Accommodating Students with Disabilities: Guidelines for Faculty and Staff
Boston University Faculty and Staff are obligated to respond to student requests for academic accommodations on the basis of disability. DAS is here to serve as a partner and resource for you as you respond to these requests.
Creating an accessible learning environment is a unique and collaborative process that involves DAS working closely with faculty to ensure that the academic integrity of each course remains intact, while at the same time ensuring equal access to all qualified students with disabilities. These guidelines will help you understand the process and policies that are in place for BU students with disabilities and clarify any questions you might have. Thank you for taking the time to review this content.
- Why we do what we do
- The Mandates
- What is a disability?
- Students Have Choices and Responsibilities
- The Registration Process
- Student Responsibilities
- Sample Faculty Accommodation Letter
- Faculty Recommendations and Responsibilities
- Confidentiality of Student Information
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Attendance: Missing a class due to medical disability
- Enhancing Course Accessibility/Universal Design
- Access to video and media
- Online Accommodations
- How to reach DAS
- Policy Regarding Audio Recording of Class Lectures
- Policy Regarding Transcription of Class Lectures, Seminars, or Classroom Discussions
- Policy Regarding Use of Laptop Computers for Note Taking in Class
- Additional Sample Syllabus Statements
Why we do what we do
Boston University has a long history of providing accessible academic experience to qualified students with disabilities. By complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), and all other federal and Massachusetts State laws and regulations prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability we provide a high level of access to our academic and co-curricular programs and facilities. Over the years, a number of legal decisions narrowed the definition of who is protected under the ADA. Overly strict interpretation of the law made it difficult for students to know where they stand as well as challenging for universities to set clear policy and practice. In 2008 (effective 2009), the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act (ADAAA) broadened the definition of disability with the effect of lowering barriers to eligibility for accommodations. Accordingly, there has now been an increase in the numbers of students with disabilities seeking services and accommodations at BU. We know you have felt and seen the resulting increase in Faculty Accommodation Letters. Our goal creating these guidelines is to provide clarity and ease some of the burden on you. Please review this document and connect with us as often as you need with questions.
The ADA was extended civil rights protection to people with disabilities. Title III of the ADA mandates that public educational institutions offer their services in the most integrated setting possible and provide reasonable modifications to policies, practices and procedures for qualified students with disabilities. As an institution of higher education, Boston University may not:
- Limit the number of admitted students with disabilities
- Use admission tests or criteria that inadequately measure the abilities of students with visual, hearing or other disabilities because provisions were not made for them
- Exclude a student with a disability from any course of study solely on the basis of their disability
- Counsel students with disabilities towards a more restrictive career than students without disabilities, unless such counsel is based on strict licensing or certification requirements in the profession
- Measure student achievement using modes that adversely impact against students with disabilities
- Institute prohibitive rules that may adversely affect the performance of students with disabilities
- Require a student with a disability to complete a non-essential component of a course or program for which they are unqualified
Boston University may not discriminate in the recruitment, admission, educational process, or treatment of students. Students who have self-identified, provided documentation of their disability, and requested reasonable accommodations may be entitled to receive approved modifications of their programs, appropriate academic adjustments, or auxiliary aids that enable them to participate in and benefit from all educational programs and activities.
What is a disability?
For purposes of academic accommodation, a student with a disability is one who:
- Has a physical or mental impairment
- That has a significant impact on one or more of their major life activities (seeing, thinking, concentrating, hearing, communicating, reading, etc.)
- Has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.
Beyond the basic definition, in higher education, a student must also:
- Be qualified — e.g possess the requisite skills and experience for admission to the University as well as to their individual program.
- Be able to meet all essential program requirements and standards with or without an accommodation.
Students Have Choices and Responsibilities
In order to receive accommodations at BU, students MUST register with DAS. The decision to self identify and ask for accommodations is a deeply personal one. For some students who received services prior to college, parents and/or high school systems managed the accommodations without the student’s direct participation. Other students develop disabling conditions after coming to BU and have little experience requesting help. Like many other first time burdens for young college students, becoming their own advocate is a process that takes time. Please be aware: In many cases, faculty are the first people to come in contact with a student with a disability. Students may not know the process, have never had to self-advocate and are nervous about how much personal information to share. When a student mentions a disability (physical, medical or mental condition) please respect their process, treat the information they share as confidential and refer them to DAS. Ultimately, it is the student’s responsibility to self identify but your patience and guidance can go a long way to getting them across the threshold.
