The Office of Student Disability Services (SDS) is the place to start for students with disabilities who wish to apply for accommodations. Christian Brothers University has a clearly articulated procedure as to who holds the documentation of disability, what steps students must take to declare their need for disability-related accommodations, and how that information is communicated to faculty. Many students feel they don't need to go through the Office of SDS. Their first instinct is to advocate for themselves and work directly with faculty to negotiate accommodations. However, following the CBU Accommodation Procedure will assure that students are accommodated appropriately and will lessen the probability of violating the student's civil rights.
Faculty members should refer all students requesting disability related accommodations to the Office of Student Disability Services. If a student requests a disability-related accommodation from you, ask if the student has registered with the Student Disability Services Office, located in the Thomas Center. If the Student has not registered, refer the student to the Office of Student Disability Services. Tell the student that you will be happy to cooperated when provided the proper accommodation form issued and signed by the SDS Director. All students seen in the Office of Student Disability Services will be given a copy of the Accommodation Procedure for the Students with Disabilities.
There are two forms which will be used by the SDS office to assist you in providing accommodations for the student:
The faculty member must provide the approved accommodations in some mutually agreeable form unless the accommodation will compromise the academic integrity of the course. Please contact the Director of Student Disability Services if there are any concerns regarding the accommodation.
Faculty members who work directly with students, discuss the disability, (possibly) look over the documentation, and agree to accommodation may be establishing themselves as the "gatekeepers" without meaning to do so. If the faculty member agrees to provide accommodation "x" and not accommodation "y" and later the student maintains that he/she was not appropriately accommodated, it is the faculty member's decision that is subject to question and the faculty member who could conceivably be held responsible for violating this student's civil rights.
The faculty member who agrees to provide accommodations with institution authorization for a student with one disability (for example, LD) but is less familiar and comfortable with another disability (for example, ADD) and sends that student back through channels for official documentation could be opening himself/herself up for charges of discrimination, intimidation, or harassment.
Faculty members who conscientiously try to make life easier for the student by allowing the student to bring the documentations directly to them may gain access to confidential information to which they should not be privy. For all these reasons, it would be best for faculty not to be drawn into the decision-making regarding accommodation.
The Faculty Room is a website managed by the DO-IT program at the University of Washington for faculty and administrators at postsecondary institutions to learn about how to create classroom environments and academic activities that maximize the learning of all students, including those with disabilities. It includes resources for particular academic areas, such as science, and information regarding accessible web design:
Accommodations and Universal Design: Strategies for creating (universal design of instruction) and modifying (accommodations) academic environments and activities to maximize the learning of students with a wide range of abilities and disabilities. The section on universal design tells how to be pro-active in creating an inclusive learning environment.
Faculty Resources: Resources to help instructors more fully include students with disabilities in course activities.
Faculty Presentations: Video, publications, and interactive presentations designed especially for postsecondary educators.
Searchable Knowledge Base: A searchable database of frequently asked questions and case studies related to how postsecondary faculty can fully include students with disabilities in their courses.
A statement placed on a course syllabus inviting students with disabilities to discuss their disability-related needs helps to open the lines of communication between the faculty member and the student. A statement on the syllabus and an announcement in class often make students more comfortable about disclosing their disability and need for accommodations. A sample syllabus disability statement:
Any student who may need class or test accommodations based on the impact of a disability is encouraged to speak with the Dean Of Students privately to discuss your specific needs. Students with disabilities should also contact Student Disability Services (SDS) at in the Thomas Center at 321-3536. SDS coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities.