There are two important reasons for faculty to be aware of their rights and responsibilities in regard to students with disabilities:
- to increase your effectiveness as an educator in meeting the learning needs of all of your students;
- to avoid potential litigation resulting from an infringement on the civil rights of a student with disabilities.
Responsibilities and Courtesies
Be specific about necessary reading materials and have this information available at least a month before the start of the class. Many students may need alternate media, such as Braille or etext; these formats take considerable time to create. Allow these students the opportunity to access your reading materials on the first day of class.
Make yourself approachable to students with disabilities. During the first class and in the course syllabus, announce that you are willing to work with DSPS to accommodate qualified students. GCC's Academic Senate adopted the following statement for instructors to include on their syllabi: "All students with disabilities requiring accommodations are responsible for making arrangements in a timely manner through the Center for Students with Disabilities."
Respect the student's right to confidentiality. Do not discuss the student's needs with the class or in front of the class.
If a student brings you an authorized request for accommodation, please honor it. Don't tell a student she will be better off taking the test in class. That student may have special considerations about which you are unaware, so that taking the test in the class would put her at a disadvantage. If you don't agree with an accommodation, or wish to modify it in any way, please contact the DSPS professional who approved it.
Give an outline of the course and explain course requirements clearly. As with all students, those with disabilities benefit from a well-organized approach to course material.
Providing Academic Adjustments for Students with Disabilities
"Students with disabilities have the right to receive reasonable academic adjustments in order to create an educational environment where they have equal access to instruction without fundamentally altering any course, educational program or degree.” (GCC Board Policy 5140)
What is a "qualified student with a disability?"
- One who has provided the CSD valid documentation of a disability;
- One who can meet the prerequisite academic and technical standards of the course;
- One who, with accommodation, can perform the essential tasks of the course.
What is a "reasonable academic adjustment?"
- One that is based on documented individual needs;
- allows the most integrated experience possible;
- does not compromise the essential requirements of a course;
- does not pose a threat to personal or public safety;
- does not impose undue financial or administrative burden;
- is not of a personal nature.
It is a service of the CSD to determine who is a qualified student with a disability and what is a reasonable academic adjustment. We accept the responsibility of adhering to established professional guidelines in making these determinations, so that our faculty can trust our judgments to be ethically and legally sound.
You have the right to expect the same quality of work from a student with disabilities as you do from your other students. You are not doing them a favor by accepting inferior work, by assigning mercy grades, or by passing a student who has not mastered the course material.
You have the right to question an unauthorized accommodation. If a student requests an accommodation without authorization from DSPS, instruct the student to first get the approval of his counselor or specialist. If you are unsure about the request, please contact us.
You have the right to expect the same standard of behavior from students with disabilities as from other students. All students need to adhere to the GCC Student Code of Conduct.
You have the right to preserve the principles of academic freedom and maintain the highest level of academic standards. However, you must do so without impinging on the basic civil rights of students with disabilities.
In order to achieve this, examine each course you teach and determine essential content and procedures. Ask yourself such questions as,
- What is the purpose of the course?
- What are the skills or competencies needed in the field after graduation?
- What methods of instruction and assessment are absolutely necessary?
- What are acceptable levels of performance on these measures?
Program requirements outside of these parameters would then be considered for reasonable accommodation to otherwise qualified students on a case-by-case basis. Here's an example. Most instructors would agree that it's important for students to attend class. You may have an attendance requirement that students must meet to pass your class. What if a student with a medical or psychological disability enrolled in your class and was unable to meet that requirement? He may, for instance, be having difficulty regulating medications. If this student demonstrates to you that he has mastered the course material, and meets all the other requirements of the class, then it would not be correct to fail this student simply because they failed to meet the attendance requirement.