Faculty Resources

SYLLABUS STATEMENTS

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Students with disabilities are entitled to academic accommodations and services to support their access and safety needs. The Office for Disability Services in 109-J Enrollment Services Center coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities.  Although a request may be made at any time, services are best applied when they are requested at or before the start of the semester. Please contact Disability Services at 606-783-5188, e.day@moreheadstate.edu, or visit their website at www.moreheadstate.edu/disability for more information.
 

Campus Safety Statement

Emergency response information will be discussed in class. Students should familiarize themselves with the nearest exit routes in the event evacuation becomes necessary. You should notify your instructor at the beginning of the semester if you have special needs or will require assistance during an emergency evacuation. Students should familiarize themselves with emergency response protocols at: www.moreheadstate.edu/emergency.

FAQ


What is my role in providing accommodations?

Just as with your other students, you carry the ultimate responsibility for conveying course content to and assessing the learning of students with disabilities. Typically you will learn of an accommodation need in one of your classes when a student presents you with a copy of an official accommodation letter. The letter, addressed from the disability services coordinator to "teaching faculty" will include a description of that student's accommodations along with any supportive referrals for you.
A smaller number of students require accommodations that take more lead time to prepare (e.g., captioning of films, adapted materials and assignments, etc.). In these cases, the disability services coordinator will instead notify you via University e-mail as early as possible, ideally by the close of the previous semester (this practice is limited by changes to the student's class schedule and teaching assignments)The email's subject line will always be: “Notification of Disability Accommodations” and it will be marked as a high priority. The content will include the student’s identity, your course number and section, and a description of what must be provided. In these cases, the student will not need to provide you with a separate accommodation letter.
Although students are generally advised to qualify for services through disability services and to present their accommodation letter to you early in the semester, some elect to first attempt a course without accommodation.  Even so, faculty are entitled to adequate lead-time to make course adjustments and test provisions, and students are informed that they cannot simply show up and expect to be accommodated on the spot. Rights to accommodations are not retroactive, but become effective as of the date you are notified by disability services via e-mail or the student's accommodation letter.
Accommodation notices and the student's identity are to be treated confidentially and shared only to the extent necessary to provide the services mentioned. It is the faculty's responsibility to select trustworthy proctors and note-takers who agree to maintain confidentiality as well. Except with the student's consent, accommodations should not be arranged through an announcement in class.

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How are accommodations determined?
Upon receipt of documentation from an appropriate professional, it is reviewed by Disability Services and combined with first-hand information provided by the student. Guidelines exist, but specific accommodations aim to address the current impacts of a particular student’s disability. While the student is an active participant in the determination, academic adjustments must also be reasonable and appropriate from the University’s standpoint. Accommodations that would fundamentally alter an essential element of a course or program of study would be inappropriate.


Do I have any recourse if I disagree with the accommodations that have been approved in one of my classes?

Yes. Start by discussing your concerns with the Disability Services coordinator; with further explanation you may agree that the accommodation is both reasonable and doable. However, if in your opinion the request is a fundamental alteration that would compromise course integrity, then you should review your objections with your Department Chair and/or the Office of the Provost. Prior to denying the requested accommodation you must be prepared to show the following:

  1. The academic department used a deliberative process to determine which course elements are “essential” as opposed to “beneficial,” “traditional,” or simply “required”.
  2. The academic department’s decision was free from bias or discrimination.
  3. Through an interactive process, alternative accommodations that would not compromise the course were considered in place of the requested one. Note: When there is more than one way to effectively provide an accommodation, the option that allows the greatest independence of the student should generally be favored. It is appropriate for you to privately ask the student about his/her preference.
  4. You or your Chair clearly communicated the department’s determination to the Disability Services coordinator, who will at that point adjust and reissue the official accommodation notice as appropriate.

