Lewis University is committed to ensuring that qualified students with disabilities who are admitted to the University are afforded equal access and opportunity to participate in and benefit from programs, services, and activities of the University. Students with disabilities work in partnership with the Learning Access Coordinator to determine appropriate accommodations and services on an individualized basis. Faculty and staff are notified that a student is eligible to request accommodations by email at the beginning of each semester. An Accommodation Memo will outline the accommodations that the student is eligible to request. It is important to keep in mind that the memo is generalized to a standard lecture experience and may need to be tailored to apply to specific course environments or instructional methods.
Instructor Roles, Rights Responsibilities
From the Office of Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education:
“OCR enforces Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 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 a reasonable effort to grant a student’s request for a reasonable accommodation.
- Contact Academic Services if more information about the accommodation request is necessary, do not know how to implement the accommodation given the nature or structure of the course/program, or believe the accommodation will alter a fundamental learning outcome of the class.
- Do not deny an accommodation without having a thoughtful discussion with the Learning Access Coordinator, and (if necessary) implementing a deliberative review process with your college department head.
- Maintain confidentiality.
- Maintain academic standards for courses.
- Determine course content and how it will be taught.
- Confirm a student’s request for accommodations and ask for clarification about a specific accommodation with the student/Learning Access Coordinator when necessary.
- Deny a request for accommodation if the student has not been approved for the accommodation, or if the accommodation poses a direct threat to health or safety of the student/others.
- Award grades appropriate to the level of the student’s demonstration of mastery of material.
- Fail a student who does not perform to passing standards.
A student can implement their accommodations at any time throughout the semester. A course instructor can approach a student upon receiving the accommodation memo, or wait for the student to approach them to discuss.
Students are required to request accommodations with advance notice. Faculty do not have a legal obligation to grant accommodations retroactively. Meaning, if a student takes an exam without accommodations and then asks to re-take it with accommodations, it is up to the instructor’s discretion whether or not to allow this.
Professors and faculty are not legally obligated to identify and refer students to the Academic Services office to request accommodations. However, if a student informally requests a reasonable accommodation without an accommodation memo, instructors should refer them to make a formal request through the Academic Services office. Streamlining the process will ensure that the student is receiving equal treatment and access across all classes, and ensure that the university is meeting legal obligations.
When to refer:
- Student has a visible disability that may impact learning.
- Student mentions having a disability (this includes health impairments, psychiatric disabilities, visual, hearing orthopedic disabilities, as well as learning disabilities).
- Student mentions that he/she has utilized accommodations/services relating to classroom experiences in the past (such as an IEP or 504 plan).
- Any student who is having difficulties with some aspect of the course can generally be referred to the Academic Services office.
How to refer:
- In the case where a student is struggling and there is a suspicion of a disability, but the student does not directly mention having one, refer the student to a menu of resources on campus, with emphasis on the Academic Services office.
- Talk to the student about your observations. i.e. “I notice you are having difficulty doing xyz.” Ask the student if they received any extra help in high school or in an educational setting. Suggest that the student consider contacting the Academic Services office for resources or assistance.
- Have marketing materials in department offices for students to obtain independently.
Accommodated Testing Center Guidance for Instructors
Learning Resource Center, Room LR-342
Hours of operation:
Fall and Spring Semester Hours:
Monday – Friday (by appointment)
*Evening hours will be offered during final exam week.
General guidance for Instructors
A student can implement their testing accommodations at any time throughout the semester. Students are informed that they should make their requests for accommodated exams at least 2 business days prior to when the in-class exam will take place. Students are also instructed to take the exam at the same time as the rest of the class. (Exceptions are made for students enrolled in back-to-back courses).
Delivery Instructions for paper exams:
There are several options to deliver an exam to Academic Services with CASE:
- Drop off location: Learning Resource Center, Third Floor, room LR-342
- Email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Other department arrangement
Whether dropping off or emailing the exam, please fill out an Accommodated Exam Cover Sheet, or indicate the following:
- Student name, instructor name, course, date and time of exam
- Allotted class time (amount of time the rest of the class receives)
- Whether calculators, books, graphs, charts, notes are allowed
- Contact information, should a question arise during the exam
- Your preferred return method and location
- If someone other than the course instructor is picking up the exam
- Any other specific instructions for the exam
- If you email the exam, please indicate if there is specific content that requires it to be printed in color.
There are three options to retrieve the completed exam:
- Unless otherwise indicated, a runner will return the exam to the department secretary or whoever is indicated on the cover sheet.
- Instructor can pick up the exam from Academic Services (room LR-342). NOTE: If someone other than the course instructor is picking up the exam, the person will be asked to show an ID and sign for the exam.
- An Academic Services staff member can scan/email the exam back to the instructor.
- The Accommodated Testing Center has computers with Lockdown Browser software installed to administer online exams.
