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Division of Student Life
Department for Disability Support Services


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Faculty Handbook

To All Faculty and Staff:

We are providing you with this handbook from the Department for Disability Support Services. The handbook is divided into the different types of disabilities for which students may require accommodations. The design of the handbook is intended to increase awareness of the various disabilities and how accommodations can be implemented throughout the campus. This handbook is by no means all-inclusive. One primary goal of the handbook is to express our belief in the need for communication between students, faculty and our office. We encourage you to print this handbook for future reference.

This is also available for downloading as a Microsoft Word document or Mp3 file.

Table of Contents:

  • Introduction
  • Accommodation
  • Attendance Policy
  • Alternative Testing
  • Visual Impairments
  • Hearing Impairments
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Orthopedic & Mobility Impairments
  • Psychological Disorders
  • Summary

Introduction

East Carolina University has a large number of students with various disabilities. As such, it is important that we try to meet the needs of these students by providing a barrier free campus to the extent possible.

In compliance with the requirements and philosophy of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, ECU ensures that the university and its programs are accessible to those with disabilities. The Department for Disability Support Services helps to facilitate this accessibility. Faculty and staff also need to be involved to make sure that all students, regardless of their disability, are given fair access to the university and its programs. This handbook is designed to introduce the faculty to the university policy on accommodations and provide examples of the most commonly used accommodations.

Accommodation

The word "accommodation" is many times misunderstood in relation to its application to students with disabilities. Accommodation provides a method whereby a disabled student can demonstrate his or her knowledge and abilities when traditional methods are inadequate. Accommodation in no way implies giving someone an unfair advantage over other students. Students with disabilities are required to meet the same academic standards as other students. Each student has a specified plan designed to illustrate accommodations that can be provided for their particular disability. Communication with the Department for Disability Support Services is always recommended if clarification is needed about the terms of accommodation.

Any student requiring an accommodation should present a letter from Department for Disability Support Services stating the current accommodations required. If a student approaches an instructor about accommodation, but has not presented a letter, please refer that student to the Department for Disability Support Services.

Some of the most common accommodations utilized are listed below:

  • Classroom relocation for those with physical disabilities and motor impairments
  • Note takers for students with particular kinds of physical and learning disabilities
  • Interpreters for students who are deaf or hearing impaired
  • Enlargement of reading material for students with visual impairments
  • Alternative testing
  • Tutorials. Each student has access to university sponsored tutorials. Students must pay for individual/private tutorials.
  • Adaptive Equipment
  • Time management/organizational support

Attendance Policy

East Carolina University's Attendance Policy can be found for undergraduate and graduate students in the university catalogs. All students are expected to attend lectures, laboratory sessions and field experiences. Absences and makeup policies are left to the discretion of each instructor.

Although the Department for Disability Support Services does not have a role in determining attendance policies, we can provide students with a verification letter based on appropriate medical and/or psychological documentation. A student can distribute the verification letter to faculty to initiate discussions of attendance policies/procedures and to address the legitimacy of absences.

Faculty should make clear to students the exact attendance policy for each class at the beginning of the semester. Makeup policies should also be made clear in the event of an absence. Instructors are not required to make modifications of academic standards for accommodation purposes. Therefore, instructors are encouraged to discuss with students the importance of attendance. They may choose to use wording such as:

Your presence is fundamental to meeting the objectives of this course. Consequently, there will be (0, 1, 2…) excused absences and (0, 1, 2…) makeup quizzes/exams.

Faculty and staff are encouraged to call the Department for Disability Support Services if there are any questions.

Alternative Testing

Alternative testing is offered to students with varying disabilities who are currently registered with the Department for Disability Support Services. Alternative testing encompasses many different kinds of accommodations. Some examples of alternative testing accommodations include extended test-taking time, a quiet environment, and use of readers, scribes or computers.

The Department for Disability Support Services and each student take responsibility for arranging for accommodations before each individual test. The most common type of accommodation offered to students is a quiet environment with extended test-taking time. Generally, students with disabilities who are approved for extended test-taking time are given time and a half. For example, if the class is given 50 minutes to take the test, the student with accommodation will be give 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Readers are sometimes used in certain kinds of alternative testing. Having a test read for students with disabilities such as visual impairment and learning disabilities, is a form of accommodation. Students with physical disabilities limiting hand function or students with visual impairment may choose to use scribes when there is a difficulty with writing assignments and exams.

The advancement of technology has been incorporated within alternative testing. Some students with severe learning disabilities in written language use computers for essay examinations. Students with disabilities, especially significant disabilities, may use assistive devices within the classroom and during testing.

