Working Together: Faculty, Staff, and Students with Disabilities

Access Services offers web-based training for faculty. This short course can be completed in under an hour and provides a wealth of information for working with your students with disabilities. Click on Online Faculty Training under Quick Links. Credit is available toward salary advancement for full-time faculty. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q.  What should I do if I suspect a student has a disability?

First, make sure that all of your students are aware of available services with a verbal announcement on the first day of class and a disability statement on your syllabus. In addition to promoting awareness of campus resources, these simple actions communicate your interest in the success of your students with disabilities and normalize the accommodation process by incorporating it as an element of the course. The following syllabus statement may be used or adapted:

Any student who feels s/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact Access Services at 360-475-7540, AccessServices@olympic.edu, or visit the office in the Humanities and Students Services Building, Room 205, for information or appointment.

Some students choose not to disclose their disabilities, and their privacy should be respected. Approach them as you would other students in your class who are having difficulty. Instead of asking specifically about a disability, ask what might be impacting their progress in class. If the difficulties are disability related, students will often disclose at this time. Discuss possible strategies for success, and refer them to Access Services. If the student does not disclose a disability, offer a list of campus resources which include Access Services (AS), Tutoring, Counseling, etc.

Learning disabilities, psychiatric disorders, and many chronic health conditions are “hidden disabilities,” and comprise over 80% of the total population of students at Olympic College who request academic adjustments on the basis of disability

Q. What are the responsibilities of Olympic College students with disabilities?

A. Any student wishing to request accommodations must self-identify to Access Services as an individual with a disability and follow published procedures for requesting services (available through Access Services, in the catalog or on the OC website at www.olympic.edu/accessservices). The first step in the process generally requires that the student provide current medical and/or psychological documentation from a qualified professional which diagnoses the disability and describes its impact in an academic setting.  Students must meet and maintain academic standards for college courses, programs and activities, and adhere to the Student Code of Conduct.

Q. A student with a disability is enrolled in my class. What are my responsibilities, and what specific adjustments or accommodations must I make?

A. There are many types of disabilities, and they impact students in different ways. Academic adjustments are determined through an analysis of each student’s need, based on documentation by a qualified professional. The college has assigned this role to Access Services, whose Notice of Accommodation is your assurance that the student has followed proper procedures and qualifies for the services outlined in the notice. Access Services welcomes the cooperation of faculty in this process and, in some cases, active collaboration between AS staff, faculty, and the student is necessary to ensure the appropriateness of an accommodation. However, it is in your best interest, both logistically and legally, to defer to Access Services for the review of documentation and the determination, if any, of appropriate services.

Q. What if I have questions or concerns about the recommendations of Access Services in a student’s Notice of Accommodation?

A. If you have questions on how to implement an accommodation or are concerned that an accommodation is not appropriate for your course, contact Access Services as soon as possible. On rare occasions, an academic adjustment may inadvertently compromise the essential elements of a course, and thereby undermine its purpose. The staff of Access Services will work with you to accommodate the student in a manner that does not fundamentally alter the nature or standards of the course.

Q. I have received several Notices of Accommodation from Access Services for students who qualify for test accommodation. How does this work, and how will you guarantee the integrity of my tests?

A. Access Services works with the Assessment & Testing Center, located in the Humanities and Student Services Building, Room 222, to assist faculty with test accommodations. You may make your own arrange-ments for testing if you prefer, as long as the appropriate accommodation is made. If you choose to use testing services, the following procedures are in place for convenience and test security:

  • It is the student’s responsibility to schedule tests with the Assessment & Testing Center. Access Services strongly encourages students to schedule exams on the same day they are administered to the rest of the class; however, space is limited, and tests are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Students will be given a Make-up and Access Testing Support Form at the time of scheduling, which should be brought to you at the next class meeting. The form confirms the date and time of the exam and must be initialed by you for approval. There is space on the form for detailed testing instructions.  Whenever possible, deliver the exam with the Make-up and Access Testing Support Form in person or by e-mail to TestingCenter@olympic.edu at least one day prior to the scheduled dated. Upon completion, tests are returned to the instructor via interoffice mail unless otherwise requested.
  • Testing services are available at the Poulsbo campus on a limited basis through the Assessment and Testing Center with advance notice. Shelton students should contact Jennifer Hoodenpyle or Janis Johnson through the administrative office at the Shelton campus at 360-432-5400.
  • Students may be asked to present picture identification at the time of the test. Exams are secured throughout the test process and will not leave the designated testing facility until the student has finished. Any student violation of this procedure may result in an invalid test. If a student misses his/her scheduled time, or is more than thirty minutes late, the test will be returned to you.

Q. How can I make sure my course materials are accessible?

A. Implementing the principles of Universal Design for Learning can help ensure that your curriculum incorporates flexibility, reduces barriers, and optimizes levels of challenge and support to meet the needs of all your students, including those with diagnosed and undiagnosed disabilities. Keep the following tips in mind when developing your materials, and feel free to contact Access Services for information or assistance.  

Handouts: Students with print disabilities (learning disabilities and vision loss) may rely on assistive technology to read print. Whenever possible, have print materials such as your syllabus and handouts available in electronic format. Post them on the web or send them via e-mail to your students with this accommodation.  Occasionally, other versions such as audio, Braille, or enlarged text may be required. Access Services will communicate with you regarding the appropriate format and provide support for this process. Converting print to alternate format can be time consuming and expensive - advance planning is critical, and your cooperation is appreciated.

Texts: As you review texts for future courses, look for books that are also available in electronic format. This information can usually be found on the publisher’s website or the preface of the book (under the “Student Resources” or “Students with Special Needs” section), and occasionally a CD version is provided for review. Access Services staff is happy to assist you with this research.

Videos: Before ordering videos, check to be sure that they are captioned. Captioning can be added after production, but often at a cost of thousands of dollars! When captioning is not available, provide an outline or summary of the material for your deaf or hard of hearing students. Occasionally, a transcript can be obtained from the producer. Once again, Access Services is available to support you with this process.

Notes: Making your lecture notes available online helps all students, but is especially valuable to students with sensory impairments and learning disabilities. If you already have course information on the web, or are planning to implement this, check with Information Technology or Access Services for resources on web accessibility. Certain formats (tables, graphics, etc.) may not be compatible with screen reading technology.