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Access Center Faculty Resource Guide

The information contained below is intended to provide faculty with more in-depth information concerning the Access Center and various aspects related to accommodating students with disabilities. Access Center team members serve as a resource to faculty and staff to answer questions, consult with on accommodations issues, and provide guidance in accommodating students. By working together, we can ensure that students with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate in all aspects of their college experience.

Table of Contents:

  1. Civil Rights Basis for Accommodations
  2. Faculty Rights and Responsibilities
  3. Syllabus Statement
  4. Accommodation Eligibility Process
  5. Types of Accommodations
  6. Temporary Medical Accommodations and Pregnancy Accommodations
  7. Service and Emotional Support Animals
  8. Disputing Approved Accommodations
  9. Faculty FAQs

Section 1: Civil Rights Basis for Accommodations

The right to request and receive reasonable accommodations and programmatic modifications is a civil right extended to people with qualifying disabilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Under Section 504 and the ADA, a person with a disability is defined as an individual who has “(A) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual; (B) a record of such an impairment; or (C) [is] being regarded as having such an impairment” (Sec. 12102). However, it is important to note that the spirit and overarching purpose of the ADA is to promote broad coverage and eliminate disability discrimination. Indeed, the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) clarifies Congress’ original intention by discouraging a focus on exclusionary qualifying standards, and encouraging the promotion of broad and meaningful inclusion.

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Section 2: Faculty Rights and Responsibilities

Faculty have the Right to:

  • Uphold academic standards and the integrity of courses and academic programs.
  • Request verification of a student’s eligibility for requested accommodations in the form of an Accommodation Letter prepared and delivered through email by professional staff at the Access Center or through email or in-person by the student.

Faculty have the Responsibility to:

  • Support and implement reasonable accommodations as identified in the student's Accommodation Letter in a timely manner.
  • Direct all questions/concerns regarding accommodations for students with disabilities to the Access Center.
  • Assume an active role in providing an accessible and inclusive learning environment.
  • Refer any student to the Access Center who is requesting additional accommodations not included in their Accommodation Letter or students who do not have an accommodation letter but are seeking accommodations.
  • Maintain confidentiality. Students have a right to privacy in disability matters. Faculty should file the student’s Accommodation Letter in a safe place. Faculty are encouraged to meet with the student privately to discuss disability issues. Such issues should not be openly discussed in class.
  • Respect the privacy rights of students and do not ask or make any assumptions regarding a student’s disability status.

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Section 3: Syllabus Statement

The two paragraphs below are the approved institutional Accessibility statement which must be included on all course syllabi.

Accessibility and Disability Accommodations

The Metropolitan State University of Denver is committed to providing an accessible and inclusive learning environment for all students, including those with disabilities. Students with a diagnosed condition/disability which may impact their access, performance, attendance, or grades in this class should contact the Access Center, located in the Plaza Building, Suite 122, 303-615-0200.

The Access Center is the designated department responsible for coordinating accommodations and services for students with disabilities. Students will need to provide an Accommodation Notification Letter obtained from the Access Center to their faculty to activate their accommodations. Information pertaining to a student’s disability is treated in a confidential manner. Further information is available by visiting the Access Center website www.msudenver.edu/access.

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Section 4: Accommodation Eligibility Process

In order to be eligible for accommodations, students with disabilities must first register with the Access Center. The registration process is outlined below so you are aware of what’s involved.

To receive accommodations and services, the Access Center has established a simple and quick, interactive process for students to follow.

  1. Contact the Access Center to arrange an accommodations eligibility appointment with one of our Accessibility Coordinators: 303-615-0200 or accesscenter@msudenver.edu.
  2. Students can provide disability documentation during the accommodation eligibility appointment. Disability documentation guidelines can be found on the Access Center’s website: Disability Documentation. In the event a student does not have documentation, they should consult with an Accessibility Coordinator to discuss next steps. No student should delay scheduling a meeting out of concern for not having appropriate documentation.
  3. The accommodation eligibility appointment usually lasts between 60 to 90 minutes. The meeting involves the student engaging in an interactive process with their Accessibility Coordinator to assess and determine eligibility for accommodations.

All appointments occur in a private office. Disability information and documentation is treated in a confidential manner. The rationale for seeking disability documentation is to determine the nature of the student’s disability and the need for requested accommodations. Disability documentation should include a clear statement of the student’s diagnosed disability(s) and information regarding the impact of the disability on areas of functioning. While documentation may include recommendations for accommodations, the Access Center staff will make the determination whether a recommended or previous accommodation will be approved for MSU Denver classes.