Facilitation of Alternative Testing Students must provide each instructor with an alternative test form before each test. Each designated portion of the form should be filled out by the student and by the instructor. The instructor should take careful notice of the date and time length of the test, the items allowed during testing, if any, and the accommodations provided. An example of the alternative test request form is found in this booklet.

The policy for alternative testing is to administer the exam on the date and time that the class will be taking the exam unless there is a conflict in the student's class schedule. The examination may be delivered to the Department for Disability Support Services by the instructor or by the student in a sealed and signed envelope. NO EXAMINATIONS SHOULD BE SENT THROUGH THE CAMPUS MAIL. This practice has led to many examinations being late or getting lost.

Examinations may be returned to the instructors immediately following an examination by the proctor or the student in a sealed and signed envelope. A Proctor Summary Sheet, which lists any problems noted by the student or proctor during the examination, will be returned with the exam.

Visual Impairments

Many students with visual impairments are not completely blind. A legally blind person may have 20/200 vision or less in their best eye after correction or a visual field of no more than 20°. The degree of visual impairment will determine the types of accommodations needed for each individual. Some individuals will be able to read with enlarged print, while others who are completely blind will need their textbooks and tests read for them.

Any student requiring an accommodation should present a letter from Department for Disability Support Services stating the current accommodations required. If a student approaches an instructor about accommodation, but has not presented a letter, please refer that student to the Department for Disability Support Services.

The most common accommodations for individuals with visual impairments are listed below:

  • Readers and/or scribes for examinations
  • Readers and/or scribes for text books
  • Extended test time
  • Taping of classes
  • Enlarged print and Braille tests and handouts
  • Assignment of another student to assist with laboratory experiments or other classroom activities

Following are tips for instructing students with visual impairments:

  • Talk while you teach. As you move around the classroom or point particular things out, verbalize what you are doing.
  • Use concrete examples. When trying to teach abstract concepts that might be difficult for someone with a visual impairment to grasp, couple those concepts with examples from real life experiences.
  • Do not raise your voice with students with visual impairments. It is common for many people to raise their voices when speaking to someone who is blind. Unless otherwise noted, these individuals have normal hearing.
  • Ask the student what they need. It is acceptable and advisable to speak individually with a student with a visual impairment.

Hearing Impairments

Not all students who are deaf or hearing impaired require the same types of services. Some students are able to verbalize while others rely on some form of sign language and interpreters.

The most common accommodations for students who are deaf or have hearing impairments are note taking during class, tutoring sessions, and interpreters during class. Occasionally, deaf students will request extended test time because of difficulties in comprehending written English. The Alternative Testing portion of this manual gives procedures for arranging this form of testing. It is important for deaf and hearing impaired students to choose their seats in the classroom to ensure their ability to hear or see their interpreter.

Any student requiring an accommodation should present a letter from Department for Disability Support Services stating the current accommodations required. If a student approaches an instructor about accommodation, but has not presented a letter, please refer that student to the Department for Disability Support Services.

As interpreters are frequently assisting students with hearing impairments in the classroom setting, the following guidelines are necessary:

  • Speak directly to the student, not to the interpreter
  • Do not discuss problems or concerns about a student with the interpreter
  • If there is a concern or question about the interpreting situation, talk to the interpreter before or after the class
  • When requesting questions/comments from the class, please allow additional time for the student(s) to receive the interpreted message
  • It is important not to speak too fast and to make sure that there is only one speaker at any given time

In addition to note takers, interpreters, and tutors, deaf and hearing-impaired students may also use assistive devices in the classroom. An adaptive library resource center is available at Joyner Library during regular library hours. Instructors are encouraged to make themselves familiar with these accommodating tools for learning. Following are a few of the assistive devices available to students with hearing impairments:

  • Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs)
  • Close Captioning for televisions and other video recordings
  • Rapid Text
  • Sign Language video tapes

Learning Disabilities

A learning disability can be best described as an inability to acquire or relate specific information. It is not a form of mental retardation or an intelligence impairment. A student's learning disability (or disabilities) can create a discrepancy between their ability and their achievement. Learning disabilities can exist in any number of areas such as math, reading, or written language.

Because no two student's learning disabilities are exactly the same and each may vary in intensity and degree, it is important to consider each student individually. The most common types of accommodation provided are a quiet environment, extended test-taking time, and a reader or scribe.

Any student requiring an accommodation should present a letter from Department for Disability Support Services within the first week of school stating the current accommodations required. If a student approaches an instructor about accommodation, but has not presented a letter, please refer that student to the Department for Disability Support Services.

