Frequently Asked Questions

Introduction

Although enrollment rates of students with disabilities in higher education are increasing, some faculty and teaching staff may not be aware of the many services and supports available to students with disabilities. In particular, instructional staff members may not always be aware of the types of accommodations available or what steps are involved in the accommodations process. This page answers common questions regarding the roles and responsibilities of faculty and teaching associates in providing accessible learning for students with disabilities.

If you have any concerns, keep in mind that the Office for Learning Support Services (LSS) is the office on campus that determines appropriate accommodations. We encourage you to contact Learning Support Services for Students with Disabilities (LSS) in Scott Hall room 204 or x2194 when you are in doubt about how best to meet the needs of a student with a disability.

 

 


Who is responsible for determining appropriate accommodations?

The Learning Support Services for Students with Disabilities (LSS) is the office on campus that determines appropriate accommodations. The office bases their decision upon documentation collected from a student with a disability and the student's functional limitations.

Are all students with disabilities registered with LSS?

No, it is likely that many students with disabilities have chosen not to be registered with LSS or they may not have met the eligibility criteria for services. In either instance, faculty do not need to provide these students with accommodations.

What would be the best way to inform students in the class that I would like to help in facilitating exam accommodations or any classroom accommodations?

It is important that all faculty put a statement about accommodations in their syllabus. For more information, visit our page entitled Syllabus Disability Statement.

Am I required to provide exam accommodations to students who request it?

Yes you are. Students with disabilities are protected by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504. This law requires that qualified students with disabilities get equal access to an education, and this includes exam accommodations.

A student has asked for accommodations. How do I know the student truly has a disability and needs accommodations?

You may ask the student to provide you with a letter verifying that she/he has a disability. The student, if registered with the Office for Learning Support Services (LSS), will be given a letter within 24 hours after a request is made. LSS has a file for every student who is registered with the office and uses services, and therefore will provide you with the appropriate documentation of the disability.

I have a student in class who told me that she/he has a disability, but since that time has never requested any accommodations. Am I still responsible for accommodations?

No, you are only responsible for reasonable accommodations if requested. In these types of situations, however, it would be appropriate to speak to the student privately to let the student know that you welcome the opportunity to discuss reasonable accommodations if the student is interested.

What are some of the types of exam accommodations available to students with disabilities?

First of all, the exam accommodations are based upon the student's functional limitations and the documentation of disability that the student has provided LSS. Some of these accommodations include but are not limited to: extra time for exams (usually 50% extra time but in some cases as much as double time), a reader or scribe (a person who writes answers verbatim), a computer, an enlarged exam, an exam scanned onto a disk and use of computer (student uses voice, enlargement options, or spelling/grammar check), a distraction-reduced space, image enhancements (converting graphs, charts, and other types of images converted into raised-line format), and the use of videotapes.

A student with a disability has requested that she/he take an exam at LSS. How do I know that my exam will be safe and that the student will get no unfair advantage?

LSS has developed a very systematic and secure procedure for getting exams from faculty and returning them once the student has taken the exam. There are very rigid checking in and checking out procedures for exams, and no student is able to take an exam with appropriate accommodations without authorization. While exams are at LSS, they are kept in a locked file during the night. While students are taking the exam, they are monitored. Occasionally, there are a few issues, however, LSS works diligently to rectify any problems. LSS has a test form for students to complete.

Students with disabilities ask me to fill out an exam accommodation request (EAR) form. I have a million things to do. I don't mind if they use exam accommodations, but do I have to fill out that form?

Yes you do! In order for students to arrange for exam accommodations at LSS, and in order for LSS to administer your exam to your student, you must quickly and totally fill out the Exam Accommodation Request (EAR) form. It is often very helpful to meet with the student so that you and the person requesting accommodations can fill the sheet out together and are on the same wavelength. Not only does the proctor sheet help facilitate the exam accommodation process, but it also helps LSS administer the exams using your specific requirements for the administration of the exam. You may, however, opt to administer the exam yourself to the student, but appropriate exam accommodations must be provided. This includes adaptive technology, a distraction reduced space, reader/scribes, etc. if needed. If you are unable to provide appropriate accommodations or are unsure about what is appropriate, please work with LSS to ensure that the student's accommodation needs are met.

I've been debating about what book I want to use for my class, but LSS keeps asking me to select a book ASAP. Do I have to?

Yes you do. It takes a student worker of LSS an hour to scan 30 pages of a textbook and sometimes fewer pages depending upon the quality of the pages. LSS has over 100 books or other reading assignments each semester to be scanned onto disc. Students who are print impaired have a legal right to equal access to their textbooks or any instruction as their peers. They need to be able to listen to taped or scanned textbooks at the same time as others in the class. By delaying the selection of textbooks, LSS may not be able to get books converted to an appropriate format in a timely fashion. This means that students may have to start the semester without access to their textbooks. None of us want to contribute to a student getting behind or failing a class.

