The Dean of Students Department
Student Disability Resource Center
874 Traditions Way
108 Student Services Building
Tallahassee, FL 32306-4167
850/644-7164 (Exam FAX)
850/645-1852 (Doc. FAX)
GUIDE TO REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS
FOR FACULTY & STAFF
MAKE A DIFFERENCE (includes tips for working with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing)
As a faculty or staff member at Florida State University, you have the exciting opportunity to teach and interact with students from diverse backgrounds. Students with disabilities participate in all types of postsecondary education, and in order to be full participants in every part of college life, they may use reasonable accommodations. While federal and state legislation ensure that all qualified persons have equal access to education regardless of the presence of any disabling conditions, access to education means more than simply admission to a university or community college. Access means providing students with the tools they will need to be successful in higher education.
Accommodations for students with disabilities are designed to "level the playing field", not provide unfair advantages over other students. Accommodations in classroom and lab space, course substitutions and/or waivers, modifications of classroom presentation, and modifications in testing and course requirements are all ways to provide access for the student with a disability. Failure to make accommodations for students with disabilities can place the University in violation of federal and state statutes and can result in costly penalties.
The Guide to Reasonable Accommodations for Faculty and Staff is designed to assist you in providing meaningful educational opportunities for students with disabilities. It is in no way suggested that course content be "watered down" or significantly altered. What is strongly suggested is that faculty and teaching assistants examine their teaching style, testing procedures, and course assignments so that viable alternatives can be designed for students with disabilities. While each student is unique and will require individualized accommodations, this information should serve as a guide for making such accommodations.
In most ways, students with disabilities are just like other students. They need to be challenged, to be part of a group, to be accepted, and to succeed. Students with disabilities wish to be treated as individuals and not be singled out or stereotyped because of their disabilities. The following general considerations are critical in assisting students with disabilities and assuring that they have the opportunity to meet their individual educational goals:
Remember that students with disabilities are "experts"
regarding their condition. If you have questions concerning accommodations,
the student will serve as your most valuable source. If further explanation
is needed, feel free to contact the Student Disability Resource Center.
Few disabilities affect all areas of functioning. Most students find only a narrow range of activity affected by their particular disability.
Many persons find themselves feeling awkward, fearful, or self-conscious when interacting with persons with disabilities. Remember that simple common sense, courtesy, caring and experience will reduce these initial reactions.
Avoid actions that call attention to disabilities.
For example, insisting that a student with a spinal cord injury sit
"up front" where attention is drawn to their disability, or
discussing the disability in front of the class.
It is important to make a statement at the beginning of each term that invites students to discuss their needs with you individually and privately. Include this invitation on your course syllabus. (See suggested language in Syllabi Example)
Misconceptions and/or lack of knowledge concerning persons with disabilities occur frequently throughout society. Remember that the term "disabled" is not synonymous with cognitive impairment.
Remember that some students with disabilities will avoid the process of identification and/or accommodation to avoid being "labeled."
Definition of Disability and the Rights
of Persons with Disabilities
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act define disability as any physical or mental impairment that substantially limits the ability to perform one or more major life activity (for example, walking, seeing, speaking, hearing, standing, breathing, learning, or taking care of one's self). These laws, which are regarded as civil rights legislation for persons with disabilities, also set guidelines for making accommodations for college students with disabilities, as well as guidelines for on-campus housing, physical accessibility, admissions, and so on. Both public and private institutions are required to adhere to these laws or face serious consequences. Florida Statutes and the Board of Education have extended these mandates to ensure equality of opportunity in the State University System.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (as amended) and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states that no qualified handicapped person shall, on the basis of handicap, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance" (Public Law 93- 112). This nondiscrimination statute and the regulations issued under it, especially Subpart E, guarantee specific rights to students.
The Americans with Disabilities Act, 1990, expands the mandates for reasonable accommodations put forth in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. This law reinforces previous state and federal statutes, preserving the rights of persons with disabilities but not superseding them. The ADA extends to the private sector and allows for greater access to employment, transportation, and public accommodations.
The following information summarizes several key points about Section 504 and the ADA:
Qualified students with disabilities must be afforded
an equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from all post-secondary
education programs and activities.
Qualified students with disabilities must be afforded the opportunity to participate in any course, or course of study, or other part of the education program or activity offered by the university.
Programs and activities, in their entirety, must be offered in accessible settings.
Academic requirements must be modified, on a case-by-case basis, to afford qualified students with disabilities and applicants an equal educational opportunity. However, academic requirements that the university can demonstrate are essential will not be regarded as discriminatory.
A university may not impose upon students with disabilities rules that have the effect of limiting their participation in the university's educational programs or activities.
Students with impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills must be provided auxiliary aids, such as taped texts, interpreters, readers, and classroom equipment adapted for persons with manual impairments.
Students with disabilities must be provided counseling and placement services in a nondiscriminatory manner. Specifically, qualified students with disabilities should be counseled toward career objectives just as their non-disabled counterparts with similar abilities.
Course materials should be made available in alternative formats (Braille, large type, audiotaped). All printed material must contain the statement "Available in alternative format upon request."