The Office of Disability Services serves as a resource for the Vanguard University community to ensure an equitable and accessible educational environment for students with disabilities. Creating equity and access is a collaborative effort and responsibility shared amongst the entire university community. Partnering with you, the faculty, allows us to not only ensure students needs are met, but also to maintain the legal standards pursuant to the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
The Office of Disability Services requests that all faculty include the following statement in their course syllabi:
The Office of Disability Services provides reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities. If you have a temporary or permanent disability that requires classroom accommodations (this can include but is not limited to: attention-related, learning, mental health, vision, hearing, physical, or other health conditions), please contact The Office of Disability Services at 714-619-6550 or email@example.com.
Your Role in Supporting Students with Disabilities
BE AN ALLY
Use person-first language: By placing the person first, the disability is no longer the primary, defining characteristic of an individual, but one aspect of the whole person. Person-first language is an objective way of acknowledging, communicating, and reporting on disabilities. It eliminates generalizations and stereotypes by focusing on the person rather than the disability. (e.g. person with Autism versus Autistic person)
Ask before you help: Persons with disabilities value their independence and have adapted to navigating the world on their own. Assuming someone needs help or touching an individual (or their assistive devices) before asking can feel intrusive. Jumping in to lend a hand may seem helpful, but the preferred approach is to ask before assisting.
Avoid personal questions: Students may volunteer information to you in conversation as they become comfortable, but do not initiate this conversation. Allow the student to disclose as they see fit, which may mean not at all.
Do not talk down or make assumptions: Just as you should not assume a person needs help, do not make assumptions about a student or their capabilities based on your previous experiences or biases. Students with disabilities should be addressed as you would talk to any student. As a rule, assume competence.
Be considerate: Be gracious and allow wait time, as it may take extra time for a student with a disability to say or do something.
BE A RESOURCE
- Know where & when to refer: If you don't have an answer that's ok! Familiarize yourself with the resources available to students on campus and refer them appropriately. (See our resources page for some ideas).
- If a student is requesting accommodations or discloses a disability to you connect them with our office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If a disability services referral doesn't seem appropriate, other relevant referrals may include the counseling center, academic resource center, and health center.
- Student concerns related to personal issues (e.g. caring for a loved one, death in family, etc.) should be referred to the Care Team (Students of Concern) via the referral form in the employee portal.
- Absences related to short-term illnesses or conditions (e.g. cold, flu) limited to one week of class missed should be managed between the professor and student.
- Facilitate accommodations: We rely on faculty to ensure classroom accommodations are implemented effectively. If you have questions or concerns regarding a student's accommodation letter or implementation of accommodations contact Disability Services immediately.
Managing Testing Accommodations
We ask that faculty have students arrange tests to be proctored through your academic department. The student can schedule tests to be taken with your department’s administrative assistant at the same time the rest of the class is tested. We do understand that space and time are often issues that arise and therefore, offer proctoring in our Testing Accommodation Center on a first come, first served basis. There are several important pieces to this process.
If utilizing the Testing Accommodation Center, students are expected to do the following:
- Make an appointment with Disability Services ONE WEEK in advance to take the exam at the same date and time as the class whenever possible. Exceptions to this may be when their accommodation may result in overlap with another class or when the class is held outside of proctoring hours.
- Notify the professor that they will take the exam in the Disability Services office.
- Remind faculty via email to deliver or email the exam to Disability Services.
The following are required of faculty:
- Email the exam to email@example.com or deliver/intraoffice mail the exam to Disability Services (Smith 103). Ideally emailed exams will be received at least 4 hours in advance (or for 8:00am exams, by 4:30pm the day before) to allow for time to troubleshoot in case of any issues with the file or printing.
- Inform Disability Services of the standard time the class is given for the exam and additional materials allowed (e.g. calculator, open book, etc).
- Tell us how you prefer the exam be returned (scan and email, delivered by DS staff to department mailbox, pick up in Disability Services office). We do not use intraoffice mail to return exams; they will be delivered to your department mailbox by DS staff if that is your chosen method.
- Occasionally students have logistical and/or content-related questions or concerns about their exam while testing. If you would like to include the best way for our office to contact you should any pressing questions arise during the test, you are welcome to do so.
Testing Accommodation Center (TAC)
Appointments are available:
Appointments during the summer session will be arranged in advance on a case-by-case basis
- For late afternoon and evening classes, students should work with their professor IN ADVANCE to determine an agreed upon time to take their exam within the TAC hours, if they do not take the exam with the department administrative assistant.
