Information for Faculty

Instructor Information: Students with Disabilities

 You may contact the Services for Students with Disabilities office at any time for answers to questions about  complying with your role in the Accommodation process.  Answers to many of your questions may be found here:

 Faculty Notification Procedure

When a student with a disability enrolls in a UNMC program, they must initiate requesting accommodations. If their requests meet criteria under the Americans with Disabilities Act and they can provide appropriate documentation, the student is provided with a letter outlining their approved accommodations.  An administrative representative of the college/program is also provided with a copy of the letter. Not all requests are granted as requested or as have been provided in other settings.  The letter lists and describes the specific accommodations assigned to the student.  Then, the student contacts their instructors to discuss how best to implement each accommodation in the course. 

Accommodations may not conflict with an essential element of the course or program. Should this ever be the case, contact the Disability Services Coordinator so the situation can be clarified or modified.  All colleges and programs should have essential elements of their programs on record so that students applying for admission can be informed of them ahead of time and to provide clarity during the educational process.  Students are informed that if he/she does not make arrangements with the instructor sufficiently in advance, delays in receiving the accommodation may occur.  Students must allow two weeks’ lead time for accommodations involving testing. However, when accommodations have been granted, they must be provided as soon as reasonably possible.  Each instructor must provide the outlined accommodations on their own or with the assistance of their college’s Educational Support Office, Student Services Office, etc. 

The student's status as a person with a disability is confidential. This may be shared only on a strict “need to know” basis.  While accommodations are revealed to you, specific information on what the disability is will not be shared with you unless the student elects to do so on their own. 

Making Referrals

Occasionally, a student may claim disability status and ask a faculty member or course instructor for accommodations directly rather than going through the Disability Services office.  While granting this request may seem easier in the short term, it creates problems for the student, faculty, and the university in the long term. It is strongly recommended that any student who identifies himself/herself as having a disability complete the process with Disability Services before being provided any disability-related accommodations. 

If a student identifies themselves as having a specific disability, medical diagnosis, or psychological diagnosis, please refer them to Disability Services. It is not appropriate to ask someone if they have a disability.  Nevertheless, students encountering difficulty in a course may be referred to the Counseling and Student Development Center for a variety of assistance ranging from Academic Success strategies, mental health assessment and counseling, substance abuse issues as well as ways to proceed with Disability concerns and questions.  If the student has never been diagnosed with a disability and suspects they may have one, it is likely they will be referred to professionals in the community for assessments which will be at the student’s expense. 

This process can sometimes take several weeks.  It cannot be used retroactively, i.e., no retakes of exams. In cases where there is clearly reasonable evidence that a disability exists, provisional accommodations may be granted while final evaluation results are pending. 

Students are not required to utilize accommodations even if diagnosed with a disability and approved for accommodations. 

Syllabus Statement 

Instructors may include in syllabi a statement asking students to inform them of any disability-related needs to ensure that those needs are met in a timely manner. 

Suggested statement for a syllabus: 

 "Reasonable accommodations are provided for students who have applied to Services for Students with Disabilities and make their requests sufficiently in advance. For more information, go to the website: www.unmc.edu/stucouns/ or contact Ronda Stevens, MSW at 402-559-5553 or rstevens@unmc.edu  Meetings are by appointment in Bennett Hall 6001 on the UNMC campus 

Naturally, there are other contact people to access on campuses other than the Omaha base of UNMC.  They are noted in the Student Handbook and will coordinate with the Omaha office. 

Assistance with Note-Taking

Students with some types of disabilities require assistance in taking notes during class. Instructors are asked to make a request to the class that a volunteer from the class share their notes with a student who has a disability. The student with a disability could connect with the volunteer note-taker later and make arrangements for sharing notes OR the notes may be transmitted to the student more confidentially if the requesting student desires. For example, notes could be left with or transmitted to an office of the college, then sent to the student in need. 

