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- What should I do before classes begin in preparing for a student with disability?
- What should I do on the first day of class?
- Whom do I contact if a student asks for a disability-related accommodation?
- Can I share information about DRES students? What is involved in confidentiality?
- What are some general suggestions for teaching students with disabilities?
- What are some instructional do's and don'ts?
- What are the student's rights and responsibilities?
- What are the University's rights and responsibilities?
- When is an accommodation request "unreasonable"?
If you have been contacted by the DRES Accessible Media Office concerning a student with a disability in your class, it is important to work with that office to ensure all the materials you present in class will be accessible by that student.
Students with disabilities who need an accommodation are responsible to contact their professors to notify them of this need by means of presenting them with a Letter of Accommodations. DRES encourages students to present this letter as soon as possible, preferably within the first week of classes. Professors do not need to provide accommodations until they are notified by the student. However, to encourage students to request accommodations, DRES recommends that instructors place a note in the syllabus requesting that students with disabilities contact the instructor to request accommodations.
If the disability-related accommodation is a testing accommodation which you cannot provide yourself, you may contact our Testing Coordinator at 333-4604 or by email. If you have a question about an accommodation that is requested, please contact the student's case manager. This is the person who signs the Letter of Accommodation and contact information is included.
A student’s registration with DRES and personal information about the nature of their disability is protected and confidential information covered by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the IL Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Confidentiality Act. Obviously, for a student to receive accommodations in your course, there must be 1) a disclosure from the student that he or she has a disability, 2) some details about how the disability may impact their educational performance, and 3) reasonable and appropriate accommodations that are designed to overcome those barriers. The Letter of Accommodations is designed in such a way to include all of that information while protecting the student’s privacy as much as possible (e.g., without identifying the nature of their disability).
When a student discloses that they are registered with DRES, it is important to keep that information confidential. It should not be included in their permanent academic record, for example. Letters of Accommodation should be shredded or deleted at the end of each academic semester. If an instructor is consulting with a colleague about how to implement a student’s accommodations, it is advisable to not refer to the student’s name.
Instructors are not advised to ask personal details about the nature of a student’s disability (“what’s your disability?” “how long have you had it?”). Sometimes student may choose to disclose that information themselves, and it is certainly permissible for an instructor to listen and engage the student in an empathic way. There are even some scenarios where an instructor and student may have a very close working relationship (e.g., as is often the case in graduate programs, for example), where the student discloses personal, disability-related information in a way that truly enhances the working relationship. The best advice is to let the student take the lead in disclosing or discussing disability-related information.
It is certainly acceptable to ask any student if they need accommodations in a course, or invite them to register with DRES if they have accommodation needs. Also, if a student gives you a Letter of Accommodation from DRES or discloses to you that they are registered with DRES, you can contact us with questions or concerns and that is not considered breaking confidentiality.
It is certainly NOT acceptable to “out” a student with a disability in your course. For example, making the volunteer note taker announcement and referring to the DRES student specifically by name or asking a student by name in front of the class about some aspect of their accommodation.
Students with disabilities at the University have the right to: equal access to courses, programs, services, activities and facilities offered through the University; an equal opportunity to learn and to receive reasonable accommodations, academic adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids and services; appropriate confidentiality of all information regarding their disability and to choose to whom, outside of the University, information about their disability will be disclosed, except as disclosures are required or permitted by law; and information, reasonably available in accessible formats.
Students with disabilities have the responsibility to: meet qualifications and maintain essential institutional standards for courses, programs, services, activities, and facilities; identify as an individual with a disability when an accommodation is needed and seek information, counsel, and assistance as necessary; demonstrate and/or document (from an appropriate licensed clinical professional) how the disability limits their participation in courses, programs, services, activities and facilities; and follow published procedures for obtaining reasonable accommodations, academic adjustments and/or auxiliary aids and services.
Please refer to the University of Illinois Nondiscrimination Statement.
The University of Illinois has the right to: identify and establish standards for courses, programs, services, activities, and facilities and to evaluate students on this basis; request and receive, through DRES, current documentation that supports requests for academic adjustments and/or auxiliary aids and services; deny a request for accommodations, academic adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids and services if the documentation demonstrates that the request is not warranted, or if the individual fails to provide appropriate documentation; select among equally effective accommodations, adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids and services; refuse an unreasonable accommodation, adjustment, and/or auxiliary aid or service that imposes a fundamental alteration on a program or activity of the University.
The University of Illinois has the responsibility to: provide information to students with disabilities in accessible formats upon request; ensure that courses, programs, services, activities, and facilities, when viewed in their entirety, are available and usable in the most integrated and appropriate settings; evaluate students on their abilities and not their disabilities; provide or arrange reasonable accommodations, instructional and testing adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids and services for students with disabilities in courses, programs, services, activities and facilities; maintain appropriate confidentiality of records and communication, and to disclose where permitted or required by law.
If an accommodation request is "unreasonable", it may compromise the integrity of the course. However, prior to denying an accommodation request, please contact the student's case manager to discuss options.