Suggested Do’s and Don’ts

Do

  • Ask questions if you don’t understand something or are not sure how to proceed – the DSO can be very helpful in this regard.
  • Hold up your end with regard to accommodations, which have been determined to be appropriate. This may include asking class members to volunteer to take notes or providing copies of exams to the DSO in order for a student to take the examination under alternate circumstances, such as extended time, using a scribe or Braille, etc.
  • Treat students with disabilities with the same courtesies you would afford to other students.
  • Respect the privacy of students with disabilities. They need not disclose their disability to fellow students. While they must disclose their disability to the DSO in order to access accommodations, this does not require disclosure to everyone. Treat disability information, which has been disclosed to you as confidential.
  • Raise appropriate questions. Questions may lead to the university’s addressing certain types of requests more consistently and more thoroughly in the future.
  • Assist students in following procedures. All requests for accommodation must be lodged with the DSO and not individual faculty members. This protects students, faculty, and the institution by ensuring consistency and takes much of the burden off individual faculty members, who are often, ill equipped to determine whether an accommodation is appropriate or how to provide it. Violations have been found in cases where faculty members have not followed this procedure.

Don’t

  • Engage in philosophical debates about “fairness” to other, nondisabled students, or whether providing accommodations somehow violates your academic freedom. These arguments are unavailing for several reasons. First, philosophical debates about whether and how equal educational opportunities are provided to students with disabilities are legally meaningless. Congress has determined how we as a society should address equal access to education by passing federal civil rights statutes protecting the rights of persons with disabilities, without adversely impacting those without disabilities. Congress has been joined in this effort by most state legislatures as well. Second, academic freedom is not preemptive of federal civil rights statutes.
  • Decide not to provide the academic adjustments, which have been approved by the DSO. You may subject the university and yourself to liability.
  • Leave a student adrift without accommodations. If no volunteers are willing to take notes in a class, for example, make sure the DSO knows.
  • Refuse to permit students to tape record lectures as an accommodation. Any general policy which might permit instructors to refuse the use of tape recorders, without providing for their use by students with disabilities, are legally insufficient.
  • Refuse to provide copies of handouts, or orally describe information written on the chalkboard, or face the class when referring to something written on the chalkboard, etc., if these accommodations have been determined to be appropriate for a student.
  • Refuse to provide extended time for tests on the mistaken assumption that doing so would require that all students be given additional time.
  • Refuse to provide accommodations until you have personally evaluated a student’s documentation of disability. Eligibility for services under the ADA is the job of the disability services personnel, not the faculty.
  • Make assumptions about a student’s ability to work in a particular field. Most often, concerns that students may not be able to “cut it” are based on fears and assumptions, not facts.