1. A student says s/he needs accommodations for a disability. What should I tell the student?
Ask the student if they have registered with the Access Center and have been approved for accommodations. If they have not registered and been approved for accommodations, please direct the student to the Access Center located in the Student Wellness Center (VCLS 160), or to the Access Center website. The first step is for the student to submit an Access Center New Student Application located on the Access Center website. Once this application has been received, the student will be contacted to set up an appointment with the Access Center Coordinator. The Access Center Coordinator will meet with the student and review documentation to determine reasonable accommodations for the purpose of reducing or removing environmental barriers impacting the student’s equitable access.)
Faculty are not to request documentation from the student to verify their disability. Nor should you ask students the specifics of their disability. Students are not obligated to share information about their disability or why they are receiving accommodations; however, if students choose to disclose their disability with you, this information should be treated confidentially.
2. I suspect a student in my class has a disability. What are my next steps?
Some disabilities are evident with students who are deaf, blind or have mobility access needs. However, there may be times when you notice students exhibiting certain behaviors or reactions that may be substantially impacting their academic performance. These might include, but are not limited to: restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, asking excessive questions, poor memory, increased anxiety, irritability, panic, difficulty with social situations, lack of attendance or failing grades. These behaviors may be symptoms related to a hidden disability.
If you suspect a student may have a disability, you are encouraged to set up a one-on-one meeting with the student and give him or her a list of campus resources to encourage their success. Included in these resources should be the contact information for the Access Center, where they can apply for accommodations on the Access Center webpage, and providing the student with an Access Center brochure. Brochures are available from the Access Center upon request.
After a student has applied, met with the Access Center Coordinator and has been approved for accommodations, instructors will receive an official “Notification of Accommodations” by email. This Faculty Notification Letter (FNL) is automatically sent on the first day of class, or 48 hours after the student has selected their approved accommodations from MyAccess.
This official notification lets instructors know there is a student in their class requiring accommodations, and how they are to proceed. For more details, please visit the Faculty Portal on the Access Center website.
3. What is my responsibility for maintaining confidentiality about a student’s disability?
Students are not obligated to share information about their disability or why they are receiving accommodations. However, if students choose to disclose their disability with you, you must hold this information in confidence. You may discuss the student’s accommodations with the student. However, you are not discuss a student’s accommodations with other faculty, staff or students or allow accommodation information, such as the faculty notification letter, in view of others (e.g., as on your desk or podium). If a student approaches you to discuss their accommodations in the presence of others, please invite them to meet privately with you, rather than continue the conversation in front of others. If you have questions about a student’s accommodations, you may discuss these with the Access Center Coordinator.
4. Can I provide accommodations for a student without using the Access Center?
Please connect with the Access Center Coordinator before providing your own accommodations to a student. Over accommodation can be as problematic as under accommodation, especially when the student interprets the accommodation as university-sanctioned or expects other instructors to accommodate them in the same ways without formal approval.
5. What if a student notifies me of a needed accommodation late in the semester? Are accommodations retroactive?
Students can request accommodations from the Access Center or request accommodation adjustments at any time, not just before, or at the beginning of a semester. Accommodations are not retroactive. They begin once you have received the official Faculty Notification Letter for the student for that semester.
Flexible attendance and flexible assignment deadlines accommodations are also not retroactive. They begin once the instructor and student meet to discuss, complete, and sign the flexible agreement forms. We strongly encourage faculty to meet with the student within the first two weeks of receiving the Faculty Notification Letter. Having a clear understanding of the parameters of these flexible agreements is beneficial for both faculty and students. The student is responsible for returning a copy of these signed forms to the Access Center each semester they use them.
After appropriate accommodations have been established through the Access Center, if they wish, faculty can choose whether to allow the student to repeat an assignment or retake an exam
with the new or updated accommodations in place. However, the instructor is not required to do so.
6. How can I acquire closed captioning for videos for a course?
You may submit a request for closed captioning by contacting IT. Typically, IT requires receiving the request two weeks before the video is posted/made available to the class. Especially long videos may require more than a two-week notice.
For short online videos faculty are always encouraged to close caption videos on their own using a system called Amara. Please watch the following video to learn how Amara works.
You may also consider an alternate course material that meets your learning objectives and is accessible. Consult with the Reference Librarian, for assistance in locating accessible materials.
7. If I have questions or concerns, with whom can I discuss a student’s disability accommodations?
The Access Center Coordinator, located in the Student Wellness Center (VCSL 160), is available for consultations. You may refer students’ questions directly to the Access Center Coordinator in person, by phone or by email. Please remember that any information the student shares with you should treated confidentially. Do not discuss disability accommodations with the student in front of the class or allow Faculty Notification Letters or other student accommodation information to be in places where others may see them. For more information, please contact the Access Center Coordinator at 360-546-9138 or contact the Access Center. For more details, please visit the Faculty Portal on the Access Center website.
Grievance policy and procedures
Faculty members have the same right as students to raise questions and concerns with disability services/accommodations, especially when it is believed that the accommodations granted present a fundamental alteration to the academic integrity of the course. In these cases, faculty must speak directly to the Access Center Coordinator and NOT to the student in question. In addition, faculty members are still obligated to provide all accommodations as stated in the Faculty Notification Letter until resolution is reached.
If a faculty member is still dissatisfied after the Access Center has considered the concern and provided rationale, the faculty should speak directly to the manager of the Access Center or
his/her department chair. The department chair will confer with the Academic Leadership Team and Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs as needed, and will respond to the faculty member within two weeks. Accommodations may not be adjusted until resolution is reached.