Disability Services FAQ's

Can our office coordinate services for persons with temporary disabilities (broken leg, arm, etc.)?

Yes, we provide accommodations for those students with temporary disabilities. There are a variety of supports; some to let people know where the elevators are; special seating or coordinating missed assignments due to a hospitalization. We might provide a note taker for a student with a broken arm; extended time on tests if required to complete the test; use of the computer to assist the student, or other options. Always send the student to discuss their situation with our office.

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Does the disability office work with Bridge students with disabilities?

Yes, If a high school student is taking class on our campus, we will provide accommodations to that student with a disability. If the high school student is involved in a class at their home school site, the secondary school is responsible for providing the accommodations.

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Is test anxiety a disability?

No, all students have testing anxiety at some level. This is not considered a diagnosis. Some individuals have other areas of anxiety, are seeking support from a professional and might qualify for services. However, test anxiety alone is not a disability. Many students may need to be encouraged to contact a counselor or physician if the anxiety is unmanageable and consistent about support services and treatment.

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Can Veterans with a diagnosis receive services from the disability office?

Yes, many veterans do not associate themselves with having a disability when they might be eligible for services with our office. Please encourage veterans that indicate they have a diagnosis of some sort to seek out services through our office.

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How does an online student receive disability services?

The process is similar in requiring documentation and setting up an accommodation plan. The main accommodation is providing extended time on tests, but many of the other accommodations (ex. Tests read to them) are the responsibility of the student to have the tools available for them to use online.

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What is the best way to connect with the disability service office?

Provide contact information and suggest that students or families contact our office and discuss options. We will be happy to assist them through the process.

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Do I qualify for services?

Many students don’t associate with having a disability, but they may have a diagnosis related to ADHD, substance abuse, or received services a long time ago (returning adult). These students are often eligible for services and should come and set up an appointment to discuss options.

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When should a high school student with a disability that will be attending MVCC connect with our office?

The beginning of their senior year in high school is a good time to make the first connection with our office. We are happy to speak with prospective students and provide information.

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My professor says they will not allow me to record the lectures, what should I do?

Ask the staff at the disability office to assist you with mediating the situation. A staff may not prohibit recorders in classrooms or other aids such as dog guides in campus buildings that have the effect of limiting the participation of students with disabilities in their 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 disability office has an agreement so as not to infringe on a potential copyright and will not be allowed to use the recording for any employment evaluation of the staff.

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What are some popular misconceptions of your department?

1. Many professors/staff send ESL students to the disability office for extended time on tests. Our office does not recognize ESL as a disability. However the student should speak directly to the professor and ask about options for extended time. If the professor decides they will allow the student more time, they can provide the extension themselves, or contact the placement testing area to coordinate testing through the out of class testing options, or some other option.

2. DSO provide E-text and alternate format books for students that have a reading, visual or physical disability that is documented. We typically process 200 or more requests per semester. We cannot provide e-text or audio books to students that do not qualify as having a disability. There are options through the bookstore and websites for students to purchase these formats if preferred directly from the publishers.

3. A student with a disability does not have to seek services for accommodations. The Disability Services Office (DSO) provides information for students to locate our office and find out about services; including all students that check the optional admission inquiry that they have a disability.  If the student does not come into the office to set up services, accommodations will not be provided. It is not until the student arrives to inquire about services that we have to provide services. There are no “retroactive” accommodations.

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The one thing we wish people really know about our office/department is:

The Disability Office typically works with approximately 400 students per semester. The average number is increasing. The largest increase of student diagnosis is ADHD, Asperger’s, and Mental Health. The numbers of accommodative tests range about 500 per semester. The number of alternate format book requests increases every year, with 232 requests for Fall 2012 being the highest number of requests ever.

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Any other information or FAQ’s we should list (please put below):

The disability service webpage has information for students, families, and staff. How to get a wheelchair parking permit is located on our website.

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Faculty- Why is there a special office to assist students with disabilities?

Federal law mandates these services and accommodations.  Common sense tells us that it makes more sense for a person with a disability to get through college and get a job rather than need societal support for the rest of his or her life.  And common decency tells us that each human being deserves the opportunity to live a full, meaningful life.

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Faculty- 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.

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Faculty- 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 do so and still schedule their final exam with DSO or request other services.

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Faculty- How do I know for sure that a student has a disability?

When a student self-identifies, you may ask that student for a form from DSO that verifies that the disability exists and lists the services the student needs.

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Faculty- What is the student’s disability?

DSO and/the student may tell you what accommodations and services have been deemed appropriate without divulging the actual nature of the student’s disability.

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Faculty- What should I do if I think one of my students might have a disability?

If you suspect a student has a disability, you can 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” -- 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?” 

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Faculty- May I ask DSO if someone in my class has a disability?

You should not call us to ask if someone who has not self-identified has a disability; we can’t tell you that without the student’s permission.

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Faculty- 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 could do are: first, share copies of power point presentations/transparencies/ lecture notes, and second, use more than one method to present information.

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Faculty- What services will you provide to my students who have disabilities?

Accommodative testing is one of the main services DSO provides.  Some key points about that service:
1. Students schedule tests, not faculty. 
2. Students must give us at least three days’ notice (one week for finals); if they don’t, they must take their tests in class. 
3. We always schedule tests at the same time, or as close as possible to the same time, the class is taking the test.
4. You will be notified that a test has been scheduled via your MVCC e-mail address.  Please deliver it to our office as soon as you can after that notification.

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Faculty- What if an instructor objects to the use of an auxiliary or personal aid?

You may not impose upon students with disabilities other rules, such as the prohibition of recorders or laptops in classrooms or of dog guides in campus buildings that have the effect of limiting the participation of students with disabilities. 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.

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Faculty- Why do students need to take their tests with DSO?

There can be many reasons.  Students may need a reader or large print due to vision impairments.  They may need someone to enter their answers on a computer scan-tron sheet because of problems with fine motor skills.  They might need to be able to stand and stretch during a long final because of back problems.  They may need extended time because of difficulty with attention or memory.  Please be assured of two things: 1. that we have documentation that shows that the student needs the service being provided, and 2. that we are only providing access – no matter what we do, if the information is not in the student’s head, it will not end up on the test paper.

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Faculty- 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 the 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.

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Faculty- 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 make a difference.  We’re required to level the playing field – not to carry the student to home plate, or make the basket for him or her.

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WHAT FACULTY CAN DO

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

• Check on the legitimacy of a student’s claim of a disability by contacting the disability service provider.

• Make suggestions for appropriate academic accommodations.

• Help students whom they suspect have a learning disability by suggesting that the student seek support from the appropriate campus service providers.

• Hold students with disabilities to the same standards as students without disabilities.

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WHAT FACULTY CANNOT DO

• See a student’s documentation of a disability or request information on the student’s disability from the campus service providers unless given written consent by the student. 

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

• Allow the right to academic freedom to impact the types of accommodations permitted in the classroom.

• Refuse a request for an academic accommodation.  If an issue comes up, such as a safety issue, the faculty member should contact the Office for Services to Students with Disabilities to discuss the request for accommodation. 

• Ask a student if they have a learning disability if the student is experiencing difficulty in class.  The faculty member can suggest the student seek out support services. 

• 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 a copy of their notes.

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

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