The collaborative relationship between faculty members and students with disabilities is significant. Having a shared understanding of both parties’ expectations will define each role. Open communication will streamline processes such as using the Testing Center for extra time or quiet modifications or needing excused absences for medical appointments.
Meeting with Accessibility Students
If students identify themselves as having a disability and request accommodation, it is the instructor’s responsibility to ensure that the learning environment is accessible. Due to the very personal and private nature of some disabilities, it is important that instructors create an atmosphere where students feel comfortable about coming forward to discuss any modifications, accommodations, or supportive services. Instructors can demonstrate their openness and willingness to help students by including on their syllabi a statement encouraging students to make an appointment with the instructor. This meeting is vitally important to ensure safety as the student may need course adaptations or accommodations, have emergency medical information that the instructor should know, or may need special arrangements in the event the building must be evacuated.
It is strongly recommended that the instructor make arrangements to meet with students who choose to identify themselves in order to discuss in detail the particular accommodations that will be necessary. At a minimum, an instructor should
- Make sure the student is aware of services available from the Career and Accessibility Center
- Inquire into the extent of any limitations as it relates to fulfilling course requirements
- Discuss the possible accommodations that may be made
- Contact the Career and Accessibility Center if the instructor has any further questions. An instructor should also look to his or her academic department for assistance in providing accommodations. If there are ever any questions regarding an approved accommodation, the instructor is advised to call the Career and Accessibility Center at 765-455-9301.
Assisting Accessibility Students in the Classroom
A broad range of disabilities can affect a student’s performance in the classroom. Each student is an expert concerning his or her own specific disability and in some cases has a lifetime of experience at creating methods of accommodation. In thinking about necessary accommodations, an instructor should consider a student’s physical accessibility to the classroom as well as the student’s ability to participate in all course activities.
The following are some general tips for suggested accommodations that may reduce the effects of certain disabilities:
- Keep the classroom free from physical barriers and obstructions.
- Make all materials and equipment accessible before the student is expected to use them.
- Minimize the amount of movement required to complete tasks.
- Allow for the use of adaptive tools and methods that the student finds helpful.
- Allow extra time for exams.
- Give advance notice of field trips to allow the student time to plan his or her transportation.
- If the final exam is scheduled in another room, make sure that the room is handicapped accessible and make sure that the student is reminded so accommodations may be arranged if necessary.
- Try to reserve front row seats for the student and the interpreter.
- Consider replacing verbal assignments with written assignments.
- Allow students who are unable to communicate orally to use a computer, signboard, or sign interpreter.
- Use verbal descriptions to supplement use of visual aids.
- Provide enlarged print material and electronic versions of handouts.
- Ensure that course materials are accessible. Accessible content guidelines can be found at: https://accessibility.iu.edu/creating-content/index.html
- Arrange to be in a classroom with proper acoustics.
- Reduce as much as possible interfering sounds emitted from lights, vents, air conditioning units, etc.
- Close doors and windows to reduce interference from outside noise.
- Offer to seat the student close to the instructor.
- Have videos accessible outside of class if available.
- Provide assistance with finding a notetaker and/or provide printed PowerPoints and lecture notes.
- Offer a seat up front.
- Offer office hours for questions.
The following links provide suggested accommodations and tips for teaching students on the autism spectrum:
- To adhere to strict standards of confidentiality for each student's needs and services
- Reasonably accommodate students who provide Accommodation letters from the Accessibility Center.
- Refer students to the Accessibility Center who request accommodations for a disability, but do not provide Accommodation letters from the Center.
- Maintain student confidentiality by not asking for specific information regarding a student's disability.
- Understand policies and law regarding students with disabilities.
- Ensure Testing Center arrangements are made for students in a timely manner and by filling out the testing form.
- Understand that some behaviors are not related to disability and that there is no obligation to treat these students differently than any other.
- Enforce Indiana University Kokomo Student Handbook policies equally for all students.
- Contact the Accessibility Center 765-455-9301 whenever there is a question regarding a reasonable accommodation.
- Determine the content of each course and how it is taught.
- Decide how to best instruct students and assess student learning.
- Consult with knowledgeable professionals on methods to accommodate the learning needs of students with disabilities.
- Right to be informed of accommodation needs in each semester, to be able to support students with disabilities.
- Maintain academic standards of courses.
- Question and negotiate specific accommodations to ensure that they will not change essential requirements of course.
- Right to award grades appropriate to the level of student's mastery of course material.
- Be treated respectfully by all students.