Faculty Frequently Asked Questions

 

▼   Who can I contact when I have an SDS related issue?

Mrs. Gina Deckard, Accommodated Testing and Support Coordinator (ginadeckard@southalabama.edu)

  • Visual and hearing impaired student concerns
  • ADA compliant testing accommodations
  • SDS faculty portal support

Mr. Laventrice Ridgeway, Coordinator (lsridgeway@southalabama.edu)

  • Faculty concerns other than testing
  • Medical Withdrawals
  • Accommodation concerns for students other than the sensory impaired
  • Special Parking
  • SDS Advisory Board

Ms. Jo Smith Holcombe, Student Disability Services (accommodations@southalabama.edu)

  • General course accommodations for students with ADHD and/or learning disabilities
  • Intake
  • Assessment

Dr. Andrea C. Agnew, Assistant Dean of Students (aagnew@southalabama.edu)

  • ADA compliance and policy issues
  • Student behavioral concerns
  • Campus accessibility issues
  • Grievances

Greta Washington, Secretary (gwashington@southalabama.edu)

  • Absentee verifications
  • Vendors
  • SDS Webmaster

 

▼   What are my legal responsibilities when I have a student with a disability in my class?
Academic departments and individual faculty members are responsible for ensuring that their programs and course content are accessible to qualified students with disabilities. This responsibility includes physical access as well as necessary modifications in the format or delivery of information.
▼   What if a student's behavior disrupts class instruction?
Faculty has the right and the responsibility to secure a learning environment that benefits all students. A student with a disability that affects behavior has the right to reasonable accommodations to support his or her responsibility to behave in an appropriate manner in the classroom. If the student's behavior is not appropriate, faculty should contact the Dean of Students for assistance.
▼   Can I ask a student to disclose his or her disability to me?
No. Requiring that a student disclose his or her disability to the instructor puts the college at legal risk. Although most instructors are open to listening to students who choose to disclose their disabilities-whether such information is solicited or not-it is important that all instructors communicate respect for a student's privacy regarding the specific nature of his or her disability. In that vein, comments such as ,"What is wrong with you?" or "You look normal to me." are clearly inappropriate and put the college at risk as they can be interpreted as discriminatory.
▼   Is it acceptable to ask a student who is having obvious difficulties whether he or she has a disability?
A direct inquiry about a possible disability is not recommended. The Americans with Disabilities Act states that a public entity may not make unnecessary inquires into the existence of a disability. These inquiries usually relate to hiring or pre-admission screening, but when talking with students, such inquiries should also be avoided. A direct inquiry such as this could be considered intrusive or insensitive. Treat a student-of-concern as any student would be treated. Suggest a conference with the student where concerns about the quality of his or her academic work can be privately discussed.
▼   How can I refer a student to Student Disability Services?
Making an announcement at the start of class and/or printing a statement in the syllabus referring students with disabilities to Disability Services, is the best way to make such a referral. Instructors may also encourage students to meet individually with them to discuss their academic needs.
▼   Are students with disabilities that need to digitally record a class lecture legally entitled to do so?
Yes. However, you can require that all tapes/files be returned to you at the end of the semester or that they be destroyed.
▼   A student with a disability has requested to take a exam at the Testing Center. How does the instructor know the exam will be safe and the student will not get an unfair advantage?
The Testing Center has developed a systematic and secure procedure for getting exams from the instructor and returning the exam back to the instructor once the student has taken the exam. All tests are kept in a sealed security bag. Students are required to put all materials into lockers before entering the testing rooms. Students are told to use the restroom before they start testing. As students test, they are monitored. Any inappropriate behaviors or misuse of exam materials are reported back to the instructor. Cheating is not tolerated.
▼   Can I opt to proctor the test for the student with a disability instead of sending them to the Testing Center?
Yes, but the instructor must provide the same accommodations the Testing Center would provide. If the student is to get time and a half, then the instructor must allow the time and a half. If the student is to test in a distraction reduced environment, then the instructor must have the student test in a room where there are minimal distractions. Testing the student with the rest of the class is not providing a minimal distraction environment. The instructor who fails to provide the specific accommodation is out of compliance. The student would have the right to file a grievance against the instructor.
▼   What if the student requests accommodations after the fact?
Accommodations are not retroactive. If a student starts the class and takes a test prior to providing the instructor the Letter of Accommodation, the instructor does not have to go back and let the student re-test using approved accommodations. 
 

 

This section of Questions and Answers was adopted from many sources in order to address the policies of Student Disability Services at University of South Alabama.