As a student with a disability, you have certain rights and responsibilities when it comes to ensuring equal access at a postsecondary institution. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has put together a pamphlet outlining the rights and responsibilities of students with disabilities. You can find this document online or order a free copy at the following link: Students with Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education: Know Your Rights and Responsibilities.
It is important to understand your rights with regards to your accommodations as well as your responsibilities.
- It is your right to deliver your accommodation letter(s) to any and all instructors. You may not need all accommodations for every class, but any professor that you will need accommodation from must have a copy of your accommodation letter.
- It is your right to not deliver your accommodation letter for any class during a semester. This does not affect your right to have accommodations again for any subsequent semester.
- It is your right to request adjustments to your accommodations. All requests will be reviewed by the coordinator and approved, as appropriate, in order to ensure equal access.
- It is your right to have your disability kept confidential as the law allows. DA will not share information regarding your disability with any faculty, staff, parent, or other entities unless you have completed a Release of Information and given permission to do so or there is an explicit need to know.
- It is your right to have your approved accommodations provided to you free of charge, as mandated in the Americans with Disabilities Act. DA will never charge you for your classroom accommodations.
- It is your responsibility to meet with each professor during the first week of class, or within one week of receiving your accommodation letters if it is during the semester, to review your letter and discuss the use of accommodations in their class. Accommodations become effective on the date the letter is delivered to your professor. Accommodations are not retroactive.
- It is your responsibility to read each class syllabus and talk with professors about the ways in which the course structure and essential requirements may impact the use of your accommodations.
- It is your responsibility to report problems to DA regarding professors who are not providing accommodations. This must be done during the semester the problem is occurring and not after grades have been given for the course.
- It is your responsibility to request new accommodation letters for each semester that you are going to need accommodations or if there is an update to your accommodations.
- If you have note taking assistance as an accommodation, you must attend class and be attentive. You do not have the right to request a copy of notes from a class for which you were absent.
- If you require an alternative test location or extra time on exams, it is your responsibility to arrange for this accommodation with your instructors and/or Testing Center prior to the exam if your professor is unable to accommodate you.
Students with disabilities have the right to:
- Participate in higher education if they are qualified for admission
- Equal access to academic content and educational opportunities
- Participate in student activities
- Academic adjustments (reasonable accommodation)
- File a formal or informal complaint if discrimination is occurring
- Confidentiality of all disability-related information
Students with disabilities are responsible for:
- Identifying himself/herself to the Disability Accommodations (DA) office and providing documentation of a disability. Strict documentation guidelines exist for different types of disabilities. Information on documentation guidelines is available in each section.
- Setting up an appointment with DA to discuss the impact of their disability and the reasonable accommodations they require
- Notifying instructors of their accommodations via the delivery of an Accommodation Letter listing approved accommodations
- Discussing the accommodations with the instructor to determine how they will be applied within each class.
Faculty members have the right to:
- Maintain the rigor and the fundamental nature of their course content
- Require students to demonstrate their knowledge of crucial course content
- Negotiate an accommodation with the student and the Disability Accommodations office if the accommodation seems unreasonable
- Request an official Accommodation Letter from DA before providing requested accommodations. However, faculty should encourage the student to continue communicating about learning challenges while they are in the process of registering with DA.
Faculty members are responsible for:
- Implementing best practices in teaching to reach a diversity of learners
- Including a syllabus statement on how students can access accommodations
- Meeting as quickly as possible with students who provide a letter from DA in order to discuss and make arrangements for the approved accommodations. This is best done in the instructor’s office to promote an atmosphere of open communication and confidentiality between student and faculty.
- Providing the accommodations listed in the official Accommodation Letter from DA
- Contacting DA if there are any questions or concerns about an approved accommodation or how to best work with a student
- Having an awareness of campus resources available for students and faculty
- Maintaining confidentiality of student’s who disclose their disability or need for accommodation
Note on Responsibilities
Faculty members do not have the right to refuse to provide required accommodations as outlined on an official letter from DA, to question whether the disability exists when accommodations have been authorized by DA, or to request to examine the student’s documentation. However, faculty members do have input and should work with students to determine how accommodations will be provided in a particular class. Accommodation should not alter the fundamental nature of a course or program.
While students are expected to comprehend course material, accommodations give students the opportunity to achieve that goal and demonstrate that comprehension in testing situations. If a faculty member has questions about the appropriateness of a required accommodation, he or she should consult with Disability Accommodations staff member. If the disagreement is not resolved, the faculty member should contact the Director of Disability Accommodations.
What accommodations are faculty responsible for providing?
Faculty members are responsible for providing the accommodations that are listed in the Accommodation Letter, both in the classroom and for exams. If a faculty member has concerns about how an accommodation may apply in their class, please contact DA to consult with the student’s Disabilities Accommodation Coordinator.
For more information about some of the most frequently approved accommodations, please visit our Accommodations and Services page.
Unsure of how to provide accommodation? Please call DA in a timely manner to ask for assistance or clarification. DA is here to support the academic efforts of students with disabilities and can serve as a resource to faculty members to help meet this goal.