALLY needs an academic adjustment?

6. What if a student is denied an academic adjustment or does not accept a recommended accommodation?

7. How should I respond when a student tells me s/he has a disability?

8. How can I encourage students to identify themselves and their needs?

9. How should I refer a student to disAbility Services?

10. What disability resources/aids/services are available through disAbility Services?

11. What constitutes a disability, anyway?

13. If a student with a disability is working very hard, using the adjustments and still not succeeding, what should I do?

 


1. What is disAbility Services?

Part of Student Affairs, dS exists to assure that qualified students with disabilities have  equal access to the programs and studies at Bucks. Students may be eligible for various academic adjustments, identified by dS and made collaboratively, depending on the student's need. Faculty consulting and training is one of our primary responsibilities and goals. Our office is located in the Student Services Center, first floor of the Rollins Building. Our contact information is here.

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2. Exactly how can disAbility Services help faculty? 

Some of the ways that dS can assist faculty include

  •  recommending alternative instructional strategies,
  •  advising regarding the appropriateness of requested academic adjustments and how to implement those adjustments
  •  offering education about disabilities and accompanying barriers to learning
  •  instructing in the use of adaptive information technology aids, such as speech recognition, accessible e-text formatt or specialized software
  • providing support in how to refer a student to dS

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3. Speaking of Academic Adjustments,how do I respond when an adjustment, such as interpreting is distracting to other students, or when other students want the same adjustment, such as extended test time?

Interpreters for deaf students may be a new experience for some hearing students. Faculty who have had interpreters in the classroom report that this distraction wears off very quickly as the students realize the need to pay attention to the instructor

dS urges all faculty to understand that an academic adjustment or accommodation will not give a student with a disability an advantage, but will level the learning field. If another student makes it known that s/he would like the same adjustment, respond by stating with confidence that "to my knowledge you are not eligible for this adjustment. If that is not accurate please see me after class". If the student indicates a disability exists, refer them to our Office.The policy of the college is that this is not a decision that faculty are expected or should try to make.

Always protect the right of the student with a disability to privacy regarding the disability. This is a confidential issue and many students would not want others in the class to know what their disability is or that it exists. 

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4.How do I handle requests for accommodations when a student does not provide a Faculty Memo from dS?

All requests for accommodations based on disability needs should be made to the dS Office by the student. Faculty can make a statement to that effect to the student and encourage them to contact us so we can explore all possibilities with him or her. In fact, such a statement is now required on all course formats. Please note: Faculty may provide any accommodation they wish without documentation and there might be situations where this is appropriate. An example could be that you, as the instructional expert,  suspect a student might perform better on an oral test and want to compare the results. You can do that without the student having been identified by dS.  However, the student needs to know that the next instructor may not handle the request the same way.

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5. How do I know if a student REALLY needs an academic adjustment?

You will be glad to know you do not have to make that decision. Students who identify themselves through our Office and are eligible for accommodations will present you with a form from dS stating the adjustments for which they are eligible. Eligibility is based on documentation and knowledge of the student's needs as well as best practices and professional experience.

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6. What if a Student is denied an academic adjustment or does not accept a recommended accommodation?

There is an appeal process that the students can use if their request for an accommodation is denied. Please contact disAbility Services for more information.

If a student chooses not to use accommodations that have been recommended, that is the student's decision. Faculty are responsible for being aware of the need when notified and responding appropriately. Many accommodations require very little effort on the instructor's part. 

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7. How should I respond when a student tells me s/he has a disability?

A. If the student provides a form from our Office verifying this and the need for specific academic adjustments, know that we have documented the need on the basis of the existence of specific functional limitations. The adjustments are also based on what would be considered reasonable, according to federal legislation, in "leveling out the playing field" and removing barriers to access.

B. If a student identifies him or herself as having a disability but does not provide a form from our Office, you are under no obligation to provide any adjustments requested by the student. If the student gives you documentation, we strongly recommend you instruct the student to provide it to our Office. You are not expected to be able to evaluate psychoeducational evaluations, medical reports or other documentation.

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8. How can I encourage students to identify themselves and their needs?