The Registration Process
Once a student with a disability has been accepted to Boston University, they may begin the registration process for obtaining accommodations. As the process may take several weeks, students are strongly encouraged to initiate the process well before classes begin. Students must:
- Open an online portal and complete an Intake on our Accommodate data (www.bu.edu/disability)
- Set up an appointment with a DAS staff person
- Provide appropriate documentation of disability
- Complete an online Semester Request to initiate and renew accommodations every semester
- DAS reviews each request on an individual basis to determine whether the student is qualified and if the request is reasonable and appropriate. DAS recommendations for accommodations are then reviewed by the Dean at the students’ School or College to determine whether the recommended accommodations would require fundamental alteration to essential program requirements. Only after this approval is the accommodation official.
- Once accommodations are official, Faculty Accommodation Letters (FAL) are produced that are specific to each class, professor and semester and upload to the student’s portal. FAL are provided for all Colleges or Schools, except those on the medical campus and the Law School.
- FAL contains only the official accommodations which have been formally recommended by DAS and approved by the students’ School or College. DAS does not encourage faculty to agree to or arrange accommodation that are not specified on the letter.
- The student must download, print, and deliver the FAL to you. Please do not accept emailed or digital letters, as an individual meeting with faculty (below) is a key part of the accommodation process.
- Students should set up a time to meet with you to discuss the accommodations. This is an opportunity for you to meet and discuss any concerns or questions you have directly with the student.
- Student must deliver FAL to you
- The student should remind you of any testing accommodations in advance of each exam.
- The student must fulfill all academic and course requirements, including attendance mandates.
- The student should communicate with you any concerns and ask for assistance if they are struggling.
- Notify DAS immediately of any accommodation issues or problems.
Things You Should Know:
- Only accommodations approved by DAS are sanctioned by the University.
- You are not obligated to provide academic accommodations without a current personalized FAL from DAS.
- Accommodations may be requested at any point in the semester.
- You should be given a reasonable amount of time (typically 2 weeks before a major exam) to arrange accommodations. For example, if a student provides you with the letter on the day of the exam, and it is not feasible to coordinate the examination needs, it is reasonable to tell the student that there was not enough time to make this accommodation.
- Academic Accommodations are not retroactive- they begin once you have the FAL.
- Students are required to discuss their accommodation with you but they are not required to disclose the nature of their disability. Please do not ask them to do so, even if you mean well.
- All accommodations must be reasonable and may not fundamentally alter the nature of your classroom or program nor lower your academic standards.
- All accommodations on the letter have been approved by the students’ academic Dean.
- Students are not obligated to use any accommodations.
- The knowledge of a disability should be treated in a confidential manner by the instructor. Identifying a student to peers or making comments about a student’s disability in class violates the student’s right to privacy.
- Standards of Academic integrity will not be waived or lowered. See academic integrity section.
- Practical accommodations such as Sign Interpreters, CART providers and/or Assistive Listening Devices may be implemented as an accommodation prior to your having received a letter from DAS. More information will be provided below.
- Just because a student received services in high school does NOT mean they will receive services in college.
Sample Faculty Accommodation Letter
PLEASE NOTE: This Faculty Accommodation Letter is for reference purposes only. Your student is obligated to bring you a paper version of this letter. This will allow for discussion of accommodation needs and implementation between you and the student. Accommodation are valid from that day forward.
September 15, 2019
School of Management
I am writing in regard to Earnest Hemingway (U00-11-0011), a student in your FE000 Financial Mgmt class. Disability & Access Services has determined that Mr. Hemingway is a student with a disability and, on the basis of the diagnosis and supporting documentation, the following accommodations have been recommended:
- Time and one half to complete in-class examinations;
- Permission to circle answers in test booklet (e.g no “scranton” sheets)
- Exams in enlarged print
- Permission to audiotape lectures OR use of a note-taker
- Textbooks in an alternative format (facilitated by DAS)
Boston University provides reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities that enable the student to compete equitably with his/her peers in meeting the academic standards and requirements of the University. The interests of the University and this student will be best served if you continue to demand the highest quality of academic performance and achievement in your courses. Accommodations, therefore, may need to be adjusted to meet the requirements of your course, as well as your methodologies of instruction or examination. The adjustment process is premised upon an open and productive dialogue between you and the student. If you have any questions or concerns about this student or these accommodations, please do not hesitate to contact me at 617-353-3658.
Lorraine E. Wolf, Ph. D.
