Disability Accommodation Resources for Faculty
Students must report to the Office of Student Affairs before receiving a reasonable accommodation for a course and they should have any disability for which they want a reasonable accommodation verified as early in the semester as possible. A faculty member only has to provide a reasonable accommodation once the disability is verified (assuming reasonable accommodation is possible). Grades received prior to verification of a disability and implementation of a reasonable accommodation need not be changed; accommodations are not retroactive.
Here are the steps to consider when you have a student in your class who has requested disability accommodations:
First, read the accommodation letter carefully. It is a formal notice, signifying that the student has furnished The Cooper Union with documentation of a disability, which he or she feels will impact the learning situation.
Second, discuss the request with the student. The letter lists the reasonable accommodations which have been recommended by the physician, diagnostician, or counselor as compensation methods. If you do not understand why the specific reasonable accommodation was requested, ask the student to talk with you. You may want to call the Dean of Students at 212-353-4130 to request more details. You may also want to talk to your academic Dean.
Third, regardless of disability, all students must be able to meet the essential competencies for your course. Naturally, if the student cannot meet them without reasonable accommodations, he/she must be given an opportunity to meet them with reasonable accommodations. If you are unable to reasonably accommodate the student's request, ask yourself the following questions.
- Will the student's request affect an "essential competency?"
- Is there a better way to make the class/requirement accessible?
- Is the request reasonable?
- Do I have an alternative suggestion?
Discuss the request with the student and try to find a compromise. Tell the student why you cannot meet the original request and what reasonable accommodations you can make. But please, never deny reasonable accommodations without first discussing the matter with Dean of Students and/or your academic Dean.
Fourth, if you cannot work out an alternative that is agreeable to both you and the student, involve your Dean in the process. If there is still no way that you and your department can reasonably accommodate the student and have him/her meet the essential competencies of the course even after discussing the matter with the Dean of Students, the student should be so informed. Your school should maintain a record of all efforts to provide reasonable accommodations.
One of the most common accommodations is the need for additional time on tests, projects, exams, assignments, etc. It is up to the professor to determine if this accommodation will potentially augment pedagogy. Additional time is usually appropriate for a fixed single instance in-class exam, project, etc. If a student is assigned a semester-long project at the beginning of the terms it is likely that an accommodation for additional time would not make sense for that project. These situations should be clearly discussed with the student at the start of the term to reduce the likelihood of confusion at the end of the semester.
Proctors and/or rooms for exams that are extended due to accommodations will be arranged through your school's central/dean's office.
Any student needing any assistive technology or accommodations such as notetaker will have these needs addressed through the Office of the Dean of Students.
Please review our information on Academic Accommodations for Students with Learning Disabilities.