Disability Resources Office, Bridgewater State University
Purpose: Including an accessibility statement in a course syllabus helps to normalize the accommodation process and establishes the steps necessary to expedite reasonable classroom accommodations.
What should an accessibility statement include?
1. An invitation to a student with a documented disability to meet, in a confidential environment, to discuss the need for academic adjustments with the faculty member and develop a plan for the implementation of the accommodations.
2. Notification to the student that requests for accommodation must be presented in a timely manner. Faculty members can encourage students to make requests at the beginning of the semester (or quarter), but must be flexible as some students may not be ready to self-disclose or may be diagnosed later in the semester. Accommodations do not need to be made until a student chooses to self-disclose a qualifying disability and makes a request for accommodation.
3. Statement informing students with disabilities to register with the Disability Resources Office (Maxwell Library 001), if they have not done so previously, for the purpose of establishing disability documentation and verification, and to determine reasonable accommodations.
While the wording of the statement may vary to meet the needs of a particular class, the following provides an example for the faculty member to consider:
In compliance with Bridgewater State University policy and equal access legislation, I am available to discuss appropriate accommodations that you may require as a student with a disability. Students will need to register with the Disability Resources Office in the Academic Achievement Center in the Maxwell Library to provide documentation of the disability, to determine reasonable academic accommodations, and obtain a letter of notification to faculty of the accommodations.
How do I know if a student actually has a qualifying disability and that the accommodations requested are appropriate?
It is important for a student with a disability to gain the ability to self-advocate effectively. Students need to be able to introduce themselves, discuss the specific impact of their disability, and describe the accommodations needed to afford them the opportunity for equal access to our academic environment. This is a skill they will use throughout their academic and work lives.
If, as the instructor, you have questions or need further assistance, please feel free to do the following.
1. Recommend that the student obtain an accommodation letter from the Disability Resources Office, if they have not already presented one to you. Accommodation letters do not identify and describe the disability, but do outline the approved academic accommodations identified by staff after a case-by-case analysis of disability documentation. Letters are developed only when a student makes a specific request. This process ensures that the student maintains control over who knows that they have a disability, thus preserving confidentiality, and also promotes the likelihood that there will be a meaningful conversation between the student and the instructor.
2. Contact the Disability Resources Office for confirmation that the requests made by the student are appropriate and for assistance in implementing the requested/recommended accommodations.
Accessibility statements must also be included in promotional materials describing any event sponsored by Bridgewater State University, whether the event is held on or off campus. The following statements are useful examples. Contact the Disability Resources Office for further assistance as you plan an event.
All activities offered by (name of unit) are held in accessible locations. Interpreters and materials in alternate format are available upon request. To ensure that accommodations are provided for you, please indicate the type of assistance required on the registration form.
Individuals with a disability who may need accommodations are requested to contact (name of unit) at least 2 weeks in advance of the event in order that appropriate accommodations may be made. To request a sign language interpreter please call 508 531-6113.
Individuals who need auxiliary aids for effective communication or who would like to request materials in alternative format are invited to make their needs and preferences known by (date). This notice is available upon request in large print, on audio tape or computer disk, and in Braille.
Accommodations are identified with students each semester and are always decided on an individual and course-by-course basis. Some of the more common accommodations are described below.
Learning disabilities are characterized by slower than average language processing speeds. Allowing additional time allows the student to fully process the questions and formulate answers. Students with attention deficit disorder may have a hard time focusing on a test. Extra time permits the student to be distracted, and then re-focus him or herself. Students with vision impairment or a physical impairment may utilize scribes and need additional time to dictate their answers.
Students with ADD
may have a hard time sustaining attention for an entire hour or two-hour exam.
Allowing them to take a page at a time, with a break in-between requires them to
sustain focus for shorter periods of time.
Students with print disabilities may have a hard time processing written material, but may be strong at processing auditory input. Recorded texts allow them to learn the material independently.
A student with a hearing impairment may need to maintain eye contact with the lecturer or interpreter throughout a lecture. Taking notes while maintaining eye contact is not possible. Having access to a peers notes allows the student to follow the lecture and still study the material later.
A student with a learning disability may have a difficult time processing the auditory input of a lecture and at the same time writing cohesive notes. Having access to a peers notes allows the student to focus on one task at a time.
with ADD will be distracted during a test by the fluttering of papers, shuffling
of feet, and other noises peers make. By allowing this student to take a test in
a quiet office or separate classroom, he or she can concentrate on the material.
A student with a vision or learning disability may have a difficult time filling in the appropriate bubbles on computer scored tests. The student is permitted to write directly on the test booklet and the answers are scored by hand by the instructor.
Information Regarding Classroom Accessibility
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ensures that individuals with disabilities are not excluded from services, programs, and activities because buildings are inaccessible. At Bridgewater State University every attempt is made to identify individuals in advance who require physically accessible classrooms. Through communication with the Registrars office, Disability Resources, student and faculty, such accommodations are made in advance of the start of the semester or class. There are situations, however, where a student may identify a need at a later time. In these cases, efforts are made as well to document the need and consider all alternatives available to the student prior to initiating a change of classroom site.
In addition to meeting compliance with the law, Bridgewater State University also strives to provide accommodations and assistance to individuals who may incur a temporary medical condition after the semester/class begins which precludes their access to a particular classroom site. Again, all possible alternatives are explored prior to recommending moving a particular class which is already in progress.
Q & A
How are classroom changes determined?
