Approximately 18% of students on campus currently reports a documented disability that requires a classroom accommodation. There might be many more students who have not reported to the office. As a result, it is appropriate to use Univeral Design whenever possible to increase access for all students. Many things used for accommodations (captioning of films) helps students with slightly weak hearing, sitting by a loud vent or window, or who have attention issues. Many students benefit from hearing material as well as reading it, so having your PDF articles scanned as OCR will allow any student to have them read out loud by software.
Accommodations do not give some students an unfair advantage over other students. Students who have a learning or physical or psychological are jumping hurdles each day that other students walk around. Accommodations simply level the playing field so the student has full access to lectures, books and to sharing what they have learned. We call this "access". We do not accommodate for "success" so the student's level of success is still up to them, just as it is with any other student.
BEFORE YOUR COURSE BEGINS
1. Is statement regarding disabilities on my syllabus?
"Cornell College is committed to providing equal educational opportunities to all students. If you have a documented learning disability and will need any accommodation in this course, you must request the accommodation(s) from [the instructor of the course] as early as possible and no later than the third day of the term. Additional information about the policies and procedures for accommodation of learning disabilities is available through the Disabilities Services section of Cornell's website."
Additionally, you might choose to add a statement for those students who simply learn differently who should feel welcome to consult with faculty member if they have questions or concerns. Additionally, be aware that while we ask students to let us know about accommodations in first 3 days, this is so that everything flows smoothly. The student can ask for accommodations at a later time, but then we can't guarantee if they will get done as quickly as they might have otherwise. Accommodations are never retroactive.
2. Are all articles scanned and posted on Moodle in OCR pdf format. If not, contact the Coordinator of Academic Support and Advising to learn how to do that.
3. If possible, are chosen textbooks available in digital format from publisher (if you have a choice between two textbooks, please ask the publisher if it is available in PDF and choose the one that is. This saves time and expense for the college).
4. Are all videos or films to be used in the class captioned. If not, work with Academic Media Studio to get them captioned or try to choose one that is captioned.
Note-Takers: note takers are usually requested when a student either cannot physically take notes or cannot listen and take in information at the same time they are taking down notes. In this case you may ask the class if anyone would volunteer to share their notes with a student in class who has a disability (do no name or indicate student) or you can observe students taking notes the first day and tap someone on the shoulder and make the request. The student can count class time and copying time as volunteer hours if they like. The student then scans notes daily as one large batch and emails them to the Coordinator of Academic Support and Advising and they are then forwarded to the student who needs the notes.
Your Notes: this is a student who finds they can take notes if they have an outline or some framework to provide the basics. You may share your powerpoints in advance or share your personal notes if they are able to be read clearly. We ask that you have these to the student before class starts so they can read through them and/or print them off to use as outline. The student will not share these notes with other people outside of the class.
Recording the Class: many students will record a class so they can listen to it again later. This may be because they learn best from hearing, because they have a TBI that does not allow them to retain memories of the lecture, or so that they can fill in their notes at a later time. They might record using a smart pen, a recorder or their tablet,etc. If there is sensitive material or discussion in the class that you would rather not have recorded, you may ask all students to put down their pens, shut their laptops or stop recording. If you are allowing others to take notes, then the student with recording accommodation should be allowed to record as well. You have the right to have the student sign a privacy statement that they will not post the recording online and will not share with anyone outside of class or that they will destroy it after the course ends. The student is recording you because what you say matters to them and they don't want to miss something important.
Laptop or Tablet in Class: more and more students are using technology in the classroom. This includes students with disabilities. Often their technology allows them to take notes at same speed as other students ,to record, or to draw images that will help them remember where words would fail them. If they have this as accommodation you may not forbid it but you may discuss with them any concerns you have. Example: if you find laptops distracting, you may ask them to sit to side where you don't look as often. If you find it hard for others to discuss with someone behind a laptop, you may ask that they angle their desk to others or keep their head up and stay actively engaged as much as possible. You may also ask them to only take notes/images related to class and to not visit social media or search the web while on their laptop. If there is a problem of this nature, speak to the Coordinator of Academic Support and Advising.