Director, Disability & Access Services
Faculty Recommendations and Responsibilities
In an effort to make the students aware of the accommodations process as early as possible, we request that you include the following statement on your course syllabus (by the way this statement also serves to draw students forward who many not have decided yet to disclose, adding to a welcoming environment in your class).
- Syllabus Statement:
- “If you are a student with a disability or believe you might have a disability that requires accommodations, please contact Disability & Access Services (DAS) at 617-353-3658 or email@example.com to coordinate any reasonable accommodation requests. DAS is located at 25 Buick St, Suite 300, Boston, MA 02115.”
- Please also read the statement on the first day of class.
- Please refer any requests for accommodations directly to DAS.
- Please meet privately with each student who provides you with the FAL.
- Please provide accommodations only to students who have given you a FAL from DAS explaining the approved accommodations.
Confidentiality of Student Information
The information a student shares with faculty about their disability is confidential and must be treated as such. Please respect the student’s privacy when discussing and providing accommodations. Avoid discussing personal disability related issues in front of the class or in the presence of other students without affirmative student consent. This includes announcing or emailing to the class specifics about any accommodations. Pursuant to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts law, the exception to the above may be a general announcement that a course is being audio recorded, which should not identify the individual student. Information about a student’s disability should not be shared with other university faculty or staff unless they have a specific “need to know”. Whether or not a student prefers to discuss with you the nature of their disability, challenges, or personal history is entirely up to the student. Students are not required to relate specifics about their disability when they self-disclose a need for accommodations, nor are you permitted to inquire, if you believe your knowledge would be beneficial to the student. In other words, do not ask students about the specifics of their disability in any circumstances.
The purpose of an accommodation is to ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to our programs; facilities and benefits of Boston University within the same time frame and with equal ease of use.
Possible accommodations that you may see:
- Extra time for exams
- Distraction reduced setting for exams (not necessarily solo)
- Exam in audio format
- Use of a four function calculator
- Permission to make up exams as medically necessary 9 to be arranged with professor)
- Sign Language Interpreter Services
- Audio-taping of Class Lectures
- Textbooks in Alternate Formats
- C.A.R.T. Services (similar to a court stenographer, for students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing)
- Service Animal in class (see attached policy)
- Reduced Course Load
- Word Processor for Essay Exams
Accommodations that you will NOT see.
- Extensions on homework or assignments
- Requests for personal services (tutoring, physical assistance)
- Unlimited test time
- Rescheduling exams that are too close together
- Extended time on clinical and practical examinations
- Copies of professor notes
- Priority registration
- Use of a calculator with more than four function capability
- Open book exams
When you receive a FAL from a student, it will describe all of the student’s approved classroom and/or examination accommodation. Many accommodations are handled directly by DAS and will require little (if any) of your attention. For example, you would be less involved with adapting texts into audio formats, setting up sign language interpreters, placing accessible furniture in a classroom or moving classes to accessible locations if needed. However, it is your responsibility to implement accommodations that would impact teaching and/or assessment in your courses. Most are straight forward, but below are a few more complicated accommodations.
- Notetaker In most cases, the student will locate a peer in the class to be their notetaker. The peer is paid $100 a semester to take clear notes, copy them and provide them to the student. If the student is unable to locate a peer, they may ask for your assistance. Please make the following announcement to the class, without mentioning the name of the student: “A student has requested assistance with note-taking. If you are willing to provide a copy of your notes to a classmate so that these notes may be used by a student with a disability, please contact me. This is a paid position” Alternately you may send this out as an email to your class list if that is your custom. Please note: peer notes are not a substitution for attendance and notes are not provided to students who are absent from class.
- Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Many deaf and hard of hearing students use American Sign Language interpreters, captioning or CART (Computer Aided RealTime Transcription) services. These will be noted in your FAL, along with recommendations for captioning and other media. More information about this is provided below. The student is responsible for requesting their providers fir classes and meetings with you. Please direct any specific questions or request services to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Permission to Record Classes/LiveScribe Pen Some students have been approved to use audio recorded lectures as an accommodation. The student must provide their own recording device (typically a digital recorder or smartphone) and may discuss with the instructor the best placement of the recording device. We understand you are personally invested in your lectures. Be assured that students must sign an enforceable Audio Recording in Class Agreement [insert HYPERLINK] regarding use and retention of class recordings. If you have concerns regarding this accommodation please contact DAS.
