The number of students
with disabilities attending postsecondary education continues to increase with
each passing year. Faculty and staff need to be well-informed about the
roles, rights and responsibilities postsecondary institutions have towards
supporting students with disabilities. These roles, rights and
responsibilities are supported by several federal laws which can assist
students with disabilities the full opportunity to enjoy the benefits of a
postsecondary educational experience.
From the Office of Civil Rights:
“OCR enforces Section
504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and Title II of the
Americans with Disabilities Act (Title II), which prohibit discrimination on
the basis of disability. Every school district and nearly every
institution of postsecondary education in the United States is subject to
Section 504 or Title II. Entities covered by these civil rights laws have
an obligation to comply with legal requirements and to carry out their programs
and activities in a manner that does not discriminate on the basis of
postsecondary education must provide an appropriate academic adjustment based
on students’ disabilities and individual needs when necessary to avoid
discrimination. In providing an academic adjustment, a postsecondary
institution does not have to eliminate or lower essential requirements, or make
modifications that would result in a fundamental alteration of the programs or
activities being offered or impose an undue burden on the institution.”
- Make Reasonable
- Provide Access to
Classroom & Materials
While it is the
instructor’s responsibility to ensure that the learning environment is accessible,
students must request accommodations. Instructors will find it useful to
include a statement on their syllabus which directs students with disabilities
about the steps they need to take to receive classroom accommodations.
In certain situations,
reasonable accommodations may require modification of standard classroom
approaches. The following are examples of accommodations that may be necessary
to ensure equal access to education:
- Provide necessary
accommodations for exam taking through the ASO
- Provide alternative
ways to fulfill course requirements.
- Allow adaptive
technology such as audio recorders, laptop computers and other assistive
electronic devices to be used in the classroom.
- Consider alternate
ways of assessing students that allows the student’s academic abilities to be
measured and not his or her disabilities.
Confidentiality in the
accommodation process must be maintained by all parties. Letters of
accommodation should be filed in a safe place, and faculty should refrain from
discussing students’ disabilities and necessary accommodations in the hearing
of fellow students or others who do not have an “educational need to
ASO advisors are always available to serve as
a resource for faculty seeking assistance in providing accommodations to
student and welcome your questions.
Faculty members have
the right to:
- Maintain academic
standards for courses
- Determine course
content and how it will be taught
- Confirm a student’s request
for accommodations and ask for clarification about a specific accommodation
- Deny a request for
accommodation - if the student has not been approved for such accommodation
- Award grades
appropriate to the level of the student’s demonstration of mastery of material
- Fail a student who
does not perform to passing standards
Faculty members do not
have the right to:
- Refuse to provide an
approved accommodation for a documented disability
- Challenge the
legitimacy of a student’s disability
- Review a student’s
documentation, including diagnostic data
Faculty members have
the responsibility to:
- Understand the laws
and university’s guidelines regarding students with disabilities
- Refer students to ASO when
- Provide requested
accommodations and academic adjustments to students who have documented
disabilities in a timely manner
- Maintain appropriate
confidentiality of records concerning students with disabilities except when
disclosure is required by law or authorized by the student
- Provide handouts,
videos and other course materials in accessible formats upon request
- Evaluate students
based on their abilities rather than their disabilities
It is important that
every student be given equal access to materials and information presented in
class. This should not be reduced by personal limitations. Below are examples
of common in-class accommodations.
This accommodation is
provided to students for many different reasons. A student with a visual
impairment may request preferential seating at the front to better see the
slides, overheads, or chalkboard. Students with hearing impairments may request
this to better hear the instructor or to accommodate their Sign Language interpreter. A student with anxiety may request
preferential seating at the back of the room for easy access to the door should
they have an attack.
Note-taking Assistance, Copies of Overheads,
Students may require
assistance obtaining materials presented in class because of limitations
resulting from their disability. These accommodations include note-taking
assistance, requesting copies of the overheads presented in class, and the
ability to record lectures. For most students with disabilities these
accommodations are meant to supplement the student's own notes. The accommodation should not be
an allowance to exempt a student from class participation or attending the
class altogether. Examples of students that may require these
accommodations are students with learning disabilities or physical impairments.