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What types of accommodations/services are available?
While accommodations/services are numerous and may be uniquely tailored based on individual need, requests frequently include: 

  • Extended test-taking time
  • Peer note-takers
  • Readers for tests
  • Scribes for recording test responses
  • Electronic textbooks
  • Student's personal attendant allowed in classroom
  • Enlarged or adapted materials
  • Permission to record lectures
  • Advance online access to PowerPoint slides, or hard copies at class time
  • Excused disability-related absences, tardiness, or unscheduled breaks
  • Assistive Technology
  • Use of spell check or else no penalty for spelling errors on essay tests or in-class writing assignments
  • Preferential seating 
  • Reduced-distraction testing location
  • Course delivery alterations for students who are deaf or blind
  • Personal Coaching
  • Accessible parking, housing, classroom furniture and facilities

Do accommodations apply in an online course (or online portions of a course)? 
Yes. However, the time to consider the overall accessibility of your course is before a demand is made on behalf of a particular student. Keep in mind that someone who is deaf or blind or has a learning disability in reading may enroll in your course at any time. The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education expects online courses to be fully accessible at the time they are offered. Captioning audio content and verifying that posted files and linked-to sites are compatible with text screen readers is not something you'll be able to rapidly address in order to meet the legal obligation. Please consult the Distance Education & Instructional Design office if you have any questions about the full accessibility of your course.

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I am interested in incorporating one or more emerging technologies into my courses. Are there any special concerns about accessibility?
Yes. Verification of accessibility features should occur prior to choosing technologies to use in online as well as face-to-face classes. There have been legal consequences for institutions that have by-passed this important phase. Consultation with Information Technology and/or Distance Learning, the Office of Procurement Services, and/or the Office of Disability Services, will help ensure that all your students will benefit from these new tools in an "equally effective and equally integrated manner" and will keep the University compliant with federal regulations. Visit the US Department of Education website for further information on this topic.

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With so much emphasis on confidentiality and ADA legislation, must I constantly be on my guard about the legal aspects when working with a student who has a disability? 
It is not in the typical nature of educators to mistreat, offend or exclude any student. Still, even the most naturally progressive among us are more mindful of disability issues because of those legal protections. From the other side, although informed about their legal rights, the typical student with a disability expects only what is reasonable and is not trying to catch you in a blunder. Accommodations should be provided in the manner indicated in the disability services notice, discussed with others strictly on a need-to-know basis, and consultation sought for any irregular situations. With advance planning and a willingness to fine-tune accommodations to fit the demands of a particular class, things tend to work smoothly. A guide to disability rights laws may be found at www.ada.gov

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Does the Office of Disability Services office offer any devices or materials that I can use for accommodating students?
Yes. For your blind and low vision students, tactile drawing boards let you represent graphic content on handouts and tests, and are especially helpful for illustrating concepts free-hand using the stylus when working one-on-one. You can check out a Braille label-maker to identify lab instruments and objects used in class. You may also check out large print and tactile graphing paper, maps in large print and Braille, rulers and protractors in large print and Braille, a talking calculator, a talking LabQuest with probes, and a talking color identifier. A Braille embosser is located at the Office of Disability Services and we can produce print conversions of your electronic documents, including precise renderings of graphs and charts. One week is usually adequate lead time for us to convert and return a single test, although up to twice that long might be necessary during periods of peak demand. Turnaround time can be greatly reduced by sending all your materials electronically to us at or before the start of the semester. Note: several faculty have opted for us to train them in the use of the equipment in order to produce accessible materials at their own pace; let us know if you are interested. 

If needed by your hard-of-hearing students, there is an assistive listening device with a microphone. The Office of Disability Services also has a high speed scanner with optical character recognition software you may use to convert documents to a form that is available to students with a reading disorder, visual impairment, or other print-related disabilities. Depending on budget limitations, it may be possible to purchase additional assistive technology to fit a unique situation that you encounter in a class. Please discuss those needs with the Office of Disability Services at the earliest opportunity.

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How should I handle a student’s informal request for course accommodations? 
Please refer him/her to the Office of Disability Services first. Even though responding immediately may seem more efficient or friendlier, acting on a student’s self-report is outside of established policy and problems can result such as unwarranted or uneven treatment of students and unnecessary work for you. It could also establish an obligation for other faculty members. 

