Your Role in the Life of a Student with a Disability

This video will introduce you to your role
in the life of a student with a documented disability and your related responsibilities
as an Instructor. Student Accessibility Services is a unit in the Dean of Students Office in
the Division of Student Affairs. Student Accessibility Services works with current ISU students who have self-identified as a ‘person with a disability’.  That is, they must make
a specific request for accommodations and work with Student Accessibility Services
to establish eligibility. When a student approaches an Instructor with an accommodation request (disability related), they should provide a Notification Letter
to the Instructor which indicates they have completed the formal process of meeting with
Student Accessibility Services staff at which time eligibility and related discussion will
be completed. Presentation of a Notification Letter indicates the student is eligible services
and the indicated accommodations. If a student does not provide a Notification
Letter, they should be referred to Student Accessibility Services for assistance.
Student Accessibility Services staff carefully review documentation from qualified healthcare
professionals to determine eligibility for services and accommodations (often very different
than in high school).  The eligibility determination process is rigorous. Accommodations listed on the Notification
Letters do not give an unfair advantage. Rather, they ‘level the playing field’.
Our staff coordinates reasonable academic adjustments/accommodations with instructors
that allow a student equal access to ISU courses, programs, facilities, and activities.
What is a Disability? A disability is a documented physical, mental,
or emotional condition (formally diagnosed by a qualified individual).
Disabilities typically last 6 months or longer. They are a current ‘significant impairment’
with a ‘significant impact’ on a major life activity. What are those major activities? Major life activities include but are not
limited to the ones listed on this slide. It is particularly important for you to know
the common “in-class” major life activities which include: speaking, learning, concentrating,
communicating, reading, thinking, seeing, and hearing. Approximately ~3% of the students at Iowa
State University “self-report” a disability to Student Accessibility Services per term
– that is, they request accommodations due to a condition that is significant. Here you can see the 10 rows of 10 circles
totaling 100 circles — 97 cardinal red circles and 3 gold circles represent the 3 percent
of enrolled students that self-report a disability per term. Out of the 3% of students at Iowa State who
self-reported (um) they are represented by the 10 rows of 10 circles totaling 100 circles.
20% reported mobility, hearing, visual, or health condition impairment are represented
by the 20 blue circles, 27% reported psychiatric/emotional health
conditions are represented by the 27 gold circles, and 53% reported a diagnosed learning
disability represented by the 53 cardinal red circles. Student Accessibility Services receives requests
daily regarding services. What is a Reasonable Accommodation? A Reasonable
Accommodation (sometimes called an “academic adjustment”) is a modification or adjustment
to a course, service, program, activity, or facility that enables a qualified student
with a disability to have an equal opportunity to participate or to enjoy the benefits and
privileges available to a similarly-situated student without a disability. Important to note – accommodations must be
requested by the student each term. These cases are determined on a ‘case-by-case’ basis by
Student Accessibility Services staff relative to a qualified student’s needs and course
demands. Then, a Student Accommodation Notification
Letter (also known as, Notification Letter) is initiated based on the student’s abilities
or limitations imposed by the environment. Student Accommodation Notification Letter
is a confidential document that assists the University in providing reasonable academic
accommodations with documented disabilities. What do you do if you receive a Notification
Letter from an eligible student? Honor the student’s confidentiality and respectfully
review the form in your office or another appropriate location with the student. Don’t question the student regarding their
disability or need to have accommodations. This has already been determined by Student
Accessibility Services staff. Asking is unnecessary and may be deemed harassment. Focus on making a plan related to delivery
of the accommodations indicated on the Notification Letter. Get to know the student and establish
expectations regarding the indicated accommodations. Agree upon the ways to meet the accommodations
listed that the student shall receive according to the Notification (Letter) by signing the
Notification Letter. The instructor and student will then sign/date
each of the forms. The signed document is an agreement. Instructor and student each
retain a copy. When can a student present a Notification
Letter to Instructors? ANYTIME. There is no “presented by ‘x’ date” Be Aware: Some requests for accommodations
may be too late (4 days is recommended for exams). Some late requests for accommodations may
negatively impact services (i.e., access to notes or a PowerPoint). What if we fail to provide reasonable accommodations? It’s violation of the American’s with
Disabilities Act and its Amendment. It is also a state law. It’s a violation of ISU Policies & Practices. It’s a violation of student rights.
