Overview – Activating Accommodations
In most cases, students request academic accommodations and must engage in the interactive process in order to obtain and use accommodations. This requires students to work with the Student Access Services (SAS) office and whomever is called upon on campus or virtually to implement those accommodations, e.g., Marymount University faculty.
SAS is the Marymount University office designated to develop with individual students their disability-related accommodations and subsequently authorize those students to use these accommodations. This authorization is offered to students in a two-page form called a Faculty Contact Sheet (FCS). In most cases, while SAS creates a FCS which authorizes a student’s use of accommodations, SAS does not actually implement those accommodations.
The FCS is the means by which students inform each of their faculty members that they have SAS approved accommodations. University faculty members are typically responsible for implementing most student accommodations. As such, the University faculty member who is teaching a student’s respective class is the person designated to implement the student’s academic accommodations. Should questions or unanticipated challenges arise during this implementation, then both faculty and/or student are invited to contact SAS to work out a resolution.
Why Accommodations must be Activated with Faculty Members
University faculty members are critical in finalizing student accommodations because each faculty member needs to be afforded the opportunity to have input into:
- What the faculty member considers to be “reasonable” as accommodations in their class.
- What practical means and resources the faculty member has available to implement the agreed-upon accommodations.
- Whether the faculty member’s course has unique core learning objectives that could be compromised as a result of applying accommodations. SAS personnel may not be aware of the fundamental learning objectives of every class to which an accommodations letter is applied. SAS approved accommodations should not fundamentally alter a course’s primary learning objectives.
- How accommodations are ultimately to be applied as a result of the agreement between themselves as faculty, the student, and SAS.
- Finalizing accommodations, since only through written confirmation of agreement between faculty, student, and SAS do accommodations become finalized.
How Instructors Activate Accommodations
Faculty are responsible for implementing the accommodations, after that faculty member and student discuss and agree upon:
- How the accommodations described in the FCS apply to that specific course, in a reasonable and appropriate way.
- When the accommodations described in the FCS will become effective in that specific course.
- Ways to involve SAS to help both parties find a common ground that meets ADA compliance requirements, if the faculty member and student are unable to identify an implementation plan that is mutually satisfactory.
Important Points to Keep in Mind
- Students must provide faculty members with a FCS for each class in which they may use SAS-approved accommodations.
- Approved student accommodations are considered “activated” or “finalized” only when the student and faculty member have engaged in the interactive process and determined how and when the approved accommodations will be implemented in that particular class. Note: The interactive process refers to persons with disabilities who request accommodations must work together to develop accommodations with those persons who will approve and/or implement accommodations.
- SAS-authorized accommodations cannot be applied retroactively.
Steps in the Accommodations Activation Process
- Students must engage with the SAS office to determine overarching reasonable and appropriate accommodations for that student.
- SAS provides the student with a FCS reflecting the agreed-upon accommodations, provided that the student is qualified as having a disability and has requested accommodations that are reasonable.
- The student must then share the FCS with each faculty member responsible for teaching course/s in which the student is enrolled and intending to use the accommodations reflected on the FCS.
- The student and faculty member should discuss and attempt to reach a consensus about how the accommodations listed on the FCS will be applicable to the particular course. Please consider the below points in this critical step:
- The conversation between student and faculty member should occur well in advance of the student’s use of the accommodation(s), typically a week or two before or during the start of each academic semester. SAS strongly encourages students to share their FCS and discuss its contents with their faculty as soon as possible for each semester. Disability-related accommodations can be put in place at any point during a semester. However, accommodations do not apply retroactively. Therefore, it is in the student’s best interests to share SAS-approved accommodations as early as possible each semester.
- The conversation between student and faculty member should include any unique course-specific considerations that are relevant to the accommodations as they are to be applied.
- This proactive discussion between student and faculty member will assist the faculty member in making any necessary preparations that may be needed to support the student, while also keeping pace with the teaching objectives and other academic responsibilities for the course.
- A delay in the conversation about SAS-approved accommodations may make it difficult, or in some cases not possible for the faculty member to organize a plan at the last minute to meet a student’s accommodation request. This can make their already difficult job even more challenging or perhaps insurmountable.
- The student should inform SAS once they and their faculty member have reached an agreement on implementation of the SAS approved accommodations. Agreement in this context means:
- The faculty member’s agreement with the student’s SAS approved accommodations, as evidenced by either the faculty member’s signature on the second page of the FCS or by either the faculty member and/or student sending an email to SAS confirming the student-faculty member agreement.
- The student should forward a confirmation of the faculty member’s accommodations agreement to the SAS office at: firstname.lastname@example.org