Faculty Resources and Instructional Strategies


The Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD) at the University of Connecticut has been at the forefront in creating a comprehensively accessible University experience for students, where individuals with disabilities have the same access to programs, activities, and opportunities as all others. The Center currently works with over 2,900 students with disabilities including but not limited to students with psychiatric disabilities, chronic health conditions, visual impairments, learning disabilities, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder and students who are deaf or hard of hearing.The CSD engages in an interactive process with each student and reviews requests for accommodations on an individualized, case-by-case basis, class-by-class basis. Depending on the nature and functional limitations of a student’s documented disability, he/she may be eligible for reasonable and appropriate accommodations. Accommodations are adaptations made to elements of a student’s postsecondary program that help to compensate for the student’s conditions(s) and provide equal access to students with disabilities. Here are the basics:

  • Any student with a documented disability may be eligible to receive accommodations & services from the CSD;
  • In order to access accommodations, students must disclose their disability to the CSD and state their requested accommodations;
  • The purpose of accommodations and modifications is to reduce or eliminate any disadvantages that may exist because of an individual’s disability;
  • Accommodations are not a guarantee for success, but rather seek to promote non-discrimination and equal access opportunities;
  • Accommodations are not student preferences; they are determined through an established review process based on documentation received regarding the student’s disability;
  • The law does not require institutions to waive specific courses or academic requirements considered essential to a particular program or degree. Rather, they are mandated to modify existing requirements on a case-by-case basis in order to ensure that individuals are not discriminated against on the basis of their disability.

The CSD collaborates with departments across the University, including faculty and Teaching Assistants (TA) to coordinate a wide-range of academic accommodations. This may include the recruiting and hiring of qualified peer note takers, proctoring of exams for those requiring a computer or reader, or setting up screen sharing technology in the classroom for students to view presentations on their own laptops.

During the spring 2016 semester, the Center deployed the instructor module of MyAcess. MyAccess is a secure online database managed by SAIT through which students register with the CSD. It is now available to instructors and their designated TA’s with several functions to coordinate approved academic accommodations for students with disabilities. Students cannot access or see the same information as instructors. NetID and password are required to login.

In MyAccess, instructors can:

  • Access a list of students who are approved for accommodations with their individualized accommodation letters;
  • See a list of students taking exams at the CSD for each course, including accommodations students will be using and when the exam is scheduled to be taken at the Center;
  • Set exam preferences for each test, quiz or final exam including:
    • Materials allowed during the exam;
    • Instructor contact info during the exam (cell phone, email);
    • Class date and length of time for exam as provided by student;
  • Upload exam(s) to be taken by students at the Center;
    • If there are multiple students in the class and/or multiple versions of an exam, instructors may assign specific exams to specific students;
  • Download completed exams once students finish taking their tests.

Students approved for accommodations are encouraged to speak with their instructors to determine how approved accommodations will be coordinated. Specific to approved exam accommodations, students should take their exams with their classes and/or instructor/TA whenever possible to ensure equal opportunity to have questions addressed during the exams; however, when a student cannot take an exam with his/her class and received the approved accommodation, the CSD may be available to proctor the exam. Additional information regarding exam accommodations, other academic accommodations, and MyAccess can be found on the CSD website at www.csd.uconn.edu along with resources on teaching and working with students with disabilities. Instructors/TA’s should contact the CSD with any questions regarding a specific student or coordinating accommodations at (860) 486-2020.

As a nationally recognized leader in providing accommodations and services for students with disabilities, the CSD’s philosophy is one that promotes self-awareness, self-determination and self-advocacy in a comprehensively accessible environment in order for students to achieve their postsecondary goals.

Classroom Accommodations

Accommodation Letters

Once a student is registered with the Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD), they are encouraged to request academic accommodations within the first two weeks of each semester. The CSD will then generate a confidential academic accommodation request letter to each faculty member indicating the student’s requested accommodations. This means that the student has registered with the CSD, has a documented disability, and the CSD has determined what accommodations are appropriate. Faculty are encouraged to discuss these accommodations with students and CSD staff should any concerns arise. It is the responsibility of the student to notify the CSD if accommodations are not in place or are not effective.

