Disability Services Resources
Below are available resources for students, staff, and faculty members who may work with students with disabilities. If you have any questions or concerns regarding accommodations or the accommodations process, please contact the Office of Disability Services by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 970.943.7056. If you wish to speak with our Disability Services Coordinator in person, their office is located in Taylor Hall 302.
The Western Colorado University Office of Disability Services requests that students seeking accommodations submit information describing their disability, their past use of accommodations, and the likely impact of the disability on their educational experiences. Types of helpful documentation supportive of such requests include medical records, psycho-educational testing reports, and school records. If students do not have this documentation readily available, they are encouraged to meet with a Disability Services Coordinator to discuss other ways to demonstrate a connection between their condition and any academic barriers they anticipate in the university environment.
The Office of Disability Services will consider all forms of documentation including student self-report, observation and interaction with the student, and external information from outside sources such as professionals who have diagnosed or treated the condition. External information can be a valuable tool for helping the Disability Services counselor understand the student's barriers, identify strategies for success, and assign reasonable accommodations which facilitate access.
We ask students seeking disability accommodations to submit documentation of disability to verify eligibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the ADA Amendments Act (ADA AA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Disability Services policy.
Documentation should include a description of the disability and its current impact in an educational setting, past use and effectiveness of accommodations, and recommendations for accommodations that are logically related to the impact of the disability. Please keep in mind, however, that Disability Services will make the final determination of reasonable accommodations.
Types of documentation that may be helpful include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Educational, psychological, or medical records
- Reports and assessments created by healthcare providers, psychologists, or the educational system (e.g., a psychoeducational evaluation)
- Documents that reflect education and accommodation history, such as an Individual Education Program (IEP), Summary of Performance (SOP), 504 Plans and teacher observations
Documentation should be provided on official letterhead with the name, title, professional credentials, address, phone number, and signature of the evaluator, as well as the date of the report. No hand written notes or prescription pad notes will be accepted.
Please keep the following in mind:
- Documentation should be submitted to Disability Services as far in advance as possible
- Disability Services may ask for additional information if documentation is incomplete or does not support accommodation requests.
- Students who do not have documentation are encouraged to meet with the Disability Services staff to explore options for support.
- Documentation accepted by Western Colorado University might not be accepted by other institutions, agencies, and/or programs (e.g., testing agencies, licensure exams, and certification programs). Please check with the specific organizations and/or programs to determine their documentation requirements.
Outside documentation should be current and the healthcare provider who has diagnosed the student or currently treating the student should be licensed either in Colorado or in the student’s home state.
*Due to potential conflicts of interest, documentation from the Western Colorado University Campus Clinic for the Center for Mental Health for the purpose of obtaining an ESA will not be accepted. However, students are encouraged to utilize these services whenever needed to ensure their ongoing health and well-being.
Private Study Areas
Due to the nature of residence halls, it is not feasible nor logical to expect that a private room can guarantee undisturbed study time, therefore requests for private housing for this reason are not considered reasonable accommodations. However, the Leslie J. Savage Library has private study areas available upon reservation for students to utilize. Space is limited and rooms are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis. If you need to request a private study room, please contact Cheryl Dandel to reserve a room by calling 970.943.2053 or visiting her office in room 205 in the library. Her office hours are Tuesday – Saturday from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
The transition from high school to college can be a difficult time for the parents of a student with a disability. Up until now, you have been required to play an essential role in their academic life.
We recognize that you may have reservations about your student's transition to higher education and may feel compelled to be a part of their accommodation planning at the post-secondary level. We want to assure parents that we have the student’s best interests in mind and given the opportunity, will assume the role of becoming the student’s advocate.
Understanding that you may be concerned about your son or daughter’s ability to effectively convey their needs and speak up on their own behalf, we ask for your assistance in preparing your student for the university experience by taking the following steps:
- Assist the student in becoming informed about their disability and history of accommodations.
- Ensure the student understands and can effectively communicate their needs, strengths, interests, and challenges.
- Allow the student the opportunity to practice stating their needs and asking pertinent questions.
We believe taking these steps will help the student in becoming a competent self‑advocate and pave the way for satisfying experiences with staff and faculty upon arriving at the university.
