We have outlined some questions that faculty often have, related to disabilities and to services that the Student Disability Services Office provides.
How does a Student Become Eligible for Accommodations?
To be eligible for services, including classroom accommodations, students with disabilities must identify themselves and present professional documentation to the Dean of Students Office, Coordinator for Student Disability Services.
How are Instructors Notified of Accommodations?
Students who have met with Student Disability Services, provided adequate documentation, and been given appropriate accommodations are able to log into their MyMichiganTech account to request that their instructors are notified. Students may choose to notify all of their instructors, or only notify instructors of the classes in which they wish to use the accommodations.
Once instructors have received this email, it becomes their responsibility to follow the link or to log into Banweb and note the required accommodation; students are responsible for reminding instructors five days before an exam if they intend to use testing accommodations.
Questions regarding accommodations should be directed to Student Disability Services: email@example.com.
What Do I Do if a Student Approaches Me With an Accommodation Request Fewer Than 5 Business Days Prior to the Test I am Giving?
If a student notifies you with fewer than 5 days’ notice, you are not obligated to provide the accommodations. However, if you are able to meet the accommodation request, you are encouraged to do so. Please keep in mind that if the accommodation requires the use of the Testing Center, you need to give the center at least 48 hours’ notice.
Am I Required to Provide the Accommodation?
Yes, in compliance with the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the 2008 ADA Amendments Act, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 we must provide accommodations to students with disabilities. However, the accommodations should not alter the fundamental components of a program. If you believe the student’s accommodation(s) threaten the essential elements of your degree program, please contact Student Disability Services to discuss this.
Why Am I Not Given Information About a Student's Disability?
A student’s disability is considered confidential information, and therefore is not divulged to persons outside the Student Disability Services office. Instructors are given the information they need in order to accommodate the disability.
Why Do I Receive Accommodation Notifications Throughout the Semester and Not Just at the Beginning of the Semester?
Students may register with Student Disability Services at any time during the semester. Once the student is registered, it is up to the student to request that their instructor be notified of their accommodation(s). The student initiates the notification process by logging on to their MyMichiganTech account and choosing which instructors to notify. It is important to realize that the notice you receive is automatically generated once a student initiates this process.
I've Received Notice of Students in My Course Who Have Accommodations. Do I need to Reach Out to These Students or Will They Contact Me to Discuss the Specifics?
All students who have accommodations are instructed to have a discussion with their instructors regarding the specifics of their accommodations. However, it is a good idea to give a simple announcement during class reminding students with accommodations that they should talk to you individually. Announcements such as this should be conducted in such a way as to preserve the anonymity of students with disabilities.
How Much Extended Time Should I Allow a Student With an Accommodation for Extended Test Time?
Students with this accommodation generally require 1.5 times the expected completion time. Instructors are encouraged to design tests and quizzes in such a way that extended time is built into their course. For example, if an instructor designs a test to be completed within 30 minutes and allows the entire class a total of 50 minutes to complete the exam, that extra time is already built into the test.
When tests are designed with extended time built in, and this is both written in the syllabus and announced in class, no further accommodation will usually be necessary.
The Testing Center in the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning can proctor exams that require extended time, if the instructor completes their online form at least 48 hours in advance of the exam.
A Student in My Class Asked for an Accommodation but They Do Not Show Up on My List of Students With Accommodations in Banweb. What Do I Do?
If a student asks you for accommodations in the classroom or on an exam, but they are not on your list of students with approved accommodations, please refer the student to Student Disability Services for assistance. All students who request accommodations need to go through the process of determining the appropriate accommodation and providing documentation.
Is It Fair to All Students That Some Students Receive Accommodations for Extra Time on Tests or Get to Take Tests in a Separate Room?
Accommodations are in place to provide equal access to learning opportunities for students with disabilities. The accommodations do not provide an unfair advantage, but rather place the students on a level even with their peers.
There Is a Lot of Work Involved in Providing Accommodations-Making Arrangements With the Testing Center, Developing Multiple Versions of Tests/Quizzes, Etc., How Can I Be Expected to Do All This Extra Work?