An exception would be Deaf students or students that are hard of hearing that
completely rely on note takers since they are unable to watch their Sign
Language interpreter and take notes at the same time. The student's accommodations
letters describes these requests as follows:
- Student will require note-taking assistance. There are several
means of meeting this accommodation request. One option is to provide the
student with a copy of your lecture notes and/or slides.
- Another option is to
identify a student volunteer by announcing to the class that there is a student
who needs the assistance of a note-taker (without identifying which
student). You may want to mention that peer note-takers get paid $30 per semester for
each class in which they take notes.
- Use an audio recorder during lecture. If there is a concern
about the student recording during lecture, please contact the ASO to discuss.
- Copies of instructor's overheads/PowerPoint presentations
provided prior to class. This accommodation is provided at the
Teaching & Interacting with Students
impart knowledge to students and evaluate whether students have learned the
material by creating assignments and exams that allow the student to
demonstrate mastery based on course goals, objectives and the nature of the
curriculum. Having an understanding of a disability and the limitations caused by that disability are essential when
teaching and interacting with students whose learning styles are different from
- Students with Learning Disabilities and
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
- Student with Visual Impairments
- Students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
- Students with Health Impairments
- Students with Mental Health Issues
- Students with Physical Disabilities
- Students with Autism or Asperger’s
Students with Learning Disabilities and Attention
called "hidden disabilities", students with Learning Disabilities
(LD's) and/or Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) make up the
majority of students registered with ASO. Examples of LD’s include Dyslexia,
Dysgraphia, Math Disorders, and Nonverbal Learning Disorders. Students are
diagnosed after a battery of testing with results that indicate lack of
achievement at age and ability level and a severe discrepancy between
achievement and intelligence.
of limitations faced by these students are:
to change from one task to another
scheduling time to complete short and long-term assignments
completing tests without additional time
concentrating in lectures
delaying resolution to a problem
comprehension and retention of material read
with basic math operations
preparing your lectures, and then presenting the materials, consider the
previous lecture to current lecture
main points on overhead
key terms on overhead
overheads up longer than you think necessary for you to copy
patterns of organization
notes available on the Internet
student attention by varying delivery approach
around the room
or draw conclusions at the end of the lecture
used accommodations for students with LD’s:
of a dictionary
of a computer with a spell-checking program
on the test, rather than using Scantrons
of a calculator
of overheads, handouts, lecture notes
for students with ADHD may include:
distraction environment for testing
time for testing
seating near the front of the class
around campus and in the classroom
to take notes in class
to see classroom visual aids, writing on chalkboard, etc.
reports and short articles
textbooks in an alternative format and in a timely manner (audio, large print,
Student with Visual Impairments
There are two
categories of visual disabilities: blindness and low vision. Between 70 and 80
percent of all persons in the United States identified as "legally
blind" actually have some measurable vision. A person who is blind
usually has adapted in individual ways to compensate for the lack of vision.
Low vision can vary greatly due to individual situations. To be diagnosed with
a visual disability, visual acuity has to be 20/70 or less in the better eye
after the best possible correction. Academic limitations
can be the result of constricted peripheral vision, progressive loss of vision,
and fluctuation of visual acuity and may include:
used by students who are blind or visually impaired:
print or Braille handouts, signs, equipment labels
monitor connected to microscope to enlarge images
notices, assignments in electronic format
with enlarged screen images
where the lighting is best
Braille, electronic notes, handouts, texts
drawings and tactile models of graphic materials
with optical character readers, voice activated computers, voice output,
Braille keyboards and printers
time for testing
of a reader and/or scribe for exams
Students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
is the most common barrier between students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing and
their hearing peers. Many of these students use American Sign Language and not
spoken English. They often identify with other people of similar upbringing and
prefer to be called Deaf with a capital D. People who became deaf later in life
may call themselves deaf or hard-of-hearing based on the degree of hearing loss
of disability related limitations include:
to and understanding lecture information
notes in class
effectively in group projects or class discussions
used accommodations are:
real-time captions, FM systems, note taking assistance
student when speaking
directions, assignments, lab instructions
aids, visual warning systems
questions and statements from others
mail for communicating
videos and transcripts of audio recordings
Students with Health Impairments
illnesses include conditions affecting one or more of the body's functions.
