Disabled Students Program & Services (DSPS)

Questions and Answers For Faculty

Are student records confidential? Does an instructor have a right to know who in their class has a disability?

All records maintained by DSPS personnel pertaining to students with disabilities shall be protected from disclosure and shall be subject to all other requirements for handling of student records (Federal Family Educational Rights Privacy Act of 1974).

If a student requests accommodations that impact the delivery of instruction the instructor has the right to know the educational limitation(s) and the appropriate accommodation. The nature and origin of the disability are not to be disclosed to the instructor without the student's permission.

Can faculty members be held personally responsible for failure to accommodate students with disabilities?

Individual faculty members can be held accountable for blatant discriminatory actions that deny students their rights (Campbell. Dinsmore v. Charles C. Pugh and the Regents of the University of California 1989). Faculty members do not have the right to contest disabilities nor the right to refuse to provide necessary accommodations. However, faculty will be provided the opportunity to participate in decision-making regarding the implementation of the accommodation as it relates to classroom instruction.

 

Many students determined to be eligible by DSPS receive the accommodation of additional time for tests.   How is this accommodation determined and does the student receive unlimited time to complete the test?

The accommodation of additional time for tests is based on the educational limitation of the student (e.g. a student with poor motor skills needs additional time to complete the test independently, a student with a learning disability needs additional time to process information on the test, etc.). Generally speaking, the average extended time limit permitted in DSPS is either time and a half or double time.

Some students in our classes have severe test anxiety or limited English proficiency; do students such as these qualify for services from DSPS?

Usually not; however, if in doubt you may refer the student to DSPS to determine if the student has a disability. DSPS will provide testing accommodations only for eligible students with disabilities.

 

Does the college waive course and/or test requirements for students with disabilities?

No. All students must meet both the course and test requirements for graduation. In rare instances students may petition to have a graduation requirement substituted with alternative course work. Students are encouraged to meet all requirements as outlined in the catalog. Appropriate support services are available to assist them.

What is the correct way to refer a student to DSPS?

If you suspect that a student in your class has a disability, you are strongly encouraged to refer the student to DSPS for assistance. If the disability is visible, it is easier to approach the student and say something like, “Do you have someone you work with in the DSPS office?” If the student says “no”, you may suggest that you would be willing to call the DSPS office to schedule him/her an appointment and to find out what kinds of instructional support may be available.

If you suspect that a student may have an invisible disability and you're unsure how to approach the situation, please call the DSPS Counselor to discuss possible ways to refer the student. Please do not delay; your referral may make the difference in whether the student succeeds in college or not.

I have strict attendance policies in my classes. Do I need to make exceptions for students with disabilities?

Students with disabilities can be expected to attend classes as any other students do. However, there are disabilities that prevent the student from attending some classes due to hospitalization, infirmity, and outpatient treatment such as chemotherapy or side effects of medication. In addition, students with mobility impairments may face problems in being transported to the college or with actually getting to class. In these classes the actual accommodation may involve making a reasonable allowance for the student to make up missed assignments. Refusing to be flexible could cause a legitimate complaint of discrimination to the college district.The DSPS Counselor can assist you in working out a reasonable accommodation with the student in such a matter.

The growing number of students with disabilities has become apparent in laboratory classes on campus.   Is there a limit to the number of students with disabilities we can place in each lab?

The college cannot set specific limits on how many students with disabilities can enroll in a laboratory class, or any class. However the creative instructor can certainly work together with the student(s) and the DSPS Office to provide access. For example, it can be “suggested” that another lab would provide the student with more individualized contact with the instructor, but it cannot be required. Remember that DSPS can provide funding to hire assistants in the laboratory and has information on making successful accommodations. Through collaborative efforts involving the instructional department, DSPS and the student, problems with access can be studied and solved effectively.

How do I develop a barrier free syllabus?

Recommendation #1:

“WHC is committed to providing access to education for students with disabilities. If you have a disability or medical condition which requires an accommodation, please see me within the first two weeks of classes so arrangements can be made.”

A simple statement on your syllabus such as the one above will make all the difference for a student with a disability that reviews your course syllabus for the first time. It informs the student that it is “OK” to approach you to discuss his/her educational limitations and what accommodations will assist him/her in meeting the requirements of the class. The student will possibly inform you of an affiliation with DSPS, or this may be the perfect opportunity for you to refer the student to DSPS if he/she is not aware of the services and programs available to them.  

The more detailed syllabus an instructor is able to provide the more this will assist students with organization. For example: if test dates are provided at the beginning of the semester this allows the students to fill out proctoring forms well ahead of deadlines. An instructor wants to be sure all students are aware of important date changes; in particular, it is imperative that students that may arrive late due to mobility challenges are informed of any class announcements they may miss.   

Recommendation #2:

Be careful what you print as policy on your syllabus. Be sure that policies comply with local/state/federal regulations. Individual policies in areas such as tape recording and attendance could pose a barrier to students with disabilities. While your real intention is not to exclude, the student reading such a policy may believe differently causing him/her to drop out of the class or file a complaint. Remember that although you ask students to notify you of accommodation needs within the first two weeks of the class, accommodations cannot be denied because the student did not meet that deadline.

Recommendation #3:

Another important issue is related to access of printed information. You may need to have your syllabus made available in an alternative format such as large print, Braille, audiocassette tape or floppy disk. The DSPS Office can assist you in facilitating this accommodation in a timely manner.

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