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Instructor Resources

Disability Services encourages communication between students and instructors regarding accommodations.  

Sample - Faculty Follow-Up Email Regarding Accommodations

Dear Student,
     Thank you for meeting with me today. I would like to summarize the goals and expectations that we established for the semester, so that we are both on the same page going forward.a
     When you have a flare-up of your condition, you should contact me as soon as possible in order to negotiate a new deadline for any missed assignments.b
     New deadlines [spell out the deadlines in detail] must be met or you will be penalized for a late assignment [explain what the penalty is].c
     If you need to miss class because of a flare-up, contact me as soon as possible, but no later than 1 hour before class, to let me know you will be absent. In order to meet the standards of the course, it may not be feasible for you to miss more than four classes.d
     We will meet again mid-semester (or prior to that, if necessary) to gauge how things are going and review these expectations. Do not hesitate to contact me should you need any assistance moving forward.e

Best,
Professor _______________f

aConfirms meeting and provides a written summary of the discussion.
bProvides clean instructions on the process, what to do in the event of a flare-up.
cProvides clarity concerning any accommodations that involves deadlines and clearly spells out consequences.
dEmphasizes the need for communication in timely manner, also sets larger standards regarding total number of possible absences.
eInvites student to reach out if there is a change in the condition and to reassess.
fFocused solely on the accommodations (not disability) and maintains clear boundaries with students.
                                                     ________________________________________________________________________________                   

Universal Design

You can also make your class more accessible by incorporating the Universal Design Principles:

Designing any product or environment involves the consideration of many factors including aesthetics, engineering options, environmental issues, safety concerns, and cost.

Often the design is created for the "average" user. In contrast universal design is "the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design."

Universal design is an approach to the designed products and environments, including instruction, that takes into consideration the the variety of abilities, disabilities, racial/ethnic backgrounds, reading abilities, ages, and other characteristics of the student body.

Following are the principles of universal design along with an example in academic programs for each.

  1. Equitable Use - The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities. For example, a website that is designed so that it is accessible to everyone, including students who are blind and using text-to-speech software, employs this principle.
  2. Flexibility in Use - The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities. An example is a museum that allows a visitor to choose to read or listen to the description of the contents of a display case.
  3. Simple and Intuitive - Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user's experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level. Science lab equipment with control buttons that are clear and intuitive is a good example of an application of this principle.
  4. Perceptible Information - The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user's sensory abilities. An example of this principle being employed is when multimedia projected in a noisy academic conference exhibit includes captioning.
  5. Tolerance for Error - The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions. An example of a product applying this principle is educational software that provides guidance when the student makes an inappropriate selection.
  6. Low Physical Effort - The design can be used efficiently and comfortably, and with a minimum of fatigue. Doors that are easy to open by people with a wide variety of physical characteristics demonstrate the application of this principle.
  7. Size and Space for Approach and Use - Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of the user's body size, posture, or mobility. A science lab work area designed for use by students with a wide variety of physical characteristics and abilities is an example of employing this principle.


Faculty Resources Links

The Faculty Room
A space for faculty and administrators at postsecondary institutions to learn about how to create classroom environments and activities that maximize the learning of all students, including those with disabilities.

Reasonable Accommodations
Employers and educators need practical information about reasonable accommodations for people who have psychiatric disabilities.

Heath Resource Center
The national clearinghouse on postsecondary education for individuals with disabilities.