Often “accommodation” is defined as something that is supplied for convenience or an act that is done to a person, often for convenience or to reconcile differences. Just to be clear, we don’t like these definitions, but all too often this is what non-disabled individuals have thought the term “accommodation” means.
For providing accommodations in higher education, such definitions do not ensure confidence in disability services staff. When we shift our lens to focus on accessibility, however, we view accommodations very differently. They are no longer about convenience but about equal access necessary for learning, attending events, and participating in programs on Hope’s campus.
Paul D. Grossman wrote an article in 2001 about accommodations in higher education titled “Making Accommodations: The Legal World of Students with Disabilities.” I encourage you to click on the link to read the article, but if you don’t have the time, the below summarizes some of the article’s highlights:
MYTH 1: Disability law is not a civil rights law. Thoughts on this may be impacted by the model of disability that informs your view, but we believe disability laws are civil rights laws. To quote directly from the article, “Those who see the connection between disability law and federal civil rights laws will find the path to understanding disability law a great deal easier to follow. We desegregate our schools to remove the stigma that comes from enforced separation and to bring all students the advantages of diversity in the classroom. ‘Academic adjustments and reasonable modifications’ and the provision of ‘auxiliary aids and services’ are important tools for desegregating institutions and extending equal educational opportunity to the disability community. These devices, commonly called ‘reasonable accommodations,’ have had a considerable impact on who participates in higher education.”
MYTH 2: Academic accommodations force faculty to lower academic standards, but in actuality, academic accommodations for courses do not change what but how students learn. For example, a student who is deaf or hard of hearing may capture lecture content by using an assistive listening device, real-time captioning, or an ASL interpreter. Students who are blind or visually impaired may use text converted to Braille, a screen reader, or a magnifier/reader. Students approved for note-taking assistance (for a variety of disability-related reasons) may use technology to take pictures of the whiteboard, to type notes, or record lectures.
MYTH 3: Academic accommodations create unfair advantages for students, but again, directly from the article: “In my experience, modifications to examinations, particularly extra time to complete them, rank first in triggering faculty concerns about treating all students fairly. The objective of providing individuals extra time on examinations is to measure what students have learned rather than the impact of their disability. When a student’s performance speed is a skill a professor intends to measure, extra time on an examination would not be an appropriate accommodation.” Still not convinced? Try out this demonstration on the Stroop Effect.
We are updating the Disability Services website and have added information for faculty regarding rights and responsibilities when providing students with accommodations. You can read the entire list on the website or review a few key points below.
- Trust the expertise of Disability Services staff, and provide students with accommodations as outlined. If you have a concern about an approved accommodation, contact Disability Services to discuss it.
- Maintain confidentiality.
- To request academic-accommodation verification of a student’s eligibility for any requested accommodations. Disability Services is the only office designated to review disability documentation and determine eligibility for appropriate accommodations. Please refer students to Disability Services if they are seeking accommodations without proper documentation.
- To administer an accommodation as it is stated by Disability Services. If students believe accommodations are not meeting disability-related needs, refer them back to Disability Services.
- To expect the same conduct standards for each student in your course.
Jeanne Lindell – Head of Disability Services
Carrie Dattels – Coordinator of Disability Services
Megan Herzog – Services Assistant
Making sure videos have captions can be confusing and time consuming for those not familiar with available options. Disability Services (DS) can assist you. If you receive notice that a student in your course needs accommodations that include captions, contact us.
How does providing captions allow access to course materials?
- The benefit of captions to students who are D/deaf may be obvious, but if you still have questions, feel free to watch this video on the A.I. blog.
- Video captions actually benefit everyone. Click to read the research on how they benefit D/deaf and hard of hearing, hearing adults and persons learning a second language.
- Silence is golden. Captions are not only useful in noisy environments to increase comprehension. Forget to bring your earbuds and shouldn’t turn up the volume? No problem–turn on the captions.
What if videos in class only augment information from the readings or lecture rather than provide additional information for which students will be responsible? The Office of Civil Rights has defined accessible in multiple resolutions with institutions of higher education, as meaning that in any classroom or learning situation or activity:
“Accessible” means a person with a disability is afforded the opportunity to acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as a person without a disability in an equally effective and equally integrated manner, with substantially equivalent ease of use. A person with a disability must be able to obtain the information as fully, equally, and independently as a person without a disability. Although this might not result in identical ease of use compared to that of persons without disabilities, it still must ensure equal opportunity to the educational benefits and opportunities afforded by the technology and equal treatment in the use of such technology.” (Source: Resolution Agreement: Youngstown State University, OCR Docket No. 15-13-6002).
So now that I know I need to caption videos, what should I do?
There are ways to manage captions regardless of the video host that is used, even if it is saved in your Google Drive.
Information about other platforms:
I still show VHS tapes in class. Can I caption videos on VHS?
