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Frequently Asked Questions
- When should I refer a student to Disability Services?
- What is a Disability?
- What is a reasonable accommodation?
- What is the procedure for students with disabilities to obtain accommodations at Rhode Island College?
- What do I need to know about Request for Reasonable Accommodation letters
- Should I accommodate a student with a disability who does NOT provide a Request for Reasonable Accommodation letter?
- What are the responsibilities of the student with a disability who is receiving accommodations?
- What do I need to know about Testing Accommodations
- What do I need to include in my Syllabi?
- How can I learn more about Disability Awareness?
- Who should I contact if I have a problem?
When should I refer a student to Disability Services?
Faculty members are encouraged to refer students to Disability Services if the student has disclosed that they have a disability.
What is a Disability?
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the term "disability" means a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
Major Life Activities include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.
A Major Life Activity also includes the operation of a major bodily function, including but not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.
What is a reasonable accommodation?
A reasonable accommodation is any modification or adjustment to an environment that will enable a person with a disability to have rights and privileges equal to those of persons without disabilities. Reasonable accommodations may include, but are not limited to: making existing facilities readily accessible to individuals with disabilities; modifying equipment or devices including computer software and hardware; providing qualified readers and/or interpreters; and other similar accommodations.U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Justice Management Division, "Manual and Procedures for Providing Reasonable Accommodation," October 2002.
Additionally, according to the U.S. Department of Justice ADA Title III regulations, post-secondary institutions must offer exams and courses in a location and manner that is accessible to individuals with disabilities or offer alternative accessible arrangements. Examinations should be administered so that the results accurately reflect the individual's aptitude or achievement level, not the impairment.
What is the procedure for students with disabilities to obtain accommodations at Rhode Island College?
The process of registering as a student with a disability includes three elements in order to be considered complete:
- Students are required to make an appointment to meet with the Disability Services Center. During this appointment, the Office staff and the student will discuss the college's Policies and Procedures Manual for Student's with Disabilities and the student's accommodation needs.
- Documentation of the disability must be provided from a qualified, licensed and impartial professional and must contain a comprehensive assessment including clearly identified recommendations for accommodations. (see Disability Verification Documentation for more information) Appropriate accommodations for each student are based upon the specific recommendations and justifications for reasonable accommodations provided in the disability documentation.
- A Release of Information form must be signed by the student allowing the Disability Services Center to verify registration and eligibility for accommodations. This Release allows the Disability Services Center to confirm to RIC Faculty and Staff whether the student is registered with the Office and which relevant accommodations may be needed. In order to protect the rights and privacy of students with disabilities, the student's disability documentation will remain confidential and will not be released without the student's informed and written consent.
What do I need to know about Request for Reasonable Accommodation letters
- Once Office staff have reviewed the student's disability documentation and determined that a student is qualified under the law, Request for Reasonable Accommodations letters are prepared by Office staff. Students and an Office staff member then both sign the letters.
- Students must HAND-DELIVER the original copy of these letters to their professors as early in the semester as possible to inform the professor of the student's accommodation needs. Receipt of the letter is the faculty member's assurance that the student has a documented disability and is eligible for reasonable accommodations.
- FACULTY MEMBERS ARE ASKED TO SIGN THE ORIGINAL LETTER AND RETURN IT TO THE STUDENT. It is then the student's responsibility to return the signed original to the Disability Services Center. Faculty may make copies of the letters, as needed.
- Testing and classroom accommodations become effective on the date that the Request for Reasonable Accommodations letter is signed by the professor and are only valid from the date signed through the end of the semester.
Should I accommodate a student with a disability who does NOT provide a Request for Reasonable Accommodation letter?
If an accommodation request is something that you would feel comfortable providing for any student (for example, closing the door to reduce distractions or providing seating near a window for natural light), the accommodation may be provided without consulting with the Disability Services Center. However, it is advisable to refer any accommodation request that is questionable to the Disability Services Center.
What are the responsibilities of the student with a disability who is receiving accommodations?
Please visit the Student Rights and Responsibilities page for answers to this question.
What do I need to know about Testing Accommodations?
Typical testing accommodations, including extra time and/or a separate location for testing, are provided by professors within their respective departments.
If faculty experience difficulty in providing these testing accommodations, the Chair or Dean of the appropriate department or program should be contacted for assistance. As a last resort, the Disability Services Center may also be contacted for assistance.
In specialized cases, the Disability Services Center will provide other testing accommodations, such as scribes, readers, assistive technology, or sign-language interpreters.
Please note, extended time for exams allows a student to have additional time to complete the exam, NOT the ability to take the exam at a later date. (Please visit Testing Policies for more information.)
What do I need to include in my Syllabi?
- Faculty are encouraged to add a statement to their syllabi regarding Rhode Island College's commitment to assure reasonable access to academic programs, opportunities, and activities for students with documented disabilities.
- A similar announcement to the class at the beginning of the semester is suggested.
- Sample Syllabus Statement
How can I learn more about Disability Awareness?
Please keep in mind the following tips about Disability Awareness:
- People with disabilities are people first. The correct wording is to state the person first and then the disability; thus, you would say "the person who is visually impaired" rather than "the blind man/women." This places the emphasis upon the person, not the disability.
- Do not use the word handicapped.
- Avoid labeling individuals as victims.
- Avoid terms such as wheelchair bound. Wheelchairs provide access and enable a person to get around independently. People are not bound to wheelchairs; they use a wheelchair to assist them.
- When it is appropriate to refer to an individual's disability, choose the correct terminology for the specific disability.
- Avoid stereotyping persons with disabilities into the same category. Disabilities vary greatly from one to another and even two people with the same disability may have greatly different experiences and capabilities.
For more information, please explore the following additional resources:
Disability Myths that affect Academic Success Emerging Scholars: Students with Disabilities, Handbook for Faculty A Guide to Language and Interactions That Are Inclusive And Respectful of Persons with Disabilities
Who should I contact if I have a problem?
If you have any questions or concerns regarding accommodating a student with a disability, please visit the Disability Services Center website at www.ric.edu/disabilityservices, or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 456-2776. We also welcome you to visit our office at Craig-Lee Room 127.