The Accessibility Coordinator will also provide an orientation to the Access Center’s website and relevant policies, procedures, and forms that the student will use to access and implement their accommodations. This orientation to Access Center policies and procedures may occur in the initial accommodation eligibility appointment with the student or at later follow-up appointment scheduled closer to the start of the academic semester.

Upon completion of the accommodation eligibility appointment and process, the student’s Accessibility Coordinator will email a copy of the student’s Accommodation Notification Letter (see appendix for example) to the student. The student may opt to have the Access Center send a copy of the Accommodation Notification Letter directly to their professors for the upcoming/current semester.

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Section 5: Types of Accommodations

A reasonable accommodation is any modification or adjustment that will enable a qualified student with a disability equal access to a course, program, facility, activity or service. Reasonable accommodations may include auxiliary aids, services, or modifications to facilities.

The goal is to give the student with a disability equal access to the learning environment. Individualized accommodations are not designed to give the student an advantage over other students, to alter a fundamental aspect of the course, nor to reduce academic rigor.

The Access Center determines reasonable accommodations as mandated under the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Academic adjustments, auxiliary aids, and/or services are determined on a case-by-case basis. The following is a list of potential accommodations which may be granted based on the students' disability and how it impacts them in a postsecondary educational environment.

Testing Accommodations

Testing accommodations are available to eligible students who experience barriers related to timed assessments or other aspects of evaluations. The Access Center is committed to providing an equitable and secure testing environment for students. If a student has approved testing accommodations listed on their accommodation letter and plans to take their accommodated exam in the Access Testing Center, then the student is responsible for scheduling their exam utilizing the form on the Access Center website. If the student schedules an accommodated exam, the faculty member will receive an email from the Access Center requesting exam administration information. Faculty are responsible for automatically adding additional time for all exams administered online to students who are approved for additional exam time. Faculty are not responsible for providing exam accommodations in their face-to face class unless special arrangements have been made with the Access Center.

Testing accommodations may include but are not limited to the following:

  • Distraction-reduced space
  • Extended time
  • Assistive technology (e.g. CCTV, screen-reader software)
  • Accessible formats (e.g. Word Doc, large print, braille)
  • Computer/Microsoft Word for written exams
  • Calculator

Attendance Flexibility

Students who have been diagnosed with a chronic physical or mental health condition/disability with brief, periodic flare-ups that adversely impact course attendance could be eligible to receive attendance flexibility consideration. Students seeking this accommodation are responsible for requesting this accommodation as early in the semester as possible by completing the request form located on the Access Center website. If the student submits a request form, then the faculty member will receive an email from the Access Center asking them to respond to a series of questions. Based on the response to those question and factoring in the student’s condition, the Access center will send out a determination email to both the student and the faculty member indicating the what degree of flexibility can be provided. The Access Center understands that course requirements vary widely due to course structure and acknowledge that additional flexibility cannot always be guaranteed.

Access to Lecture Content

Students who have trouble capturing content that is shared during class due to their disability can be approved for accommodations. The student’s Accessibility Coordinator will share the various options with the student and then collaborate with the instructor, if needed, to coordinate access to lecture content.

Alternate Formats for Print Materials

Students with a documented condition/disability that prevents access to traditional print materials are eligible to receive printed course materials in accessible electronic versions. Students are responsible for notifying their instructor and the Access Center if course materials are not accessible. Students needing to request course textbooks should use the request form located on the homepage of our website, www.msudenver.edu/access. See appendix for alternate format procedures.

Assignment Deadline Extensions

The purpose of this accommodation is to allow for periodic consideration of additional time to complete an outside of class assignment/paper/project due to the severe adverse effects of the student’s disability. If a student in the class is approved for this accommodation the faculty member will receive a separate email from the Access Center inquiring if there are any assignments/papers/projects during the semester that cannot be granted up to a week extension due to the format or time sensitive nature of the assignment. If there are assignments that cannot be granted an extension, then the faculty member is responsible for sending an email back to the Access Center that lists the names and due dates of the assignment/paper/project and clarifies why a time extension cannot be granted.