- For directions to extend the timer in Blackboard, see the handout below.
The new test center is equipped with brand new state-of-the art cameras that help us enhance our proctoring abilities while keeping minimal noise and distraction. Any form of academic dishonesty will be immediately reported to the primary course instructor in a written incident report.
Note-taking and Audio Recording requests
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, note-taking or audio recording are considered auxiliary aids that students may request if a disability impacts the ability to take notes in a class.
Students are encouraged to engage in class, explore, and find personal strategies to capture lecture in a way that fits their learning style, or utilize note-taking/audio recording technology. However, when personal strategies are not effective due to the nature of the student’s disability, the student may be eligible to request note-taking assistance.
If the instructor utilizes prepared lecture notes, slides or other materials, the instructor can meet the note-taking need by emailing or posting notes to classroom management software in advance of the class session that the material will be covered. For most students, this will mitigate the need for an in-person note-taker.
When the notes provided by the course instructor are not sufficient, the instructor and Academic Services office collaborate to recruit a classmate to provide class notes. Classmates can provide notes by writing on carbonless paper, scan/emailing, photocopying, or sharing notes through their own note-taking software.
Audio Recording Requests
Audio recordings are considered auxiliary aids that students may request as a reasonable accommodation when their disability impacts their ability to take notes in a class. Permission to make recordings should not be withheld if such recordings are reasonably necessary to accommodate a student’s disability as defined by the law.
Students who are approved for this accommodation are required to communicate with their instructor prior to using recording devices to record lectures, discussions, etc. Neither the resulting recordings nor any form of transcripts of the recordings may be used for any other purpose other than understanding class material.
In some cases, instructors may object to the use of an audio-recording device in portions of classes that involve personal discussion and self-disclosure by students, fearing that these devices will inhibit the free exchange of information and potentially violate a student’s right to privacy. However, because the use of a recording device is necessary as an accommodation, it would be unfair to require the accommodated student to stop recording while other students continue to take notes. Therefore:
- At the discretion of the instructor, audio-recording may be prohibited during classes that involve personal self-disclosure or discussion.
- As an alternative, the accommodated student can be provided a copy of notes created by a designated note-taker. Notes will refer to principles, theories and techniques demonstrated and not personal details.
An Audio Recording Agreement Form
is available to facilitate the above discussion.
Audio Recording Agreement
Flexibility with Attendance Policy and/or Assignments
In general, students are expected and encouraged to attend class and meet deadlines for assignments and tests. Students are expected to regularly reference their course syllabus dates and appropriately manage their time to ensure that work is completed by the expected due date(s). Faculty have the right to establish attendance and late work policies.
However, if a student has a chronic physical or mental condition/disability that is episodic/cyclical in nature that may occasionally impact their ability to attend class and complete tests or assignments at the scheduled time, flexibility in attendance/assignments may be considered an appropriate reasonable accommodation. The Academic Services Office will review appropriate and comprehensive medical documentation related to the disability or medical condition to determine whether this can be considered an appropriate accommodation through its reasonable accommodation request process. No medical information will be shared with instructors.
After the student provides documentation and completes the accommodation request process, an accommodation memo will be sent to the student’s course instructors via email.
- If a faculty member has received an accommodation memo that indicates flexibility with attendance, the instructor must understand that they must be flexible with attendance.
- If an instructor believes that the requested modified attendance accommodation would fundamentally alter a course, contact Academic Services as soon as possible.
- It is recommended that the student and course instructor discuss attendance prior to, or during the first week of class.
- Instructors can set expectations. Instructors have the option to complete a modified attendance agreement form with the student.
- If a student misses 5 consecutive days or has excessive absences, contact Academic Services.
Determining how many disability‐related absences are reasonable
The number of allowable absences and the amount of time given for each assignment extension depends on the interactive or participatory nature of a course, and/or may be based on department, college or accrediting agency rules.
The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) provides the following guidelines to be used in considering whether attendance is an essential element of a course:
- Is there classroom interaction between the instructor and students?
- Do student contributions constitute a significant component of the learning process?
- Does the fundamental nature of the course rely on student participation as an essential method for learning?
- To what degree does a student’s failure to attend constitute a significant loss to the educational experience of other students in the class?
- What do the course description and syllabus say?
- Which method is used to calculate the final grade?
- What are the classroom practices and policies regarding attendance?
Instructors are encouraged to contact the Learning Access Coordinator or their Department chair if assistance is needed making this accommodation.
Modified Attendance Agreement form
Digital Accessibility Resources
"Web Accessibility" refers the practice of enabling individuals to use, understand, navigate, communicate, interact with and contribute to the web. Faculty and staff are encouraged to create websites, course shells, word documents, PDFs, and other digital course materials that are usable by people of all abilities or disabilities. This includes students who are blind or have other print disabilities who utilize screen reader software.