Confidentiality

Students with disabilities are required to submit medical documentation to the CSD, which verifies their disability and need for appropriate accommodations. Documentation guidelines may be accessed on our Documentation Guidelines page at http://csd.uconn.edu/documentation-guidelines/. The CSD will maintain confidentiality and will not disclose any information pertaining to a student’s disability to faculty unless we have written permission from the student. The CSD will inform faculty of the accommodation(s) it has determined the student needs to access an equal opportunity education so as to arrange reasonable accommodations.

Confidentiality of all disability information is essential. At no time should the class be informed that a student has a disability, except at the student’s expressed request. All disability information, which the student gives to the faculty member, is to be used specifically for arranging reasonable accommodations for the course of study.

Class Attendance

Modification to a class policy regarding attendance as an accommodation to a disability is appropriate when it is reasonable to do so. It is not reasonable to make such modifications when doing so means a substantial change on a course’s essential elements. Students using wheelchairs or who have mobility disabilities may encounter obstacles to getting to class on time. Others may have periodic or irregular difficulties, either from their disability or from medication. Faculty and staff can help by being flexible in applying attendance and promptness rules to such students and in some cases, alternate assignments may be appropriate.

Class Participation

During your initial meeting, ask students with disabilities what you can do to help them participate in class. Students who cannot raise their hands to answer or ask questions, for example, may feel isolated or ignored. Ask them how they wish to be recognized in the classroom. Some students will want you to call on them. Others may prefer to meet periodically with you before or after class to discuss the course content.

Course Requirements

When the need for accommodations in a specific course arises, the instructor will receive an accommodation letter from the CSD with the requested academic accommodations. Students should also identify themselves to the course instructor. Faculty are not required, to provide accommodations that constitute a fundamental alteration of the course. In determining the appropriateness of an accommodation, it is the CSD’s goal to ensure that a student receives the accommodations necessary for the course and to fashion such accommodations so as not to fundamentally alter the essential course requirements.

Testing Accommodations

Students with disabilities may receive testing accommodations determined on an individualized basis. A test, as used in this context, refers to quizzes and examinations taken during the semester in conjunction with an academic class.

If the need for accommodations is deemed appropriate, students are requested to meet with CSD staff with their course information each semester. The CSD will then generate a testing accommodation letter, which the student will hand carry to each class faculty. The University agent authorized to determine appropriate academic accommodations is the Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD). Any other requests for academic accommodations from other University entities are not mandated.

Students are responsible for meeting with faculty to discuss exam accommodations at the beginning of the semester (within the first two weeks). It is our policy that students take exams at the scheduled time of the course unless the faculty member and director of the CSD approve an alternate time. It is also our policy that exams be administered within the academic department whenever possible. However, if this is not tenable, exams may be administered nd proctored at the CSD.

Test accommodations determined on a case-by-case basis may include:

  • Extended time to complete examinations and quizzes;
  • A reduced distraction environment separate from the class;
  • Special equipment such as a word processor, magnifier, or Braille;
  • Readers and/or scribes; and
  • Alternate formats such as oral or taped tests.

Notetaking Assistance

Notetaking assistance is provided as an accommodation for students whose documented disabilities interfere with their abilities to take notes. Notetaking assistance is provided as a necessary academic accommodation and is not considered a substitute for a student’s full participation in class. Assistance is determined on a class-by-class basis and is dependent upon the nature of each course and the method of instruction as it relates to the student’s documented disability. Notes and/or recordings provided are for a student’s personal study use only and are not to be shared with other individuals.

Notetaking assistance may include:

  • Use of a laptop, learning technologies, notetaking apps, etc. in class;
  • Permission to audio record classes;
  • Receipt of instructor outlines and/or notes;
  • Receipt of a class member’s notes via the Center for Students with Disabilities notetaking website.

Media Use

If you intend to use media in the classroom, remember that the media must be accessible to students with disabilities. Prior to purchasing the media, ask vendors whether they have captioned a video (for someone who is deaf or hard of hearing) or have a descriptive version (for someone who is blind or visually impaired). If accessible formats are not available, faculty should work with the Center for Excellence in Teaching (link to: http://cetl.uconn.edu/) and Learning or CSD to come up with other suitable alternatives.

