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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the laws that protect university students with disabilities?

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 provides that:

No otherwise qualified individual with disabilities in the United States...shall, solely by reason of his/her disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 upholds and extends the compliance mandates set forth in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to include the whole of the institution's activities including facilities, programs, and employment.

Who is an "individual with a disability"?

A person who:

1. Has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits a major life activity;
2. Has a record or history of such an impairment; or
3. Is regarded as having such an impairment.

What are my responsibilities as a faculty member?

As a faculty member, you are responsible to make necessary accommodations available to students with disabilities. However, you are encouraged to contact Disability Services if any questions or concerns arise. Call 312-341-3810 for more information.

How can Disability Services assist faculty?

Disability Services can advise faculty members throughout the accommodation process and also make recommendations for the ways in which needs of students can best be met. Disability Services can also provide education on various disabilities and the accompanying barriers to learning, as well as certain classroom aids.

If a student verbally informs me about his/her disability am I automatically required to provide accommodations?

No. Most students reporting a disability will provide a Request for Accommodation from Disability Services. Students are encouraged to discuss accommodations with the faculty member to ensure that needs are met.  However, if a student makes a verbal request for accommodation without submitting this form, the professor can still provide accommodations if he or she sees fit. In these situations, the faculty member is encouraged to contact Disability Services with any questions, but he or she is not required to identify the student.

Whether a student verbally requests an accommodation or submits a form, if the instructor can demonstrate that the requested accommodation will compromise the essential components of the course, the request can be denied.

Will students receive the same accommodations received in high school/other colleges?

Accommodations for students in college fall under different laws than those applying to K-12 students. These laws are quite different, and as a result, students do not automatically receive the same accommodations they received in high school or at any other previously attended institution. Accommodations are approved on a case-by-case basis through Disability Services with the law, as well as Roosevelt’s academic goals and standards, taken into account.

A student has submitted a Request for Accommodation to me approved by Disability Services. What do I do and how soon do accommodations need to be provided to the student?

The Request for Accommodation details specific accommodations to which a student is entitled, as deemed appropriate by Disability Services. Faculty members are required to provide these accommodations and contact Disability Services with any questions or concerns that arise in the process.  Every effort should be made to accommodate the student’s needs in a timely manner so that he or she is provided equal access to course content. However, it is the student’s responsibility to make the request in a timely manner.

A student has requested an accommodation that I believe is unreasonable or will alter the essential components of my course. How do I respond to this request?

No accommodation needs to be provided if it compromises essential components of the course or if it causes undue burden, such as is a student does not give sufficient notice that an accommodation is needed.

In response to this sort of request, faculty members who believe the accommodation is not reasonable must discuss this with Disability Services before discontinuing arrangement for accommodation. This is to ensure that all possible accommodations have been reviewed and that the student’s needs are met in a timely manner. Delays in the accommodation process can be construed as a form of discrimination against the student.

“Essential components” are outcomes of the course every student absolutely must demonstrate with or without using accommodations. These components must be clearly articulated and communicated to students. Doing so not only ensures that you are being fair to all students, but also helps you become more aware of how these essential components relate to students’ learning.  If you have any questions or concerns about accommodations, please contact Disability Services at 312-341-3810.

What types of academic accommodations are available for students?

Please see the Accommodations page.

I believe one of my students may be dealing with a disability that interferes with his/her academic performance, but I am not sure. What should I do?

If you suspect that a student in your class has an unreported disability, you are advised to contact Disability Services and explain your observations, and then your conclusion can be assessed. There is no need to provide the student’s name, and Disability Services guarantees the student’s privacy. Once you have spoken with someone from Disability Services, you may consider approaching the student about a possible disability. If so, keep the following tips in mind:

1) Keep a positive tone. Emphasize positive aspects of the student’s performance while noting areas in which the student’s performance might be inconsistent.
2) Be very specific about what observations you have made about the student’s performance.
3) Don’t be too direct and announce your belief that the student has a disability. Instead, ask the student if he or she is aware of some of his/her areas of difficulty in the coursework. For instance, you could say, “I’ve noticed that you seem to be struggling a lot in this class (noting specific difficulties). Has (the subject) always been a problem area for you?”
4) Also, when appropriate, ask the student if he or she is aware of the services offered by the Academic Success Center.

How do I respond when an accommodation is distracting to other students in my class or when ineligible students request the same accommodations they see a peer receiving?

Non-disabled students may sometimes request accommodations when they see another student receiving them. In response, faculty can explain, “To my knowledge you are not eligible for this accommodation. If this is not accurate, please let me know.” If the student does report a need for such an accommodation, you may provide it. If you are unsure about the legitimacy of the student’s concern, please refer them to Disability Services to seek approval.

Also, students may express concern that an accommodation, such as an interpreter, seems to be a distraction in the classroom. Generally, students who express these concerns are those who would likely find something else to distract them in the absence of the accommodation. However, it is recommended that you take these concerns seriously and contact Disability Services if you are unsure how to respond.

Is it possible to give a failing grade to a student with a disability?

Yes. As long as a student has been provided with adequate accommodation to mitigate the effects of his or her disability, there is no reason that a faculty member cannot fail a student who does not earn a passing grade. It is important to remember that the laws that support accommodation mandate access to education not guaranteed academic success.

Is it possible to over-accommodate a student?

Yes. In fact, over-accommodating student can be as detrimental to a student as not providing accommodations at all. Over-accommodating students can lead to feelings of inadequacy and can hinder student’s self-awareness of strengths and weaknesses. This problem can also disadvantage other students and ill-prepare students with disabilities for life after Roosevelt. Over-accommodation can also set a precedent for the student, leading him or her to expect the same accommodation in all classes.

How do I respond when a student with a disability is disruptive in class?

Students with disabilities must follow the Code of Student Conduct (as outlined in the Student Handbook). If you have concerns regarding the mental or emotional state of a student, contact the Counseling Center at 312-341-3848 or the Office of Student Services at 312-341-2004.  Concerns may also be reported to the Behavior Assessment and Response Team (BART)