Frequently Asked Disability Questions for Faculty


Do I need to modify my grading process for a student with a disability?

No.  Accommodations don’t require instructors to adjust evaluations of academic performance for a student with a disability. They should be graded and evaluated as all of the other students in the class. A student with a disability must meet all of the standards of the course, including doing the same work, the same amount of work, and meeting all deadlines.

If a student cannot do the class work, despite accommodations; can I give the student a failing grade?

Yes.  All students, including those with disabilities must take primary responsibility for their success or failure in post-secondary education. Students with disabilities need to understand that, while federal disability laws guarantee them an equal opportunity to participate these laws do not guarantee that students will achieve a particular outcome, for example, good grades.

A student has requested accommodations. How do I know if the student has a disability and needs accommodations?

You may ask the student to provide you with a Letter of Academic Accommodations from the PASS office. Faculty should not ask for or accept documentation of a disability from a student.

Am I required to provide test accommodations to students who request it?

Yes.  Students cannot be denied a test accommodation. Most test accommodations are provided in the PASS office.

 Can I provide a test accommodation for a student, if I have the time and a quiet room?

Yes.  Please refer to the guidelines to providing appropriate Alternative Testing Accommodations.

It may be beneficial to the student to be accommodated by their instructor in case they have questions or need clarification during the exam.

What is a reasonable accommodation?

Reasonable accommodations are support and services to help the student access the general curriculum/program and validly demonstrate learning without requiring a substantial change or alteration in the essential elements of the curriculum. The focus of reasonable accommodations is not to modify or lower academic standards, but rather to offer alternative methods in achieving them based on the individual’s ability. Reasonable accommodations do not fundamentally alter expectations, standards in instructional level, content, or performance criteria.

How do I know when I’m providing an accommodation or when I’m providing too much?

Please call the PASS office to talk to the Disability Coordinator or the Director if you have any questions or concerns. Accommodations are described as “leveling the playing field” for students with disabilities and do not require any change in academic standards of a course or provide any advantage to the student with a disability.

Is tutoring an accommodation?

Tutoring is considered a service and is available upon request and availability of tutors for students with and without disabilities.

Do I have to give a student a make-up exam if they’ve done poorly on an exam without an accommodation and now have asked to re-take it with an accommodation?

No.  Accommodations are never retro-active. A student should not wait until after completing a course or activity or receiving a poor grade to request accommodations and then expect the grade to be changed or to be able to retake an exam with accommodations.

 What if a student is not using accommodations and I really think they should be?

Talk privately to the student about your observations and/or concerns and refer them to PASS. It is always the student’s choice of whether or not they access and use accommodations or disclose a disability.

 How do I handle a request from a student for a note-taker?

Your role, if asked for assistance, is to help the student locate a note taker by making a general announcement to the class asking for a volunteer to make a copy of their notes. Please see Note Taker Information.

  Is it ok to talk to a student about their disability?

Yes, as long as it’s discussed in a confidential setting. The student is the best source of information about their disability and its impact in an academic environment.

 Am I required to provide opportunities for extra credit or make-up work?

No, not if it’s based solely on a student having a disability. If you provide opportunities for extra-credit or make-up work, it should be provided to the entire class.

Should I give student extensions on assignments and projects?

Instructors should not modify assignments or alter due dates. Students are required to meet all academic standards, regardless of disability. If the student cannot meet the standards, they should be graded as any other student would be.

 

U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, Transition of Students With Disabilities to Postsecondary Education: A Guide for High School Educators, Washington, D.C., 2007.