- Extended Time Students with disabilities may require additional time for taking tests and completing other in-class assessments. Unless efficiency or speed is the essential skill that is being assessed, students may be granted additional time for all exams, in-class quizzes and in-class writing assignments. Extended time ensures that a student’s performance is reflective of his/her mastery of material rather than the speed at which a student performs. It is your responsibility to secure the location of examinations and proctors as needed. While we suggest students with accommodations take their exams within the same time frame as other students you may administer accommodated exams to students with disabilities at a time that is mutually agreeable for both of you.
- Reader or Scribe for Exams Some students with disabilities may require having exam questions to be read to them. Rather than “live” readers, DAS employs a variety of computer software programs that utilize text-to-speech capability and can “read” the exam to a student. We will request you to send a digital text version of the exam in order to produce this media, and in most cases the student may take the exam via an mp3 or other digital player with headphones in the regular class seating. In some cases when a student cannot write (often a temporary arm injury) or cannot otherwise use software, DAS will hire a Scribe for the exam. Scribes are highly trained by DAS to take accurate dictation without editorializing. For high level and complicated courses, your input is necessary to ensure that the scribe understands the information being tested.
- Distraction Reduced and Solo Test Environments Students with disabilities may be approved for and request a “distraction reduced testing environment” (DRE). Please note: This guarantees neither a solo or “distraction free” room but rather a smaller space with fewer distractions from fellow test-takers. We recommend DRE be limited to not more than 10 other test takers, usually also students receiving accommodations. When securing an examination location please pay special attention to the need for quiet and a minimal distraction environment. DRE should be in a quiet area, such as an empty classroom, conference, or instructor’s private office, rather than a hallway, stairwell, or busy department office. Unfortunately, DAS is not able to provide either testing space or proctors. Your department and the Office of Registrar [25live] can assist with locating space.
- Students who have been approved to test alone will have that “solo test environment” specified on their FAL. If this is not specified, please do not feel you need to find 10 solo rooms. Just because a student told you they had a solo room in another course (perhaps their was the only accommodated exam) does not obligate you to provide that.
- Please note that your or a knowledgable proctor should be available (in person, email, text, or phone) to students who test away from the rest of your class in order to answer questions or handle any accommodation issues that may come up.
- Refusing to provide approved accommodations
- Questioning a student’s disability status or asking about their specific diagnosis.
- Inadvertently disclosing to classmates that a student has a disability.
- Not communicating testing accommodations information with teaching assistants or co-faculty who are involved with test administration.
- Providing inappropriate DRE.
- Failing to deliver test materials in a timely manner.
- Not being available for a student during an accommodated examination for questions.
Academic Integrity Accommodations should not change the essential elements, criteria or performance levels of your course. Your standards of academic integrity should not be lowered for students with disabilities. Just as all students, with or without disabilities, had to meet the same requirements for admission, they must also meet the same level of standards for course competencies. That said, there may be times where modification in the method of evaluation or assessment (but not content) may be required.
If it is determined that a task is impossible for a student with a disability to carry out, we will ask you to determine if the task is an “essential component of the course or program“. If you determine that the task IS essential and no alternate assignment would satisfy your course expectations, then the requirement will stand. The following process will assist you in making this determination (Hint: this process works well as a shared activity, thus it is perfectly fine to seek input from your dean, co-teaching partners and/or department):
Determining Essential Components of a Course or Program
- What are the goals of the program or course?
- What are the learning outcomes required of all participants?
For a course:
- What academic skills must be demonstrated?
- What percentage of subject area knowledge must be mastered?
- What specific knowledge, principles, or concepts must be mastered?
For a program:
- What skills or competencies will be needed in the field after graduation?
- What are the requirements for licensing or professional accreditation?
Ask the Questions:
- What methods of instruction are non-negotiable, and why?
- What methods of learning outcomes are absolutely necessary, and why?
- What are acceptable levels of performance on these measures?
Example 1: A student cannot participate in two oral presentations, which make up 25% of your course grade. She asks, as an accommodation, if she can present to you and a smaller group of students in your office. You feel that this will still demonstrate the same academic skill set, and not lower the measurable standard. Therefore this accommodation can be provided.
Example 2: You teach a graduate level course on Clinical Research Methodology, in which a substantive group presentation to the class and members of the department is the final project. The same student requests to present to a smaller group. You and your department determine that the ability to present data in public is a fundamental requirement of all graduate students in your program. You may deny this request.
If you have any concerns about the requested accommodations, or its effect on your course or program, please speak to DAS about it as soon as possible. We are available to help you, your department and your College or School determine technical standards and essential program requirements.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should a faculty member do if they suspect a student has a disability?
