Faculty Guide to Disability Services
There are a variety of ways to accommodate the academic needs of students who have disabiilties, in and out of the classroom. In recent years, Wesleyan faculty have embraced various pedagogical tools and techniques that fall in line with Universal Design ideals. Additionally, the Office of Student Affairs/Deans' Office provides services to students with disabilities, and also assists faculty, both in understanding their role in disabilities services provision and in dealing with challenges as they arise.
Wesleyan's disabilities services provision is based upon Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which states: "No otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States . . . shall solely by reason of his handicap, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance." The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 extends some of these stated provisions.
Wesleyan requests that each faculty member include the following heading and statement on all course syllabi, Web pages and Moodle pages to direct students on how and when to register with disabilities services:
Students with Disabilities:
It is the policy of Wesleyan University to provide reasonable accommodations to students with documented disabilities. Students, however, are responsible for registering with Disabilities Services, in addition to making requests known to me in a timely manner. If you require accommodations in this class, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible [during the nth week of the semester], so that appropriate arrangements can be made. The procedures for registering with Disabilities Services can be found at http://www.wesleyan.edu/studentaffairs/disabilities/studentguide.html.
Wesleyan does not offer academic programs specifically for individuals with disabilities. The University is, however, committed to providing services and reasonable accommodations to all students who need and have a legal entitlement to such accommodations, providing the accommodations do not fundamentally alter the nature of an academic course or an institutional policy. The purpose of this guide is to outline Wesleyan's disabilities services and explain how, under Section 504, the ADA, and the ADAAA of 2008, Wesleyan faculty can best accommodate students with documented disabilities.
Process for Student Requests of Accommodations
Students who would like to request 504/ADA accommodations are expected to self-disclose by making an appointment with Dean Sarah E. Lazare (learning and physical disabilities) and establishing a disabilities file. The purpose of the meeting is to review documentation of the student's disability, to discuss the disability in the context of the student's academic and nonacademic plans and, at the student's request, to assist with arranging appropriate accommodations with faculty and other university offices, as needed. The dean may also suggest using the academic support services available to all students, such as the Writing Workshop, the Math Workshop, and other services listed in the Student Academic Resources Network (SARN) and at the end of this guide.
At this meeting, the student is expected to provide current documentation of the disability and the recommended accommodation. Upon receipt of the student's documentation, Dean Lazare will review it in consultation with the Office of Counseling and Psychological Services (in the case of learning disabilities) or Health Services (in the case of physical disabilities) to assess the request for accommodations.
All students with disabilities who request accommodations from faculty should have received prior approval for the accommodations in the form of a written letter sent via e-mail from Dean Lazare to both the faculty and student. Students with documented disabilities are sent a reminder at the beginning of each semester to see the dean. If the student is requesting accommodations that semester, the student requests accommodations for each individual course. The dean then sends a letter via e-mail to the instructor and the student that indicate the appropriate accommodation(s). These letters serve as the student's entry point into a dialogue with you. The dean will act as a mediator when needed. However, it is expected that a student will advocate for individual needs directly with the faculty. Please note that, generally, without a communication from Dean Lazare, you are not obligated to provide accommodations.
In some cases, students who request accommodations, but are in the process of acquiring proper or updated documentation, may be granted provisional accommodations. Provisional accommodations are generally granted for one semester only.
Students are responsible for approaching instructors in a timely manner to arrange the specifics of accommodations. However, some may wait until just before an exam to do so; others may discover a disability or get documentation to support accommodation requests after the course has begun. To reduce the instances of requests for last-minute accommodations, Disabilities Services encourages you to note on your syllabus that concerned students should consult with Disabilities Services within the first few weeks of the semester.
Disabilities Services may review requests for reasonable accommodations with either the Office of Counseling and Psychological Services or Health Services. With the student's permission, the student's class dean may be notified when a student establishes a disabilities file.