Following are some suggested teaching strategies for students with learning disabilities. However, there is no one specific teaching strategy that works best for all students with learning disabilities. In general, students with LD perform better when they have clear-cut objectives, a structured classroom environment and an outcome-oriented class.

  • Provide a syllabus with course objectives and important dates so that students can pace themselves
  • Structure assignments into segments that are easier to manage
  • Allow students to tape lectures and make copies of any overhead projections
  • Give detailed feedback to students about their performance on tests or projects
  • Be clear about the objective of assignments and the exact manner in which the assignments are to be completed

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is generally characterized by an inability to pay close attention to detail, difficulty sustaining attention, forgetfulness in daily activities and other related symptoms. Although this disorder is usually spoken of in reference to children, ADHD does carry over into adulthood. Students who are diagnosed with ADHD may require some accommodation to accomplish academic requirements.

There are many different strategies that an instructor may use within the learning environment to address Attention Deficit Disorder such as visual aids, structured assignments, and clear outlines of requirements. As is often the case, communication can best clarify the specific needs of accommodation of each student with ADHD. The most common accommodations provided for students with ADHD are quiet environments during testing, extended test-taking time, and note takers.

Any student requiring an accommodation should present a letter from Department for Disability Support Services stating the current accommodations required. If a student approaches an instructor about accommodation, but has not presented a letter, please refer that student to the Department for Disability Support Services.

Orthopedic and Mobility Impairments

The orthopedic and mobility impairment group is composed of a multitude of disability types. Spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, AIDS, and amputated limb are examples of these types of impairments. Because of the wide range of function within this group, accommodation is different for each individual.

Many students who have orthopedic and mobility impairments will use some sort of orthotic, prosthetic, or mobility aid such as wheelchairs, scooters, canes and braces. Service dogs are also included as an aid to mobility with the visually impaired. It is important to ensure that these students are given ample room for any adaptive equipment they may need to bring to class and to modify the environment as needed.

Any student requiring an accommodation should present a letter from Department for Disability Support Services within the first week of school stating the current accommodations required. If a student approaches an instructor about accommodation, but has not presented a letter, please refer that student to the Department for Disability Support Services.

There are no specific teaching techniques for working with this disability group, but special consideration should be given with regard to each individual's needs. Communication with instructors is essential for providing accommodation for each individual. Instructors are encouraged to contact the Department for Disability Support Services if there are any questions about accommodations.

Some of the most common accommodations provided are the following:

  • Classroom relocation to an accessible building
  • Extended test-taking time
  • Note takers in class
  • Recording of class lectures
  • Scribes and readers for exams
  • Tables brought into the classroom in place of a desk
  • Assistants for lab experiments

Psychological Disorders

There are an ever-increasing number of individuals with psychological disorders at East Carolina University. This phenomenon can be explained by improvements in medications for treating mental illness and increased emphasis on individuals being mainstreamed in the community. Some types of psychological disorders include depression, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, mood disorders, and other forms of psychosis. Each psychological disorder varies in degree and intensity and some may be cyclical.

The social stigma attached to persons with psychological disorders may sometimes be the greatest obstacle to overcome. Understanding that treatment and medication can enable a person with a psychological disorder to function in a learning environment is essential for accommodating such persons.

Accommodations vary for each student and therefore, each student should be considered individually. Sustaining attention and/or focusing in the classroom and during tests are common problems that may affect a student with a psychological disorder. Side effects of medications should also be taken into consideration.

Any student requiring an accommodation should present a letter from Department for Disability Support Services stating the current accommodations required. If a student approaches an instructor about accommodation, but has not presented a letter, please refer that student to the Department for Disability Support Services.

The most common accommodations provided for students with psychological disorders are

  • Extended testing time
  • Testing in a quiet environment
  • Use of tape recorders in class
  • Note takers

Summary

Like all individuals entering a campus environment for the first time, those with disabilities need to adjust to a new setting and prepare themselves to face a new set of challenges. Whether this adjustment process is easy or difficult depends on many factors. Research has shown that the type and the degree of disability are not factors in the successful adjustment to new surroundings. Successful adjustments are determined more by the individual's background and overall attitude.

Consequently, the attitude of East Carolina University is crucial for successful adjustment of students with disabilities. Faculty can increase the degree of acceptance for the disabled population by striving to smooth the progress of accommodations. Communication with each student and the Department for Disability Support Services is a key component in reaching these goals.

East Carolina University is open and accessible to individuals with disabilities and is committed to providing comprehensive services. The goal of the Department for Disability Support Services is to assure equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities and to ensure that all the benefits can be attained while attending East Carolina University.