For instruction on making courses accessible, visit the following:
Lewis University Accessibility Resources:
The National Center on Disability and Access to Education:
If a student’s Accommodation Memo indicates that the student requires closed captioning on media, course instructors are encouraged to contact the Learning Access Coordinator immediately to discuss adding closed captioning to videos or other audio instructional materials. Instructors are encouraged to contact the Learning Access Coordinator regardless of whether the student makes a request for captioning, as the student may not predict when videos will be shown.
Materials in Alternative Format
Students who have vision, learning, or other disabilities which make accessing traditional printed materials difficult can request textbooks or course materials in an alternative format as a reasonable accommodation. Alternative formats include audio, braille, large print, color, and electronic versions of course materials.
The course instructor will be responsible for providing materials such as handouts in alternative formats for students who require this. The Academic Services Office will coordinate student textbooks. If a student is a braille user, the Academic Services Office will coordinate with the student’s course instructor to provide materials in braille.
Faculty and staff are encouraged to consider multiple learning styles and strategies in the classroom. Below are some resources for implementing universally designed classrooms to promote equality for all learners in the classroom:
DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) Universal Design checklist:
National Center on Universal Design in Learning:
American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreters in the classroom
The following hints and strategies might be helpful when facilitating a lecture of a student who utilizes an in-person sign language interpreter:
- The speaker and interpreter should both be in the student’s line of sight. Allow the student to determine the best placement for their seat so that they have the best visual access to the teacher, interpreter and other students. Notify the student if there will be changes of your placement or you consistently walk around the classroom.
- Speak directly to the deaf student, not the interpreter. Avoid phases such as “tell her...” or “ask him…”
- The interpreter may voice for the student or the student may voice for themselves.
- Prepare to provide class materials and handouts to interpreters in advance. Advanced copies of lecture notes, technical terms, hand-outs, speeches, audio recordings, song lyrics, websites, PowerPoint slides, and other materials will help orient the deaf student and allow the interpreter to better prepare to translate the class content.
- Expect lag time. Interpreters normally interpret one or two sentences behind the speaker. Speak naturally at a reasonable, moderate pace, and keeping in mind that the interpreter must listen and understand a concept before signing it.
- When using a laser pointer or other visuals during lecture (like outlining an angle through the air), allow time for the interpreter to see it and convey it to the student.
- Allow time during the class for the student to raise their hand, be recognized and make comments through the interpreter.
- Semi-circles work best for group interactions and dialogues.
- If students are required to wear special safety gear, such as lab coat, goggles, gloves, etc., such gear should be provided to the interpreters as well.
- Work with the Academic Services office to caption videos 2-3 weeks in advance of course lecture, if videos do not already have captions.
Working with students who have Autism Spectrum Disorder in the classroom
Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder bring many strengths to the classroom experience. However, for some students, traditional accommodations may not be suitable for the student’s diversity in communication, social relatedness, need for routine and unique interests. The best way to assist students is to understand Autism Spectrum Disorder, while realizing that every student’s disability may impact them differently.
- Be aware of your use of metaphors and abstract language. Provide concise, concrete examples during lecture.
- Provide advance notice of topics to be discussed, and advance notice to changes in schedule.
- The student with Autism Spectrum Disorder may not make eye contact with you or may appear not to pay attention.
- Be frank and direct when speaking with the student. For example, instead of generally offering assistance during office hours, if the student is struggling with coursework, bluntly tell them to meet with you in your office at XYZ time and date.
- Allow for a longer verbal response time
- Reduce distractions and extraneous stimuli.
- Provide written instructions, copies of lecture notes/slides, or assign a peer to share notes with the student.
- Review classroom policies and expectations (even when a policy is implied or obvious to most students).
- If group work is assigned, assist the student in picking a partner and monitor to assure proper inclusion/participation. If necessary, provide an alternative assignment.
- Provide more than just verbal instruction. Written instructions paired with visual examples are necessary for some students with Autism Spectrum Disorder to understand abstract terms.
- Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (as well as students in general) benefit from structure.
- Allow the student to take a break from class without penalty if they feel overwhelmed by the lecture. Allow hats, glasses, ear plugs, specific seats to reduce sensory difficulties.
- Be aware when choosing perfumes or class projects that certain odors or scents may be overwhelming for the student.
- Some students have coping skills that may look odd or uncomfortable. Do not stop the behavior unless it is disrupting the class. Ask the student to step outside for a few minutes as they may not recognize the behavior or mean to be disruptive.
- The student may not realize they are engaging in certain behaviors, and do not mean to be disrespectful. Creating a “cue” or code word may deter the behavior.
- Students may need explicit instructions on when to start large projects (such as each draft of a term paper). Large projects may need to be broken down into parts.
- Encourage the student to visit the Academic Services office or attend instructor office hours if they appear to struggle with a component of the course.
Resources to learn more: