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, and
- 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 books on CD; 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 if anyone is in need of accommodations, to see you after class or during office hours, or have them contact the CSD directly.
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 makes an authorized request for accommodation, please honor it. Don't tell the student that you don't believe in accommodations or you don't allow them. If you have concerns, contact the CSD.
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
“Under Federal and State laws, the College is required to make modifications to academic requirements and practices as necessary in order to ensure that they do not discriminate against a qualified student with a disability. The College is also required to have a policy and procedure for responding to students with verified disabilities who request academic adjustments. 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, 2000)
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; and
- Allows the most integrated experience possible; and
- does not compromise the essential requirements of a course; and
- Does not pose a threat to personal or public safety; and
- Does not impose undue financial or administrative burden; and
- 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 refuse an unauthorized accommodation. If a student requests an accommodation without authorization from the CSD, refer the student to the CSD office or the Instructional Assistance Center. 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. Please be sure they are adhering 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, you must 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 psychological disability enrolled in your class who was unable to meet that requirement? He/she may, for instance, be having difficulty regulating medications. If this student demonstrates to you that he/she 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.