Disability Services Overview for Faculty

Contacts:

Utica Campus - Payne Hall 104H

Tamara Mariotti, Disabilities Services Coordinator (315-731-5702)

John Burns, Accommodative Specialist/Test Scheduling (315-792-5644)

Email for Test Delivery: disabilityoffice@mvcc.edu

Fax: (315-731-5868)

Rome Campus - PC A-30

Josalyn DeJesus, Accommodations Specialist (315-334-7744)

Jenny Spinelli, Accommodative Specialist (315-334-7703)

ADA/504 Coordinator

Tamara Mariotti, AB 153 (315-731-5702)

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

Why is there a special office to assist students with disabilities?
Federal law mandates that colleges provide access (via services, accommodations, and physical modifications) to students (and employees and visitors) with disabilities. Common sense tells us that it makes more sense for a person with a disability to successfully complete college and get a job rather than to need societal support for the rest of his or her life. 

Will DSO notify me if I am going to have a student with a disability in my class?
DSO does not (cannot) notify you that one of your students has a disability.  It is up to the student to self-identify.

What is my responsibility in the identification process?
Faculty must include the Self-Identification statement in each course syllabus.

When are students supposed to notify me about their disabilities?
It is best for students with disabilities to notify you at the start of the semester, but it is not essential.  They can choose not to self-identify and still schedule their final exam with DSO or request other services at a later time.

How do I know for sure that a student has a disability?
When a student self-identifies, you should ask that student for a form from DSO that verifies that the disability exists and lists the services the student needs.

What is the student’s disability?
It is up to the student whether or not to share specific information about the nature of his or her disability. Some students are free with this information, while others – particularly those with disabilities that carry some sort of societal stigma - choose not to be. In most cases, DSO and the student will tell you what accommodations and services have been deemed appropriate without divulging the actual nature of the disability.

What should I do if I think one of my students might have a disability?
If you suspect a student has a disability, you may try to find out if you’re right.  The best way is to say: “I’ve noticed that you ____ (appear to know the material but have a hard time on tests; seem to have difficulty paying attention; seem sleepy in class” -- whatever it is that you’ve noticed).  Then, “Has this always been a problem?  Did you receive any special services to help you with this while you were in school?” If the student does have a diagnosed disability, this will usually result in the sharing of that information. You should not call us; we can’t tell you without the student’s permission.

Must I change my teaching style/methods because I have a student with a disability?
No.  But it is important to recognize that when you do anything different for a student with a disability, it almost always helps everyone in the class.  Probably the two best things you can do are: 1. Share copies of your PowerPoint presentations, transparencies, and/or lecture notes or outlines; 2. Use more than one method to present information and assess student learning.

What services will you provide to my students who have disabilities?
Accommodative testing is one of the main services DSO provides. (See additional information below) We also assist with note-taker services and provide a wide range of support, information, advisement, and advocacy services.

Why do students need note-takers, and what are my responsibilities?
Students may have difficulty taking notes for a variety of reasons, including attention deficit disorder, hearing loss, auditory processing difficulties, or carpal tunnel syndrome, to name a few.  If a student gives you a note-taker request form, please help him/her find a volunteer.  Better yet and if at all possible, share your notes.

Why do some students need to record my lectures?
Some students record lectures because of visual impairments. Others do so for the same reasons they use note-takers (as described above), either in lieu of or as back-up for a classmate’s notes. For those without vision impairments, a thorough set of the instructor’s notes may eliminate the need for a classmate’s and for recording devices if those notes are in an electronic format.

May I refuse to allow the use of a tape or digital recorder in my classroom?
No.  Federal regulations state that colleges “may not impose upon students with disabilities rules, such as the prohibition of tape recorders in classrooms…that have the effect of limiting the participation of (those students) in the recipient’s education program or activity.” Refusing to allow a student to tape a class when he or she has documentation that supports that accommodation could result in a complaint to the Office for Civil Rights.

Recording Lectures - Additional Information

The text below is from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights booklet, Auxiliary Aids and Services for Postsecondary Students with Disabilities. If a student has a Plan from our office that states that he or she should be allowed to record your classes, please keep these requirements in mind. As always, however, we’re willing to talk to you about your concerns, so please feel free to contact our office at 315-792-5644.

Q: What if an instructor objects to the use of an auxiliary or personal aid?

A: Sometimes postsecondary instructors may not be familiar with Section 504 or ADA requirements regarding the use of an auxiliary or personal aid in their classrooms. Most often, questions arise when a student uses a tape recorder. College teachers may believe recording lectures is an infringement upon their own or other students' academic freedom, or constitutes copyright violation.