UConn Policies Regarding Media (Provided by the Office of Diversity and Equity)

Classroom Use

The Center for Students with Disabilities encourage faculty to:

  • Include a statement on the class syllabus inviting the student to discuss academic needs with you. For example,
    Please contact me during office hours to discuss academic accommodations that may be needed during the semester due to a documented disability. The Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD) engages in an interactive process with each student and reviews requests for accommodations on an individualized, case-by-case basis. Depending on the nature and functional limitations of a student’s documented disability, he/she may be eligible for academic accommodations. CSD collaborates with students and their faculty to coordinate approved accommodations and services for qualified students with disabilities. If you have a documented disability for which you wish to request academic accommodations and have not contacted the CSD, please do so as soon as possible. The CSD is located in Wilbur Cross, Room 204 and can be reached at (860) 486-2020 or at csd@uconn.edu. Detailed information regarding the process to request accommodations is available on the CSD website at www.csd.uconn.edu.
  • Clearly delineate expectations at the beginning of the course (e.g., grading, material to be covered, due dates).
  • Announce reading assignments well in advance for students who are using taped materials or other alternative formats. It takes an average of six to eight weeks to get a book tape-recorded.
  • When talking with the student, inquire about special needs in the classroom, in the lab, in fieldwork, and on field trips. Work with the student and the CSD to determine and provide appropriate accommodations.
  • Select course materials early. Distribute syllabi, assignments, and reading lists in advance and in electronic format (e.g. disk, network) to facilitate translation to audiotape, Braille, and large print.
  • Start each lecture with an outline of material to be covered that period. At the conclusion of class, briefly summarize key points.
  • Make lectures and notes easily accessible (use larger print, provide handouts of notes in class, etc.).
  • Provide adequate opportunities for questions and answers, including review sessions.
  • Allow preferential seating for students with disabilities.
  • Face the class when speaking. Repeat discussion questions. Write key phrases on the blackboard. Hand out assignments in writing. Provide written summaries of demonstrations in advance and use captioned films if you have a hearing impaired student in class.
  • Verbally describe visual aids if there is a student with a visual impairment in class. For example, you might say, “The 3 inch long steel rod,” rather than “this”.
  • In class discussion, focus primarily on the student with the disability and not on the student’s aide or interpreter. Look and speak directly to the student with only occasional reference to the interpreter.

Laboratory Use

The Center for Students with Disabilities encourage faculty to:

  • Discuss safety concerns with the student and the CSD. Depending on her/his disability, ensure that safety equipment is adapted with Braille or large print labels, pull-chains are lengthened, and visual or auditory warning systems are in place.
  • Assign group lab projects in which all students contribute according to their abilities.
  • Arrange lab equipment so that it is easily accessible. Give oral and written lab instructions. Provide raised-line drawings and tactile models of graphic materials for students with visual impairments.
  • Work with student and CSD, to identify, modify, and provide appropriate lab equipment, such as adjustable tables, ramps, talking thermometers and calculators, liquid level indicators, large print and tactile timers, and computers.

Fieldwork, Internships or Clinical Placements

The Center for Students with Disabilities encourage faculty to:

  • Measure knowledge and comprehension rather than physical performance of a task when testing a student’s understanding of material.
  • Ask the student how s/he might be able to do specific aspects of fieldwork. Attempt to include the student in field work opportunities, rather than automatically suggesting non-field work alternatives.
  • Arrange to have accessible transportation for field trips.

Syllabus Statement regarding Students with Disabilities

The Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD) encourages faculty to include a statement in their courses syllabi inviting students to discuss academic accommodations with their instructors. For example:

The University of Connecticut is committed to protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities and assuring that the learning environment is accessible.  If you anticipate or experience physical or academic barriers based on disability or pregnancy, please let me know immediately so that we can discuss options. Students who require accommodations should contact the Center for Students with Disabilities, Wilbur Cross Building Room 204, (860) 486-2020 or http://csd.uconn.edu/.

 

Resources

  • DisABILITY Resources Toolbox (DART) – Working with Students with Disabilities in Higher Education
    Be sure to check out the American Psychological Association’s DisABILITY Resource Toolbox (DART), which includes great information and tools to better support students with disabilities in higher education. By visiting each toolkit, you will gain a better understanding of your legal obligations, learn about typical accommodation strategies, improve communication skills and become aware of disability-related data, statistics and available resources. The toolkits are broken down into five sections including: Students with Disabilities in the Social and Behavioral Sciences, Legal Issues-ADA, 504, FERPA, Reasonable Accommodations Explained, Recruiting Students with Disabilities, and Training Students with Disabilities in Testing and Assessment. To visit their website, click on the following link: http://www.apa.org/pi/disability/dart/index.aspx

The websites listed below are for informational purposes only. Inclusion on this list does not constitute an endorsement by the CSD.