Accommodation requests are considered within the context of both warranted documentation and available resources. Each student's situation is reviewed together with the relevant documentation to determine the type of accommodation recommended. Accommodations that are considered reasonable are those that do not fundamentally alter the nature of an academic course or the institution's policies, and do not place an undue hardship on the institution. Reasonable accommodations are distinguished from services of a personal nature, which the University does not provide but the student may choose to employ. Such services of a personal nature may include individual assistants or coaches.
If you are ever unclear on what is expected of you when a student requests accommodations, or if you feel that a request compromises your course content or expectations, please do not hesitate to contact Dean Lazare. If agreement on accommodations cannot be reached by you and Dean Lazare, Vice President of Student Affairs, Michael Whaley, will be consulted. Our aim is to work in partnership with you to provide access to students in need.
Accommodations currently used for students with disabilities that, as a faculty member, you are likely to encounter, include the following:
- Extended time for in-class assessments and timed assignments
Extended time is arranged with you by the student. The standard recommended amount is an additional 50% of the standard time given to all students without accommodations. If more time is recommended, the Disabilities Services letter will specify this.
- Space free of environmental distractions for exams
You are asked to arrange a separate and quiet room if you or your departmental assistant is unable to reserve a room. Disabilities Services can work with the Office of the University Registrar to help you find a suitable location.
- Printed material, including books, in alternate formats
As it can take some time to purchase alternate format material, Disabilities Services may request a copy of your syllabus several months in advance in order to have material ready at the start of class.
- Audio recording classes
The student is responsible for providing equipment. Despite copyright laws, faculty are required to allow students to audio record classes if it is an approved reasonable accommodation. Faculty are permitted to request agreements that the student will not publish or distribute such recordings.
- Laptop computer use for taking class notes
Often faculty do not permit use of laptops in class. An exception must be made for students with this as an approved accommodation. So as not to, by default, disclose that a student has a disability, it is strongly encouraged that faculty who do not permit use of laptops include a statement in their syllabus that exceptions to this rule will be made on a case-by-case basis.
- Note takers
You may be asked to recommend a note taker or to make an announcement to the class soliciting a note taker. Note takers are paid for their services by Disabilities Services. The student is generally responsible for obtaining the notes.
You may be asked to make an announcement to the class soliciting readers. Readers are paid for their services by Disabilities Services and are provided tape recorders. The student is generally responsible for obtaining the readings.
- Sign language interpreters
Interpreters will be employed and arranged by Disabilities Services.
- Relocation of class or university events to an
Relocations can be arranged by Disabilities Services in conjunction with the Registrar or Events and Scheduling. Please see also the Accessible Pathways and Parking Map.
- Laptop computer for in-class exam use
With advance notice, laptops can be borrowed from Disabilities Services.
- Assistive listening devices
These are available in some classrooms.
The Student Academic Resources Network (SARN), provides a network of academic services to assist all Wesleyan students. Students with disabilities are encouraged to seek out these resources, which include:
- Writing Workshop
- Writing mentors work individually with students and assist many students with disabilities. The Writing Workshop is located at Downey House, Lower Level. For more information, contact Professor Anne Greene, phone (860) 685-2240, or visit www.wesleyan.edu/writing/workshop.
- Math Workshop
- The Math Workshop is located in Room 113A Science Center, on the Main floor Conference Room in the Science Library. It is open Sunday through Thursday from 7 to 10 pm and Monday through Thursday from 2:30 to 5:00 p. m. during the semester. There are always two staff members on duty, who may be either experienced undergraduates, or math graduate students. The staff offer a drop-in tutoring service, available to all members of the Wesleyan community. Staff members provide a friendly, relaxed atmosphere while answering questions about mathematics. (860) 685-2205
- Deans' Office Peer Tutoring Program
- Peer tutors are provided free of charge for individual students in need of further course-content instruction. Students interested in this program should visit the the website and fill out the request forms.
- Various offices on campus sponsor workshops on such topics as time management, study skills, note taking, test taking, math, and writing. For more information, visit the SARN website.