CARDS Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
Faculty members play an important role in the campuses’ shared responsibility for ADA compliance. For faculty members, providing reasonable accommodations or auxiliary aids and services is the primary way they accommodate qualified students. Examples include adaptation of materials, methods, or environments to facilitate learning. Accommodations may also ensure that when students are evaluated, they are able to demonstrate what they have learned rather than the effects of their disabilities. According to the ADA, some of the responsibilities of institutions and faculty include:
• “There may be no exclusion on the basis of disability”
• “Participation should be in the most integrated setting possible”
• “There may be no discrimination through eligibility criteria”
• Reasonable modifications in policies, practices and procedures based on the documentation of disability should be provided as necessary to avoid discrimination on the basis of disability
• Examinations and courses must be accessible
• “There may be no harassment or retaliation against individuals who are accessing their rights under the law or against those who assist people with disabilities in accessing their rights.”
We understand that not all accommodations will be applicable in every context, given the variety in course design and content. If you have specific questions about how to accommodate a student within the context of your course, please contact CARDS staff so we can work together to find the most applicable accommodation(s) given the student's specific situation.
Disability information is confidential. Therefore, CARDS staff are not able to disclose the type of disability that the student has registered for without written permission from the student. However, we can discuss the accommodation plan and work together to discuss options regarding implementing various accommodations in your classroom.
A student does not have to provide the faculty member with particulars about their disability, but the student may choose to give details about their disability to you. Please maintain confidentiality concerning the disability-related information disclosed by the student. Students have a right to privacy in disability matters. Regarding the accommodation notices you receive, please refrain from discussing students’ disabilities and necessary accommodations in the presence of fellow students or others who do not have an educational need to know.
Students are required to self-identify to and register with CARDS in order to be eligible for accommodations. We engage in an interactive process with the student-- which includes both their self-report of what they experience as a result of their disability as well as reviewing and evaluating documentation provided by their medical provider-- in order to determine what accommodations will help reduce the barriers the student experiences. Please note that faculty are not required to provide accommodations to a student until they receive a Faculty Notification Letter, which formally notifies them of the accommodations the student is eligible for.
When providing students with disabilities access to programs, courses, services, etc., institutions of higher education are not required to lower academic standards or compromise the integrity of the school or its programs. Students with disabilities are responsible for the same course content as all other students in their courses. Accommodations provide students with disabilities equal opportunity to access the information in classes and to perform academically. In general, once accommodations are provided, students with disabilities should be graded as you would any other student. There is no need to set different criteria for grading.
Occasionally, however, a student may have extenuating circumstances that relate to a disability. When appropriate, these circumstances should be taken into account. Also, it is important to not grade students more harshly because they have had the opportunity for additional time for exams or other instructional modifications. If you have concerns that a requested accommodation may jeopardize the integrity of the course, please contact CARDS.
There are various ways to encourage students to discuss their needs early. A direct approach is simply to invite students with accommodation needs to speak with you after class or during office hours. As stated previously, faculty members have found it very useful to include a statement on their syllabi advising students to see them early in the semester or before a certain date and reminding them of their responsibility to register with CARDS.
Despite our best efforts to encourage early communication, there may be students who wait until they are in crisis before identifying themselves as having a disability. It is not at all uncommon for a student to want to begin college without “accommodations” and to wait until right before an exam is given or after it is returned to discuss his/her needs. Please do not presume that the student is simply using the disability as an excuse for poor performance, but do discuss other factors that may be affecting the student’s performance including those that may or may not relate to their disability.
There are also various things you can do to establish a climate of respect for students with disabilities--things which will likely help all of your students. For example, you can select a larger font or print size for syllabi, and other written material you distribute to students. You can highlight the academic resources available for your students, including your office hours, study space, tutoring services, review sessions, workbooks or study guides.
If a student discloses a disability to you without providing you with a Faculty Notification Letter, it is imperative that you both inform the student that they need to register with the Center for Accessibility Resources & Disability Services first to seek formal accommodations and contact CARDS to inform them that you have made a referral about a particular student.
You may have a student with a disability who has chosen not to inform anyone at Barnard or a particular faculty member. By law, we cannot require a student to come forward. You may also have a student who is eligible for a particular accommodation in a class who may choose not to use it. There may also be a student in your class with a disability that has not yet been diagnosed. For instance, you may observe a discrepancy between different aspects of the student’s performance. The student may make strong, articulate contributions to class discussion while the written work is filled with grammar and spelling errors. There are various possible explanations for such discrepancies, and a learning disability may be one of them. CARDS can provide students with information and guidance concerning assessment for learning disabilities.
Faculty should not ask a student what type of disability they have, but we encourage you to have a conversation with either the student or CARDS about how the accommodations on the student's Faculty Notification Letter can be applied within the course content.
We appreciate your caution and consideration! Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Faculty should never ask a student about their disability or accommodations in front of other students in the course. This can in essence "out" the student with a disability to their peers and is not appropriate.
- Don't tell a student that you're not able to provide a specific accommodation until you've had a conversation with CARDS about your concerns.