Accessibility Services at Aquinas College

Faculty FAQs

Where do students register for accessibility services or accommodations?

Accessibility Services, located in lower Wege 103 C, is the office responsible for determining eligibility and appropriate reasonable accommodations for Aquinas students with disabilities. We assist the college in fulfilling its legal responsibilities mandated by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as amended in 2008. If a student makes a request for an accommodation to you directly, you may refer the student to Accessibility Services to initiate the request.

Who is eligible for disability services?

Any student with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more life activities, such as; walking, talking, breathing, learning, and performing manual tasks, is eligible for accessibility services. This includes students with chronic and mental health conditions, those with Autism Spectrum Disorders, sensory disabilities (blindness/visual impairment, deaf/hard of hearing), physical or mobility disabilities, learning disabilities/ADHD, little people, and more.

Who decides which academic accommodations are appropriate for a student, and how is that decision made?

The Director of Accessibility Services engages an interactive process with each student that involves review of documentation from an appropriate professional and an interactive needs assessment with the student. Reasonable accommodations are approved to address the impact of the condition and barriers presented by academic and student learning environments.

What is an accommodation?

An accommodation is the elimination of a barrier to a program or service to enable an individual with a disability to participate on an equal basis. Extended time for test taking, copies of notes, a distraction free setting, periodic unavoidable class absences and real-time captioning are examples of accommodations.

Are all students with disabilities registered with Accessibility Services?

No, many students either choose not to register for accessibility services, or decide they do not need accommodations. Others need accessibility services but choose not to use them. Faculty members are also instructed not to provide accommodations without an official accommodation letter from Accessibility Services.

How do I know if a student is registered with Accessibility Services?

Upon student request and verification of eligibility, an accommodation letter is prepared by Accessibility Services and provided to the student via email or hard copy. Students are responsible for initiating a meeting with instructors, providing the accommodation letter and making arrangements for accommodations (such as scheduling with the testing center). If a student requests accommodations without providing an accommodation letter, you should request a letter before providing accommodations. In some cases, if the disability is obvious and the request is reasonable, you should provide the accommodation while waiting for an accommodation letter. Questions about this distinction can be clarified by the Director of Accessibility Services.

What should I do if a student gives me an accommodation letter from Accessibility Services?

When a student gives you an accommodation letter and discloses that he or she has a disability, you should meet privately with the student and establish a means of providing accommodations in a timely manner that is satisfactory to you and the student. Faculty members can also greatly support the student by asking what can be done in the course to facilitate learning and access to the class. Do not ask the student what their disability is. They may volunteer that information, however they are not required to do so (and are often encouraged not to).

What is my responsibility for maintaining confidentiality about a student’s disability?

Information about a student’s disability status and accommodations may be shared with staff only as required to assist with providing accommodations or services. Faculty should not disclose the disability status of a student to classmates. If sending an email message to students about accommodation arrangements, send individual messages or blind copy (bcc) a group of students so that their names are not disclosed to each other. Accessibility accommodation letters should be stored in a secured location and shredded upon completion of the semester.

Who is responsible for providing accommodations?

Faculty members who have been notified by the student with an accommodation letter in a timely fashion are responsible for fulfilling classroom accommodation requests. Occasionally, requests may come directly from Accessibility Services. Accessibility Services will assist with accommodations that require converting materials to electronic format, arranging for note takers, alternate testing location for some students, providing adaptive equipment, scribes or readers during the academic year. During the spring/summer semester, faculty are responsible for providing extended test time accommodations when possible, especially during mid-term and finals weeks.

What is the best way to encourage students to request accommodations early in the semester?

Place the following statement on the front page of your syllabus (rather than the last page) to show students that meeting their individual needs is important and highlight your welcome of diverse learners at the start of the semester. Also encourage students to visit the Accessibility Services office as soon as possible, even if it is just to learn about the services that it provides.

Aquinas College is committed to providing equal opportunity and access for participation in all programs, services and activities. Requests for accommodations by persons with disabilities may be made by contacting the Accessibility Services Office online at www.aquinas.edu/accessibility-services, or by calling 616-632-2177. Once you have fully registered and requested accommodations, you will receive an official accommodation letter. Please present this letter to me at the start of the term and/or two weeks prior to the accommodation need (test, project, etc.) so that the college can adequately plan for your accommodations and best meet your needs. Requests received after this time frame will be honored whenever possible.

What is considered timely notice of the needs of accommodations?

Students are advised to meet with instructors early in the semester (during the first 1-2 weeks of class) to make arrangements for accommodations. At least two weeks’ advance notice is reasonable for test-taking accommodations. More notice may be needed for some accommodations such as arranging adaptive transportation or interpreters for field trips, or note-taking services. Because students can register for services at any time during the semester, you may receive accommodation letters throughout the semester. You need only accommodate from the time of notice.

What is my responsibility if a student appears disabled but does not request accommodations, or tells me that s/he has a medical or psychological condition?

If you observe an obvious access issue, ask the student how you can assist and refer the student to Accessibility Services for a follow-up discussion. Also be aware that students are not required to receive accommodations, and many students with disabilities choose not to use accommodations and may not need them. Students who disclose a non-obvious disability and request an accommodation for the course should be referred to Accessibility Services.

What if I disagree with an approved accommodation for my course?

Contact the Director of Accessibility Services to discuss how the accommodation impacts or fundamentally alters your course. In many cases, we’ll discuss your course objectives and how those objectives can be met in creative, accommodated ways. If you cannot reach an agreement with Director of Accessibility Services, the Provost may be asked to make a final determination of the appropriate course of action.

How are disputes resolved if a student thinks he or she is experiencing discrimination on the basis of disability?

Students who believe they have been discriminated against and wish to seek a resolution will use the procedures outlined in the ADA/Section 504 Grievance Procedure.