- You may make alternate arrangements for students who are in late afternoon and evening classes to take their exam at the class time so long as the arrangement sufficiently meets the student's accommodations.
- Students must have approved accommodations in place to test in the TAC.
- We do not administer make-up exams or proctor exams for online courses for students not enrolled with Disability Services.
- We do not offer students who are enrolled with Disability Services the opportunity to retake exams.
- Students are advised about the process for scheduling and testing in the TAC at their initial accommodation meeting each year. Disability Services may be unable to proctor students who do not follow the procedure. In this situation you are not obligated to accommodate the student, though you may offer if you choose.
- While testing, students are monitored by Disability Services staff via two, streaming cameras and all belongings (e.g. bags, backpacks, phones, smart watches) are held in a separate room.
Working with Students with Disabilities
Disability Etiquette: Tips for interacting with people with all types of disabilities from United Spinal Association
Supporting Student Veterans with TBI and PTSD
Tips for Faculty & Staff: Presentation from the American Council on Education on how to accommodate student veterans with traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder
Making a Referral to Disability Services
Disability Services supports students with a wide range of disabilities that affect major life activities. This includes:
- Physical disabilities
- Psychological diagnoses such as PTSD, anxiety, and depression
- Learning disabilities such as dyslexia
- Chronic health conditions such as diabetes and traumatic brain injury
Because faculty typically have the most frequent and regular interaction with students, they are often the first to learn of health or disability-related conditions a student may have. Many of these students may not be aware of the services available to them. This is when a referral may be appropriate.
Refer to Disability Services when:
- A student discloses a disability, health condition, or pregnancy to you
- A student indicates that they have received services or accommodations in the past (e.g. at another institution or in high school)
If a student needs support, but you don't feel Disability Services is the correct referral to make, please submit a referral to the student care team here (must be logged in to portal). The student care team will reach out to the student to identify and connect them to the appropriate resources.
Disclosure & Confidentiality
Keep in mind that, as adults, the students must choose to disclose their disability and request accommodations from our office. We simply ask that you share the resources that are available to them. Many students with disabilities may not need or want accommodations. If students do disclose their disability to Disability Services, all information will be kept confidential as required by FERPA. Any information shared with our office is kept separate from academic records.
Universal Design for Learning
Universal design for learning (UDL) is based on the principle that courses are designed to be accessible, to the greatest extent possible, for all students regardless of learning differences, to eliminate or minimize the need for adaptation and/or accommodation. It is a framework that considers the diversity of learners in guiding curricular design and policies. Below you will find an infographic explaining the guidelines for UDL (click image to see enlarged version) and additional resources to help guide your course design.
Universal Design for Learning Guidelines
Additional UDL Resources
- UDL on Campus: Universal Design for Learning in Higher Education | CAST, Inc.
- Universal Design of Instruction (UDI): Definition, Principles, Guidelines & Examples | DO-IT at the University of Washington
- The Center for Universal Design in Education | DO-IT at the University of Washington
- UDL-U: A Comprehensive Faculty Development Guide | a project of the California State University system
- 10 UDL Tips for Assessment | CAST Professional Learning
- Examples of UDL | Disability Services at The Ohio State University
Leveraging Learning Management Systems (LMS)
- Using LMS Data to Inform Course Design | UDL on Campus
- Using Canvas to Reduce the Barriers to Knowledge by Utilizing Universal Design | CanvasLMS
Creating Accessible Course Materials
- Word Documents | Microsoft
- PowerPoint Presentations | Microsoft
- Excel Documents | Microsoft
- Adobe Acrobat Accessibility Guide | Adobe
- Outlook Emails | Microsoft
- Guidelines for Describing STEM Images | WGBH.org
- Creating Accessible Documents Toolkit | ExploreAccess.org
Making Online Learning Accessible
- Designing an Accessible Online Course | ExploreAccess.org
- Teaching a Blended Course | UDL on Campus
- Making Distance Learning Accessible to Everyone | DO-IT at the University of Washington
- How to Make Your Teaching More Inclusive: Advice Guide | Chronicle of Higher Education
- A Checklist for Inclusive Teaching | DO-IT at the University of Washington
Frequently Asked Questions
- How do you determine who gets accommodations?
- What is an accommodation letter?
- What do students have access to when use of a computer for an exam is allowed as an accommodation?
- How does the assignment modification accommodation work?
- What do I need to do if a student in my class has a notetaker accommodation?