These conditions can include, but are not limited to, the respiratory,
immunological, neurological and circulatory systems. There can be several
different impairments and they can vary significantly in their effects and
symptoms. In general, these conditions can vary in severity and length of time,
and can be very unstable. Examples of chronic medical conditions include:
immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
difficulties can include:
around campus and in the classroom
notes in class
commonly requested accommodations are:
taking assistance, audio-taped class sessions
exam time, alternative testing arrangements
in electronic formats
through electronic mail
due to symptom and doctors appointments
Students with Mental Health Issues
disorders may not be apparent, but they can have a dramatic impact on
interpersonal and school behavior that affects the learning process. These
disorders cover a wide range of conditions that may be chronic or reoccurring.
With appropriate treatment many disorders can be effectively cured or
controlled. However treatment, which often combines medications and
psychotherapy and may effectively stop acute symptoms or halt the downward
spiral in some individuals, sometimes causes additional limitations as a result
of prescribed medications.
of some psychiatric disabilities are:
difficulties can include:
(short term memory difficulties)
stamina causing class absences
of fear and anxiety about exams
seating, near door
or frequent breaks
recorder, note taking assistance
availability of syllabus, text
assignments in alternate formats
and private feedback
use of computer software
test taking time
quiet room for testing
Students with Physical Disabilities
phrase "physical disability" is used to describe a wide range of
physical limitations and diagnoses, the most common of which would be someone
that uses a wheelchair. Their limitations may be very severe and noticeable, or
almost hidden. The most common barrier to academic success for a person
with a physical disability is access. Access takes many forms, from a class
assigned in an inaccessible building to the person's own limitations preventing
them from taking class notes. As with all other disabilities and impairments,
it is important to treat students with physical disabilities fairly. Students
with physical disabilities typically are very knowledgeable of both their
limitations and abilities and are accustomed to communicating their needs to
of physical disabilities include:
limitations of students with physical disabilities are:
writing, such as class notes and on exams
in a standard desk
in labs where lab tables and equipment are hard to reach
or buildings that are not wheelchair accessible
a class or lab to an accessible building
recorder or note-taking assistance
seating or table in the classroom
for Scantrons and/or essay exams
time for completing exams
Students with Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome
campuses are seeing an increase in the number of students who are diagnosed
along the high end of the autism spectrum, with the diagnosis of Asperger’s
Syndrome or high functioning autism. They can generally be distinguished from
people with other forms of autism by two areas of relative strength: more
normal language function and higher cognitive abilities. These individuals may
be affected in their ability to understand and respond to the thoughts and
feelings of others. Please note that no two students with Asperger’s are alike
in terms of how they are affected.
are some examples of what may be seen.
social behavior of persons with Asperger’s tends to be naive and
of these individuals expect all people to be good, and it is a rude awakening
for them to learn that some people may try to exploit them.
may not understand jokes, irony and metaphors.
individuals may talk “at” rather than “to” people, disregarding the listener’s
may talk too loud, stand too close and maintain poor eye contact.
individual usually does not accurately convey the intensity of his or her
emotions until they are full blown, such that the reaction may appear to be far
more intense than the situation warrants.
the individual may crave social interaction, his or her unusual manner may
rebuff others, leaving the individual feeling misunderstood and isolated.
“fitting in” with other college students (many students with Asperger’s know
they are different, but have a desire to be “normal”).
immaturity (interest in relationships is often appropriate for their physical
developmental level, but their social developmental level lags behind).
of structure (students may not know what to do with much more free time than in
with classes that are not within their interests (often have preoccupations and
they may not see the relevance of “core curriculum” classes).
dealing with ambiguity and lack of problem solving skills.
getting a job after college (poor interviewing skills, limited knowledge of how
to look for a job, lack of references).
interacting with a student with Asperger’s:
clear, specific language. Avoid slang or regional (or university) terms.
out the students strengths and limitations and advise accordingly.
to know the student so he/she will feel comfortable coming to you with
connect students to academic advisor or other professional who can be a
explicit guidelines for classroom behavior.
be surprised if parents are involved.
with the student's Accommodations Counselor in Disability Services if concerned
Universal Design (UD)
is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the
greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized
design. The intent of UD is to simplify life for everyone by making
products, communications, and the built environment more usable by as many
people as possible at little or no extra cost. Universal design benefits people
of all ages and abilities.