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What if a student is worried about being stigmatized if he/she formally seeks services?
Disability records are confidential and kept in a locked file cabinet in the Office of Disability Services. Receipt of accommodations and disability status are not noted on the academic transcript. Providers of accommodations are obligated to keep the identity of users on a need-to-know basis. Accommodations are arranged and provided in as low-key a manner as possible, to reduce drawing attention from uninvolved persons. 

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Am I allowed to fail a student with an established disability?
Yes, if appropriate academic accommodations were provided but the student did not meet the essential course requirements. Accommodations should not "water down" nor fundamentally alter essential course content or the academic standards by which all students are graded. Laws exist to ensure equal access to education, not to guarantee a particular student’s success or to create an unfair advantage. 

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Does the student have any obligations in this process?
Yes. More self-assertion is required here than in high school. The student must make the first move by contacting the Office of Disability Services and submitting the requested documentation. At the intake session students review our policies and procedures, many of which rely upon their future assertive behavior. For example, in a test-related accommodation, the student must contact you by the class session prior to each scheduled exam and ask when and where to report on the test date. Thus, it is the student who initiates each occurrence of this type of accommodation. In preparation for a semester-long working relationship with you, students are advised to introduce themselves and discuss their accommodations during the first few days of class.

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What if I am notified of testing accommodations but the student does not come forward to use them?
He/she may have forgotten the procedure, perhaps feels intimidated, or has simply decided not to use them in your class. You might privately ask the student's intentions or inform Disability Services, although no obligation exists on your part.

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Where do I turn if I am unable to provide a testing accommodation myself?

Look first to your department for someone to proctor on your behalf. Since providing accommodated testing that is legally compliant and meets your students’ needs can be challenging given limited departmental resources, the following may make the process more workable for you.


Types of Test Accommodations

  • Because it is relevant to many categories of disability, the accommodation faculty most frequently need to provide is extended test-taking time in a reduced distraction location.
  • A proctor-reader should be advised to read at a slow, clear rate, pausing between answer choices, and to repeat questions if requested. The proctor should not make personal comments nor elaborate the meaning of test items.
  • A proctor-scribe should record the student’s verbal responses verbatim. To verify the accurate capture of lengthy answers the proctor should read back and make revisions as directed.
  • If indicated on the accommodation notice, a student should be allowed to use his/her own assistive devices during testing. Some examples are text screen-readers, refreshable Braille machines, keyboarding answers to open response questions, talking calculators, and voice-to-text software.
  • When there is more than one way to way to provide an accommodation, the option allowing for the preference and greatest independence of the test-taker should be favored.


Test Proctors

  • May be a staff or other faculty member, a G.A., a trusted student worker, or yourself.
  • In many cases it will be unnecessary to distinguish an accommodated test from a make-up exam; inform the proctor on a need-to-know basis, emphasizing that the test-taker’s status as a person with a disability is confidential and must not be further disclosed.
  • Scheduling accommodated tests so that they overlap the classroom administration is desirable for practical reasons, but it is not required. Scheduling may be fitted around the student’s class schedule and your proctor’s availability as long as it doesn’t result in a disadvantage for the student (such as having fewer days to prepare than classmates).
     

