WSU Faculty are an integral part of providing academic accommodations to students with disabilities. Winona State faculty and other college officials are expected to provide reasonable accommodation(s) in accordance with official written “Faculty Notice of Eligibility” forms issued by Access Services. You may have gotten a notice from Access Services that a student in your class has a disability, or a student may have disclosed to you that they have a disability, and you’re wondering what to do.
If you can’t find an answer to your question, please contact Access Services at 507.457.5878.
Basic information can be found below, but for a more comprehensive list of information, please consult the WSU Access Services Faculty Handbook (PDF).
What is a disability?
A person is considered to be a person with a disability if they are someone with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. This includes care for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working.
A person is considered to be a person with a disability if they have the disability, have a record of the disability or is regarded as having the disability.
What is an accommodation?
An academic accommodation is a modification that is made to a course, program, job, activity or facility that eliminates or minimizes disability-related barriers to allow for equal access.
In order for an accommodation to be considered reasonable, it must meet four criteria:
- It must not compromise essential requirements of a course or program
- It must not cause an undue administrative or financial hardship
- It must not compromise safety to you or others
- It must not fundamentally alter a course or program
What are the most common disabilities at WSU?
Access Services accommodates over 300 students per year. For the last school year, the top three disabilities on campus were ADD/ADHD, psychiatric disabilities such as depression or anxiety, and Learning Disabilities. Instructional strategies and characteristics of disabilities can be found by going to Disabilities by Type.
What should I put on my syllabus for students with disabilities?
The following information about WSU’s Commitment to Inclusive Excellence and access for students with disabilities should be included on your syllabus each semester:
Commitment to Inclusive Excellence: WSU recognizes that our individual differences can deepen our understanding of one another and the world around us, rather than divide us. In this class, people of all ethnicities, genders, religions, ages, sexual orientations, disabilities, socioeconomic backgrounds, regions and nationalities are strongly encouraged to share their rich array of perspectives and experiences. If you feel your differences may in some way isolate you from WSU’s community or if you have a need of any specific accommodations, please speak with the instructor early in the semester about your concerns and what we can do together to help you become an active and engaged member of our class and community.
Access statement for students with disabilities: "To obtain disability related accommodations and/or auxiliary aids, students with disabilities must contact Access Services as soon as possible by calling 507.457.5878 or emailing Access Services at email@example.com."
What are a faculty member’s responsibilities?
- Be aware of and comply with WSU’s policies and procedures for providing academic accommodations.
- Refer students with a disability to Access Services
- Announce to class at the beginning of the semester that students who may need accommodations due to a disability should see you during your office hours to privately discuss their needs or contact Access Services to receive accommodations.
- Include statement on syllabus about WSU’s Commitment to Inclusive Excellence
- Maintain confidentiality of a student’s disability.
- Provide students’ exams to Access Services prior to test time for students who are taking their exams in Access Services.
- Caption all media in your class, especially if you have a student with a hearing loss.
- Contact Access Services at 457.5878 with questions, concerns or clarification if needed.
- Permit the use of approved accommodations. (i.e. recording devices, laptops for notes, sign language interpreters, note takers, etc.)
A student in my class told me they have a disability. What do I do?
You should ask them if they are registered with Access Services. Encourage them to stop in to Maxwell 314 to get registered. You can also email the coordinator of Access Services if you have information that would be helpful.
Do I have to make retroactive accommodations?
If a student discloses that they have a disability partway through the semester, you are not required to accommodate previous work that was already submitted for grading. Students are encouraged to register early in the semester with Access Services so that necessary accommodations can be implemented, and it is the student’s responsibility to do so.
Don’t accommodations give an unfair advantage to a student?
Students with disabilities may have different learning styles than a traditional student. Accommodations provide equal access to students with disabilities to learn in the academic environment.
Technology and Audio Use for Notetaking
In class, professors may have one or more students with the accommodation of audio recording lectures or laptop/iPad use for note-taking. Professors must allow the use of technology for students with this accommodation, but there are restrictions placed on students' use of technology and/or recording device in the classroom.
All students with this accommodation are required to confirm their understanding of the following expectations.
- Unless authored use of internet, email, or any other communications during class is prohibited, and such actions may render the student ineligible for this accommodation
- If using recording device for note-taking, the student may not share, send, post , publish or make profit financially from the content recorded. They are to only record the professor lecturing. Recording has to stop during class discussion, presentation, and other conversation.
- All recording will be deleted at the end of the semester.
If any student is found to be in violation of these guidelines, please contact Gale Planning in Access Services immediately.
In order to prevent calling attention to students with disabilities who require this accommodation, some of your colleagues have included statements in their syllabi similar to the following:
"If you wish to take notes using a laptop, you must first come see me to discuss this request. It is not permissible to use a laptop in my classroom for any purpose other than note-taking. Access to the internet must be disabled before the start of class, and any abuse of this requirement will result in denial of authorization to use a laptop for note-taking."
OR, more succinctly,
"Laptop use for note-taking is by permission only."
If you restrict laptop use in your class other than as an accommodation, please consider using the following language when making an announcement to the class:
"If you are a student who wishes to use a laptop for note-taking, please come see me during office hours to discuss your rationale for this."
This choice of words will maintain student anonymity, compliance with ADA laws, and your capacity to restrict laptop use to those with accommodations. During your discussion with the student, you can be explicit about your exceptions with regard to laptop use protocols in your class.
Where will a student take their exams?
You may choose to accommodate a student’s exam in your department office, a quiet classroom, or other quiet, low-distraction environment. Some professors prefer this so they are available to the student if they have questions.
A student with a disability may also take their exam in Access Services. Private and semi-private rooms are monitored by Access Services staff to ensure the integrity of the exam.
Please see the Access Services Faculty Handbook (PDF) for more detailed information regarding testing accommodations.
How will I know if a student will be testing in Access Services?
You will receive an email notice 3 days before an exam if a student is signed up to take their exam in Access Services. You can email the exam as an attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org with your proctoring instructions or have it hand delivered to Maxwell 314. Campus mail is not recommended. Upon completion of the exam, it will be returned to your specified location or submitted via D2L.
Can I ask a student to tell me their disability?
No, that information is confidential. A student may choose to share information about their disability with you, but that is at their discretion.