What does Classroom Services do?
In alignment with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the department of Classroom Services ensures equal access to university curriculum, programs, and facilities for students with disabilities by facilitating reasonable accommodations, providing support services, and collaborating with the greater community to meet students’ individual needs.
Classroom Services can help students:
- Obtain accommodations and access to information, materials, and the campus
- Manage disability-related challenges
- Create strategies for learning based on their unique style, strengths and limitations
- Become their own advocate to successfully interact with their instructors and peers
- Find qualified professionals for educational testing or personal concerns
As part of the Academy Resource Center (ARC), we offer regularly scheduled individualized academic coaching.
Accessibility FAQ for Online Teachers
What is a disability?
A disability, under federal law, is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of a person's major life activities. A disability could be apparent, such as a mobility impairment or Deafness, or may not be obvious, such as a learning disability.
Disability Types and Common Impacts
What are reasonable accommodations?
Reasonable accommodations are structural or material modifications made in order to allow a student with a disability equal access to AAU curriculum and facilities. Unreasonable accommodations are any modification that diminishes or compromises the fundamental nature of a course and its learning outcomes.
How do students get accommodations and who determines if the request is reasonable?
In order to receive accommodations, a student must register with Classroom Services, part of the Academy Resource Center (ARC). Classroom Services and the Executive Office review all requests on an individual basis to determine reasonable and appropriate accommodations based on documentation from a diagnosing professional.
A student has asked for accommodations. How do I know the student truly has a disability?
The student should provide you with a current accommodation letter from Classroom Services signed by the student’s Classroom Services Coordinator. The letter outlines all approved accommodations for the current semester only. Specifics of the disability will not be disclosed due to the student’s right to confidentiality.
Am I required to provide accommodations? What if I disagree with the accommodation?
We are required by law to provide reasonable accommodations to students with disabilities for all AAU programs, services, curriculum, and public events. If you disagree with an approved accommodation, contact Classroom Services. If the accommodation alters the fundamental nature of a class then Classroom Services will reconsider the accommodation and discuss alternatives with you.
Why does my student’s letter list accommodations unrelated to my class?
A student’s letter will include approved accommodations for all classes that they are taking, and some will not apply to every class. For example, if you don’t give tests, then disregard accommodations related to tests. Students may also not activate an accommodation right away, but find that their needs change throughout the semester. Keep the letter and acknowledge to the student that you have received it and are open to discussing any issues that come up over the course of the semester.
Should I lower the standards of an assignment because a student has a disability?
No. Standards should be the same for all students. The quality of any student’s work should be assessed according to class standards. Grade inflation is misleading and a disservice to every student.
A student came to me in the sixth week of the semester requesting accommodations, but I feel this is too late and that arrangements should have been made earlier.
There could be numerous reasons why a student makes a late request, whether they had challenges getting documentation, or had disability-related challenges arise and found that they do actually need accommodations. Whatever the reason, students may request accommodations at any time during the semester. However, accommodations are not retroactive and don’t apply to past assignments or exams.
I have a student with a disability who is behind in the coursework. This student has not logged in or participated in a number of modules and has not handed in several assignments. At this point, they are not passing the class. Can I fail a student with a disability?
A student with a disability has the same right to fail as anyone else. Their work should be evaluated equivalently to their peers. It may be a good idea to discuss your observations with this student just as you would with anyone else in your class who is experiencing difficulties.
I have a Deaf student in my class and have been asked to inform Classroom Services of any media I might use that is not already part of the course content. Why do I need to do this? What if I like to introduce media depending upon the direction that my class goes during the semester?
Deaf and hard of hearing students should have the same access to course materials as hearing students. You will receive an email from Classroom Services at the beginning of the semester that will outline the captioning process. Classroom Services will make sure that any additional audio materials (i.e. audio critiques, videos) are captioned promptly.
A student’s accommodations allow for late work as needed. I’m okay with this, but I prefer that s/he post to the late work folder instead of sending me an email each week. Is this okay?
Students with disabilities may wish to email their assignments in order to protect their privacy, which could be compromised if he/she consistently posts in the late folder that is viewed by the rest of the class.
I think a student struggling in my class has a disability. What can I do to help?
Talk privately with the student by email to discuss your observations by identifying the specific limitations or weaknesses you’re noticing. While you should not suggest that the student has a disability, the student may reveal this information without further prompting.
What resources are available to me if I have questions or concerns?
Please always feel free to call Classroom Services at 415-618-3775 with questions. We are open M-F, 9-5pm. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by the Academy Resource Center, located at 79 New Montgomery Street, room 356. We are here to support both students and faculty.
Accessibility FAQ for Course Authors
Online content from Universities needs to be accessible by mandate of many jurisdictions: the DOE, the FCC, the DOJ, and local and state agencies.
The online classroom (and tutorial) has been deemed a “place of public accommodation”. Just like the physical campus must have ramped entryways, our online materials need to have usable content.
What is Universal Design?
Universal Design for Learning is a teaching approach that works to accommodate the needs and abilities of all learners and eliminate unnecessary hurdles in the learning process. This means developing a flexible learning environment in which information is presented in multiple ways, students engage in learning in a variety of ways, and students are provided options when demonstrating their learning.
Main Principles of Universal Design
Universal Design for Online Content: The idea of universal design is not that there is one method that is accessible to everybody — it is that there is enough flexibility so that different people may use and enjoy online content differently.
What are some rules of thumb for developing accessible online content?