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Center for Access and Success

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Table of Contents

 

Philosophy and Mission Statement

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth is committed to being in full compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and other relevant state and federal legislation.

One goal of the Center for Access and Success is to function as a faculty resource in offering students equity and excellence in education, maximizing each student’s educational potential while helping him or her develop and maintain independence. The Center for Access and Success’ philosophy is one that encourages self-awareness, self-determination, self-advocacy, and independence in an accessible environment. The office works with faculty, staff, and students on campus to ensure that appropriate academic adjustments are made that allow all students an equal footing inside the classroom and around campus.

This guide is designed to provide faculty with the resources necessary to assist students with disabilities in their pursuit of equal education at UMass Dartmouth. Faculty members are obligated by law to provide students with disabilities full and equal access to University programs and activities. Faculty also have certain rights which are delineated in this handbook. The Center for Access and Success is available to assist faculty in finding the balance of providing the accommodation without compromising the learning experience.

Eligibility for Services

By law, students with a disability do not have to self-disclose or register with the Center for Access and Success. If, on the other hand, a student is seeking academic accommodations or adjustments, he/she must contact the office to request services.

In order to determine eligibility for an academic adjustment/auxiliary aid, the student must register at the Center for Access and Success and provide documentation of the disability. The documentation must be current, provide a clear diagnosis by the appropriate medical professional, and specify the functional limitations related to the disability. At that point a decision of appropriate academic accommodation(s) is made. These determinations are made on a case-by-case basis by the Center for Access and Success.

Once it is determined that a student is eligible to receive services, it is important to note that he/she still must follow the established policies of the Center for Access and Success in regard to timeliness of requests and completing necessary request forms in order to properly coordinate accommodations.

Students must complete accommodation request forms each semester for the specific courses for which they are requesting accommodations. Accommodations for exams, papers, and assignments cannot be made retroactively.

Faculty Notification

If a student with a disability requests an accommodation for a particular class, the faculty member will receive a confidential Faculty Agreement form from the Center for Access and Success.  This form will state in general terms that the student is documented with the Center for Access and Success and will list the appropriate accommodations required. The faculty member must immediately sign this form as verification that the accommodations will be implemented. The faculty member may keep a copy for his/her records. The original must be immediately returned to the Center for Access and Success. If a faculty member has questions about the identified accommodations for a student, he/she must contact the Center for Access and Success staff at 508-999-8711.

Under no circumstances should a faculty member provide adjustments or provide accommodations without prior authorization from the Center for Access and Success.

Confidentiality

Disability-related information should be treated as medical information and handled under the same strict rules of confidentiality. A student’s documentation is filed securely at the Center for Access and Success. The documentation is not kept with any other student records on campus.

Faculty Agreements contain only general information and not specifics about the disability. A student may choose to disclose more confidential information to faculty, but is not obligated to do so. Faculty should be aware that ADA accommodations are confidential and determined by the Center for Access and Success. Faculty should take care not to disclose this information.

Possible Accommodations and General Suggestions

Accommodation is a broad term that includes such considerations as adequate light and sound amplification, material format and presentation, and a range of other physical or psychological barriers. Suggestions for helping students with disabilities include, but are not limited to, the following:

Prepare a detailed syllabus early and include a disability statement. A detailed syllabus will give students with disabilities some lead time in acquiring accessible books and materials, planning their study and time management strategies, and so forth. Syllabi should include information on course objectives and requirements; the material to be covered in class on specific dates; exam dates, due dates, grading procedures; and a textbook list. Faculty should also provide information on how they can be reached outside of class. Faculty should read selected portions of the syllabus to the class. Faculty should always include a statement on the syllabus that reads: “If you have a disability and feel you will need accommodation(s) in order to complete course requirements, please contact the Center for Access and Success (Group I, Room 016) at 508-999-8711.”

Order textbooks early (during the previous semester if possible) to allow time for reformatting in alternative formats. It would be helpful to have conversations with possible publishers regarding availability of audio versions of the text or textbooks on disc or CD-ROM. If all faculty make this a potential criteria for choosing a book, publishers will need to give it more serious consideration.

Offer alternate test formats. Such formats may include multiple choice, essay, oral, etc.

Provide handouts, in-class exercises, and examinations in accessible formats.

Help Recruit a Notetaker. If a student requires a notetaker, lab assistant or other in-class assistant, it is preferable to recruit someone already connected with the class, such as a Teaching Assistant or another student. Faculty will receive a notice from the Center for Access and Success if there is a student in their class who will require notetaking assistance (See Appendix B). The notice will include a recruiting request which faculty should read to the class at the beginning of the first session which will explain how to direct any volunteers. It is important that faculty show support for the request, and perhaps even assist in the recruitment process, particularly if there are no responses to the initial request. It is also vitally important that faculty do not disclose the name of the student for whom the notes are required in front of the entire class. Faculty should request to meet after class with the student who requires assistance and the individual who volunteers, preferably when the classroom is empty, for introduction, on a first name basis only, and instructions. Notetakers are paid a stipend of $150.00 for the course and the Center for Access and Success provides NCR paper. A short training will be provided to all notetakers.