Faculty members should approach the student privately to discuss his/her concerns. Please steer the conversation away from disability and focus more on observed behaviors and/or specific examples of their academic performance. If you feel comfortable, recommend that the student call DAS to request consultation. It is usually best to focus on your observations rather than to suggest that the student has a disability (even if you are fairly sure). Keep in mind that students are not obligated to disclose their disability, request accommodations or even use approved accommodations. If the student chooses to contact DAS, we assist the student by recommending testing, providing accommodations (with appropriate documentation), or refer to other BU resources. Be prepared, some students may take offense at a referral to DAS, we suggest gentle language to the effect of “In my experience the folks in DAS have a lot of experience helping students who have similar difficulties for a variety of reasons…”
What if a student requests an accommodation without a letter from DAS?
If a student requests an accommodation directly from you, please let the student know that you cannot provide any accommodations without a current FAL. Some students are just new to the system and might not yet understand the process. Once referred to DAS we can evaluate the documentation and assess if accommodations are warranted.
Does the “extended time” accommodation apply to homework and other out of class assignments?
If a student is approved for extended time, this accommodation extends only to in-class assignments and timed examinations. Very rarely (and usually only in Distance Education course) we recommend “brief extensions on out of class assignments as medically necessary” (see agreement form attached). This accommodation would require close communication between the student and the faculty member to ensure that both agree on which if any assignments can be extended. Please note: As most BU professors are amenable to extensions upon students request we do not find this accommodation to be necessary in most instances.
Who should faculty contact if they are unsure of how to provide an accommodation?
Please feel free to contact Disability & Access Services at (617)353-3658 or email@example.com.
Am I allowed to contact the office regarding a student or their accommodations?
Feel free to contact us anytime to discuss your student and any questions about providing accommodations. Please know that it is up to the student to disclose the specifics of their disability to you. The staff at DAS can answer questions and discuss any concerns you may have about your student and their accommodations.
I have a student with a disability who is not able to keep up with the class, what should I do?
All students regardless of disability status must conform to and meet the same academic standards. Treat them exactly the same as you would any other students in your class who might be struggling. If the student has a known disability you might additionally encourage them to check in with DAS for support.
Does a student with a disability have to adhere to my attendance policy?
All students regardless of disability must adhere to the same attendance polices. If a specific medical issue arises, the student should discuss this with you directly. If there is a medical need for a student to occasionally miss class, it will be specifically noted in the FAL. Below is more information about attendance:
Attendance: Missing a class due to medical disability
We have seen a large increase in students with various conditions that may adversely impact their ability to get to class on a regular basis. You may receive a FAL requesting flexibility in attendance due to fluctuating symptoms of a disabling condition. Please note: DAS takes attendance very seriously and vets these students very carefully to determine whether this is a legitimate need. Further, implementing this accommodation requires that students meet formally with you to discuss whether and how flexibility might work and that both parties sign an Attendance Agreement that specifies such things as how many additional absences may be permitted, how the student will communicate to their professor, how long they may have to make up missed work, etc. This jointly executed agreement communicates the bounds to which the student must adhere, while the interactive process ensure that students receive appropriate accommodations while allowing faculty to maintain essential academic standards.
The Accommodate system will email you an alert that you may have an (anonymous) student in your class who will request this accommodation. Remember this student may or may choose not to use the accommodation therefore we do not disclose the student’s name. You will also receive a link to documents (as above) that assist you to determine whether attendance is essential or if you have some flexibility. DAS is happy to help you in this process, just ask.
Finally, please be sure to remind the student to return completed Attendance Agreements to DAS and retain a copy for your records.
The wording of the accommodation will appear as follows:
“Due to the severity of fluidity of symptoms, attendance may be legitimately impacted, therefore the student may occasionally miss class and need to make up work.”
Flexibility in Attendance Agreement Form
Due to the unpredictable symptoms, Molly Smith, U1231231234 in your PSY101 course may occasionally miss class or need to make up work. Please meet with the student to discuss any flexibility in attendance and resulting make up assignments which you are able to grant.
I will grant Molly Smith in addition to the __ already allowable in PSY101 a maximum of:
3 additional absences
2 late assignments, not to be turned in more than 36 hours after the initial deadline.
0 Make up exams.
I have read and agree to adhere to the above modifications to the attendance and assignment policy for PSY101 course.
Professor John Jones September 12, 2015
Professor Signature Date
Molly Smith September 12, 2015
Student Signature Date
Enhancing Course Accessibility/Universal Design</a>Below are some suggestions to assist you in making your courses more accessible to students.
