General Guidelines about Accommodations in the Classroom
Students who are eligible for academic accommodations at SMCM receive letters from the Office of Accessibility Services (OAS) which outline their approved accommodations. Because accommodation requests and approvals happen independent of knowledge of actual course requirements, students will not generally know if they will need to use their accommodations until a course has started.
Once they have the approvals, students have the choice whether to share their accommodation letters with instructors; the letters must be shared to ‘activate’ the accommodations for a course. In some situations, OAS may share the letters directly with instructors, with students copied, but most of the time, the student will do the direct notification to faculty.. The date the letter is shared with the faculty member is the ‘start date’ for the accommodations in that course.
Regardless of how the letter is shared, instructors are asked to meet with the students to discuss any managerial aspects of the accommodations in the course and to sign an acknowledgement form for every student who has shared an accommodation letter. The student is responsible for the signed form every semester.
Fundamental Alteration of Course Requirements or Unfair Advantage Concerns
If you receive a Letter of Accommodation (LOA) from a student in your course, and you believe that an/the approved accommodation(s) would ‘fundamentally alter’ your course learning goals/program expectations or creates an unfair advantage for the student, you need to immediately contact the Office of Accessibility Services (OAS) to express your concerns. This is not a conversation to broach with the student.
The OAS will ask for additional information from you about the course experience and why you believe an/the accommodation(s) would fundamentally alter the learning goals/program expectations and/or create an unfair advantage. These details will be shared with the Associate Dean of Faculty and the Faculty Senate President, who will work with the Faculty Advisor for Academic Accessibility to determine if the accommodation is indeed a fundamental alteration or unfair advantage. Up and until that decision point, the instructor is required to implement the accommodation as it has been approved on the letter. If such a determination is made, the Office of Accessibility Services will work with the instructor to identify alternate accommodations that can support the student’s equitable access to the course experience.