In advance of each semester, the Disability Resources Office identifies students who require accessible classrooms due to use of a wheelchair or mobility restrictions. Students are encouraged to plan their schedules to permit adequate time between classes to travel from one building or campus area to another. Students are also encouraged to select an accessible class site from among several sections being offered.
Class sites are relocated for any of the following reasons:
The accessibility of a particular building or classroom
The time necessary for student to travel between classes
The restrictions of the student to scheduling based upon transportation or medical needs
A class is moved to an accessible location only after considering all alternatives.
Why should accommodations be made for one student when the accommodations may affect the other students in the section?
In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Sec. 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Bridgewater State University offers certain reasonable accommodations to individuals with documented physical and learning disabilities. Through these accommodations, we seek to ensure that every student has accessibility and the opportunity to succeed.
What should I do if I witness a situation in the classroom which may require accommodations for a student?
The faculty member should contact Disability Resources Office at 508-531-2194 to discuss how the situation should be handled.
Who is responsible for accommodating students in off campus classes, programs, and activities?
When any Bridgewater State University related class, program or activity is held on or off campus, every effort should be made to obtain facilities that are accessible. The program sponsor should confer with the Disability Resource staff regarding access issues in advance.
What happens when a faculty member as well as a student has a disability in a class? Who receives accommodations?
The student needs to be registered with Disability Resources, and the faculty member needs to be registered with Human Resources. Reasonable accommodations will be made to accommodate both student and faculty member.
What happens in a temporary medical situation?
Should temporary accommodations be necessary, Health Service and/or Disability Resources will make any reasonable accommodations for the student.
Accommodations for students with disabilities are best done when there is sufficient lead-time for planning and problem solving. However, because of the stigma associated with mental illness and disability, students often find it difficult to bring up the subject of accommodations. As a course instructor, you can facilitate early planning by encouraging students with psychiatric or other hidden disabilities to disclose their condition to you and begin the discussion of what accommodations might be needed. A good way of encouraging such discussion would be to include a statement in your syllabus that announces your willingness to talk about accommodations with students who may need them. An example of an announcement might read like this:
Reasonable accommodations will be provided for students with documented disabilities. Please contact the instructor as early as possible to discuss accommodations for this course.
Such announcements help set a tone of acceptance of differences and of a willingness to make your course accessible to everyone. Reinforcing this information verbally during class time will provide additional emphasis and reassurance to students.
All students with disabilities must provide current disability documentation (within 3 years of admission to University) in order to receive accommodations. Generally this documentation is provided to the Disability Resources Office, and remains confidential until the student gives permission to our office to release information. As an instructor, if asked to make disability-related accommodations, you are entitled to know that the student has provided documentation, and what the functional limitations are for that particular student. Part of our role is to provide that verification, and to serve as a consultant to determine appropriate accommodations. We do not provide the details of the specific diagnoses or history of a condition, unless requested to do so by the student. If a student requesting accommodations is not using our office, please encourage him/her to do so; however, if the student chooses not to, then the course instructor or department should require verification of the disability condition from the student before providing the requested accommodation. Contact our office at any time to consult about a request that has been made and to identify reasonable accommodations
Much of the information available on campus with regard to individuals with disabilities is directed toward students. We would like to take this opportunity to describe briefly how faculty and staff with disabilities can be appropriately accommodated on our campus. If you have any questions after reading this information, please contact ADA Compliance Officer, Dr. Alan V. Comedy, who is located in 206 Boyden Hall, or the Assistant Vice President of Human Resources.
Bridgewater State University is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to qualified employees with physical or mental disabilities in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Employees requesting accommodations must provide appropriate documentation of: (1) a disability, which is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; and (2) a need for accommodation to perform the essential functions of their position due to the functional limitations of the disability.
It is the responsibility of an employee with a physical or mental disability who may require any type of accommodation to submit an accommodation request and appropriate medical documentation to the ADA Compliance Officer, Dr. Alan V. Comedy. The ADA Compliance Officer will meet with the employee and may consult with other educational, medical or psychological professionals, including but not limited to the employee's supervisor or department head, to appropriately evaluate the disability and requested accommodations on a case-by-case basis. The ADA Compliance Officer will make a decision as to whether the employee is eligible for accommodation and if, so, determine what accommodations are appropriate and reasonable. Documentation is kept in a confidential file, separate from the remainder of your personnel record and will be disclosed only in accordance with the law or your consent.
A reasonable accommodation is any change or adjustment to a job or work environment that permits a qualified employee with a disability to perform the essential functions of the position or enjoy benefits and privileges of employment equal to those enjoyed by employees without disabilities. Examples of reasonable accommodations may include:
· providing or modifying equipment, furnishings or other devices;
· modifying the work schedule;
· making adjustments to non-essential policies and procedures;
· providing readers or interpreters;
· making the workplace accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities;
· providing accessible on campus transportation and parking
Association of Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD)
Disability Access Information and Support
Blind and Vision Impaired
Carroll Center for the Blind
Federation of the Blind
American Federation of the Blind
Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Center on Deafness, Postsecondary Education Consortium
Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH)
Learning Disabilities Association of Massachusetts (LDAM)
National Center for Learning Disabilities
Center for Psychiatric Disabilities
Center for Accessible Media (NCAM)
Text and Media Access
Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic
Environments and Universal Design
Applied Special Technology (CAST)
Tools for the Universal Design of Instruction
Bobby Center for Applied Special Technology
Equal Access to Software and Information (EASI)
Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)
University of Oregon site
access to a variety of resources
Last Modified: June 25, 2012