The intention of this accommodation is to assist students who cannot generate a complete set of notes on their own; it is not a replacement for attendance. Therefore, notes are usually only provided when the student with a disability attends class

If the student with a disability has a complaint about the quality or delivery of the notes, it is his/her responsibility to alert the Disability Services Coordinator. The instructor may be asked to assess the quality of the notes or ask for another volunteer. 

Working with Sign Language Interpreters 

Interpreter Responsibilities

The interpreter is in the classroom to facilitate communication between the deaf/hard of hearing student, the instructor, and fellow students.  The interpreter will position her/himself in the front of the classroom near the instructor, creating an appropriate visual sightline for the student.  Two interpreters will be scheduled when classes exceed sixty minutes or when the interpreter is scheduled for multiple consecutive classes. 

Please note that the interpreter does not:

  • Actively participate in the classroom learning activities
  • Censor instructor or student discourse
  • Voice personal opinions or discuss the student’s academic performance
  • Participate in class as a partner for the student who is deaf/hard of hearing
  • Participate in class as a model for classroom demonstrations 

Interpreting services create accessible learning environments.  The interpreter is not responsible for the student’s behavior, academic performance, or attendance in class. 

Classroom Lecture Tips 

Visual aids are beneficial to all students.  When possible, please allow the students a short time to peruse the visual media (e.g. power points, blackboard, etc) that support your lectures. As you resume your lecture, the student who is deaf/hard of hearing will be able to watch the interpreter and reference the visual aids more effectively. Avoid talking with your back to the classes or when writing on the blackboard/ white board.  Students with hearing loss use various cues in their environment to access academic content. You may observe students glancing back and forth between the interpreter and the instructor. 

Group Discussions 

The dynamics of class discussions present a challenge when speakers overlap or speak at the same time.  Because it is not feasible for the interpreter to translate for more than one speaker at a time, instructors may want to monitor or establish turn-taking guidelines during classroom interactions. Class or meeting participants should be asked to speak loudly and clearly.  When necessary, the instructor may need to repeat students’ questions/comments.

When class size and environment permit, it is beneficial to arrange the class in a circle.  This helps deaf/hard of hearing students identify the speakers, read the lips of the speakers (when applicable), and observe when a new speaker has the floor. 

Classroom Materials 

If you are using Blackboard for your course information, please add our service provider as a “guest” so that she/he has access to course announcements, syllabi, supplemental readings, etc.  If you are not using Blackboard to manage course information, please distribute a copy of the course syllabus and course handouts to the interpreter/s.  We recommend that you consult with the interpreters to determine if copies of all hand-outs are necessary. 

Outside Class Activities 

When planning study sessions or off-site activities for your course that are not listed in your syllabus, please allow sufficient time for the SSD office to arrange a service provider. 

Videotapes/DVD’s 

If DVD’s or videotapes are going to be used in classroom, please select materials that have English subtitles or captioning.  Consult with the interpreter early in the semester if non-captioned materials are being used.  

If it is necessary to darken the room to view slides, videotapes, films, etc, and the media source is not captioned, please consult with the interpreter in advance so that “sufficient lighting” is available for the interpretation. 

Class Cancellations/Questions 

If it is necessary to cancel class for any reason, please include the interpreter in your notification system. 

Alternate Text Requests

Students with some types of disabilities may qualify for textbooks in formats other than printed versions.  When they do, these students will need information on assigned texts well in advance of the course.  Please be ready to provide the following information when needed:  TITLE, AUTHOR, PUBLISHER, EDITION, COPYRIGHT YEAR, ISBN 

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If you have questions, please feel welcome to contact Ronda Stevens, MSW, Coordinator of Services for Students with Disabilities, Counseling and Student Development Center, Bennett Hall 6001 on the UNMC campus, 402-559-5553, rstevens@unmc.edu.  The accommodation process is best achieved via collaboration among the student, the instructor, and the Disability Services office. 

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