Faculty Roles, Rights, & Responsibilities
The number of students with disabilities attending post-secondary education continues to increase with each passing year. Faculty need to be well-informed about the roles, rights, and responsibilities postsecondary institutions have towards supporting students with disabilities. These roles, rights, and responsibilities are supported by several federal laws which support students with disabilities and allow them the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of a postsecondary educational experience.
From the Office of Civil Rights: “OCR enforces Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (Title II), which prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability. Every school district and nearly every institution of postsecondary education in the United States is subject to Section 504 or Title II. Entities covered by these civil rights laws have an obligation to comply with legal requirements and to carry out their programs and activities in a manner that does not discriminate on the basis of disability.
Institutions of postsecondary education must provide an appropriate academic adjustment based on students’ disabilities and individual needs when necessary to avoid discrimination. In providing an academic adjustment, a postsecondary institution does not have to eliminate or lower essential requirements, or make modifications that would result in a fundamental alteration of the programs or activities being offered or impose an undue burden on the institution.”
Make Reasonable Accommodations
Accommodations go into effect when you receive the letter from the student. You are under no obligation to provide accommodations prior to that. Accommodations are not retroactive. For instance, if a student does not provide you with a letter before the midterm, fails the midterm, and then asks to retake the exam with their accommodations, you should not allow this. SAS will support you in this situation.
Please note that students have the choice to determine which of their approved accommodations, if any, they want to use for your course. When you receive a letter from your student, we encourage you to meet with them to discuss their accommodations, which accommodations they will use, how your tests will be administered, and the structure of your course.
Provide Access to Classroom & Materials
Course materials and videos will need to be captioned. Documents will need to be updated for accessibility. You can meet with SAS to make a plan for making course materials accessible.
Confidentiality in the accommodation process must be maintained by all parties. Letters of accommodation should be filed in a safe place, and faculty should refrain from discussing students’ disabilities and necessary accommodations in the presence of fellow students or others who do not have an “educational need to know.”
Include a Syllabus Statement
While it is the instructor’s responsibility to ensure that the learning environment is accessible, students with disabilities must request accommodations, when needed. Instructors will find it useful to include a statement on their syllabus which informs students about the steps they need to take to receive classroom accommodations through Student Accessibility Services.
Provide necessary accommodations for exam taking or provide the exam to SAS Testing so that the student can receive the accommodations needed. Students who require a test to be made accessible through SAS are required to make an appointment at least five days in advance. SAStest@austincc.edu will contact you for information related to the administration of your test.
Allow assistive technology such as audio recorders, electronic note-takers, and laptop computers to be used in the classroom.
Faculty members may request a written agreement before allowing any student to record a class. SAS will provide the student with this document.
A faculty member has the right to discuss concerns about approved accommodations if they believe the accommodation would result in a fundamental alteration of the class.
What is a Fundamental Alteration?
A change that is so significant that it alters the essential nature of the essential requirements of the course.
If there are questions or concerns about approved accommodations,
faculty members must consult with Student Accessibility Services
- Consult with SAS regarding academic accommodations and compliance with legal responsibilities.
- Faculty should not refuse to provide approved accommodations, ask the student to disclose his or her disability, discuss in front of the class that the student is registered with SAS, or request to examine the student’s documentation.
- Faculty should not provide academic adjustments for a disability without a notice from Student Accessibility Services certifying that the student is qualified to receive services and identifying the nature of the accommodations. If you choose, however, to provide an academic adjustment for the student, only do so if you offer the adjustment to all students in the class.
- If a student requests accommodations but has no official documentation from SAS, the instructor should refer the student to SAS and complete the SAS Referral.
Before the Semester Begins
Make Course Materials Accessible
Provide course materials (syllabus, textbook list, handouts, etc.) to SAS to be converted to the appropriate format for students with visual impairments or reading disabilities.
All audiovisual materials must be captioned. To request closed captioning, complete the online request form.
Semester Planning Meetings
When requested, meet with SAS for semester planning meetings. These meetings are set up by a SAS advocate and include alt-text and media, the faculty member, and the student. During these meetings, accessible materials for blind/visually impaired students will be discussed and a timeline agreed upon for submission of materials for conversion. These meetings are necessary to ensure that these students have access to the course materials at the same time as their classmates.
Include the following statement in your syllabus and make an announcement in class encouraging students who need accommodations to contact SAS:
Austin Community College (ACC) is committed to providing a supportive, accessible, and inclusive learning environment for all students. Each campus offers support services for students with documented disabilities. Students with disabilities who need classroom, academic or other accommodations must request them through Student Accessibility Services (SAS).
Students are encouraged to request accommodations when they register for courses or at least three weeks before the start of each semester they are enrolled, otherwise, the provision of accommodations may be delayed. Students who have received approval for accommodations from SAS for this course must provide the instructor with the legal document titled “Notice of Approved Accommodations (NAA)” from SAS.
Until the instructor receives the NAA from the student accommodations should not be provided. Once the NAA is received, accommodations must be provided. Accommodations are not retroactive, so it is in the student’s best interest to deliver the NAA on the first day of class.
Please contact SAS@austincc.edu for more information.