It’s an impediment to student participation and academic progress. Why sign a Notification Letter to provide
reasonable accommodations? In addition to providing equal access (as
required by the law), providing reasonable accommodations demonstrates a ‘student-centered’
approach to teaching and it is the right thing to do. It’s Your Responsibility to Make and Deliver
the Accommodations as indicated on the Notification Letter presented by your students. Who can assist you? Each department has a
Liaison for Student Accommodations . The Student Accessibility Services Exam Accommodation
Center (located in Hixson-Lied Student Success Center) We’ll talk about that a more
in a few moments. Finally, the Student Accessibility Services staff have a number of resources
for common accommodations on the Faculty and Staff section of their website available at (
or email [email protected] So, what are some of the Common Classroom Accommodations?
May include access to lecture notes and/or PowerPoint slides. This may involve having
peers assist getting notes to the student, having a graduate student take and provide
notes, and/or posting notes for all students to access. Some student accommodations will
ask the instructor to allow audio-recording of the lecture. It may also include Absences
that will need to be determined by the instructor and student. But, only if the Notification
Letter indicates the need based on if the documented disability or medical condition
warrants it. Additionally, some students utilize Sign Language
Interpreters or Captionists as an accommodation for communication in the classroom. TIP: Simply allow the Interpreter or Captionist
to sit/stand in a location that is most appropriate for the student. Those professionals will
work directly with your student providing the appropriate accommodation (i.e., sign language
or type-written transcript). Exam Accommodations (as indicated by Notification
Letter) may include: ‘Reader’ or text-to-speech software, Extended
time exam (typically 1.5x time exam length), Refer to the Exam Accommodation Center, if
needed, No ‘scantron bubble sheets’ — respond directly on exam, and Low distraction vs.
Private Proctored location if needed. As we stated earlier the Professor/Instructor
is responsible for making timely and appropriate exam accommodation agreements (arrangements) with the student.
This can be accomplished in: Departmental room, office, etc. (arranged and proctored
by Professor/Instructor) work with Departmental Disability Liaison (this is preferred when
possible) or the Exam Accommodation Center (and this must be referred by Instructor–
4 business days advance referral) When do you refer students to the Student
Accessibility Services Exam Accommodation Center?
If you, the Departmental Disability Liaison, and/or the Department are unable to provide
the requested/indicated accommodations which includes an appropriate exam space that is
monitored, uninterrupted, in a quiet location. This includes not in a ‘work room’ or break area (i.e.
copy machine, refrigerator). Not in a hallway or reception area. If you want to go to the Exam Accommodations
Center homepage via the Student Accessibility Services website
and follow the guidelines. Here you can see a screenshot of the Exam
Accommodation Referral Form via the Student Accessibility Services website.
It is important to note that to accommodate our students the center (staff) MUST receive the
following prior to the scheduled exam: Instructor Referral at least four (4) business days;
as well as, the Exam at least one (1) business day prior. How else can we help our students?
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a set of principles for curriculum development that
give all individuals equal opportunities to learn. UDL provides a blueprint for creating
instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone–not a
single, one-size-fits-all solution but rather flexible approaches that can be customized
and adjusted for individual needs. The UDL framework can assist anyone who plans
lessons/units of study or develops curricula (goals, methods, materials, and assessments)
to reduce barriers, as well as optimize levels of challenge and support, to meet the needs
of ALL learners from the start. As this graphic here shows the options for providing multiple
means for engagement, representation, action and expression for the myriad of learners. As we implement the UDL framework into our
courses, we will have fewer requests for reasonable accommodations.
Learn more about UDL and accessibility from CELT’s Universal Design for Learning website,
CELT’s Accessify Your Course website: and the Student Accessibility Services website. Just remember, when teaching students with
disabilities: Be Confidential: don’t talk about the student when speaking with others
(i.e., Interpreter(s), students, etc.) Be Inclusive and Respectful: Engage, talk, encourage, and
interact directly with the student as you do all other students. If you have any questions? Please contact Student Accessibility Services, in
1076 Student Services Building, phone number 515-294-7220, email: [email protected]
and the website again is

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