- Consider alternative or supplementary assignments to evaluate students’ mastery of the course material.
- Provide written and oral feedback of assignments as early and often as possible.
- Provide examples of “good” writing for the course and discipline. Give feedback in writing that students can incorporate into future assignments.
- Provide alternatives to scantron answer sheets.
- Consider allowing the student to respond orally to exam questions.
- Consider alternative test designs, such as essay, multiple choice or short answer.
- Consider the nature of errors. It may be appropriate to given partial credit for work shown even when the final answer is incorrect due to such minor errors as transposed numbers.
Labs, Field trips, and Transportation
- When instructors intend to hold a class in a new location or go on a field trip, they should verify that the site is accessible. If the University is providing transportation for the field trip, the transportation must be accessible.
- Some students will require assistance manipulating tools, laboratory equipment and/or chemicals. An assistant or lab partner, who functions merely as the student’s hands or legs, also may be needed. Contact DAS if this is needed.
- Help to educate non-disabled students who may not realize that most people who need disabled parking are not wheelchair users.
The following strategies are suggested to enhance the accessibility of course design, instruction, and materials. If you have any questions or would like more information regarding strategies for a specific disability, please contact Disability & Access Services. Textbooks and Printed Course Material
- Make the syllabus available prior to the first day of class to allow students to obtain alternative materials in time for the start of classes.
- If the textbook has a study guide or computer tutorial, suggest that students use it.
- Double-space all materials and choose a clear, easy to read font.
- If you will be posting PDFs on Blackboard, make sure they can be read by screen-reader programs. (http://webaim.org/techniques/acrobat/)
- Provide copies of transparencies or slides.
- Face the class as much as possible and speak clearly and audibly.
For students who are blind/low-vision:
- Make sure seats are not near or facing windows. Glare from the lights can make it difficult for a student to see the instructor or whiteboard. Verbalize the content printed on transparencies or on the chalkboard.
For students who are deaf/hard-of-hearing
- Avoid covering your mouth or standing with a light behind you when you speak.
- Keep a minimum amount of lighting on when presenting audiovisual information so the instructor or interpreter can be seen at all times. It is helpful to supply students using interpreters with a written explanation of a demonstration in advance.
- Video media or movies should be open – or closed-captioned.
- Use classroom microphone systems designed to amplify the instructor’s voice.
- Provide Interpreters and/or CART providers with copies of course materials or handouts
Communication between faculty members and students can have a great impact on their success. Etiquette when interacting with people with disabilities is based primarily on respect and courtesy. Communication Tips
- Treat the individual with dignity, respect and courtesy.
- Permit students the time they require to express themselves without unsolicited aid in filling in gaps in their speech. Don’t be reluctant to ask the student to repeat a statement if you do not understand.
- If a guide dog is used, do not pet or distract the dog in any way while it is on duty.
- If you offer assistance, wait until the offer is accepted. Then listen to or ask for instructions. Do not insist if your offer is rejected.
- If guiding a person who is blind or visually impaired, allow them to take your arm. He or she will typically walk half a step behind you to anticipate curbs or steps.
- If an interpreter is present, speak to the person who has come to see you, not to the interpreter. Maintain eye contact with the person, not the interpreter.
- When addressing a person who uses a wheelchair, never lean on the person’s wheelchair. The chair is a part of the body space of the person who uses it.
- When talking to a person in a wheelchair or with mobility concerns for more than a few minutes, sit down in order to place yourself at the person’s eye level.
- There is no need to refrain from using common expressions such as “It’s nice to see you” or “Did you hear about that?” that may relate to a person’s disability.
1 Adapted from Disablity & Access Services Employment Policy, “Communicating With and About People with Disabilities,” http://www.dol.gov/odep/pubs/fact/comucate.htm People First Language Positive language empowers. When writing or speaking about people with disabilities, it is important to put the person first. Group designations such as “the blind,” “the retarded” or “the disabled” are inappropriate because they do not reflect the individuality, equality or dignity of people with disabilities. Further, words like “normal person” imply that the person with a disability isn’t normal, whereas “person without a disability” is descriptive but not negative.
Some examples of people first language include:
Use: Person with a disability
Not: Disabled person; handicapped
Use: Person who uses a wheelchair
Not: Confined or restricted to a wheelchair
Use: Person who has cerebral palsy
Not: CP victim
Use: Person who is hard-of-hearing
Not: Suffers a hearing loss
Use: Person with a physical disability
Not: Crippled, lame, deformed
Use: Person who is successful, productive
Not: Has overcome his/her disability
Access to video and media
What is captioning?
