Answers to specific questions about working with students with disabilities asked recently by faculty and staff.
A: For traditional classroom accommodations, the faculty member and the student need to figure out the logistics of the accommodations such as when and where an exam will be given. However, for leniency accommodations, the faculty needs to determine the leniency irrespective of the individual student and communicate with the LEADS Director until the details are specified. Once that has been developed and a rationale made explicitly, the student is then informed. (See Implementing Accommodations)
A: Since classes are structured differently, a student may need an accommodation in one course, but not another. For example, consider note-taking – if you are a professor who imparts a lot of information verbally, a student might need a peer note-taker, copies of the power points, or to record the class. But if you use other methods, they may not need note-taking assistance at all. Or, if you use Universal Design methods (notes provided to all in an accessible format), an individual student may not need note-taking assistance.
A: Leniency accommodations were in the paper access letters a few years ago, but resulted in rare responses. When it was moved to email, it helped faculty realize that it needed a response.
Email vs. Verbal: Email allows time for a written rationale which is important if challenged. Email also allows the LEADS Director to address misunderstandings with the stated parameters.
Last, the LEADS Director learned that our process needed changing to be more compliant and not put students in the position of negotiating accommodations for themselves.
A: The number of students with disabilities is increasing and they usually have more than one disability. In addition, students that have leniency related disabilities are coming to college and coming forward to LEADS in increasing numbers for a variety of reasons.
A: It can be a challenge and it is good to be asking these questions. Consult with colleagues; have a system that you can look back to (i.e. a file of access letters; keep the leniency emails in an electronic folder).
A: You are encouraged to write alert slips for any student who is missing class, especially if the student is not communicating with you.
Even if the student has less than the maximum allowed absences, we still want to let them know that we are concerned about how they are doing and refer them to resources as needed.