- I have a student with a disability who needs to make up an exam. What can I do?
- A student is requesting an accommodation, but has not given me an accommodation letter. What do I do?
- My student did not have accommodations at the beginning of the semester, but has since received testing accommodations from Disability Services. The student did not do well on their first exam and wants to retake it. What do I do?
- I have a student who has testing accommodations, but the student has not asked to use their accommodation or informed me that they will test in the TAC. Do I need to make the accommodation?
How do you determine who gets accommodations?
Students seeking accommodations on the basis of disability must self-identify and request accommodations from the Office of Disability Services. Upon requesting accommodations, students must also provide documentation of their disability from a qualified professional. Students with evidence of learning, physical, medical and/or psychological disabilities may request accommodations. Approved accommodations will be based on functional limitations caused by the student's disability.
What is an accommodation letter?
Disability Services creates an individualized Academic Accommodation Letter certifying that a student has a disability, cites the circumstances for which accommodations are needed, and describes the accommodations recommended. To maintain confidentiality, information about students' diagnoses will not be included in the letter. The Academic Accommodation Letter will also invite students and/or faculty to contact Disability Services if there are concerns or questions about the accommodations. Accommodation letters must be renewed for each academic year.
What do students have access to when use of a computer for an exam is allowed as an accommodation?
If a student is permitted to use a computer on exams as an accommodation, the student's computer use is restricted to basic applications such as Microsoft Word. Students are never permitted the use of the internet unless otherwise specified by the professor. Students often have this accommodation in order to allow them to type an exam that would otherwise be handwritten.
How does the assignment modification accommodation work?
Whenever possible, the instructor and student should meet at the beginning of the semester to review upcoming due dates, explore extension possibilities, and agree on how and when the student can reasonably be expected to notify the instructor of a need. Each request for an extended due date needs to be considered.
Students are responsible for notifying their instructors in a timely manner when the need arises for a due date extension. The amount of notice a student can reasonably provide will depend on the nature of his or her disability, as some symptoms may be unpredictable. Disability Services staff are available to provide support in addressing any challenges that may arise. If implementation of an extended due date would fundamentally alter the course objectives, pose a unreasonable hardship, or create a significant administrative burden, the instructor should contact Disability Services staff for support with how to proceed.
What do I need to do if a student in my class has a notetaker accommodation?
If a student's accommodation letter includes a note-taking accommodation, you may want to confirm with the student that they would like a note-taker for your class. If so, attempt to recruit a volunteer note-taker from the class. If there are no volunteers please contact Disability Services immediately so that a note-taker can be hired.
Once a note-taker is secured, they should connect with Disability Services as soon as possible. In order to maintain confidentiality, the exchange of notes will be facilitated by the Office of Disability Services. The identity of the student should not be disclosed to the note-taker. Management of the note-taker will be handled by the Office of Disability Services. All notetakers will sign an agreement to abide by established guidelines.
In lieu of a notetaker, the professor may choose to provide detailed lecture notes and PowerPoint slides to the student granted a notetaker accommodation.
I have a student with a disability who needs to make up an exam. What can I do?
There are a few ways this could be handled.
- Arrange for the student to make up the exam with you at an agreed upon time, or arrange for the exam to be made up with your department's administrative assistant. Note that if the student has testing accommodations (e.g. extended time), you will want to ensure the requirements of the accommodation can be met.
- If the student is currently enrolled with Disability Services and missed an exam for disability-related reasons, you can coordinate with our office to have the student make up the exam in the Testing Accommodation Center as space and time allow.
A student is requesting an accommodation, but has not given me an accommodation letter. What do I do?
Request an accommodation letter from the student. If the they do not have one, refer the student to Disability Services. Any student who has a documented disability can request accommodations from our office. Students can make an appointment by coming to the office or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Students will be asked to produce official documentation of their diagnosed disability. If a student does not have a disability it is up to the professor to decide how to proceed.
My student did not have accommodations at the beginning of the semester, but has since received testing accommodations from Disability Services. The student did not do well on their first exam and wants to retake it. What do I do?
I have a student who has testing accommodations, but the student has not asked to use their accommodation or informed me that they will test in the TAC. Do I need to make the accommodation?
No. Students can choose to use or forego their accommodations at any time. They are not required to use any granted accommodation. If a student wants to use their accommodation they should notify you before each exam/quiz. If the student does not request their accommodation and/or notify you that they will test in the TAC you should assume they will test in class.