To avoid creating multiple versions or offering an alternate location for test, quizzes or exams, instructors can design tests and quizzes in such a way that extended time is built into their course. For example, if an instructor designs a test to be completed within 30 minutes and allows the entire class a total of 50 minutes to complete the exam, that extra time is already built into the test. When tests are designed with extended time built in, and this is both written in the syllabus and announced in class, no further accommodation will usually be necessary.
For instructors who wish to have students with testing accommodations take the test or exam at an alternate time or place, the Testing Center in the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning makes this easy.
Disabilities in the Classroom
What is a Disability?
Michigan Technological University is committed to ensuring that all qualified individuals with disabilities have the opportunity to take part in educational programs and services on an equal basis.
Qualified Individual: A student who meets the academic standards for admission to Michigan Tech.
Disability: A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities including, but not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.
What Information Do I Need to Include on My Syllabus Regarding Students With Disabilities?
Senate policy requires including the following information on your syllabus, either as given or as a web reference. This information can be found online.
"If you have a disability that could affect your performance in any class or that requires an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, please contact your instructor or Disability Services at 906-487-1494 as soon as possible so that appropriate arrangements can be made.
Any student requiring accommodations due to a documented disability must provide the instructor of the course notification of needed accommodations no later than five business days prior to the use of the accommodations. In situations where fewer than five days’ notice is given, the instructor is encouraged, but not obligated, to provide accommodations. The instructor will determine, in consultation with the Testing Center in the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning, whether these accommodations can be met.
Students who have an accommodation for extended time allowed on tests shall not be required to spend more than six hours per calendar day in final examinations. For a student with an accommodation for extended time, this may reduce the limit on examinations per day to less than the normal limit of three. To resolve time conflicts between two overlapping exams (either regular exams or final examinations), the current practices of the University shall be followed."
I Feel Like More and More Students Are Receiving Extended Time on Tests and Quizzes. Is This Really the Case?
Currently, approximately 5% of Michigan Tech students are registered with Student Disability Services. While not all of these students have accommodations associated with their disability, a large percentage of them do.
This number has increased slightly over the past several years due to factors which include the expanded definition of “disability” within the ADA Amendment Act of 2008, an increase in the number of students receiving accommodations in secondary education, and an increase in the number of students with disabilities who pursue higher education.
Being Able to Complete Tasks Quickly and on Time is Very Important for Students Graduating and Entering the Workforce. Does Allowing Extended Time for Tests Adequately Prepare Students for the Real World?
It’s important to recognize the difference between a theoretical question, “Are young people as prepared for the work world when they leave college as they could be” and a legal question, “Do I have the right to withhold accommodations because I believe doing so better prepares a student for the working world?”
Michigan Tech does an excellent job at providing opportunities for hands on learning, an area where many students with disabilities excel, regardless of their ability to function quickly or well on exams. Students with disabilities tend to have had more experience with problem solving and have had to work harder to obtain similar goals compared to non-disabled persons. Tenacity and problem solving are just two reasons why people with disabilities are well prepared to enter the workforce and be productive employees.
It should be noted that under the ADA, employers are obligated to provide reasonable accommodations for their employees with disabilities, just as we as an educational institution are obligated to provide accommodations to our students.
Can I Give an Unannounced (Pop) Quiz if I Have a Student in My Classroom Who Needs a Quiet Environment for Testing?
Regardless of the type of assignment, if it is timed and graded, then the student must be given their accommodation of a non-distracting environment. This is in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
What Resources Are Available to Students Who Are Having Difficulty in Class or on Tests but Who Might Not Qualify for Accommodations?
There are several resources in place across campus to assist students who are having difficulty in their classes. If the student requires additional tutoring or help with the subject matter, please refer them to the appropriate learning center.
If the student is showing signs of poor time management or study skills, the Waino Wahtera Center for Student Success offers academic success coaches to assist students in these areas.
A Student in My Class Who Has Accommodations Is Performing Poorly. Is There Something I Should Be Doing?
A student who has accommodations in your class but is still performing poorly should be treated similarly to any other student who is doing poorly in your class. Please consider referring students to the appropriate learning center, to the Wahtera Center for Student Success, or to Student Disability Services. Please keep in mind that accommodations are meant to provide equal access and are not meant to guarantee success.