Faculty Resources

ANSWERS TO THE 10 MOST COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT DSS

 How do students get DSS approval for accommodations?

Students, who have met the academic eligibility requirements and are admitted to WMU, provide documentation, such as medical records, psycho-educational testing and school records, and meet with a coordinator at DSS. During the meeting with the DSS coordinator, barriers and strategies, including reasonable accommodations, modifications and adjustments, are discussed to determine the requirements for providing access to learning for the student.

How and when do I know if I need to provide accommodations for a student?

An email will be sent to you with the student’s name and request for accommodations. The student should request a meeting with you to discuss the application of these accommodations in your class. If you have received the email and the student has not contacted you to talk about accommodations, DSS suggests that the faculty member contact the student to set up a meeting. Reasonable accommodations must be provided after these two steps have been met.

What is a reasonable accommodation?

Reasonable accommodations are modifications or adjustments to the tasks, environment or to the way things are usually done that enable individuals with disabilities to have an equal opportunity to participate in and perform the essential functions of an academic program. The Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) stipulates that postsecondary institutions are responsible for providing necessary accommodations when a student discloses a disability. Programs are required to make reasonable adjustments or modifications to practices, policies and procedures, and to provide auxiliary aids and services for students with disabilities, unless to do so would "fundamentally alter" the nature of the programs or result in an "undue burden.” Providing accommodations does not compromise the essential elements of a course or curriculum; nor do they weaken the academic standards or integrity of a course. Accommodations simply provide an alternative way to accomplish the course requirements by eliminating or reducing disability-related barriers. They provide a level playing field, not an unfair advantage.

What accommodations are used for students who are blind or have low vision?

Students who have visual impairments may need one or a combination of the following accommodations: Electronic or large print materials including syllabus, course resources, and tests. Advance notification of textbooks so that electronic text materials can be obtained by the DSS office. Supplements to films such as electronic audio files and oral summaries for preview and review. Permission to use computers in the classroom, record lectures, and sit in the front of the classroom. Tests and quizzes- a screen reader, CCTV or print enlarger may be needed and may be provided through testing services at DSS. Barrier-free environment- A classroom that is accessible and free from hazards.

What accommodations are used for students who are deaf or hard of hearing?

Students who are deaf or hard of hearing are increasing in enrollment at WMU. These students may use one or a combination of the following: Assisted Listening Device (ALD) - These are personal devices that transmit sound from an instructor worn microphone to a hearing aid or ALD receiver. Communication Access Real-time Translation (CART)- CART reporters are trained court reporters who use a steno machine, laptop computer and software to record everything you say verbatim and in real-time. The text is displayed on a computer for the student to read and sent to the student at the end of the class. For accuracy, you will be required to wear a microphone. ASL Interpreter- American Sign Language Interpreter is a rigorously trained professional who facilitates communication in your classroom. All information should be addressed to the students/class and not to the interpreter. FM-Amplification- A device that will amplify the instructor’s voice through transmission from a microphone to a hearing aid or cochlear implant.

What do I need to know about providing captioning?

Captioning is the process of displaying text on a television, video screen, computer or other visual display to provide additional or interpretive information. Closed captions, which are not visible until turned on, were created for deaf or hard of hearing individuals to assist in comprehension, but also are used for people who have English as a second language or who process information better through language. Title III of the ADA requires that public facilities provide access to verbal information on televisions, films or slide shows. All video materials used in a classroom or as class related assignment must have captions. Most video content created since 2000 will have the option for captioning (closed captioning). If the content does not have captions, they need to be added before use.

What is attendance consideration?

Attendance consideration is a plan of action developed with the instructor and the student to provide a means for a student to access class content that is missed due to illness or disability. Some disabilities impact an individual’s ability to leave home. Whether the disability is a chronic illness such as fibromyalgia, medical conditions like Crohn’s disease, or psychological related like PTSD, the individual may need a reasonable accommodation for absences related to the disability. An accommodation for attendance does not give the student permission to ignore the course attendance policy, however, it can allow for flexibility.

What is the process for accommodations for in-class assignments and quizzes?

Depending on the student and his or her specific limitations due to a disability, modifications may need to be established for in-class quizzes and assignments. These accommodations, which will be agreed upon before use, may include modification to the presentation, procedures, or participation. For example, the presentation of materials may need to be given in writing, orally, or in a quiet area. The procedures may include accommodations such as advanced notice of a quiz/activity, alternatives for clickers, paper pencil, or oral quizzes/activities. The participation may need to be modified to include accommodations such as extended time, leniency for spelling, or limited use of Scantrons.

What is the process for accommodations for tests and exams?

Depending on the student and his or her specific limitations due to a disability, modifications may also need to be established for tests or exams. Accommodations are established with the instructor before the tests/exams and may include in-class modifications such as permission to take breaks, wear headphones or hats/sunglasses, ask questions of clarification, use spellcheck, have extended time, use technology (such as laptop to type rather than scribe, or use scrap paper, note cards, or a word bank- list of terms from the class). For students who need specialized accommodations such as accessible technology, readers, or scribes, these exam accommodations may be completed at DSS. To schedule an exam at DSS, a room reservation must be made, the Exam Submission Form must be submitted, and a copy of the exam provided. The Exam Submission Form and a copy of the test/exam must be provided 48 hours in advance of administration and the room must be reserved 7 days in advance for tests or 14 days in advance for final exams. Walk-in exams are not provided.

What is universal design for learning?

UDL is a set of principles for curriculum development that give all students equal opportunities to learn. The design of the class considers the needs of various students who may participate in the learning process. The 3 basic principles are:

Provide Multiple Means of Representation (the “what” of learning) Learners differ in the ways that they perceive and comprehend information that is presented to them. Learning, and transfer of learning, occurs when multiple representations are used, because it allows students to make connections within, as well as between, concepts. Provide multiple media for learning.

Provide Multiple Means of Action and Expression (the “how” of learning) Learners differ in the ways that they can navigate a learning environment and express what they know. Some may be able to express themselves well in written text but not speech, and vice versa. It should also be recognized that action and expression require a great deal of strategy, practice, and organization, and this is another area in which learners can differ.

Provide Multiple Means of Engagement (the “why” of learning) Affect represents a crucial element to learning, and learners differ markedly in the ways in which they can be engaged or motivated to learn. Some learners are highly engaged by spontaneity and novelty while other are disengaged, even frightened, by those aspects, preferring strict routine. Some learners might like to work alone, while others prefer to work with their peers.