We may not have an immediate answer for this situation, but we are available to discuss how students might receive access to the information that is being shared. When updated digital technology is not available, there are still ways to provide access. Contact us.
Needing to Improve Your Studying and Learning?
In case you haven’t been keeping track, midterm is less than three weeks away and only two weeks after you return from Winter Break! At this point are you feeling like you need to kick your academics into a higher gear? If so, you’re not alone: the new-semester honeymoon is over, and February’s dreary days can sap whatever motivation you may have had. We at the Academic Success Center (ASC) recommend two sets of strategies you can pursue: ways to help yourself and ways to get help from others. Here are a few of the best:
Ways to Help Yourself:
† Use this checklist of “Keys to Academic Success in College” to get more organized.
† Apply these “Nine Tips for Staying Motivated in College” to overcome your doldrums.
† Practice these “Seven Steps to Becoming a Better Note Taker” to engage and learn better.
† Fill out and follow the two “Fillable Schedules” titled “Saturday – Friday, 6 a.m. – 1 a.m.” and “Semester Planning” located here.
Ways to Get Help from Others:
† Attend any department- or ASC-sponsored group helps sessions related to a class.
† Apply for an ASC tutor NOW for a class that isn’t going very well.
† Apply for a peer academic coach to help you simply “do college.”
† Set up a one-on-one ASC appointment to learn how to improve specific study strategies.
As you know, college semesters fly by. So don’t put off doing the very do-able things available through the Academic Success Center in VanZoeren 261. Here’s our website where you can learn about all the various kinds of help we offer to all students, totally free of charge.
Come to a required half hour tutoring information session before you apply.
If you attend a session, you can apply on-line, no additional appointment needed!
Applications will not be accepted until
Wednesday January 17.
Information sessions will be held on:
Mon 1/15 4:00pm
Tue 1/16 11:00am
Thur 1/18 5:00pm
Fri 1/19 3:00pm
Tue 1/23 & 1/30 11:00am
Thur 1/25 & 2/1 4:30pm
All sessions are held in VanZoeren 240.
Questions? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
All Academic Success Center (ASC) services are free of charge.
- NEW THIS SEMESTER: Come to a required 30 minute information session before applying! After you attend a session, you can apply for a tutor online without an additional appointment. All information sessions will be held in VanZoeren 240:
- Thursday, January 11 at 11:00 a.m.
- Friday, January 12 at 4:00 p.m.
- Monday, January 15 at 4:00 p.m.
- Tuesday, January 16 at 11:00 a.m.
- Thursday, January 18 at 5:00 p.m.
- Friday, January 19 at 3:00 p.m.
- Tuesday, January 23 at 11:00 a.m.
- Thursday, January 25 at 4:30 p.m.
- Tuesday, January 30 at 11:00 a.m.
- Thursday, February 2 at 4:30 p.m.
- OR, complete an application for tutoring, available on the ASC website or in 261 Van Zoeren, and turn it into the ASC with a printed copy of your schedule. Applications are being accepted starting Wednesday, January 17.
- If you did not attend an information session, you will need to meet with an ASC intern for your tutor match. You can schedule this follow-up appointment at least two days after you turn in the completed application.
- Contact and meet with your tutor, decide on a schedule for tutoring, and complete the Tutor/Tutee Agreement form, which you will return to the ASC.
- Complete a Request for Accommodations form.
- Meet with staff to discuss your accommodation request.
- Provide requested documentation that supports your request.
Request peer academic coaching:
- Complete an application for academic coaching, available on the ASC website or at the ASC, Van Zoeren 261, and turn it in at the ASC with a printed copy of your schedule.
- Schedule and attend an appointment with the coordinator for your coaching pair-up.
- Contact your coach to get started.
Request study-strategies assistance:
- Call 616-395-7830 or stop in at the ASC, VanZoeren 261, to make an appointment.
- Meet with staff to discuss your needs.
We have a new team member working for Disability Services! Megan Herzog stepped into the recently created position of Services Assistant this past November. The majority of Megan’s work is behind the scenes (Literally. Her work station is around the corner from the front desk of the ASC.) and involves lots and lots of sticky notes. She manages all of our exam accommodations and works closely with student proctors. This means she creates our testing schedules, communicates with professors and students, and organizes other aspects of accommodations. On a big exam day, you will find Megan running back and forth from her desk to the printer as she makes hard copies of tests. You might also bump into her around campus as she delivers completed exams.
Megan graduated from Hope College in 2013 and is married to Leo Herzog, the resident Google expert in CIT. She spends most of her free time being as active as possible! Megan enjoys hiking/snowshoeing, ice hockey, and taking her two west highland terriers on walks. If you are ever near the ASC, please stop by and say hi! She would love to meet you.
Jeanne Lindell and Carrie Dattels from Disability Services facilitated a discussion on equal access for students with disabilities for faculty and staff. You can read about the information that was discussed at the HHMI Discussion Group blog.