What should I discuss with the student when I am presented with an accommodation letter?
It is important to lay a framework about how you and the student will work together throughout the semester.
- Ask the student what accommodations they expect to use in your class right away (recorder, note taker, extended time)
- Share expectations regarding notice/communication for accommodations as needed
- Outline how episodic use of accommodations (flexibility with deadlines, attendance, breaks) will work
Can I ask a student about their diagnosis or the nature of their disability?
No, you should not ask a student about why they receive services or why they have specific accommodations. There are times when students are comfortable discussing their disability with professors, but in most cases, students choose not to disclose the nature of their disability. Faculty may contact the student’s disability counselor to discuss helpful ways to work with students.
What if I think a student's request for accommodation impacts the integrity of my course?
If the accommodation is outlined in their accommodation letter, please contact the student's disability counselor to consult about your concerns. It may be possible to find alternative accommodations or there are times when an accommodation does not work given a course structure. Faculty must consult with SDS prior to denying any accommodation (some faculty have consulted once and continue to use previous SDS guidelines for the same course).
If the accommodation is not outlined in the student's accommodation letter, I would bring this to the student's attention. They may need to be referred back to SDS to discuss whether they qualify for the accommodation. SDS appreciates notification from faculty when a referral is made to us to expedite the process.
What if I have identified additional ways to support the student? Or want to propose an alternative accommodation to meet the needs of a student?
SDS welcomes input from faculty about meeting students' accommodation needs. Faculty are an integral part of discerning what will work in their course and how a student is performing/navigating the course. Please consult with SDS prior to replacing any approved accommodation with an alternative unless this has already been approved by a disability counselor in a previous semester for the same course.
What should I do if I suspect a student in my class has a disability and I do not have an accommodation letter from them?
The instructor’s observations in the classroom are invaluable to appropriate referrals to SDS. SDS encourages faculty to contact a disability counselor to consult about a student and whether a referral is warranted and how to make the referral.