Test Room Conditions

  • “Distraction-free” conditions are not always possible. “Reduced-distraction” means choosing the best test setting available then exerting a reasonable degree of control over intrusions, extraneous movements, sounds, and visual stimulation to limit interference with test-taking.
  • The testing period should not be interrupted unless unavoidable; e.g., it would rarely be appropriate to start the test in class and then relocate the student for the extension.
  • Tests should not be proctored in an open space where the test-taker can view or be easily viewed by passersby; being perceived by others raises anxiety and lowers concentration as well as making confidentiality harder to manage.
  • Seating should not directly face a window or avoidable visual distractions such as a TV or an active computer monitor.
  • Proctors may do unrelated personal work while overseeing an accommodated test as long as it is quiet and doesn’t call attention to itself. Acceptable proctor activities do not include coming and going or moving around in the room unless unavoidable.
  • Neither should the proctor engage in conversation with the test-taker or anyone else, and phone ringers and text alerts should be turned off for the duration.
  • Posting signage such as “QUIET PLEASE, TESTING IN PROGRESS” is recommended to help reduce traffic noise directly outside the testing room and to prevent others from entering.
  • If you have two or more accommodated students, to avoid the possibility of complaints and (if valid) having to re-test one or both, it is strongly advised to test them separately. However, if the room is sizeable so the students can be seated at distant points and out of line-of-sight of each other, an exception may be made as long as no issues arise. When the mere presence of other test-takers is the rationale for the accommodation, the notice will indicate that a “private” test room must be provided.
  • If needed, over-the-ear headsets and disposable foam ear plugs may be checked out from DS to give you added control over noise affecting your testing area.
  • DS encourages students to give feedback to our office and to you about the effectiveness of accommodations, but you are also free to privately check directly with them and to make adjustments at any time.
  • While the DS office is not equipped to provide accommodated testing for you, we can schedule a brief training for your proctors and are available to help trouble-shoot accommodation problems if any arise. It may also be possible to put you in contact with other faculty who successfully accommodated your student during an earlier semester. Feel free to contact the DS Coordinator at e.day@moreheadstate.edu 783-5188, or 109-J ESC.

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I've been asked to administer my tests under "reduced-distraction" conditions. How is that possible?
Students qualifying for this accommodation are not guaranteed a location free of all potential distractions. Ideally, it calls for testing in a closed room with only the proctor present, and a seat facing away from windows or complex visual content such as a busy bulletin board or an active computer monitor. If you have more than one accommodated student in a class, it is preferable to test them separately. Only if unavoidable and nether student objects when privately asked, may they be tested outside line of sight of each other within a much larger shared space. Testing should also be without avoidable interruptions, music, conversation or phones. Disability Services has a set of over-the-ear headsets and disposable foam ear plugs you may check out if controlling for sound is an issue. Posting signage such as "quiet please, testing in progress" is recommended to help reduce traffic noise directly outside the testing room and to prevent others from entering.

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What safeguards exist to prevent unauthorized release of materials such as supplemental notes or recordings of my class lectures? What if I am simply uncomfortable being recorded?
Accommodated students sign an agreement on file in the Office of Disability Services stating that any recordings or notes are for their use only and will not be reproduced, broadcast, networked, shared nor sold. Accommodations are approved by Disability Services when supported by documentation and a student’s particular access needs, therefore you may not deny a right to record. If your class format includes the sharing of sensitive information by other classmates or yourself that will not be included on a test, you may privately arrange a signal you will use to stop recording during just those portions.

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The accommodation notice I received did not name the student's disability. Why not?
To maximize privacy, notices to professors will not routinely indicate the specific nature of a disability unless that information is essential to the delivery of an accommodation or for safety reasons. Students are encouraged to share this information with you if they are comfortable doing so and believe it would be in their interests, although it cannot be required. Accommodations being provided for your student by others, including by Disability Services, are also not disclosed in the notice.

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What if I suspect that a student has an undisclosed or un-diagnosed learning disability that is impacting performance in my class? Does the University offer learning disability testing?
This is a delicate subject. While the potential for discrimination is rarely an issue in this context, directly inquiring about the existence of a disability is generally not recommended. A private academic conference may give you an opening to mention various possible explanations for poor performance, including learning disabilities. If you have a good rapport, the conversation may provide an opening to discuss the issue in further detail. Alternatively, you could address learning disabilities in a general way with the whole class as a follow-up to an exam, and share our contact information. While the University is not obligated to provide or cover costs for diagnostic testing, Disability Services may be able to make an affordable local referral based on a free preliminary screening on campus. 

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If a student informs me that approved accommodations are being thwarted in another class or that mistreatment based on disability is occurring elsewhere on campus, where should I direct him/her?  What if the complaint is about the extent of the accommodations approved by Disability Services or the actions of its staff?