Extra Time on Tests: a common accommodation is extra time on tests. 150% (1.5) or 200% (2.0) is common. This time needs to be in relation to the time given other students, NOT the time you feel the test "should" take. If you give other students 4 hours to complete a test that should take 2 hours, you are giving them extra time to simply review the test or take a nap in the middle. Therefore, this student still need the 4 hours to DO the test AND extra time to review it or take a nap as well. You have some flexibility with how the time is given: you may have the student come early so that they end at same time as others or you may have them stay late. If you can't stay late, you may have the student take the test in the library or find a proctor to supervise the test. Quizzes: Students need extra time on quizzes as well. Again, you might have the student come early to class, take the entire quiz with extra time and then read quietly when other students arrive and take the same quiz. Assignments: We rarely give extra time on assignments. The exception to this might be if you assign something on Monday that is due later that night. That was not something the student needing extra time could plan for in advance and do over the weekend and it might be appropriate to give them until Tuesday noon to turn it in,etc. Consult with the student or Coordinator of Academic Support and Advising if you have questions about this.
Private Testing Space: the purpose of private or distraction-free testing space varies. Sometimes the student needs to read the questions out loud to process them and needs privacy to do so. Quite often the student can't focus on the test if there are distracting sounds or sights and needs a blank room. Testing space can be reserved in advance through the library and tests can be delivered to the main office in the library in advance. If you'd prefer to have the student nearby because it is a lab or because you want to answer questions, you may offer a nearby empty classroom or office, but ask the student if it is distraction-free enough. A cluttered office with beautiful art may feel homey to you but might be too much stimulus for a student to concentrate adequately. Facing a black wall or door might be preferable.
Service Dogs in the classroom: if a student brings a service dog to the classroom without warning, you are allowed to ask two questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform.
If you have any concerns about whether the "work" described is truly service work, allow the dog to stay for the day and contact the Coordinator of Academic Support and Advising after the class. Service dogs in training are allowed in the classroom as well in Iowa, but, again, the trainer needs to be able to state the nature of the work the dog is being trained to perform.
Dogs may be dismissed from the classroom if the dog is not potty-trained (has accident) or if the dog is disruptive (barking, whining, growling, biting). If the dog is moving about the classroom or getting attention (petting or talking) from students, I would simply ask the handler to please put the dog in a down-stay or ask the students to concentrate on work. If that does not solve the problem, speak to the Coordinator of Academic Support and Advising after class. If there are any concerns because a student or faculty member is scared of dogs or allergic to dogs, this is not considered a reason to not allow the accommodation. In this case, please consult with the Coordinator of Academic Support and Advising. If there is another section of the same course being offered in the same block (Spanish 101 section A and B) either student may be asked to switch to the other section. If there is not another section, then the student may remain but the college will use best options to separate dog from allergic/fearful student across the room or similarly.
Absences due to Disability: some disabilities make it hard to be in class every single day. The student should ideally notify faculty at start of course if this might be a problem. If the absence is due to necessary doctor appointments, the student should notify faculty in advance of appointment and there should be a plan about making up work. If the absence is unexpected, the student should contact the faculty member as soon as possible. The student is responsible for making up any work that happened during that day, getting notes from another student and should stay in contact with faculty member. The faculty member should not count off "attendance" points. The faculty member should not count off for participation. Given that Cornell College courses are highly interactive and the presence of each student matters, it is understood that if the student misses a great number of class periods, it may be advisable for that student to take a WH instead of completing the course for a grade. Students are expected to do everything in their power to schedule appointments outside of class hours, to get adequate sleep, to work ahead when possible to avoid late assignments, and to keep track of their medicine so that complications do not cause absences. An absence should be last resort.
Take opportunities to understand what the experience of life and dducation is like from student's point of view. It might help you understand why they miss oral instructions or some points of a lecture.
Here are some clips that might give you insight into students who are on the autism spectrum and what they "might" be experiencing (everyone is different).
Some basics on high-functioning autism and "Aspergers". This video starts as toddlers but goes into educational tips for educators.