When I have a deaf student in class, am I required to have an interpreter or real time captioner in the class too? My class is very crowded and the students sometimes watch the interpreter instead of me.

You are required by law to have what is essential for the student to have equal access to an education, and this includes a sign language interpreter or real time captioner.

A student with a disability has asked me for a copy of my notes and overheads. Do I have to give this to the student?

Some students with disabilities have difficulty taking notes. Sometimes faculty notes are only a brief out line of the actual lecture given. These notes may not be too helpful. It is important that you assist the student in getting access to class notes. You may want to help the student find a volunteer notetaker in class by making an announcement in class without revealing the student's name. If you have a graduate student in class to assist you and if this person takes notes, these notes may be another option. If you feel your notes are good, sharing your notes would be a third option. Many faculty and departments have developed website guided notes. This has been extremely helpful to many students who lack the ability to keep up the pace in taking thorough notes. It may also be appropriate for some students to tape a class.

I have a student who is having difficulty in my class. I think this student may have a disability. What should I do to help the student?

Talk privately with the student to discuss your observations. The student may reveal she/he has a disability. If this is the case and the student is registered with LSS, suggest that the student talk with LSS. The student may also be referred to LSS for diagnostic testing for a suspected learning disability. Suggest that the student call LSS at (503)352-2194 for further information.

Am I required to lower the standards of a required assignment because the student has a disability?

No, the standards should be the same for all students; however, some students with disabilities may exhibit their knowledge, production, and other course expectations differently than their peers. For example, a student with a learning disability in writing may produce an essay exam by using a computer or scribe rather than writing out an answer without the use of accommodations. The quality of the work should be the same.

I have a student with a disability getting behind in his/her schoolwork. This student is missing a number of classes and has not handed in several assignments. Although she/he has taken a midterm and used accommodations, the student's grade is about a D. At this point, the student is not passing the class. Do I have a right to fail a student with a disability?

The student with a disability has the same right to fail as anyone else. Their work should be equivalent their peers. It may be a good idea to discuss your observations with this student just as you would with anyone else in your class who is experiencing difficulty.

I have a student who is blind in my chemistry lab. How is she/he going to participate and be graded in his/her lab work?

If possible, assist the student in getting a lab partner or assign a student assistant to work with the student with a disability. In either situation, the student who is blind should direct the assistant to carry out the functions of the lab assignment. If a volunteer lab partner cannot be found, suggest to the student that she/he needs to contact LSS as soon as possible for assistance in getting a lab partner. The speed in making these arrangements is critical so that the student will not get behind.

Do I have any recourse if I disagree about requested accommodations?

To clarify any disagreement about a requested accommodation, please contact LSS Director, Edna K. Gehring at x2194 or email her at gehringe@pacificu.edu

How does a student qualify for accommodations?

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1991 defines an individual with a disability as a person who:

Pacific University requires a student seeking accommodations for a learning disability to have the disability diagnosed by a licensed psychologist or educational specialist. This documentation is then reviewed by the Director of Learning Support Services, and the appropriate accommodations are arranged.

What types of services are offered for students with Learning Disabilities?

Typical services offered to students with learning disabilities include notetakers, classroom accommodations such as sitting near the front of the class, permission to tape lectures, text books on tape, e-text, extra time for exams, segregated testing, advance copies of syllabi and reduced class loads. Decisions regarding services offered are made by the LSS office and the professor. Students may need other accommodations, but these are the most common accommodations for learning disabled students.

What do I do if a student requests an accommodation in my class?

If a student in one of your classes requests an accommodation due to any kind of disability, refer him or her to Learning Support Services in Scott 204 or ext. 2194 before any accommodation is arranged. If the student is already documented and working with the LSS Office, the faculty member should contact Edna K. Gehring to confirm the need for the accommodation.

Don't some of these accommodations give these students an unfair advantage?

The intent of the ADA is to give people with disabilities a “level playing field”, not an advantage over other students. Students with disabilities have very specific needs and when those needs are accurately identified, the accommodations simply allow them to pursue their education in the same way as students without disabilities.

How does ADA affect Pacific's admission standards?

The Americans with Disabilities Act clearly states that a student must be “otherwise qualified” for admission. This means that they must meet the technical and academic qualifications for entry into the University.

 


 

This document is cited from The Ohio State University Partnership Grant, Improving the Quality of Education for Students with Disabilities