The Intake Meeting
The initial interactions between DS staff and the student are crucial to all parties in building a solid foundation for future communications. We want students to feel comfortable coming to us for assistance should they encounter barriers in their learning environment due to their disability. The intake meeting is a critical first step in developing this comfort and rapport with the student. It also provides the coordinator with the opportunity to get a feel for how knowledgeable and confident the student is in sharing information about past services and what accommodations the student is seeking at the college level.
As such, we ask that you do not attend this meeting with the student. You are welcome to accompany them to our office and the DS counselor, with the student’s permission, will meet with you after the interview to answer questions or address concerns.
Recognizing that parents have a high level of interest in the student’s academic experience, we encourage students to maintain an open dialogue with you. However, the open dialogue must be between the student and their parent, as DS staff members are required to follow the guidance contained in The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA. Under FERPA, DS staff members are not permitted to share information with, or provide records to, parents unless we have the express written consent of the student.
We realize that many parents may feel frustrated by FERPA regulations. However, in order to protect the student’s rights and the relationship between them and their counselor, DS will hold the student’s educational records confidential. In those instances where a parent would like to speak directly with a DS counselor regarding the student’s accommodation records, DS will ask the student to be present.
An Open Letter to Parents of Students with Disabilities by Jane Jarrow
An Open Letter to Parents of Students With Disabilities About to Enter College
I have been working in the area of students with disabilities at the college level for more than 30
years, but that is not why I am writing to you today. I am writing as a parent, and thus as
someone who shares all your current anxieties. My daughter, who graduated from high school in
early June, will be going away to college this Fall. She has Cerebral Palsy, uses a wheelchair,
and has limited speech capabilities, so you can be assured that I have been very involved in the
educational programming and planning she has received during her years in the public school
system. I wanted to be involved, but I also needed to be involved since, by law, the school could
not do anything for, to, or with my daughter regarding her disability without my permission. I sat
through countless IEP meetings over the years, I was insistent on certain issues of academic
support when I needed to be, and I agonized over everything from teacher selection to her
successful social integration with classmates. And now, as I prepare to pack her up and take her
off to college in the Fall, I recognize that this role has ended for me – and the word “anxious”
doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings.
If you are worried that your child with a disability will have a difficult time making a successful
transition to college without your involvement… then you are probably right to be worried. Very
few children with disabilities can succeed at the college level. On the other hand, students with
disabilities survive and thrive on college campuses across the country. If you still think of your
son or daughter as your “child,” and they still are comfortable in accepting that role, it is time to
take a careful look at where you have come from and what lies before you. As parents, it is time
for us to step back and allow/encourage/gently nudge our SWD’s (Students With Disabilities) to
assume significant independent responsibility for their own lives, both academically and
As you and your SWD prepare to visit campus for that initial meeting with a disability service
provider at the college, you would do well to think about what can be accomplished at this initial
meeting, what needs to be said – and who is going to say it!!! As I approach that same milestone
with my daughter, I find myself a little panicky, realizing that there are things about her
disability and how it impacts on her functioning that I know and that the disability services
provider needs to know, and that I may not have many chances to say. There is no doubt that I
can explain those things more fully than my daughter can explain them (or even understands
them!). And it doesn’t matter. Much as I hate it, I know that SHE has to be the one to convey all
this crucial information (not me!), for a number of reasons.
First, colleges and universities provide services and support to SWD under very different laws
than those that governed services in the K-12 system. As a parent, I have no rights under Section
504/ADA in speaking for my SWD who is in college. (If you aren’t sure what “Section
504/ADA” means in this context, perhaps the disability service provider you meet with will have
gathered some information that helps explain the differences between settings, both legally and
practically. Two of my favorite websites for learning more are at:
http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/transition.html and http://www.heath.gwu.edu/). The
services and support available to SWD are sometimes very different than what was provided in
high school, and the college is under no obligation to continue the services given in high school
or to adhere to the recommendations of an outside diagnostician. The college will make its own
determination of what services and support to offer, based on the documentation of disability and
their interview with your SWD. There are no IEP’s in college, there is no place to sign off with
my parental approval. Indeed, the college doesn’t legally have to care whether I am satisfied or
not. My daughter is responsible for her own destiny now.
More importantly, while this may be your last chance to convey all that important information on
to the college, it is your SWD’s first chance to convey that information all by himself/herself.
Don’t spoil that opportunity, and don’t interfere. Remember, while you and your SWD are
learning more about the campus, the resources, and the people who will be there to help when
needed, the disability service provider is learning more about your son/daughter, as well. You
want their first impression to be one that is positive and reassuring. The service provider is
anxious to find out whether your SWD is mature enough to handle the responsibilities and
independence of college life. Here are some specific suggestions for helping your SWD to shine
in this newly focused spotlight:
• DON’T be insulted if you are not invited to sit in on the initial meeting between your
SWD and the disability services folks. Some institutions have found that it is helpful for
them to speak directly (and alone!) to the student in order to get a feel for how
knowledgeable and confident s/he is in sharing information about past services, what
works and doesn't work, and what accommodations they hope to have at the college
level. You will get a chance to ask your questions, but recognize that it may come later,
rather than sooner.
• If you are invited to sit in on the meeting with the disability services folks, DO
acknowledge your SWD as the authority on their disability-related needs by making it
clear that you believe they have all the answers! Try focusing your visual attention on
your son/daughter instead of trying to make eye contact with the interviewer. If you look
to your SWD, so will the professional.
• DON’T begin any sentence with “S/He needs to have…” Instead, you can try, “In high
school, s/he had…” or “The person who tested him/her suggested…” but it would
actually be better if you said nothing at all! Try to talk as little as possible in the meeting.
This is not your meeting. Remember, you are there as an observer, not as a participant.
• DO take some time prepping your son/daughter in advance on the issues that you think
need to be discussed – the things that you would say if you had the chance. Make a list of
the topics you would bring up, explain why you think each is important, and make sure
your SWD has the list in hand when s/he goes into the interview. Rehearse with your
son/daughter, if they will let you. If they are typical teens and aren’t comfortable sitting
through that kind of rehearsal, settle for making them sit and listen while you
demonstrate how you would approach certain subjects. For example, “I think you should
tell them about how the teachers arranged for extra time for you on tests when you were
in high school. I’d probably say, ‘In high school, I was allowed extra time for tests in
English because it takes me a long time to put my thoughts in writing, but I never needed
it in Math.’” Your SWD may not acknowledge the strategies you share, but you may be
surprised to hear those words come out of his/her mouth at the interview!
• DON’T interrupt. If you disagree with something the disability service provider says, or
if your SWD says something that you know is incorrect, or if you see your SWD agreeing
with/to something when you know they have no idea what they are agreeing to – DON’T
INTERRUPT! Let the interview play out. Give the disability service provider a chance
to draw your SWD out further, give your SWD an opportunity to clarify matters, or
simply wait to see if the confusion/disagreement remains. It is important to know just
how independent and accurate students are in describing their needs. You will get your
• DO prompt your son/daughter to speak up and share those important points as the
interview progresses. Instead of explaining to the disability service provider why Johnny
needs a calculator in math classes, turn to Johnny and say, “Why don't you explain to Ms.
____ why it is important for you to have a calculator for math and science classes. Is it
because you have trouble lining up the columns, or because you have trouble
remembering basic math facts or ????” Give an open-ended question that encourages
your SWD to flesh out the response. At the same time, you are hinting to the interviewer
that there is an issue here to be discussed (See? I told you that you would get your
Why not take notes as the interview progresses? When your son/daughter has exhausted the list
of topics to discuss, and the disability service provider has shared all the information they
thought was important, it is YOUR turn to talk. Go ahead and ask your questions. The most
important thing to remember now is that you do not want to undermine your son/daughter’s
credibility. If you have more information to share on a given subject, try starting the sentence
with, “As Susie told you, she has used…” and then add whatever you need to on top of
information already given. If you think your SWD gave incorrect information, tread carefully.
You might say, “I was surprised to hear Jane say _____. I would have said _____, because…”
You’ll get your point across without directly contradicting what your son/daughter said. Your
goal is to assure both the SWD and the disability service provider that you are supportive of their
budding understanding, and simply want to share another viewpoint.
An old adage maintains:
There are only two things a parent can give to a child…
One is roots. The other is wings.
It is time for our kids to solo. That is a scary thought for us, as parents, and it is sure to be scary
for them, too. That’s OK. This is what we have all been working towards for a long time.
Remember, your son/daughter will call, email, or text if they need you. They know what you can
do for them, but now it is time for them to go it alone. Take a deep breath, cross your fingers,
wish them well – and walk away. All will be well!
Best of luck,
Proud (and Terrified) Mom
Students with disabilities glean a significant amount of information about a course and their instructor from the access statement. A well designed statement indicates the faculty member’s level of commitment to designing their course in a way that welcomes all students, including those with a disability, and provides guidance to those students who experience barriers.
As a minimum, the statement should include contact information for the Disability Services (DS) office and be placed prominently (preferably within the first page) of the syllabus.
Disability Services Recommended Syllabus Statement
Western Colorado University values diversity and inclusion and is committed to a climate of mutual respect and full participation of all students. Our goal is to create a learning environment that is useable, equitable, inclusive and welcoming. If there are aspects of the instruction or design of this course that result in barriers to your inclusion or prevent an accurate assessment of your achievement, please meet with me privately to discuss your needs and concerns. You may also contact the Office of Disability Services, located in Taylor Hall 302, or visit their website at www.western.edu/ds in order to initiate a request for accommodations.
- Use person first language. Terms such as handicapped, special needs, and disabled should not be used as many individuals find them offensive. Examples of person first language may be found at http://www.inclusionproject.org/nip_userfiles/file/People%20First%20Chart.pdf.
- Avoid wording that communicates the primary reason for providing access is a compliance issue.
- Avoid wording that places all of the responsibility for access on the student. Equitable access is a shared responsibility between faculty, staff, the student, and the Office of Disability Services.
- Do not place time restrictions on the student’s right to request accommodations. While it’s preferable for a student to identify their need early in the semester, they have the right to seek accommodations at any point during the academic term if they experience barriers in the course due to their disability.
Instructor Accommodation Form
If you have a student who needs to complete a make-up exam in our testing center, please email Cheyenne Terry at email@example.com to request a PDF copy of an instructor accommodation form. The form should be completed by the instructor and submitted with the exam prior to the student’s scheduled the exam time. The student should work out a time to complete the make-up exam with their instructor as well as take responsibility for scheduling their make-up exam at the Academic Resource Center at least one week in advance of the exam date.
Additional instructor accommodations for students may include the use of translator software for foreign students, students with temporary injuries, or students who have a special circumstance that prevents them from completing the exam in the classroom, but does not necessarily fall under the ADA. We will make every reasonable effort to accommodate the student to ensure equitable opportunity to complete exams as necessary.
Students who need to take exams in the testing center as part of their academic accommodation plan should pick up a yellow proctor form from the Academic Resource Center located in Taylor Hall 302 and complete it with their instructor and return it to the ARC at least one week in advance of their scheduled exam time.
Making a Referral
Depending on the nature and immediacy of your concerns, there are several ways you can connect students to resources. After you make a referral to Disability Services, you are encouraged to follow up with the student and continue to express your support.
- Should you have concerns about a student who is experiencing typical academic stress or developmental issues, you can inform the student of appropriate campus support services.
- For counseling concerns, you can offer the use of your phone and have the student call Counseling Services (970.642.4615) from your office. Having the student make the appointment in your presence often reduces their anxiety and increases the likelihood they will keep the appointment. Usually appointments are available within 48 hours. You can also walk the student to the Counseling Services office (Crystal Hall 104 Escalante Complex) so that the student knows where to go and the first visit is less intimidating.
- You can opt to complete a CARE Team Report by emailing Chris Lukenga. Upon receipt of the report, the CARE Team will meet to discuss the student in question and formulate an intervention plan for that student.
- If the student is in crisis or you feel the situation needs immediate attention, call Counseling Services, explain the situation and make an immediate referral. The counselors will make every effort to be available and you can walk the student to the Counseling Center.
What if I think it is an emergency?
- If you receive a phone call from a student threatening suicide, do your best to keep the student on the line. Try and get the person's name and location. Calling 911 (or having a colleague call 911 while you keep the student on the line) is the best course of action in such a crisis. Follow-up your 911 contact by consulting with Counseling Services staff.
- In many instances, the distressed student is not threatening immediate harm to self or others, and you will have time to connect the student with Counseling Services for assistance. When possible, walk the student to Counseling Services. If you are transferring a phone call to Counseling Services, please be sure to stay on the line with the student until you are sure the transfer was successful.