Assignment deadline extensions will be determined by the Access Center on a case-by-case basis. It is the student’s responsibility to complete the “Request Deadline Extension” form located on the Access Center website at least 2 business days prior to the deadline unless extenuating circumstances arise. The student is informed that the submission of this form does not guarantee an extension.

ASL Interpreting & CART Services

The Access Center will coordinate interpreting and Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) services for Deaf and hard of hearing students registered with our office. Interpreters and CART providers are professionals, not classroom aides; they do not tutor students or impart additional information. Their sole focus is facilitating communication in the classroom. Students needing interpreters or CART for meetings with faculty, advisors or other types of meetings with staff on campus should use the request form located on the homepage of our website, www.msudenver.edu/access.

The following list contains instructional guidance when a student who is Deaf of hard of hearing is in class and applies to both interpreters and CART providers.

  1. Speak directly to the student who is deaf. Don’t ask the interpreter to “Tell them …”
  2. Look at the deaf student, not the interpreter. The interpreter will sign whatever is said and voice whatever the student signs. The interpreters are not permitted to voice their own personal opinions or enter the conversation.
  3. Speak at a normal rate. The interpreter will ask you to slow down or repeat if the delivery is too fast.
  4. Allow the interpreter to sit or stand near you. The interpreter and the instructor should work out the best place for the interpreter to work. The closer the interpreter is to the speaker, the easier it is for the student to see the interpreter, the instructor and any visual aids.
  5. Remember that the interpreter will be a few words behind the speaker. Allow the interpreter time to finish so that the student may ask questions or join the discussion.
  6. Provide the interpreter with extra copies of materials being discussed in class. This allows the interpreter to study pertinent vocabulary and be prepared for the class.
  7. The use of visual aids (whiteboards, overhead projectors, diagrams, charts, etc.) greatly assists students with hearing impairments.
  8. In a group discussion, ensure that one person is speaking at a time. Point to the speaker or have speakers raise their hands. It may be necessary to repeat questions or comments so the student can keep up with the discussion.
  9. Initially, an interpreter’s presence may be distracting to the instructor and other students. However, the initial curiosity will subside, and it should be a comfortable situation for all concerned.

Accessible Classroom Furniture

The Access Center is committed to ensuring students’ learning environments are accessible which could include the need for accessible classroom furniture (e.g. tables, chairs). The student will then be directed to use the request form located on the homepage of our website, www.msudenver.edu/access. Furniture requests usually take 1-2 business days to get placed into the classroom.

Priority Course Registration

To assist students in planning their schedule while taking disability issues into consideration, students may be eligible for priority course registration. This accommodation allows students the opportunity to register earlier than other students for upcoming semesters. Students are responsible for meeting with their academic advisor to plan for appropriate classes and registering for courses at or after their scheduled registration time. The Access Center has no ability to remove registration holds. Not all students with the Access Center are approved for priority registration.

 

Note: This is not an exhaustive list of potential accommodations.

Note: Under ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act a postsecondary institution is not required to provide accommodations that would be considered personal services. The Access Center does not provide personal services (i.e. administering medicine and storing of medical supplies, personal aides and mobility aides, transportation to school.)

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Section 6: Temporary Medical Accommodations and Pregnancy Accommodations

Although temporary medical conditions are not covered as disabilities under the ADA or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the institution recognizes that such injuries/illnesses can occur during the school year that may adversely affect a student’s ability to fully participate in classes. Examples of temporary medical conditions may include, but are not limited to: broken limbs, hand injuries, or short-term impairments following surgery or medical treatments. Students seeking temporary accommodations should be referred to the Access Center for consultation.

Students seeking accommodations because of medically related complications due to pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, or recovery should also be referred to the Access Center for consultation.

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Section 7: Service and Emotional Support Animals

In compliance with the ADA, service animals are welcome in all buildings on campus and may attend classes, meetings, or other events. Students with disabilities who use a service animal on campus are not required to register with the Access Center or provide faculty with any documentation that supports bringing their service animal to class. Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA and are not allowed in the classroom unless as an approved accommodation by the Access Center.