Universal Design of Instruction Examples
- Create an environment
that respects and values diversity. Put a statement on your syllabus inviting
students to meet with you to discuss disability-related accommodations and
other learning needs.
- Assure that all
classrooms labs and fieldwork are in locations accessible to individuals with a
wide range of physical abilities and disabilities.
- Use multiple modes to
deliver content (including lecture, discussion, hands-on activities,
Internet-based interaction, and fieldwork).
- Provide printed or
Web-based materials which summarize content that is delivered orally.
- Face the class and
- Use captioned videos.
- Provide printed
materials in electronic format.
- Use accessible Web
pages (text descriptions of graphics).
- Provide printed
materials early so that students can prepare to access the materials in
- Create printed and
Web-based materials in simple, consistent formats.
- Provide effective
prompting during an activity and feedback after the assignment is completed.
- Provide multiple ways
for students to demonstrate knowledge.
- Make sure equipment
and activities minimize sustained physical effort.
What are the rights
and responsibilities of a student with a disability?
disabilities have the right to equal access to courses, programs,
activities, services, and facilities offered at Reinhardt University. Students are also
entitled to reasonable accommodations. All information about the student’s
disability is to be kept confidential. Students have the responsibility to
provide acceptable documentation of disabilities and to register
with Academic Support Office (ASO) if they would like to receive
accommodations. If students deem it necessary to receive accommodations for a
particular class, students have the responsibility to inform the instructor, to
deliver the accommodations letters that verify their approved accommodations,
and to participate in the discussions about how their needs can be met.
What are the rights and responsibilities of an instructor when
working with students with disabilities?
An instructor has the right to confirm a student’s request
for accommodations and to ask for clarification about a specific accommodation
with ASO. Instructors do not have the right to refuse to provide an
accommodation or to review a student’s documentation including diagnostic data.
Instructors have a responsibility to work with ASO in providing reasonable
accommodations, keep all records and communications with students confidential,
and to refer a student to ASO who requests accommodations but is not currently
registered. Instructors do not have to provide accommodations for students not
registered with ASO.
Why does an instructor have the responsibility to make
reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities?
An instructor has the
responsibility to make reasonable accommodations because accommodations make it
possible for a student with a disability to overcome barriers enabling the
student to communicate what he or she knows in the same way that glasses do not
strengthen vision but help a person to see. The instructor also has a legal
responsibility to provide appropriate accommodations. For more information, go
to the Americans with Disabilities Act website www.ada.gov.
How are appropriate accommodations for a student determined?
appropriate accommodations for a student, the student must submit acceptable
documentation to ASO. The Documentation Review Committee reviews the
information and determines appropriate accommodations based upon the
substantial limitations of the student and the essential elements of the
If an instructor feels that a particular student may have a
substantially limiting disability, to where should he or she refer the student?
If an instructor feels that a particular
student may have a substantially limiting disability, he or she should refer the student to ASO.
What if a student with a disability is
disruptive in class?
A student with a
disability who is disruptive in class should be treated as an instructor would
treat any student who is disruptive in class. If an instructor feels that
there is a medical reason for the student’s behavior, the instructor can discuss
this with the student’s ASO advisor to determine if there is a solution to the
What if a student with a disability is failing?
It is important for
instructors to remember that providing reasonable accommodations to a student
with a disability does not guarantee success in the course. Students with
disabilities may not master the course
material, just like any other student. Students with disabilities have the same
right as other students to fail as part of their educational experience.
Where can I get forms and publications
provided by the ASO office?
Visit the ASO Forms page for downloadable copies of common forms. Instructors may
also want to review the online Faculty Guide.
Am I required to put a disability statement on
The ADA legislation requires that
all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that
provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. Therefore, it is
mandatory for a course syllabus to have a disability statement such as this:
Reinhardt University is
committed to providing all students equal access to learning opportunities.
Academic Support Office is the campus office that works with students who have
disabilities to provide and/or arrange reasonable accommodations. Students
registered with ASO, who have a letter requesting accommodations, are
encouraged to contact the instructor early in the semester. Students who have,
or think they may have, a disability (e.g. psychiatric, attention, learning,
vision, hearing, physical, or systemic), are invited to contact ASO for a
confidential discussion at 7707205567. Additional information is available at
the ASO website.
For more information:
Academic Support Office
Director of Academic Support