Are "disability" and "handicap" the same thing?  

  • A "disability" is a condition caused by accident, trauma, genetics, or disease that may limit a person's mobility, hearing, vision, speech, or mental function. A person may have more than one disability.
  • A "handicap" is a physical or attitudinal constraint imposed upon a person; for example, stairs, narrow doorways, and curbs are handicaps imposed upon people with disabilities who use wheelchairs.

How does a student become eligible to receive accommodations?

  • To become eligible, the student must:
      1. contact Disability Services (DS),
      2. provide ODS with documentation of the disability from an appropriate qualified professional, and
      3. consult with an ODS Advisor to determine appropriate accommodations.

Who determines the accommodation?

ODS advisors determine the accommodations using:

  • documentation of the disability from qualified professionals provided by the student, and
  • information gathered from a diagnostic student intake process.

How are reasonable accommodations determined?

Consideration is given to the following:

  • the barriers resulting from the interaction between the disability and the university environment;
  • the array of accommodations that might remove the barriers;
  • whether or not the student has access to the course, program, service, job, or activity without accommodations; and
  • essential elements of the course, program, services, job, or activity are not compromised by the accommodations.

Are accommodations retroactive?

No. Accommodations are not retroactive. Accommodations do not take effect until the student has completed registration with ODS and has provided the instructor with an accommodation letter. Students must further give instructors at least three (3) school days notice before use of an accommodation. ODS cannot require the instructor or anyone else to make changes in grades for assignments/exams given prior to notifying the instructor of the accommodations.

Doesn't providing accommodations on examinations give an unfair advantage to a student with a disability?

No. Accommodations don't make things easier, just possible. The purpose of academic accommodations is to put the person with a disability on a level playing field with other students who do not have a disability.


Are faculty required to use the testing services of ODS when providing accommodations to students?

No. ODS recommends that accommodations be provided within the classroom when possible.

How can accommodations be provided within my classroom?

Any available office or room can be used if students just need extended time, distraction-reduced environment, or enlarged exams. Please discuss accommodations with students to make sure that all needs are being met.

How can I learn more about the needs of my students?

Open communication between you and your students facilitates a better understanding of individual needs. Please contact ODS for more information.

What do I do when a student identifies himself/herself as having a disability?

Ask for the Semester Accommodation Letter from ODS. This letter describes the accommodations that instructors are legally required to provide. During office hours or at another convenient time, discuss the letter and the accommodations with the student.  Students must present a Semester Accommodation Letter from ODS to receive accommodations. If the student does not have a Semester Accommodation Letter, he/she should be referred to ODS to request services. The ODS Advisers will determine the appropriate accommodations after reviewing documentation of the disability provided by the student.

Can I review the student's documentation of the disability?

No. ODS is the office designated to receive and interpret documentation of the disability. ODS staff members certify eligibility for services and determine accommodations.  Disability information is confidential and students are not required to disclose this information to instructors. If you are concerned that a student is not disabled or otherwise qualified for the program, you should consult ODS.

What if I suspect that a student has a disability?

Talk with the student about your concerns regarding his/her performance. Whether to self-identify to ODS is the decision of the student; however, to receive accommodations, disclosure to ODS with proper documentation is required.

If the student has never been evaluated for a Learning Disability and/or Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, ODS will provide a list of local resources where the student may be screened or tested. Some of the resources offer a sliding fee schedule.

What if a student with a disability is failing?

Treat the student as you would any student who is not performing well in your class.  Invite the student to your office to discuss reasons for the failing performance and what resources the student may use to improve. Encourage the student to see an ODS staff member to discuss some additional strategies to improve his/her grades. Contact an ODS staff member to discuss any additional concerns.

What if a student with a disability is often absent?

Keep in mind that consideration for absences is an accommodation that is provided for some students. Talk with the student and discuss your concerns that absences are affecting class performance. Remind him/her of your policy on class absences.  Determine with the student whether the missed work can be made up and arrange with the student to do so. Refer the student to an ODS Adviser if too much class work has been missed.  If you have any questions or concerns regarding this accommodation, please contact the ODS.

What is a note-taker?

A note-taker is usually another student in class who agrees to provide copies of lecture notes taken during class.  Some students with disabilities may require a note taker as a reasonable accommodation. The note-taker may pick up carbonless note-taker paper, available at no charge, in ODS.

How can I assist a student with getting notes?

Students who cannot take notes or who have difficulty taking notes adequately due to the effects of their disability can be accommodated in a number of ways including:  allowing them to tape record lectures, assisting them in obtaining an in-class volunteer note-taker, and providing them with an outline of lecture materials and copies of overhead transparencies.

What should I do if a student who is deaf or hard of hearing shows up in my class without a Communication Facilitator (CF)?

In the unlikely event that a student shows up for the first day of class without a CF, the student should be referred to ODS. ODS will then attempt to schedule a CF for the student.

Do I need to alter my teaching style with an interpreter present?

No. Interpreters are professionals who facilitate communication between hearing individuals and people who are deaf or hard of hearing. The role of the interpreter is similar to that of a foreign language translator: to bridge the communication gap between two parties.