Student Disability Services

Frequently Asked Questions

What are accommodations?

A reasonable accommodation is an adjustment that allows an individual with a disability to access course material and demonstrate course knowledge in spite of the disability. An accommodation does not alter the fundamental course outcomes.

Who is eligible for accommodations?

Students with documented disabilities are eligible to request accommodations specific to their needs. Federal laws require this college to provide equal access and opportunity to all students.

How do I know which students have disabilities?

You will only know about a student’s disability if that student chooses to share that information with you. Because of privacy laws, the student with a disability is in charge of that information. Generally the specific accommodation, not the disability itself, is what SDS will share. Accommodations are considered private and are not something that an instructor can discuss around other students. Accommodations can be discussed privately with students.  Some students with disabilities choose not to disclose the disability or to request any services.

Do I have to provide testing accommodations in my classroom if the students with disabilities ask me to?

No. Refer them to the SDS office where the college provides staff for this purpose.  You may offer to provide accommodations within your department area if you would prefer, provided you are meeting the student’s needs of extra time, reader, scribe or whatever is necessary.  However, the student has a right to schedule it in our office if they so choose.

Why are exams sometimes given earlier at SDS than they are to the rest of the class?

Students who are entitled to extended test time when taking tests at SDS may have classes in the time blocks following their scheduled class time.  In order to allow students to complete the test and still make it to their next classes on time, students may start a test before the rest of the class.  SDS gives tests during regular office hours.  Night or weekend tests need to be scheduled between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.  Students need to be finished with their exams by 4 p.m. in order for the SDS office to return them to the faculty the same day.  Students must schedule their tests with SDS at least three business days prior to the date of the exam.  In every case, faculty should be aware of and should have signed off on exam times on the Alternative Testing Request Form.  The SDS office is not open extended hours during final exam week.  Contact the SDS office if more testing procedure information is needed.

What can I do to improve services to students with disabilities?

Get syllabi and text selections completed early.  Provide closed captioning for any videos shown in the course.  If note taking support is needed, assist with providing instructor copies of notes, or assist SDS in finding a note taker for the class.

What if one of my students has requested accommodations that I believe will alter the essential components of my course?

Accommodations based on a disability are intended to remove barriers to learning and demonstration of knowledge between students with disabilities and students without diagnosed disabilities. If a faculty member believes a specific accommodation will fundamentally alter the essential components of the course, the faculty member should contact SDS to discuss the specific nature of the accommodation's impact on the course.

Who determines the accommodations for a student with a disability?

Under Policy Memorandum 178, the college has granted the Student Disability Services Office the authority to interpret disability documentation and determine appropriate accommodations for students with disabilities.

What is my responsibility if SDS provided me with a current accommodation notification but the student chooses not to use any accommodations in my class? What if the student doesn't ask to use an accommodation until after failing several assignments or exams?

Your responsibility is to provide the accommodations beginning when they are requested by the student. It is the student's choice as to which accommodations to use in each of his or her classes. The student has been advised by the SDS office that accommodations do not have to be provided retroactively. So, if a student chooses to take a test without extended time and does poorly on the test, the professor does not have to allow the student to retake that test using extended time. The student should notify the professor in advance that he or she will be using extended time on the next test. It is up to the faculty if they would like to allow a make-up for this situation.

Do I have any recourse if I disagree with the requested accommodations?

If a faculty member disagrees with a specific accommodation or believes the specific accommodation will fundamentally alter the essential components of the course, the faculty member should contact Student Disability Services (320)308-4080 to discuss the specific nature of the accommodation's impact on the course. The college has given authority to SDS to interpret disability documentation, determine the existence of a disability, and determine appropriate accommodations in this college setting. Accommodations based on a disability are intended to removing barriers between students with disabilities and students without diagnosed disabilities.

Does granting accommodations to one student provide an unfair advantage over the other students in that class?

Academic accommodations are based on current and appropriate disability documentation, in accordance with Federal Law, which serves to "level the playing field" (by removing barriers to learning and demonstration of knowledge) between students with disabilities and students without disabilities in the academic setting.

How does the SDS office keep academic exams secure?

When the test is picked up or delivered to the SDS office, it is labeled with the instructor and student’s name and placed in a locked cabinet. When the student arrives to take the test a member of the SDS staff proctors it. When the student has completed the exam, it is immediately returned to the instructor’s department office or held onto for the instructor to pick up (whatever was indicated by the instructor on the testing form).

If a student verbally informs me about his or her disability, am I automatically required to provide accommodations?

No. Accommodations should only be provided after receiving an official accommodation notification from the SDS. The SDS office discourages providing accommodations in the absence of an official accommodation notification.

Are students required to identify their disability or provide copies of disability documentation to faculty and staff?

No. A student should only provide disability documentation to the Student Disability Services office and to no other office or faculty member due to confidentiality laws.

Why doesn't the accommodation notification from Student Disability Services include the nature of the student's disability?

Confidentiality of a student's specific disability diagnosis and the details of the disability are very important. The student cannot be required to provide these details, although a student may feel comfortable discussing his or her disability as related to the classroom accommodations.

Am I required to lower the standards of a required assignment because a student has a disability?

No. The same course standards should be applied to all students within your class. Academic accommodations, as determined SDS, are put into place to remove the barriers to learning and demonstrating knowledge between students with disabilities and students without disabilities.

If a student discloses a disability after failing an exam or assignment, what should I do?

Academic accommodations cannot be applied retroactively. The faculty member should refer the student directly to SDS recommending the student call 308-4080 to make an appointment to discuss the academic accommodations process.  Whether or not the faculty allows a makeup test or supplemental information is at the discretion of the faculty.

What should I do if a student comes up to me right before, during or after class and hands me an Alternative Testing Request Form?

The student should have the top half filled out, so all you need to do is fill out the “instructor please indicate” part and sign it.  Work together to figure out the day and time of the test.  Normally it will be the same day and time as the rest of the class.  If the student has classes back to back, a different day or time needs to be worked out with the instructor.  Once the form is filled out it is the STUDENTS RESPONSIBILITY to turn the form into Student Disability Services to schedule their test.  This form needs to be turned in at least three days before the day of the test.

Can a faculty member forbid a student with a disability to audio record their lectures?

An instructor is required to allow a student to record their lectures if recording the class is determined to be an appropriate accommodation for a student’s disability. Audio recording is specifically mentioned in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act as a means of providing full participation in educational programs and activities. Students who are approved to have this accommodation must sign an Audio-Recording Agreement form at the SDS office. This form provides assurance that the student will protect the confidentiality of the recorded information. Contact the SDS office with specific questions or concerns about audio recording lectures.