Are "disability" and "handicap" the same thing?  

  • A "disability" is a condition caused by accident, trauma, genetics, or disease that may limit a person's mobility, hearing, vision, speech, or mental function. A person may have more than one disability.
  • A "handicap" is a physical or attitudinal constraint imposed upon a person; for example, stairs, narrow doorways, and curbs are handicaps imposed upon people with disabilities who use wheelchairs.

How does a student become eligible to receive accommodations?

  • To become eligible, the student must:
    1. submit a Student Application
    2. provide DS with documentation of the disability from an appropriate qualified professional, and
    3. consult with a DS Accommodation Coordinator to determine appropriate accommodations.

Who determines the accommodation?

DS advisors determine the accommodations using:

  • documentation of the disability from qualified professionals provided by the student, and
  • information gathered from a diagnostic student intake process.

How are reasonable accommodations determined?

Consideration is given to the following:

  • the barriers resulting from the interaction between the disability and the university environment;
  • the array of accommodations that might remove the barriers;
  • whether or not the student has access to the course, program, service, job, or activity without accommodations; and
  • essential elements of the course, program, services, job, or activity are not compromised by the accommodations.

Are accommodations retroactive?

No. Accommodations are not retroactive. Accommodations do not take effect until the student has completed registration with DS and has requested accommodations through the online student portal. Students must further give instructors at least three (3) school days notice before use of an accommodation. DS cannot require the instructor or anyone else to make changes in grades for assignments/exams given prior to notifying the instructor of the accommodations.

Doesn't providing accommodations on examinations give an unfair advantage to a student with a disability?

No. Accommodations don't make things easier, just possible. The purpose of academic accommodations is to put the person with a disability on a level playing field with other students who do not have a disability.


Are faculty required to use the testing services of DS when providing accommodations to students?

No. DS recommends that accommodations be provided within the classroom when possible.

How can accommodations be provided within my classroom?

Any available office or room can be used if students just need extended time, distraction-reduced environment, or enlarged exams. Please discuss accommodations with students to make sure that all needs are being met.

How can I learn more about the needs of my students?

Open communication between you and your students facilitates a better understanding of individual needs. Please contact DS for more information.

What do I do when a student identifies as having a disability?

Ask the student to request accommodations through their online platform, in which you will receive a formal notification or Faculty Notification Letter. This letter describes the accommodations that instructors are legally required to provide. During office hours or at another convenient time, discuss the letter and the accommodations with the student.  Students must request their accommodations through DS' online platform. If the student does not have access to the online portal to submit a request for accommodations, they should DS to request services. The DS Accommodation Coordinators will determine the appropriate accommodations after reviewing documentation of the disability provided by the student.

Can I review the student's documentation of the disability?

No. DS is the office designated to receive and interpret documentation of the disability. DS staff members certify eligibility for services and determine accommodations.  Disability information is confidential and students are not required to disclose this information to instructors. If you are concerned that a student is not disabled or otherwise qualified for the program, you should consult DS.

What if I suspect that a student has a disability?

Talk with the student about your concerns regarding their performance. Whether to self-identify to DS is the decision of the student; however, to receive accommodations, disclosure to DS with proper documentation is required.

If the student has never been evaluated for a Learning Disability and/or Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, DS will provide a list of local resources where the student may be screened or tested. Some of the resources offer a sliding fee schedule.

What if a student with a disability is failing?

Treat the student as you would any student who is not performing well in your class. Invite the student to your office to discuss reasons for the unsatisfactory performance and what resources the student may use to improve. Encourage the student to see a DS staff member to discuss some additional strategies to improve their grades. Contact a DS staff member to discuss any additional concerns.

What if a student with a disability is often absent?

Keep in mind that consideration for absences is an accommodation that is provided for some students. Talk with the student and discuss your concerns that absences are affecting class performance. Remind them of your policy on class absences.  Determine with the student whether the missed work can be made up and arrange with the student to do so. Refer the student to a DS Accommodation Coordinator if too much class work has been missed.  If you have any questions or concerns regarding this accommodation, please contact DS.

What is a notetaker?

A notetaker is usually another student in class who agrees to provide copies of lecture notes taken during class. Some students with disabilities may require a notetaker as a reasonable accommodation. The notetaker may pick up carbonless notetaker paper, available at no charge, in DS.

How can I assist a student with getting notes?

Students who cannot take notes or who have difficulty taking notes adequately due to the effects of their disability can be accommodated in a number of ways including: allowing them to tape record lectures, assisting them in obtaining an in-class volunteer notetaker, and providing them with an outline of lecture materials and copies of overhead transparencies.

What should I do if a student who is deaf or hard of hearing shows up in my class without a Communication Facilitator (CF)?

In the unlikely event that a student shows up for the first day of class without a CF, the student should be referred to DS. DS will then attempt to schedule a CF for the student.

Do I need to alter my teaching style with an interpreter present?

No. Interpreters are professionals who facilitate communication between hearing individuals and people who are deaf or hard of hearing. The role of the interpreter is similar to that of a foreign language translator: to bridge the communication gap between two parties.