There can be many reasons why a student may not identify him/herself. We recommend that instructors make an announcement and put the following in their syllabus: "If anyone in this class has a disability and will need certain academic adjustments, I invite you to see me during an office hours so we can better discuss your needs." A statement like this lets the student(s) know that you are approachable and interested in his/her academic needs. Many Bucks faculty have adopted this with positive results. Avoid giving the impression, "If you have a disability, don't bother me. Go to disAbility Services".

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9. How should I refer a student to disAbility Services?

A. If the student identifies as having a disability and does not know services are available, urge them to call us or stop by. With prior notice, we will be glad to arrange to meet with evening students or students at any campus as needed. Remind the student how interested you are in their success and want to support them in receiving whatever services for which the student may be eligible.

B. If you suspect a student has a disability but has not identified him/herself, we suggest you meet with him privately, give feedback on what you have observed, and ask if the student thinks s/he needs any assistance. If the answer indicates there is a history of a disability, explain that disAbility Services may be of help and how to find us. If they say no, then respect that decision. Inform the student of other services available to students, such as Counseling, Career Services and the Tutoring Center.

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10. What disability resources/aids/services are available through disAbility Services?

The spectrum of reasonable adjustments can vary greatly depending on the individual student. Common examples include: interpreters, notetakers, assistance with readers, audio texts, adaptive computer aids, training, testing alternatives, special tutoring for students with learning disabilities or attention deficit disorder, brailing resources, priority registration, and more.

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11. What constitutes a disability, anyway?

According to Sec.504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act a "person with a disability is someone with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. One is considered to be a person with a disability if he/she has the disability, has a record of the disability, or is regarded as having the disability" (Title by Title: The ADA's impact on Postsecondary Education by Jane Jarrow, Ph.D. c.1992) Examples include learning disabilities,physical and medical disorders such as hearing and vision impairments, epilepsy, cancer, AIDS,Asperger's Syndrome and mental health impairments. The updated ADA Amendments

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13. If a student with a disability is working very hard, using the adjustments and still not succeeding, what should I do?

The very same thing you would do in the case of a student who does not have a disability. If the student cannot satisfy the essential requirements of the course then the student should be graded accordingly.

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Useful links to concrete solutions and answers to faculty questions and how to handle new situations:

FAME, Faculty and Administrator Modules in higher Education, http://fame.oln.org/help_1.html

Equity and Excellence in Higher Education's Universal Course Design

 The Faculty Room

This was designed for YOU! It includes:

  • Academic accommodations by type of disabilities
  • Universal Design Instruction Information
  • Rights & Responsibilities of students and faculty
  • Interactive Faculty Presentations
  • Resources for Trainers, Staff & Administrators
  • Case studies
  • E- Learning Accommodations
  • FAQs .......and more!

All at your finger tips, right on this free site, nothing to buy. We urge you to check it out and give us your feedback. Wish we could take credit for it but it comes from a terrific program at the University of Washington, called DO-IT.

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Instructional Tools that will Create Accessibility in Your Course

Creating Accessible Alternative Formats

Course materials including texts, tests, on-line learning tools and any other instructional materials need to be in an "accessible format" in order to be used by students with certain disabilities. By making course materials accessible from the design stage, they are then fully accessible to all students, the basis for Universal Design.

What does "accessible format" mean? It means that all materials can be accessed by  students who use alternative strategies to acquire information because of a disability. Examples include students with print disabilities who use screen reader software to read print, or students with hearing impairments who need audio material presented in a textual format, as in captioning.

 Making your documents and files accessible

  • Textbooks = In evaluating new texts ask the publisher to show you the text in an accessible format, readable by screen reader software. It is not enough to get assurance thay "there is a department who deals with that". You can request access to the text.
  • Tests, quizzes, course formats, other handouts = create these materials electronically and save a version in Microsoft Word. Word documents can be read by all screen reader software. PDF FORMAT CAN NOT. Always save a version in Word.
  • On-line Instructional Resources

 

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Remember: it is the student's responsibility to identify their needs to you appropriately and in a timely fashion. It is the college's responsibility to comply with reasonable requests for auxiliary aids and services. We invite your questions, concerns and referrals.

Marie Stevens Cooper, M.S.,CRC
disAbility Services Director
(215)968-8465

Marge Zipin, M. Ed, Ed.D 
Learning Disabilities Specialist
(215)968-8465