The DSS office works closely with students and faculty to provide accommodations for students with disabilities. Under the ADA, professors are legally mandated to provide students with accommodations they are eligible to receive. If a student discloses a need for accommodations, remember to check that the student has made contact with the DSS coordinator.
The DSS office supports faculty in the facilitation of these accommodations and reviews all necessary medical documentation. All students working with the DSS office have a documented physical, medical, psychological, or learning disability.
It is the student’s responsibility to make their needs known to the DSS office so that arrangements can be made.
Accommodations are adjustments in the learning environment made for students with disabilities that help provide equal opportunity for academic or physical access to higher education.
With or without accommodations, a student with a disability must meet the requirements for a course as stated in the syllabus.
According to the ADA, accommodations are to be reasonable, not impose an undue hardship on the operation of the program and not fundamentally alter the academic and technical standards. For example, a student may receive extra time on an exam as an accommodation. The student takes the same exam as the other students in class, but is eligible for additional time to read, process and answer the questions.
The DSS office works with faculty and students to provide accommodations. Faculty are expected to review the accommodation letter and work with students to meet their disability needs.
At the beginning of each term the DSS office generates accommodation letters for all of the students with registered disabilities. These letters are emailed to faculty during the first week of class and outline the student’s role and responsibility in the disability process, as well as the specific accommodation(s) each student is eligible to receive.
Although a student is eligible to receive an accommodation, it is the student's right as to whether or not they make use of the accommodation(s).
The DSS Office is here to support faculty. If you have any questions about a student with a disability in your course please contact the DSS Coordinator.
Things to remember when working with DSS students:
- Treat DSS students with the same respect you show any other student.
- The student must be able to complete all aspects of the course as outlined in the syllabus.
- DSS students must be an active partner with faculty and the DSS office to arrange accommodations in a timely fashion. If services are not arranged in a timely fashion, students may miss the opportunity to fully benefit from their accommodations.
- Be sure to always discuss confidential information in private.
- Accommodations are a choice. Students with disabilities have the right to use or not use their academic accommodations.
- Testing accommodations: Many students are eligible for testing accommodations such as extended testing time, as well as testing in a distraction-reduced environment. The DSS office provides test proctoring in the LL Library as a service to faculty and students. However, professors are always welcome to proctor testing accommodations on their own.
- Note taking accommodations: Upon student request, the DSS office provides student note takers. These note takers are hired, trained and paid by the DSS office. Faculty members do not have to arrange for note takers in class. If the DSS office is having a challenging time finding a note taker for a particular course, the DSS office may ask for faculty support. Arranging for a note taker in class should be handled in an anonymous manner.
- Reasonable leniency on attendance policy or assignment due dates: Students who have classroom accommodations such as reasonable leniency on assignment due dates need to directly work with their faculty to facilitate these accommodations because what is reasonable differs between courses and individual assignments. The specifics of the accommodation must be agreed to prior to the assignment due date. Accommodations cannot be provided retroactively. If students do not arrange extensions prior to when the assignment is due, faculty should hold the student to the late policy that is articulated in the syllabus.
- Ergonomic chairs: Students who need ergonomic chairs in a classroom need to notify the DSS office. The DSS office works with campus facilities in order to place ergonomic chairs in the correct classrooms. If you notice ergonomic chairs in your classroom, please do not remove them. If a student makes it known that they have a need for an ergonomic chair, please refer them to the DSS coordinator.
- Accessible materials: Depending on the specific need, students may request materials in large print or audio format. If a student is eligible to receive accessible materials, the DSS office will provide them. Assistive technology software (document readers) will not recognize images that are posted within assignments or readings. As a universal design practice, faculty who post any articles or other written materials on websites such as Moodle, need to save the .pdf or other material as a document and not an image.
- Each course syllabus should contain a reasonable accommodation statement. Please include one of the following sample statements or a similar one in each course syllabus.
- If you have a specific disability that qualifies you for academic accommodations, please contact Disability Support Services to make your accommodations request. Once your eligibility has been determined, DSS should send an accommodation letter to your professors indicating what accommodations have been approved.
- If you are registered with Disability Support Services, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible to discuss accommodations that may be necessary. If you have a disability but have not contact Disability Support Services, please call 360-438-4580 or visit DSS in the O'Grady Library, lower level.
Universal design refers to the concept that instead of designing products and environments for the average user, products and environments are designed to be used by everyone, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design
This article highlights the general principals of universal design for the classroom, technology, websites and, distance learning. Specific resources and suggestions for making the learning environment available to everyone are also listed.
The first way you know the student may have an exam is via the exam approval form. Students who have scheduled their exams in the center receive exam approval forms. These forms are given to the student and it is their responsibility to give them to faculty. Second, two days before a scheduled exam, the DSS office will send an email reminder to faculty to deliver the exam to us.
Exams can be picked up in person, or scanned and returned via email. For security reasons, the DSS office does not put completed student exams in campus mail.
Legally, you are allowed to ask a student if they have a disability. However, such a statement might be seen as insensitive by the person with a disability. In addition, it can open the door to (mis)perceptions regarding fair or equal treatment. If you have a concern, it is best to keep the conversation behavioral for example, "I notice you are having difficulties turning in assignments on time, you might benefit from support available through the center."
Students with disabilities who need accommodations work through the DSS office. If you receive an accommodation letter from Disability Support Services then the student has a documented disability and is eligible for accommodations. If a student says they are eligible to receive disability-related accommodations, but you have not been contacted by the DSS coordinator, it is within everyone’s best interest to refer them to Disability Support Services.