  • In situations where it is not obvious that the dog is a service animal, staff may ask only two specific questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability? and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform? Staff are not allowed to request any documentation for the dog, require that the dog demonstrate its task, or inquire about the nature of the person's disability.
  • An Emotional Support Animal (ESA) is defined as an animal that provides companionship, emotional support, wellbeing, or comfort, which eases one or more identified symptoms or effects of a disability. Emotional support animals are not individually trained or trained to perform specific actions or tasks to assist individuals with disabilities. An ESA is not considered service animal under the ADA.
  • Students with disabilities may request from the Access Center approval to have their ESA accompany them to MSU Denver classes, meetings and events. The Access Center will engage in an interactive discussion with the individual, review any documentation to support the individual’s need for the ESA to accompany them to class, and give consideration to the type of animal and other relevant factors including how the presence of the ESA could adversely impact the learning and/or instructional process in the classroom. An ESA is not allowed in the classroom until this process has been completed and Access Center approval has been given in writing.

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Section 8: Disputing Approved Accommodations

If a faculty member believes that an approved accommodation on the student’s Accommodation Notification Letter would result in a fundamental alteration of the academic or technical standards of the course or program or is not a reasonable accommodation, it is the faculty members’ right and responsibility to contact the student’s accommodation coordinator, in writing, with a detailed explanation as to how the accommodation would alter the academic standards of the course and suggest appropriate modifications.

If the coordinator agrees with the faculty member’s modifications, they will notify the student and faculty member in writing. If a resolution cannot be reached between the coordinator and the faculty member, the coordinator will notify the Director of the Access Center in writing, within 5 business days.

Should the Director disagree with the faculty member’s suggested modifications, the Director will schedule a meeting with the faculty member to discuss the decision and explore options for resolution. The faculty member may request their department chair attend this meeting. The Access Center Director will confer with the Director of Equal Opportunity as necessary. The Access Center will notify the student, the faculty member, and the faculty member’s chair of their decision with a clear justification in writing within 5 business days of the meeting.

The faculty member has the right to appeal the Director of the Access Center’s decision to the Director of Equal Opportunity.

During the decision period, the faculty member will consult with the Access Center coordinator to develop some support for the student until a final decision is made.

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Section 9: Faculty FAQs

Is it fair to give extra time to students with disabilities when other students have to work under time constraints?

Yes, it is fair, as long as the accommodation for the student with a disability does not fundamentally alter the nature of the curriculum. The accommodation should be viewed as leveling the playing field for the student with a disability and not as a means to disadvantage other students.

 

How should I receive an Accommodation Notification Letter?

The letter will either be emailed directly to you from the Access Center or provided by the student based on their delivery choice. The information contained in this letter is confidential and discussions should occur in a private setting. It is best not to make assumptions regarding a student’s disability, most students have non-apparent conditions.

 

Must I write a different exam for a student with a disability who will take the exam at a different time from the rest of the class?

The choice is usually left to the professor. If the exam is given close to the time the rest of the class is taking the exam, there may be no need to give a different exam.

 

When we provide all these accommodations, are we preparing students with disabilities for the real world where they have to meet deadlines and write reports in a hurry?

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that employers make the workplace accessible and that accommodations be provided. All private and public businesses must comply with the ADA and provide reasonable accommodations. In addition, certifying and licensing examinations of all kinds, employment entrance tests, and promotion exams must be accommodated.

 

Why do students with disabilities make accommodation requests in the middle of a semester?

Legally, there is no obligation for a student to identify his or her disability at any particular time. Keep in mind that disclosing their disability may be uncomfortable for the student. Also, some students use accommodations only after they discover that they are having problems. Nevertheless, the Access Center encourages each student to self-identify and make his or her needs known at the beginning of each semester. However, students who identify in the middle of the semester must do so far enough in advance of a pending exam to allow faculty or the Access Center to arrange for the accommodation(s).

 

What kind of verification should I ask for if a student requests extended time to take a test?

The student will provide an Accommodation Notification Letter to you verifying eligibility for accommodations. If the student is approved for testing accommodations, they will need to follow the established exam scheduling procedures to take an exam in our testing center. The Access Center staff will be responsible for implementing the exam accommodations and follow any additional parameters per faculty instructions.

 

What if I suspect that a student has a disability?

Faculty are not allowed to directly ask a student if they have a disability. Talk with the student privately about your concerns regarding his or her performance. Questions such as " … did you receive any special assistance in high school regarding your academic performance?" could lead to the student self-disclosing their disability. Once a student self discloses their disability then faculty must make them aware of the Access Center.

In general, you promote student awareness by providing information about the existence and location of the Access Center on your syllabus. Ultimately it is the student’s choice whether to disclose their disability or request accommodations available from the Access Center.

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