Making Accommodations

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.

Do I really need to caption my videos?

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.
  • 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.

https://support.google.com/drive/answer/1372218

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. 

Americans with Disabilities Act – Fast Facts for Faculty

I have procrastinated writing this post about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) , not because the information does not need to be shared, but because there is already great information available. Therefore, I have decided not to duplicate:

  • What is the ADA? The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. You can find general information at the ADA National Network.
  • What does the ADA mean for Hope? Title III of the ADA covers private institutions and ensures equal access to post-secondary education. This includes all aspects of college, including academics, programs, services, housing, and student life.
  • What should we know about the rights, responsibilities, and roles of institutions and students? The ADA Coordinator’s office at Ohio State University has a lot of great information about the ADA and the accommodation process for faculty as well as students. If you click on the link above to browse, also check out the Rights and Responsibilities.
  • You may not already know that faculty have the right to request verification that a student needs an accommodation for a disability. This verification can only be done through the Disability Services office, and students can register by completing a Request for Accommodations form.
  • The American Psychological Association has developed Toolkits of valuable information for both students with disabilities and faculty. While the information is geared toward those in the social sciences, Toolkit II and Toolkit III provide information relevant to all disciplines.