Digital media, streaming video on the web, and films can be valuable course content, but it is important to make sure these teaching tools will be accessible by all students, including those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.
Captioning involves synchronizing text with audio content of a video presentation. Legislation and greater awareness of individual needs has resulted in increasing numbers of video presentations available with captions. However, not all videos contain captions. To find out if a video is captioned, look for the closed captioning “CC” symbol on the box, or for the phrase “subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing.” These are similar to subtitles used for foreign films, but also include information such as sound effects, speaker identification, and other essential non-speech features.
Why is captioning important?
It doesn’t matter if your video is only a short clip, if the information is also in the textbook, or if the information won’t be on the test–all students should have full access to course materials, including students who are deaf or hard of hearing. If you are having difficulty locating captioned materials, call the BU Coordinator of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services, catie purrazella @617-353-6882 to discuss resources and strategies for making your materials accessible. If you are not able to get a captioned version of the media, it might be necessary to provide a transcript or to use a sign language interpreter during the presentation. Students might need extra time to process this information, because they cannot watch the video or film and also read the text or follow the interpretation at the same time. Captioning has the advantage of presenting both video and text together.
Where can I find captioned Audio/Video materials?
Boston University Mugar Library (search “subtitles or closed captions”)
Described and Captioned Media Program http://www.dcmp.org
Harkle (search engine for captioned video and media) http://www.harkle.com/
National Center for Accessible Media http://ncam.wgbh.org/
Did you know you can search for YouTube videos with captions? To limit the results of a YouTube search to only videos with closed-captions, perform a search and then click on the “Type” drop-down menu and choose “Closed Captions.” You can also contact the company that has produced a video to see if a captioned copy is available for purchase. “BUniversity” will be available to also assist you with this process.
It is expected that the “classroom environment” will be accessible to all students, including those with a disability. Thus, the online classroom must also be designed with accessibility in mind. Questions to consider when designing an online course Review your class syllabus considering how students with various disabilities will be able to experience the learning activities and requirements you have planned. Then identify areas that pose potential problems for one or more populations of learners with disabilities. Lorraine Norwich, the Assistant Director of DAS is available to answer all of your assistive technology questions. She can be reached at 617-353-3658. Providing students with accommodated exams on Blackboard Some students with disabilities may require additional time for taking tests within the on-line environment. Typically this applies to timed exams that are taken through Blackboard where the student may log-in and access test material away from the classroom. In such instances, it is possible to provide the extended time accommodation to students using simple tools readily available in the Blackboard environment. When designing your course website and content
- Establish a consistent organization/flow for the course.
- Eliminate any unused menu items or areas.
- Avoid extensive layering of activities, such as folders within folders.
- Minimize the need to scroll wherever possible.
- Use a consistent color theme to group points and avoid excess color.
- Select graphics that won’t distract from the learning environment.
- Include “alternative” text when embedding images or multimedia.
- Provide captioning for videos and other media.
- Offer PowerPoint presentations in HTML format so they are accessible to screen readers, and provide scripts for narrated PowerPoints.
- Post high-quality PDF documents that are able to be read using screen reader software.
- Before requiring students to visit outside websites, check to make sure they are also accessible.