  • UConn’s HiTech Classrooms UConn’s classrooms vary from simple rooms with blackboards to high-tech, fully interactive, “smart” classrooms.
  • UConn’s HuskyCT, UConn’s learning management system, is powered by Blackboard Learn.  Use HuskyCT to electronically send announcements, post content, collect and grade assignments, give quizzes, hold discussions, post grades, and more.
  • UConn’s ITL advancing education through programs that support teaching excellence.
  • UConn’s iTV provides technical solutions for both synchronous and asynchronous content delivery. iTV focuses on assisting faculty to effectively integrate these technologies into their courses or seminars.
  • UConn’s Universal Web Site Accessibility Policy
    The University of Connecticut is committed to improving accessibility of its official Web sites to individuals with disabilities, in accordance with the State of Connecticut’s Universal Web Site Accessibility Policy for State Web Sites – Version 4.0. The purpose of this policy is to insure that all students and employees, including those with hearing, visual or other disabilities, have access to all official information and services that are provided via the web.
  • A Case for Accessible, Usable and Universal Design for Learning
    Issues of learning technologies and accessibility are more of a hot topic in our field than usual these days.
  • Campus Computing Project
    According to the Campus Computing Project™, this is the largest continuing study of the role of information technology in American higher education. They use qualitative and quantitative data to aid and inform faculty, campus administrators, and others interested in critical planning and policy issues that affect American colleges and universities.
  • Campus Technology
    Check out Campus Technology, one of higher education’s top information sources, which delivers valuable information via a monthly magazine, website, newsletters, webinars, online tools and in-person events. Look for in-depth coverage on the technologies and implementations influencing colleges and universities across the nation.
  • Center for Implementing Technology in Education (CITEd)
    Visit CITEd, which identifies evidence-based practices for integrating instructional technology to support the achievement of all students.
  • Connecticut Distance Learning Consortium
    CTDLC provides E-Learning services in a variety of areas including learning system hosting, grant partnerships, online tutoring services, k-12 courses and services, instructional design and technical support.
  • Educause Learning Initiative (ELI)
    The ELI is a community of higher education institutions and organizations that are committed to the advancement of learning through their innovative application of technology.
  • Guide to the Section 508 Standards provides an explanation of the federal technical standards with tutorials related to the accessibility of web-based applications, websites, video and multimedia products and other technology related products and services.
  • The Horizon Project
    The NMC Horizon project helps educators and thought leaders across the world build upon the innovation happening at their institutions, by providing them with expert research and analysis.
  • KnowledgeWorks Foundation
    Visit KnowledgeWorks, a site that provides innovative tools, training and assistance to school leaders, teachers and community stakeholders. Their portfolio includes three subsidiary organizations, New Tech Network, EdWORKS, and Strive.
  • Learning Solutions Magazine
    Go to the Learning Solutions Magazine, a publication of The eLearning Guild since 2002, which is listed as the eLearning industry’s oldest and most trusted source, for practical information on the strategies, tools, technologies, services, and best practices for the management, design, development, and implementation of enterprise-wide eLearning programs.
  • NERCOMP, NorthEast Regional Computing Program
    NERCOMP enables the informed use of information technology by providing affordable access to educational opportunities, software licensing discount programs, professional networking and collaborative opportunities and more!
  • The New Media Consortium (NMC)
    The NMC is an international community of experts in — from the practitioners who work with new technologies on campuses every day; to the visionaries who are shaping the future of learning at think tanks, labs, and research centers; to its staff and board of directors; to the advisory boards and others helping the NMC conduct cutting edge research.
  • Quality Matters
    Check out QM, listed as a nationally recognized, faculty-centered, peer review process that is designed to certify the quality of online course design and online components. The QM Rubric is used in course reviews that result in continuous improvement and faculty development.
  • Technology Review
    Visit the MIT Technology Review to gather information about technology through features, news analysis, business reports, photo essays, reviews, interactive digital experiences and more, read expert opinion, and examine data to understand new technologies and their impact!
  • W3C
    The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international community where member organizations, full time staff and the public work to develop Web standards. Review information on accessibility, internationalization, developing economies, and more, join community and business or working groups, check out validators and software, and more!

The websites listed below are for informational purposes only. Inclusion on this list does not constitute an endorsement by the CSD.