When students register with Disability Services, they are informed of the process for handling all of these situations. However, since they infrequently arise it may have been forgotten.  Most often when a student is not appropriately accommodated by faculty it is due to a misunderstanding about what is required. This can quickly be resolved by further elaboration from the disability services coordinator. However, if the student feels there has been carelessness or refusal to meet the obligation, he/she is entitled to access the University's internal grievance procedure (UAR 303.02) which will result in a timely investigation and resolution. The same rights and process applies to disability-related discrimination should it be encountered anywhere on campus. Your response should be to refer the student to the Office of Disability Services to file an official complaint. If the student's dissatisfaction lies with Disability Services itself, they may of course speak directly to the disability services coordinator about it, or instead contact the Dean of Students at 109-B Enrollment Services Center, or 606-783-2070. 

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What should be my response to a student who brings a dog into my classroom?  What if it's a cat or some other animal?
The only ADA recognized service animals are dogs and in certain circumstances, miniature horses. Service animals may generally go wherever the student with a disability is permitted to go. If it is not obvious to you that the dog accompanying your student is a service animal rather than a pet, you have a legal right to inquire, but there are restrictions on what you may ask.  Visit the Service Animals page for more information.

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Are consultation services available through Disability Services?

Yes. The disability services coordinator is available to discuss your referrals, to clarify how to provide a requested accommodation and to assist you in finding solutions to access problems. On request, programming on disability-related topics will be developed for academic departments and campus organizations. To schedule an appointment, call 606-783-5188 or email Evangeline Day. The disability services coordinator also chairs a campus-wide ADA Accessibility Compliance Task Force. Please contact Disability Services if you have information you'd like to be shared with the team or if you wish to attend a meeting.

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Beyond the mandates, are there any suggestions for becoming (even) more sensitive and helpful to students with disabilities?
Yes. Here are some ideas:

  • Substitute "student with a disability" for "disabled student". The first term simply refers to one aspect of the person's capabilities, while the second suggests that the whole student is disabled. Switch from "handicap" to "accessible" (e.g., accessible parking, accessible entrance) because it has a more positive connotation as well. Replace the words "wheelchair bound" with "wheelchair user" to emphasize what the chair makes possible rather than what it hampers. With practice these new terms will feel natural.
  • Keep in mind that there is a range in how comfortable students feel about discussing their own disability status. Even someone with a very apparent physical disability (e.g., someone who is blind or a wheelchair user) may not appreciate being identified as an "expert" in a related discussion in an education or physiology class. At the other extreme are students who would actually feel disrespected if not asked to personally comment. Solution? Wait to take your cue from the student's spontaneous contribution in class or privately inquire about his/her position before drawing into an open discussion.
  • Know the way to the Office of Disability Services so that you'll be prepared to direct someone. We're located on the first floor of the Enrollment Services Center at the corner of Second Street and Tippett Avenue (for reference, it is behind the new cafeteria, although entry is at the front of the building). 
  • Be aware of additional resources available specifically for your students with disabilities. Disability Services offers academic support and personal coaching, but these services are driven by student request. If you find that someone you are accommodating needs additional help, privately refer him/her back to us.
  • Resist the urge to interact with a student's service animal, and enforce this rule in your classroom. Privately the dog receives much affection from its owner and may be petted by anyone the owner permits, but in public it is "on duty." For more depth on this issue, visit the Service Animals page.  
  • Use automatic door openers only when you need them since they wear out with use. Persons with mobility or health issues AND anyone pushing a hand truck or stroller, or carrying an armload of books should absolutely press the button. If you ever encounter an inoperable switch, please take the time to report it to the Disability Services or to Facilities before it creates a barrier for someone with no other option for entering that building. Disability Services would also appreciate hearing about any other barriers or hazards you may notice on campus. 
  • Accept that a set of accommodations may continue to evolve after the semester is underway. Despite efforts on this end, obstacles (and therefore student needs) may not be entirely predictable when the notice is first generated. The interaction of the demands of your course and a particular student's limitations means that adjustments will occasionally be necessary. You will receive an addendum to the original notice if the change is substantial, but you are free to fine-tune the accommodations directly with the student's input at any time. 
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