The ARC serves faculty and staff as well as students when it comes to disability accommodations. ARC staff are available to answer general or student-specific questions regarding disabilities, accommodations, auxiliary aids, and teaching and testing strategies. In addition, the ARC Director is available for private screening and classroom observation of unregistered students about whom faculty have questions.
It also makes it easier for the ARC to assess how Webster students are succeeding if instructors give us feedback regarding any problems with equipment, abuse of services, and/or behavior of students with disabilities in the classroom.
Here are some of the ways in which we encourage the flow of information between students, faculty, and the ARC:
Each semester, the Academic Resource Center or the local site will send the instructors of each student with documented disabilities who has registered with Webster a notification that lists all accommodations and auxiliary aids the student may need. This list, which is the result of a meeting between ARC or local site staff and the student, is based on the student's disability, prior accommodation history, suggestions in the documentation, recommendations of prior instructors, and best practices criteria.
Its purpose is to inform the instructor that a student who qualifies for accommodations will be attending class, to designate specific accommodations to which the student is legally entitled (e.g., extended time for testing), to help the instructor prepare for auxiliary aids that may be in the classroom (e.g., a guide dog, a sign interpreter, a CART team), to aid the instructor in presenting material effectively (e.g., use of visual aids recommended), and to give the instructor information about a diagnosis that could affect the classroom (e.g., diabetes, epilepsy, Tourette's Syndrome).
There may be instances when an instructor is not notified that a student with a disability is or will be attending class. The most common reasons are:
- The student has added the class after notifications were sent out but has not informed the ARC. If you suspect this has happened, please call the ARC director at 314-968-7495.
- The student has been diagnosed, but has not registered with the ARC or has elected to refuse services. If you suspect a disability that may have an impact on performance in your class, please call the ARC and discuss the situation.
- The student has not been diagnosed. Disabilities can appear or reoccur during the adult years. If you suspect this may be the case, please suggest the student contact the ARC.
When students register with the ARC, they are encouraged to advocate for themselves. It is easier for them to do so, however, when faculty include a statement expressing their willingness to discuss needs for accommodations with students.
It is often not enough for the instructor to state this to the class orally because some students with disabilities need visual input to register what is going on when they are under stress. It is, however, important that such a discussion take place.
Once the instructor has received a notification of disability accommodations, s/he is entitled to open a private conversation with the student about his/her accommodations and needs in the classroom. Many instructors believe that they are legally barred from speaking to a student with disabilities until the student speaks to them; in fact, since the student has given permission for notifications to be sent out, the notification is itself an invitation to dialogue. Students are also advised to open conversations with their instructors, but many find it a relief to have instructors confirm that they have received a notification and are willing to help!
A private meeting between the instructor and the student helps to establish a collaborative relationship and offers instructors an opportunity to clarify questions about student needs and students to get a better idea of class expectations and instructional format. This makes it much easier for both to predict the particular accommodations the student will need in the course.
The following are sample syllabi statements faculty have used at various institutions. You may adapt one of these to fit your needs or you may contact the Academic Resource Center for further suggestions.
- If you have a disability that may have some impact on your work in this class or require accommodations, please see me so that these can be arranged.
- I encourage students with disabilities to discuss with me, after class or during my office hours, accommodations that will be helpful for them in this class.
- If you have a disability, please see me as soon as possible to discuss your accommodation needs.
- If you need accommodations or you have emergency medical information to share with me, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please see me privately after class or at my office.