Services for Students with Disabilities

Q: Who is responsible for determining appropriate accommodations?

A: SSD is the only office on campus designated to review documentation of a disability and to determine eligibility for accommodations for students. The office bases decisions upon content of the documentation collected from a student, the student’s functional limitations, and the student’s clarification about specific needs.

Q: Am I required to provide exam accommodations to students who request it?

A: Assuming the student is registered with SSD and has been approved for exam accommodations: Yes. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504, as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protect students with disabilities. These laws require that qualified students with disabilities get equal access to an education, including exam accommodations. 

Q: A student told me that he received extra time on exams in high school/an undergraduate program and is requesting extra time on my exams. Should I provide this accommodation?

A: It depends. First ask the student if he can provide you with a letter verifying that he is registered with SSD. A Verified Individualized Services and Accommodations (VISA) accommodation letter is presented to students by an SSD Coordinator, immediately upon completion of their documentation review. If the student cannot provide the VISA letter, s/he should be referred to the SSD office. Accommodations should not be extended to students who are not registered with SSD.

Q: When I have a student who is deaf/hard of hearing in class, am I required to have a note-taker or real-time captionist in the class too? Do I have to show captioned films?

 A: Yes. You are required by law to have what is essential for the student to have equal access to an education. This includes having sign language interpreters, note-takers, real-time captionists, and/or captioned films in the classroom when there is a need. SSD will make these arrangements.

Q: Can I just provide a student with the exam accommodations myself?

A: Assuming the student is registered with SSD and has been approved for exam accommodations: Yes! If you are able to work out an arrangement with the student to provide ALL of the necessary exam accommodations listed on their letter from the SSD coordinator (and the student is comfortable with the arrangement), you may certainly do so. Please note however, that it is important to allow ALL of the approved exam time. 

Q: I have a student who is having difficulty in my class. I think he may have a disability. What should I do to help him?

A: Faculty members sometimes contact SSD regarding students they feel might need to avail themselves of services offered by our office. Although teachers in high school are active participants in the process of identifying and referring students to special services, there is no comparable requirement in higher education. If you see a student who is struggling and wish to refer that student to SSD or to Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) (734) 764-8312, remember that our students are adults. They may respond best to private conversations in which you use an inquiring and supportive approach and share information about the existence and location of the SSD office. Only the student can decide to disclose his or her disability, or to pursue information about services available in the SSD office. If a student is requesting accommodations but has not presented you with a VISA form from our office, you may ask the student to contact SSD.

Q: Am I required to lower the standards of a required assignment because a student has a disability?

A: No. Standards should be the same for all students. However, some students with disabilities may exhibit knowledge, production, and other course expectations differently than their peers. For example, a student with a learning disability in writing may produce an essay exam by using a computer or scribe rather than writing out an answer by hand. The quality of the work should be the same. 

Q: I have a student registered with your office who is behind in her schoolwork. This student has not handed in several assignments and received a D on her midterm. At this point, she is not passing the class. Do I have a right to fail a student with a disability?

A: The student with a disability has the same right to fail as anyone else. Their work should be equivalent to their peers. Of course, it would be a good idea to discuss your observations with this student just as you would with anyone else in the class who is experiencing difficulty. The SSD office is also available for support if needed.

Q: A student came to me in the 6th week of the semester with his VISA letter. I feel this is too late to ask for accommodations. Arrangements should be made at the beginning of the semester. I even made an announcement on the first day of class about SSD. Do I have to provide accommodations for someone this late?

A: Yes. There could be numerous reasons why a student makes a late request. They are permitted to bring documentation and make requests any time during the academic year. There may be a few situations where students make requests for accommodations so late that appropriate arrangements are impossible to make for that particular semester, but SSD will work to help that student for future semesters. Accommodations are not retroactive.