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Faculty FAQ’s

The following may assist you in better understanding the disability accommodations process at UTB.  Faculty are always welcome to visit Disability Services in Cortez Hall 129, call 956-882-7374 or e-mail Steve.Wilder@utb.edu with any questions or concerns.

  • If a student asks me to provide him or her with a disability-related accommodation in my course, what should I do?
  • What is a Letter of Accommodation?
  • Who is responsible for determining appropriate accommodations?
  • When is a student required to notify me of a need for accommodations?
  • Should I provide accommodations to a student who does not present a Letter of Accommodation?
  • How am I supposed to find a volunteer note taker?  What if I can’t find one?
  • Do I have to keep the student’s disability information confidential?
  • Do I have to allow students to use technology in my courses?
  • Am I required to lower my standards because a student has a disability?
  • Do I have to alter my attendance policy?
  • I have a student who is having difficulty in my class.  I think he or she may have a disability.  What should I do to help him?
  • If a student with a disability is not doing passing work, do I have a right to fail him or her?
  • What should I do if I believe an accommodation listed on the Letter of Accommodation fundamentally alters an essential element of my course?  Do I have any recourse if I disagree about recommended accommodations?
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  • If a student asks me to provide him or her with a disability-related accommodation in my course, what should I do?
  • The first thing is to determine whether the student has a Letter of Accommodation from Disability Services.  If the student does not have such a letter, do not arrange accommodations with the student yourself.  Instead, refer him or her to Disability Services.

  • What is a Letter of Accommodation?
  • A Letter of Accommodation is a document from Disability Services which lists the specific recommended accommodations for an individual student.  It is proof that the student has provided the necessary documentation to Disability Services and qualifies for services.  Your signature on the form indicates that the student communicated with you about his or her accommodation needs.

  • What office is responsible for determining appropriate accommodations?
  • Disability Services, located in Cortez Hall 129, is the campus office designated to work with all UTB students regarding academic accommodations.   Determining appropriate accommodations involves the student and the Coordinator in an interactive process.   We use information we obtain through conversation, observations, professional judgment, and if necessary, third party documentation, to help decide what accommodations, if any, are reasonable in each case. 

  • When is a student required to notify me of a need for accommodations?
  • Disability Services encourages but cannot require registered students to provide instructors with their Letter of Accommodation at the beginning of each semester.   Students can register with Disability Services or present their Letter of Accommodation to you at any time during the semester.  We always remind them, however, that accommodations are not retroactive and can take time to implement.

  • Should I provide accommodations to a student who does not present a Letter of Accommodation?
  • No.  It is strongly recommended that you not provide accommodations for students unless they provide the necessary form.  Similarly, if a student asks you for an accommodation that is not listed on the Letter of Accommodation, you are not obligated to provide it.  Refer the student to Disability Services or, if you are uncertain about your obligations, please call 956-882-7374 or e-mail steve.wilder@utb.edu.

  • How am I supposed to find a volunteer note taker?  What if I can’t find one?
  • Due to various disabilities, some students need note taking assistance.  In those cases, we ask for your assistance in finding a volunteer in the class.  You can make an announcement to the class—without referring to the student in need of the notes-- by referring to the script on the “Note taker announcement” form we provide. To make it easy for the note taker, we provide carbonless note pads.  However, in some cases, no one will volunteer the first day.  If so, please try again at the next class meeting.  If no one volunteers after two classes, some alternatives are to share part of your own notes, post notes on Blackboard, encourage the student to  record the class, or to check with the student after each class to make sure he/she understands key assignments and test dates, etc.

  • Do I have to keep the student’s disability information confidential?
  • Yes!  Faculty should always keep disability-related information confidential.  For many students, their disability is a very personal and sensitive matter.  Avoid inappropriate disclosure of disability information.   Students don’t want to be stigmatized or treated differently by their professors or their classmates.  You can always contact the Disability Services Coordinator if you have any questions, issues, or concerns. 

  • Do I have to allow students to use technology in my courses?
  • There are instances when a student will need to use one or more technologies in your classroom.  These will be listed in the Letter of Accommodation and might include, for example, use of a voice recorder for recording class lectures.  In order not to publicly identify the student with a disability, you can state on the syllabus something like the following, if applicable: “Exceptions for the use of a voice recorder may be granted for compelling reasons at the discretion of the instructor.”

  • Am I required to lower my standards because a student has a disability?
  • No.  Academic standards are the same for all students.  The purpose of accommodations is to “level the playing field,” not to give anyone an unfair advantage.  Many of our students with disabilities need extended time on tests, for example, but the tests are the same for everyone and the quality of work should be the same.  

  • Do I have to alter my attendance policy?
  • No.  Although we occasionally list “Flexibility in the application of the course absence policy” as an accommodation, you are not obligated to alter or waive your attendance policy.  However, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has determined that requests for accommodations for absences due to a disability should be considered on an individual basis.  The amount of flexibility depends on the nature of the class and whether class participation is a factor in the final grade.  Please visit or contact the DS Office if you have any concerns. 

  • I have a student who is having difficulty in my class.  I think he or she may have a disability.  What should I do to help him?
  • Talk privately with the student to discuss your observations.   For some, tutoring may be a solution.   Other students seem to know the material but need more time for tests.  You can suggest that they might be eligible for help from Disability Services.  Still other students struggle with reading but learn well by listening.  They too, could get help from Disability Services.  These are just examples.  In any case, you can encourage such students to contact the office or call directly from your office (882-7374) to help make an initial contact.

  • If a student with a disability is not doing passing work, do I have a right to fail him or her?
  • Yes, the student with a disability has the same right to fail as anyone else.  Their work should be equivalent to that of their peers.  It may be a good idea to discuss your concerns with such a student, just as you would with anyone else in your class who is experiencing difficulty.

  • What should I do if I believe an accommodation listed on the Letter of Accommodation fundamentally alters an essential element of my course?  Do I have any recourse if I disagree about recommended accommodations?
  • You are welcome to bring your concerns about specific accommodations to the Disability Services coordinator.  It may be that a different accommodation would be better suited to your particular course.  The Disability Services Coordinator can help develop the alternative.

     

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