Understand Testing Accommodation Requirements. Testing accommodations generally could include: extended time, a space with reduced distractions, and/or alternative format (e.g., enlarged print, computer disc, audiotape, reader or scribe). If a student requires a testing accommodation, there are two ways that this can be achieved. After consulting with the Center for Access and Success, a faculty member may determine that he/she would prefer that the Center for Access and Success administer the test. If the test is to be given through the Center for Access and Success, it is the responsibility of the student to notify the Center for Access and Success three business days prior to the scheduled exam. The exam accommodation form will be sent to the faculty member for completion and signature (See ). It is important that the faculty member clearly designate how the test is to be returned back to him/her by the Center for Access and Success, as well as what (if any) materials the student is allowed to use during the test. If the student fails to appear for his/her scheduled testing appointment, the test will be returned to the faculty member. It is then the faculty member’s decision if he/she wishes to make any further arrangements with the student.

Cooperate with sign language interpreters. If a student is accompanied by a sign language interpreter, faculty should allow the interpreter to determine his/her best placement for the most effective communication with the student. The interpreter may take focus initially, particularly if other students have not experienced this accommodation before. When planning student meetings, faculty should allow enough lead-time to arrange for an interpreter to be scheduled. The same guidelines apply for CART (computer-aided real time) reporters.

 

Rights and Responsibilities

The faculty member has the right to:

  • Determine course content and general methods of teaching.
  • Ensure that course standards are not lowered or compromised.
  • Ensure that a student has demonstrated mastery of the essential course requirements in order to obtain an appropriate grade.
  • Fail any student if he/she does not demonstrate mastery of essential course requirements.
  • Determine through consultation with knowledgeable professionals the most appropriate ways to adapt a course to the needs of a particular student.
  • Be treated respectfully by all students.

The faculty member is responsible for:

  • Providing the accommodation(s) listed on the Faculty Agreement form received from the Center for Access and Success for the student registered with that office. Accommodations are determined by the Center for Access and Success based on documentation from a registered health care professional.
  • Maintaining the student’s confidentiality about the specifics of the disability.
  • Signing and returning the confidential Faculty Agreement form and other appropriate forms.
  • Becoming knowledgeable of the Center for Access and Success’ policies and procedures and cooperating with the coordination of services.
  • Acknowledging that some students with disabilities have academic or behavior issues that are not related to their disability which should be addressed by the faculty member as he/she would address the issues with any other student.

A student with a disability has the right to:

  • Confidentiality of all information related to his/her disability.
  • Equal access to courses, programs, services, jobs, activities, and facilities available through the University.
  • Reasonable accommodations according to his/her disability, which may include academic adjustment and/or auxiliary aids determined on an individual basis and with required documentation.
  • File a complaint with the University’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and/or with appropriate state and federal regulatory agencies if he/she believes his/her rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, or other relevant state and federal legislation have been violated.

A student with a disability is responsible for:

  • Disclosing his/her disability and providing documentation regarding his/her disability from an appropriate health care professional to the Center for Access and Success. Completing the Accommodation Request Form and meeting with professional staff of the Center for Access and Success each semester to review course requirements (See ).
  • Completing the Exam Accommodation Form (See ).
  • Communicating with professional staff of the Center for Access and Success and faculty about his/her need(s) for various learning and testing accommodations.
  • Requesting all services in a timely manner.
  • Treating all University personnel with respect.
  • Meeting appropriate University academic program and graduation requirements.

When There is Disagreement

If a faculty member challenges a prescribed accommodation(s) which has been determined to be appropriate, the accommodation must be provided pending review as follows:

  1. The faculty member must present in writing within five (5) days of receiving the Faculty Agreement form his/her concerns about the identified accommodations to be implemented to the Center for Access and Success. The issues expressed by the faculty member must be outlined in detail, along with what may be some alternatives.
  2. The Center for Access and Success will attempt to resolve the issue within ten (10) days of receiving the faculty member’s written disagreement.
  3. If the Center for Access and Success is unable to resolve the matter within ten (10) days, the matter will be brought to the attention of the ADA Coordinator. The ADA Coordinator will make a decision within ten (10) days of receiving the matter from the Center for Access and Success. The ADA Coordinator’s decision is final.

Every effort should be made to resolve the disagreement as expeditiously as possible. As described above, the instructor must provide the accommodation until it is either affirmed, denied, or modified by the Center for Access and Success or the ADA Coordinator.

It is the policy of UMass Dartmouth not to discriminate against any applicant for admission or employment, or against any employee, or in any educational programs, on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, age, veteran's status, disability, gender, or sexual orientation.

The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the nondiscrimination polices:

Assistant Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
285 Old Westport Road
North Dartmouth, MA 02747-2300.

Telephone 508-999-8008. TTY 508-999-9250.

Inquiries concerning the application of nondiscrimination policies may also be referred to the Regional Director, Office for Civil Rights, 33 Arch Street, Suite 900, Boston, MA 02110-1491. Telephone 617-289-0111. TDD 877-521-2172.

Appendix

Apendix A-Faculty Agreement Form (PDF)
This is a copy of the form that will be sent to the faculty member. It is not a replacement of the form.

Apendix B-Confidential Student Information (PDF)
This is an example of the letter sent to faculty notifying of a student needing a notetaker.

Appendix C-Exam Accommodation Form (PDF)
This is a sample form requesting accomodation for exams in a class. It is not a replacement for the real form.

Appendix D-Accommodation Request Form   (PDF)
This is a sample form requesting accommodation for a class, including the kind of accomodation requested. It is not a replacement for the real form.

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