- Other WSCU employees can also be contacted to assist you:
- Associate Vice President for Student Affairs: Gary Pierson 970.943.2011
- Director of Student Health and Wellness: Scott Cantril 970.943.2891
- Off campus agencies are also available:
- Colorado Crisis & Support Line: 1.844.493.TALK (8255)
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1.800.273.TALK (8255)
- Be sure to communicate to the student what you are doing and why: "I can hear that you are very upset. I want to connect you with a professional staff person who can help you. I am going to stay on the line with you until I am sure you are speaking with someone who can help."
When should I be concerned about a student?
It is difficult to make a judgement about a student's personal issues or how he or she is coping. After all, students show a broad range of behaviors and coping skills. Taken alone, any one of the following indicators is not necessarily a sign of significant distress. However, a student exhibiting significant changes in their behavior or experiencing a number of these factors in combination may need assistance.
- Academic indicators
- Marked decline in academic work or work performance
- Pattern of dropping classes and/or asking for extensions
- Frequent absences from class
- Difficulty concentrating or finding motivation
- Academic work with themes of depression, hopelessness, social isolation and/or despair
- Emotional or physical indicators
- Depressed demeanor, isolation, or withdrawal
- Marked changes in personal hygiene, weight, or reported changes in eating/sleeping habits
- Lack of energy, listlessness or falling asleep in class
- Noticeable anxiety or panic, irritability, or aggressiveness
- Inappropriate responses to the situation
- Significant or sudden changes in mood
- Lack of social skills
- Sudden withdrawal from faculty, staff or peers
- Friction with other students
- Too frequent or too lengthy visits to your office
- Social or interpersonal factors
How do I approach a student who may need help?
Students experiencing distress may not recognize their level of difficulty or know where to turn for assistance. Even when they recognize their distress, seeking assistance is too frequently seen as a sign of weakness and therefore ignored. You may make the difference by approaching and engaging the student to express your concerns in a caring and nonjudgmental way. Consider these guidelines when you decide to approach a student.
- Be discreet. Find a private and comfortable place to talk with the student in person.
- Be honest about your concerns. Be yourself and share your concerns without criticism.
- Listen and ask open-ended questions. Some students will respond and some will not. But most will be relieved that you are showing an interest, trying to understand, and offering help.
- Express acceptance, understanding and concern. Respond to what you hear without judgements.
- Gently respond to resistance. Students will vary in their acceptance of your help for a variety of reasons. Some may feel shame or as if their issues are not important enough to trouble others. Others are concerned that receiving counseling will impact on their academic record or job prospects. You can help alleviate their fears by normalizing the need to reach out, reinforcing the benefit of seeking help and addressing confidentiality.
- Assist them in identifying options and offer to help make the referral. Direct the student to Disability Services or other campus resources as appropriate.
- Do not promise confidentiality. Certain situations, like threats or suicidal ideation, require professional intervention and make keeping confidences impossible.
- Don't expect immediate results. Your offer of assistance may even be rejected. In the large majority of instances, it is still the right thing to do. Continue to keep the conversation open. Changing and learning new ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving takes time. Patience, understanding, and follow up on the part of concerned faculty and staff is part of the helping process.
- Recognize your level of responsibility. You are not solely responsible for solving the student's problem nor are you responsible for counseling the student. You share responsibility for responding to the student's need for help and connecting the student with appropriate resources.
If a student needs immediate intervention, please make a CARE Team Report. If they are threatening self-harm and/or suicide, call 911!
Common Accommodations in Higher Education
The purpose of academic accommodations is to provide an equal opportunity to learn by ensuring access to the learning environment and course content. Accommodations are not designed to provide an unfair advantage or to ensure success. Disability Services thoroughly reviews all information provided by the student, supporting documentation, and academic requirements when making accommodation recommendations. Instructor input is appreciated and may be sought out when there are questions about course requirements. Commonly recommended accommodations are explained below; however, the list is not exhaustive. There are times when a more individualized accommodation is justified. Please feel free to contact Disability Services if you have questions about the provision of a recommended accommodation for your class.