The instructor may not forbid a student's use of an aid if that prohibition limits the student's participation in the school program. The Section 504 regulation states:
A recipient may not impose upon handicapped students other rules, such as the prohibition of tape recorders in classrooms or of dog guides in campus buildings that have the effect of limiting the participation of handicapped students in the recipient's education program or activity.

In order to allow a student with a disability the use of an effective aid and, at the same time, protect the instructor, the institution may require the student to sign an agreement so as not to infringe on a potential copyright or to limit freedom of speech.

Contact the Disability Office to obtain a Recording Agreement Form.
 

Why do some students who receive these “special services” still fail?
If a student doesn’t practice good student behaviors, or if a student has minimal academic ability (in addition to his or her disability), all of the accommodations in the world aren’t going to make a difference.  We’re required to level the playing field – and then it’s up to the student.

TESTING ACCOMMODATIONS:

Testing Accommodations: Why We Provide Them:
Each semester, the Disability Services Office oversees several hundred hours of accommodative testing.  Colleges are required to provide this service to students with a wide variety of disabling conditions, including visual and hearing impairments, learning disabilities, and some types of health, mental health, and orthopedic disabilities.  The purpose of this accommodation is to eliminate or diminish the negative impact a person’s disability can have on the testing process.  The results of a test should reflect a student’s knowledge (or lack thereof), not whether he or she can hold a pen, or see or process printed words on a piece of paper.
 

The students who receive these accommodations are not given an advantage over the rest of the class - they are simply being provided with a level playing field.  Then it’s up to them.  If the information is not in their heads, it’s not going to end up on the paper - not with all the time or reading assistance in the world. 

Testing Accommodations: How We Provide Them:
In order for a student to receive testing accommodations, we must have written or visible proof that the requested modification is necessary.  Once that information is obtained, the student is advised to notify instructors about the need for special testing and to contact the Disability Services Office as soon as a test is announced in class to set up a time to take the test.  It’s important to note that it isn’t always possible to schedule tests at the exact same time they’re being taken by the rest of the class.  The date and time we schedule tests are governed by two variables - the ability of our office to administer the test and the schedule of the student taking it.

  
The office policy, therefore, is that we schedule each test as close as possible to the time the rest of the class is taking it, overlapping the time whenever possible.  We do understand the concerns some professors have about the possibility of classmates telling others what is on the test, but our hands are tied - there is nothing we can do to prevent that from happening.  The only thing we can suggest in those cases is that the professor may make up another test.


The process will never be an entirely seamless one - there are too many variables for that.  But with the cooperation of everyone involved, it can work and usually does.  Please call the office (792-5644) if you have any questions.


Testing Accommodations: Why do I need to get tests to DSO ahead of time?
Many students with disabilities have their tests read to them due to difficulties they have processing the written word. These tests are read to students by a computer with special software. When we receive a test, it has to be scanned first and then processed to correct the “scrambling” that may result from the scanning process. In some cases this can take a half hour or more, so getting tests two or more days ahead of time is essential. In all cases, the best possible way to deliver tests is via e-mail, to disabilityoffice@mvcc.edu, eliminating the need for scanning. (Please don’t e-mail tests to an individual DSO staff person, because if that person is on vacation or otherwise unavailable, no one else in the office will be able to access it.) You may also drop tests off at the office, but please don’t send them via interoffice mail.

FACULTY Should:

• Include the Self-Identification Statement on their syllabi and discuss it in class.

• Encourage students to self-disclose their disabilities in an appropriate and confidential time and place.

• Check on the legitimacy of a student’s claim that he or she has a disability by requesting a copy of the student’s Accommodation Plan.

• Contact the disability services provider to discuss concerns regarding a student or a student's accommodation plan.

• Make suggestions for appropriate academic accommodations and propose effective alternatives when an accommodation that has been recommended appears unreasonable or extremely difficult to provide.

• Hold students with disabilities to the same standards and policies as they do students without disabilities. Please don’t give students with disabilities better grades than they earned because you feel sorry for them or you’re impressed by the effort they’ve made. 

FACULTY Shouldn’t:

• Request a student’s actual disability-related documentation.

• Contact DSO to ask whether a student who has not self-identified has a disability.

• Set a limit on the number or type of accommodations provided during a semester or the number of students with disabilities in his/her classes.

• Refuse a request for an approved academic accommodation.

• Ask a student to arrange his or her own accommodations such as finding a note taker. It is the responsibility of the instructor to provide notes or to ask other students in the class to make copies of their notes.

• Discuss information about a student’s disability with or in front of others.

• Counsel a student with a disability toward a more restrictive career.

• Establish rules and policies that adversely affect students with disabilities, such as banning the use of tape recorders.

• Ask students with disabilities to pick up tests or drop off completed tests in class, as doing so labels them as disabled in front of their classmates.
 

[revised July 2014]