Frequently Asked Questions
Q. CONFIDENTIALITY: Is the information regarding a student's disability and his/her need for academic accommodations confidential?
A. Privacy of student information, including that regarding student's disabilities or accommodation needs, should be handled according to guidelines of FERPA, the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Personal information of this nature should only be shared with those people within the institution who have an educational need-to-know. A student may offer information on their own, but should never be asked for information about their disability.
Q. ACCOMMODATIONS: How do I know if a student asking for accommodations is qualified to receive them?
A. A student should indicate that he is registered with DSPS and that he has been granted a certain accommodation by his counselor/LD Specialist. He must provide documentation from an appropriate professional about his educational limitations before services are rendered. Once a student is registered, faculty must provide the academic accommodations that our DSPS professional determines reasonable. We encourage students to arrange for alternate testing accommodations through our office. Then you would receive notice from our testing accommodations specialist. Students that received LD assessment from me that are qualified, receive a copy of their accommodations. You can always check with the DSPS office for advice on how to proceed.
Q. ANNOUNCEMENT: Should I encourage students with disabilities to talk with me about their accommodations?
A. Yes. We highly recommend that all instructors put a statement on their syllabus indicating that they are accepting of learning diversity. A sample statement may read "All students with disabilities that will be requiring accommodations should feel free to talk with me about what they will be requiring. Students are responsible for meeting with a counselor in DSPS to qualify for services and to learn about making arrangements for their needs in a timely manner." This statement sends a message to the students that LPC instructors are knowledgeable and willing to work with students with disabilities. In addition to the statement you can announce at the beginning of a course that you are available to discuss instructional methods and appropriate course accommodations with students who have disabilities.
Q. CONFIDENTIALITY: Is it acceptable to ask a student who is having obvious difficulties whether she has a disability or to refer the student to the office that provides disability support services?
A. No. It is not a good idea to ask directly about a possible disability for a couple of reasons. First, the Americans with Disabilities Act states that a public entity may not make unnecessary inquiries into the existence of a disability. These inquiries usually relate to hiring or pre-admission screening, but when talking with students such inquiries should also be avoided. A direct inquiry such as this could also be considered intrusive or insensitive.
You may simply tell the student that you notice he is having academic difficulty and encourage him to come in and talk with you about gaining assistance, just as you would with any student. For example, you could say to a student: "I noticed that you seem to have difficulty organizing your paper. Do you want to talk about that? OR "Have you considered getting help from the tutorial center, (ILC, Writing Center, etc.) or DSPS?" OR You could go as far as asking, "Have there been any strategies or supports that you have used that have helped you in the past?" If you have enough rapport with the student you could ask, "Why do you think that organizing your paper is so difficult for you?" If the student is resistant to disclose any information then he must be given the opportunity to experience the consequences of ignoring assistance.