Working with Students
The following is meant as a general guide for faculty and staff working with students with disabilities and provides information regarding arranging academic accommodations and communicating effectively. Remember, the Accessible Education Center's staff is here to support you. Please feel free to contact an AEC counselor with any questions or concerns you may have.
Communicating with Students with Disabilities
When students request an appointment to discuss any disability or accommodations related issues, encourage students to meet with you during office hours. Meeting in a more relaxed, one on one setting allows plenty of time to discuss matters in a private, comfortable, reduced distraction environment.
Treat students with disabilities as you would other students, speaking directly to the student in a normal tone and volume. Avoid making assumptions about a student’s capabilities; students will make you aware if they require assistance or require a different mode of communication. Refer to the U.S. Department of Labor's disability etiquette publication or “Fast Facts for Faculty” for further information working with students with disabilities.
Under legal mandates and University policy governing confidentiality, faculty members are committed to confidentiality regarding information disclosed to them personally, on the test accommodation forms, or by other means of written or verbal communication. Confidentiality protection also applies to information gained through contacts with the AEC. Legally, students are not required to disclose the nature of their disability or to submit copies of disability documentation to other University departments or personnel after registering with the AEC.
Working with Students Using Testing Accommodations
For many students, well-executed accommodations mean the difference between success and failure. The following tips will assist you in partnering with the AEC to provide test accommodations on behalf of your students.
- Students submit a Test Accommodation Request in MyAEC at least 5 business days prior to the exam date. The Professor and the AEC student MUST agree on a date and time for your exam. The Professor should send written approval to the AEC is the AEC student wishes to test at an alternate time from when the class is testing.
- Rescheduling an exam can only be done with the professor's approval. The professor may contact the AEC by phone for a verbal approval, memo, or email.
- Professors are welcome to accommodate students themselves if they are able to provide the same prescribed accommodations as the AEC and the environment is conducive to testing (i.e., private room, muted phone, no traffic or conversations) can provide. If you are providing accommodations yourself, allow the student to see the testing area or accommodations (i.e., hardware/software, accessible furniture) ahead of time to determine whether they are effective.
- As you will likely encounter students who use adaptive technology, alternative media, or testing services, you are encouraged to set up a time to tour the AEC's Testing Room in IS 223 or Center for Accessible Technology (CAT) in the MLK Library.
- When working with those students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, you will be provided a copy of the Important Guidelines from the Interpreter/Captioner (PDF).
- For further information regarding testing accommodations, see the test accommodation webpage.
No action is needed on behave of Faculty. AEC will recruit a notetaker via course roster. Faculty will receive a confirmation email once a notetaker is assigned.
Referring Students to the AEC
Contrary to disability legislation governing secondary schools, disability laws at the postsecondary level forbid university faculty and staff from asking a student whether he or she has a disability. Therefore, should you suspect that a student may be struggling in your class due to a learning disability or could otherwise benefit from AEC services, present your concerns to the student using the following 5-step method:
- State what you have observed in the student’s academic performance or classroom behavior: “I have noticed that essays seem difficult for you. Perhaps there is some difficulty expressing yourself in writing.”
- Express a strength you have noticed: “I can tell that this class is important to you because you have good attendance and participation.”
- State your motivation and concerns: "I’m concerned that your knowledge of the course materials is not being demonstrated in your written work and exams. Your success is important to me.”
- Share a personal anecdote with the student: “I had an Economics course in college that was really difficult; I ended up having to retake the course to pass it.”
- Invite the student to visit Admin 110 (AEC) to meet with someone: “There is an office on campus that performs various educational tests to identify areas of learning strength and weakness and provides academic services and accommodations for students who are eligible.”