Note taker, recording services, or the use of a Smart Pen:
Students with processing deficits, hearing impairments, or physical limitations may require assistance in recording the content of lectures. Providing a note taker and/or allowing an audio recording in the classroom gives access to the course information which would otherwise be unavailable to the student. Students are encouraged to manage this accommodation on their own, but for various reasons may choose not to do so. In those instances, the University is obligated to assist the student locate a volunteer note taker or otherwise make the lecture information available. If Disability Services is unable to solicit a note taker from the class, the instructor may be asked to make an anonymous announcement in class, such as
“A fellow student has requested assistance with note taking. If you are willing to provide a copy of your notes so that these notes may be used by another student, please see me after class.”
Disability Services can provide NCR paper and is available to provide note taker training, make copies of the volunteer’s notes, and provide compensation to the note taker and/or verify volunteer hours for note takers.
Students with attention deficits or physical disabilities may require preferential seating such as seating near the front of the room or visual aids, unobstructed view of instructor and/or sign language interpreter, and seating near (or away from) windows and doors.
Accessible print materials:
Students with visual impairments or learning disabilities may require print material (texts, tests, handouts, etc.) converted to an accessible medium, such as Braille, audio books, electronic books, or large print. Disability Services can assist in locating these materials. Disability Services can also produce some materials in Braille. Because alternative text production is a time consuming process, as much advance notice in identifying texts or other materials needed is greatly appreciated. Typically, students should make requests for alternative text 3-4 weeks in advance of the beginning of each term.
Students with hearing loss or auditory processing disorders may request lecture transcription. In these cases, the student may bring a recording device to class and Disability Services will transcribe the audio into typed format and email it to the student within 24-48 hours. Every effort will be made to have the transcript available prior to the next lecture for the student to review.
Permission to record lectures:
Students with visual impairments, learning disabilities, or physical limitations may need to record the class lecture and discussions in order to have full access to the information. Students will provide their own recording device, but may coordinate with their instructor about the best possible classroom placement. The recording device is typically placed on or near the lectern. Disability Services may provide the student with a recording device if a personal device is not available to them or in the instance that the instructor prohibits the use of cell phones during class.
Consideration for absences:
Because of the impact on their ability to consistently attend class, students with physical/health impairments, psychiatric illness, or other limitations may require flexibility in attendance requirements. Flexibility does not mean that attendance policies do not apply. Rather, it requires the instructor to consider the function of attendance for a particular class and make a reasoned decision for the requirement. For some classes (like primarily lecture based classes), attendance may not be essential and a certain amount of leniency can be made. However, in a seminar class or class where group projects are completed, attendance becomes an essential function of the class and absences will interfere with the student’s (and other students') educational experience. Disability Services will advocate for class attendance, discuss the potential implications of missed classes, encourage close communication with their instructors and inform students of drop dates and other academic options (Withdrawals, Incompletes, etc).
Services for students with hearing loss:
Students with hearing loss may require the combination of a variety of accommodations, such as preferential seating, use of a sign language interpreter, captioning/transcription services, or a note taker. Students and instructors are in the best position to manage note takers. Instructors and Disability Services can work together to arrange captioning or the provision of transcripts. Disability Services will coordinate professional services, such as sign language interpreters or CART providers.
Access to PowerPoint or other class presentation materials:
Students with learning, attention, or memory difficulties may not capture all necessary information during a lecture and/or require frequent review of materials. They may request that course presentation materials be available for review. While instructors are not required to create new materials to meet this request, it is reasonable to either post available materials via Blackboard Course Management System, distribute printed copies to students, place on reserve at the library, or send to the student via email.
Permission to leave or move about in class:
For students with chronic health problems or physical disabilities, sitting and/or remaining in the same position for the duration of a lecture can exacerbate symptoms of the disability. They may also require time to attend to medical needs or medications. It is reasonable to allow these students permission to briefly leave or move about in order to alleviate problems and increase their ability to concentrate. The student is encouraged to discuss seating arrangements and the timing of breaks with the instructor so that disruptions to the rest of the class are minimized.
Common Testing Accommodations
Extended time to complete exams:
Used for students with attention deficits, processing disorders, and test anxiety.
Reduced Distraction/Alternate Test Setting:
Used for students with attention deficits (easily distracted by the sounds or movement of other students in the classroom), need for an alternate test location to facilitate additional accommodations. This is typically provided in the test lab.
This is used for students with extreme test anxiety, and students who need private testing to facilitate additional testing accommodations such as the use of a scribe and/or reader.
