Students' Collaboration with Course Instructors
Disability Services will notify your instructors that you are approved for academic accommodations via an accommodation notification email. However, instructors are clearly informed that they should not arrange accommodations on your behalf unless you contact them and specifically request accommodations for the course. Some students determine that accommodations for a specific course are not needed even though the student has been approved to use accommodations if necessary. Thus, it is required that you speak with your instructors should you want to utilize accommodations.
You are responsible for contacting professors at least one week prior to the need for an accommodation. It is best if you contact professors at the start of the semester, introduce yourself, and discuss accommodations and how to implement them for the specific course throughout the semester.
After speaking with professors initially at the start of the semester, you are advised to contact professors one week in advance of a test accommodation throughout the semester. It is important to give each professor enough time to make the necessary arrangements. For example, students need to give professors the Testing Center scheduling form far enough in advance so that the professor is not put in a position where the form has to be completed immediately in order to meet a deadline. Please remember that failure to contact professors within a reasonable time frame (one week or more) may result in your not receiving the accommodation for a certain test or situation.
When contacting professors, you should make a point to meet with professors personally for the first time or two. After that, the professor and you may decide that email communications throughout the rest of the semester is all that is necessary. Some professors prefer face-to-face contact. It is your responsibility to know how each professor wants to be contacted by you. You must then contact the professor in the manner he or she requests. Do not assume that email is the best or only way to make the contact.
If a certain accommodation requires a different timeline, Disability Services staff will notify you of such upon approval of the accommodation.
You will need to share only what you feel necessary to share. The letter sent to your professors will indicate that you have a disability, but it will not comment on the specific diagnosed disability. Your professor is not supposed to ask specifically about your diagnosed disability. They only need to know that you are registered through Disability Services and have been approved for the accommodations listed in your letter.
If you have an academic disability, such as a learning disability or ADD, then you can arrange accommodations with your professors without them knowing the specifics of your diagnosed disability. However, you are welcome to share as much information as you would like. Please speak with Disability Services staff if you would like guidance on how to best speak with the professor about your personal situation.
If you have a medically related disability, such as epilepsy, diabetes, systemic lupus erythematosus, etc. that has resulted in your being approved for accommodations, then you will want to highly consider disclosing more details of your disability in order to give your professor as much information as possible. Please note that professors can only respond to the information (or lack thereof) that they are given. Making the decision to share information will increase the chances that you will remain safe, your classmates and professors will remain safe, and you will receive the support and/or understanding you need in the event of a major medical emergency or even a minor incident that may interfere with course attendance. Discussing this information with your professor is especially important in a laboratory class where chemicals, medical tools and other equipment are prevalent. In some situations, Disability Services may mandate that discussion with the course instructor occur, perhaps with the involvement of Disability Services staff, in the best interest of everyone. Our staff will discuss this need with students as appropriate.
Disability Services will inform professors of the accommodations that you are approved for in your courses by sending them your name and a list of accommodations when you register and at the start of the semester. In standard situations, clinical or medical information will not be provided with the list of accommodations.
The only information that a professor needs to know in most situations is what accommodations you would like to arrange for the professor's specific course. These accommodations should be from the list provided from Disability Services. This information is sufficient for a professor to work with you in obtaining the support you need. Professors need to know the "what" (approved accommodation) but do not need to know the "why" (the disability behind the reason for the accommodation).
Some students feel more comfortable sharing specific medical or clinical information with professors as part of the accommodation process. In some situations, especially with respect to accommodations that may involve medical emergencies, students can discuss with the Disability Services staff member the pros and cons of disclosure vs. non-disclosure and will then be asked to make an informed decision. Whether or not to disclose and how much to disclose if so is often an individual preference based on the specific situation.
There are some exceptions to when Disability Services staff may disclose to others outside the office. Please see the question "Is the disabilities process confidential?" in the "Procedures for Arranging Accommodations" section for more information. Also, please see the previous question and answer in this section.
It is important that you see dialogue with the professor as similar to what you will need to do for the rest of your life as you self-advocate in the work world. Disability Services staffwill talk to you about where the difficulty exists in speaking with your professors. Different options will be presented to you based on your preferences and comfort level. At times, it may be appropriate for Disability Services staff to join you in you initial meetings with professors as a way of helping you to become comfortable with the process. The goal in working with Disability Services is to support you in learning how to successfully speak independently with the professor and in learning how to be a strong self-advocate.
If attempts to contact the professor are not working or if on the rare occasion the professor is not willing to provide the necessary accommodations, then please speak with Disability Services staff as soon as possible to review the situation in-depth and to develop a course of action.
Please remember that each person prefers different modes of communication. If you try to contact your professor by email but with no luck, consider stopping by the office or making a phone call. It is your responsibility to speak with the professor in a way that matches the professor's
You do not always have to accept the accommodation options presented to you by the course instructor. Professors will often propose ideas that have worked in the past or ideas they think will work with the nature of the class. However, if you are not comfortable with the location of a testing room, how the professor wants to provide you with extra time, etc., you should discuss your concerns with the professor. If these discussions do not lead to satisfactory results, speak with Disability Services staff. We will determine if the accommodations presented to you by the professor are reasonable and appropriate. If our staff feels that the professor is offering a reasonable option, then you will need to use that accommodation or arrangement. If deemed unreasonable, a plan will be created for how to resolve the issue.
Please remember that you may not receive your preferred accommodation request. In some situations, a fair and reasonable alternative option from your preference will be provided. It is the job of Disability Services and the faculty to provide reasonable accommodations. Sometimes, the reasonable accommodation provided will be in line with your specific preference. At other times, the accommodation provided will be a secondary preference for you but will still be deemed reasonable overall.
In situations where a satisfactory outcome is still not identified, be sure to understand your appeal options. Information on appeal processes can be found elsewhere within the Disability Services web site.