Frequently Asked Questions
- How does DSS decide what is and is not an appropriate accommodation for a student?
A student who contacts DSS and requests disability-related services of any sort is required to provide documentation of the disability (see Documentation Requirements under Current Students) DSS reviews this documentation and, in conjunction with a discussion with the student, determines the functional impact of the disability on the student’s opportunity for equal access in the academic setting. DSS then approves or rejects the student’s request for a service or accommodation based upon an analysis of the functional impact of the disability, departmental and university policies, and applicable state and federal laws.
- What if a student requests an accommodation, but has not given me a letter from the DSS office?
You are not required to provide an accommodation for a student if the student has not provided you with a letter from DSS specifically indicating that it is an approved accommodation. You should tell the student to contact DSS if they need a disability-related accommodation. Faculty members are, of course, free to make academic adjustments for their students. A student request that is disability-based, however, should be handled through DSS.
- Shouldn’t a student give me their accommodation letter at the start of the semester? Should I accept a letter if the student gives it to me at mid-semester, or even at the end of the semester?
DSS encourages students to contact our office and get and deliver letters of accommodation at the start of the semester. However, a student can request services and/or deliver their letter to the instructor at any time during the semester. Accommodations, however, cannot be applied retroactively. The student’s accommodations apply only from the time that the letter is delivered to the instructor.
- What if I suspect that a student has a disability? Should I suggest they contact DSS?
The student has the right to self-disclose a disability or not. If a student mentions that he/she has a disability, then it is appropriate to recommend that the student contact DSS. If a student does not disclose a disability, but you suspect a disability, you can mention the DSS office as possible resource along with other services, such as the Learning Center. You should not tell a student that you suspect the presence of a disability, nor should a student be required to contact DSS.
- A student’s accommodation letter indicates additional time for exams and quizzes. Does this apply to take home tests or writing assignments the student completes outside of class?
No. The additional time applies only to in-class tests/quizzes where the student’s disability impacts their capacity to complete the test/quiz in the standard amount of time. For assignments done outside of class, the student is expected to manage their time to complete the assignment by the standard due date.
- I have a student who has missed class time because of a disability-related reason. Should I allow him/her to make up missed work?
Class attendance requirements are established by the faculty member. It is DSS practice to not approve an accommodation requiring that attendance requirements be waived or relaxed because of a disability. However, many students have a disability that can result in missed class time. In this case, DSS typically includes a statement on the accommodation letter indicating that this is the case. This statement is provided to inform the instructor that the student does, in fact, have a disability than can result in missed class time. The instructor may then want to consider this when determining whether or not to excuse missed class time. It is important to note, however, that should a student decide to formally challenge an attendance requirement, the faculty member should be prepared to defend the assertion that a change in the attendance policy would fundamentally alter the academic integrity of the course.
- What if I have a question or concern about a student’s accommodation?
Please contact the DSS office any time you have a question or concern about an accommodation. The provision of classroom accommodations for a student with a disability is most effective when there is good communication between the faculty member, the student, and the DSS office. Students are required to speak with their instructors regarding how their accommodations will be provided and to voice concerns if they are not satisfied with the accommodation. However, they are not required to disclose their specific disability or to explain or justify why they have an accommodation. Questions of this nature should always be addressed to the DSS office.