Working with Students
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 DRC staff is here to support you. Please feel free to contact a DRC 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 DRC. 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 DRC.
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 DRC to provide test accommodations on behalf of your students.
Accommodation forms must be signed by the professor at least five school days prior to the exam date. After signing a test accommodation form, the student is required to return the form to the DRC office.
Rescheduling an exam can only be done with the professor's approval. The professor may contact the DRC 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 DRC 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 DRC’s Testing Room in IS 223 or Center for Accessible Technology (CAT) in the MLK Library.
- For further information regarding testing accommodations, see the test accommodation webpage.
If you are presented with a Notetaker Request Memorandum, please check the memo for the method of securing a notetaker: 1) general announcement in-class, or 2) confidentially.
If confidentiality is the preferred method, DRC ask you speak directly with a fellow classmate to request assistance as a notetaker. When speaking with the potential notetaker it is important to be aware of your surroundings to maintain confidentiality; only state the requesting student’s name when the fellow classmate agrees to be a notetaker.
If the preferred method is a general announcement in-class the DRC has provided you with language to assist in making the announcement; you will find this language in the Notetaker Request memo:
"A student in this class is in need of a notetaker. If you take clear, legible notes and are interested in being a notetaker, come up after class to meet the student. Notetakers are eligible for priority registration for the following semester.
DRC ask that you make an announcement to your classes during the first, second and third class meetings once the student presents you with the Notetaker Request Memo. If a fellow student does not volunteer after the second/third request contact DRC immediately for assistance. Volunteers should meet with the registered DRC student to receive priority registration information and make arrangements to exchange notes.
If you are presented with a Notetaker Request Memorandum, please make an announcement to your classes during the first, second and third class meetings announcing the need for a student notetaker for students with disabilities. Volunteers should meet with the registered DRC student to receive priority registration information and make arrangements to exchange notes. The memo contains the following announcement:
"A student in this class is in need of a notetaker. If you take clear, legible notes and are interested in being a notetaker, come up after class to meet the student. Notetakers are eligible for priority registration for the following semester. A student taking notes on a laptop is prefered."
Referring Students to the DRC
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 DRC 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 (DRC) 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.”