How to reach DAS
We are located at: Disability & Access Services
25 Buick St, Suite 300
Boston, MA 02215
Closest T Stop: Saint Paul St
Closest Parking: Agganis
Closest BU Shuttle Stop: C7 (outbound) M2 (inbound)
Office Hours: ➔ Monday-Friday
8:00 am to 5:00 pm, late hours available by appointment Contact info Disability & Access Services
25 Buick St, Suite 300
Boston, MA 02215
Fax: 617-353-9646 firstname.lastname@example.org
|Staff Title||Specialty||Who we work with|
|Dr. Lorraine Wolf, Director||University Grievances, Asperger’s||All students|
|Lorraine Norwich, Assistant Director||Assistive Technology||Works with students with physical disabilities|
|Stacey Harris Director of Operations||Policy/Operations||Works with all LD/Psychiatric/Neurological|
|Catie Purrazella||Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services||Deaf/Hard of Hearing|
|Christopher Robinson Coordinator||Outreach/Training/Facilitation Accessibility & Innovation||University Community|
|Madison Murphy||ADHD Executive Functioning coaching||Works with all LD/Psychiatric/Neurological|
|Tessa Skinner, Senior Staff Assistant|
|Willow Burke, Coordinator||Payroll and Billing|
|Denice Stewart, DHHS||Administrative Coordinator||Deaf/Hard of Hearing|
For reasonable accommodations for public events and services at BU, contact:
Lorraine Wolf, Ph. D., Director
Disability & Access Services
25 Buick St, Suite 300
Boston, MA 02215
Fax: 617-353-9646 email@example.com
For Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services, contact: Catie Purrazella, Coordinator
Disability & Access Services
25 Buick St, Suite 300
Boston, MA 02215
Fax: 617-353-9646 firstname.lastname@example.org
For Assistive Technology questions, contact: Lorraine Norwich, Assistant Director
Disability & Access Services
25 Buick St, Suite 300
Boston, MA 02215
Fax: 617-353-9646 email@example.com
For reasonable accommodations for BU employees, contact: Kim Randall, Director of Equal Opportunity,
Equal Opportunity Office
888 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
Policy Regarding Audio Recording of Class Lectures
Disability & Access Services, where appropriate, and subject to the approval of the Dean of the student’s School or College, may recommend that a student with a qualifying disability be permitted to audiotape/audio record class lectures as a form of academic accommodation. Use of the accommodation of audio taping class lectures is subject to the following conditions:
- Recordings of class lectures are only for the student’s personal use in study and preparation related to the class.
- The student may not share these recordings with any other person, whether or not that person is in his/her class.
- The student acknowledges that the recordings are sources, the use of which in any academic work is governed by rules of academic conduct for his or her School or College.
- The student agrees to destroy any recordings that were made when they are no longer needed for his/her academic work.
Students who have been granted permission to audio record class lectures as an accommodation must agree in writing to abide by each of these provisions.
Policy Regarding Transcription of Class Lectures, Seminars, or Classroom Discussions
Disability & Access Services, where appropriate, and subject to the approval of the Dean of the student’s School or College, may recommend that a student with a qualifying disability be permitted to access transcripts of class lectures, seminars or classroom discussions, as a form of academic accommodation. Use of this accommodation is subject to the following conditions:
- Transcripts are only for the student’s personal use in study and preparation related to the class.
- The student may not share these transcripts with any other person, whether or not that person is in his/her class.
- The student acknowledges that the transcripts are sources, the use of which in any academic work is governed by rules of academic conduct for his or her Program, School, or College.
- The student agrees to delete all transcripts from his/her computer and/or destroy any hard copies of transcripts when the transcripts are no longer needed for his/her academic work.
- The student acknowledges that permission to access transcripts is covered by rules of academic conduct for his or her Program, School or College, and that failure to abide by the conditions set forth above can result in sanctions under that Code.
Students who have been granted permission to access transcripts as an accommodation must agree in writing to abide by each of these conditions.
Policy Regarding Use of Laptop Computers for Note Taking in Class
Disability & Access Services, where appropriate, and subject to the approval of the Dean of the student’s School or College, may recommend that a student with a qualifying disability be permitted to use a laptop computer for note taking as a form of academic accommodation. Use of this accommodation during lectures is subject to the following conditions:
- The student agrees to disable the wireless capability of his/her computer for the duration of the class
- The student agrees that he or she will not use or access stored files on the computer as a reference during class.
- The student acknowledges that permission to use a laptop computer to type class notes is governed by rules of academic conduct for his or her School or College and that failure to abide by the conditions can result in sanctions under that code.
Students who have been granted the accommodation of using a laptop computer to take class notes must agree in writing to abide by each of these conditions. (A copy of the Student Agreement may be found on the reverse side of this document)
Additional Sample Syllabus Statements
In keeping with University policy, any student with a disability who needs or thinks they need academic accommodations must call Disability & Access Services at 617.353.3658 or stop by 25 Buick Street to arrange a confidential appointment with a DAS staff member. Accommodation letters must be delivered to me in a timely fashion (within two weeks of the date on the letter and not later than two weeks before any major examination). Please note that accommodations will not be delivered absent an official letter of accommodation.
The School of XXX [insert your school or program here) at Boston University is committed to equal access for students with disabilities. If you have a specific disability and require accommodations in this class, please let me know early in the semester so that appropriate accommodations can be made. You must provide me with a letter of needed accommodations prepared by Disability & Access Services. Contact information for that office is as follows: (617) 353-3658 V/TTY or firstname.lastname@example.org. All discussions and written materials will be kept confidential.