The use of text-to-voice for exams:
This is used for students with print disorders such as dyslexia, low-vision, and other visual impairments. The exam is provided to university testing services in PDF format. Testing services will supply a hard copy to the student in addition to a digital copy that can be read with a screen reader. The student can highlight individual exam questions to have the question read aloud to them and they will mark their answer on the physical copy of the exam or scan tron. This allows students who have difficulty processing written word due to a learning or processing disorder to reliably access the exam and demonstrate mastery of course content. After the student completes the exam, the digital copy is immediately destroyed to ensure exam integrity. The digital copy is stored on a flash drive during the exam and it NEVER leaves the testing center. It is NEVER stored on network drives for ANY reason. A live proctor is present in the test lab to ensure that the student does not access other computer programs to cheat on the exam.
The use of a screen reader and/or magnifier for visually impaired students:
Typically used for students with visual impairments. Some students prefer that the exam be read aloud to them and a scribe will mark their answers on the exam. Others prefer to use a digital magnifier that enlarges sections of the exam on the screen and can display it in high contrast. Students are not able to take screen shots of the exam with their magnifiers. Often, students who prefer a magnifier will supply their own.
The use of a computer to type responses:
For use with students who have poor handwriting due to a learning disorder such as dysgraphia or from a physical disability such as Cerebral Palsy, and students who may not be able to physically write their exam responses.
The use of a scribe and/or reader:
This is used for students who prefer to have a live reader and/or scribe during the exam. This is often facilitated in private with an exam proctor. Students who utilize this accommodation may include those who are blind, low-vision, processing disorders, physical disability such as reduced motor function/fine motor skills, immobility of a hand and/or arm, and students whose learning disorders may prevent them from being able to read and/or write despite having been able to master course content.
Enlarged text on exams:
This accommodation is typically used for students who have a visual impairment.
Considerations for teaching students with disabilities:
- Be supportive but do not be overly solicitous. Treat the student as any other student whenever possible.
- Students are not obligated to reveal or discuss their disability with instructors. Some will choose to have a dialogue about their disability and accommodations; others will not. If a student chooses to openly discuss his or her disability, the content and discussion should be kept private and confidential. It is not uncommon for people to feel awkward when discussing disability. An open mind, avoiding stereotype images and experiences, and recognizing the student for his or her abilities are important in establishing a successful working relationship with each student.
- Get more disability information. Understand the challenges and concerns these students face. Disability Services can provide disability specific information and discuss access options and legal obligations with you.
- Make adjustments to policies and procedures to allow the student an equal opportunity to learn. Remember that identical treatment is not "equal" treatment.
- Make adjustments when evaluating students' performance by giving them an equal opportunity to demonstrate that they have mastered the course material. Do not, however, accept work of a lower quality simply because the student has a disability and do not give unearned grades by assigning a passing grade only because the student tried hard.
- Do not waive academic requirements or overcompensate by doing things for students that they can and want to do for themselves.
- Do not delve into students' medical histories or inquire about their diagnosis. However, you have a right to enough information to conduct your duty and evaluate the student's ability to function in your course.
- Avoid embarrassing students by singling them out for special attention in class.
- Use everyday words such as "see" "hear" and "walk" with students who have disabilities.
- Do not discourage students from taking your course. If you foresee problems, discuss these but let students make up their own mind.
- Handbook- A resource of Disability Service's information about accommodations, documentation and policies.
- Students with Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education - US Dept of Education.
- Dragon Dictation/ Dragon Anywhere- Free and paid dictation apps for IOS/Android.
- Premier Literacy -Premier Literacy is available on all student computers. To access, click Start, All Programs, Accessories, Ease of Access, then Premier Tools. Click the link above to access training videos for the tools.
- BeeLine Reader- From BeeLine Reader: BeeLine Reader makes reading faster and easier by using a color gradient that guides your eyes from the end of one line to the beginning of the next. With BeeLine Reader, you can finish your work faster- and with less eyestrain
- Natural Reader-Claims to be the most powerful text to speech reader, free limited download to read PDF files and more.
- ADA.gov - Americans with Disabilities Act homepage.
- heath.gwu.edu - Online clearinghouse on postsecondary education for individuals with disabilities.
- doit @ washington.edu - Resources and information for persons with disabilities from the University of Washington.
- thinkcollege.net - College options for people with disabilities.