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policies and procedures regarding students with disabilities

Contributed by: Courtney Jarrett
Published: Friday, 01 August 2014 12:00 PM

Ball State has a long and proud history of being a welcoming and accessible campus for students with disabilities, and over 650 students used at least one service from the office of Disability Services last year. I ask that you please review the information below regarding policies & procedures in working with students with disabilities. Please contact me (lmarkle@bsu.edu; 285-5293; Student Center 116) if you have any questions or would like to discuss any of these items.

Thank you,
Larry Markle, Director
Disability Services

Disability Services assists faculty by determining if students qualify for reasonable and appropriate disability accommodations as outlined in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended in 2008. In determining who is eligible for accommodations, Disability Services reviews relevant documentation of the student's disability. When deciding what accommodations would be reasonable for a student with a disability, Disability Services is careful not to offer an accommodation to a student which may violate the integrity of the course or fundamentally alter an essential component of the course. Disability Services strives to ensure the civil rights of our students with disabilities while at the same time protecting institutional standards.

In keeping with federal and university policies and with best practices, the following items should be considered in an attempt to create a welcoming classroom environment for students with disabilities.

Syllabus Statement

Please include the following statement on your syllabus and read it at the beginning of each term:

If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, please contact me as soon as possible. Ball State’s Disability Services office coordinates services for students with disabilities; documentation of a disability needs to be on file in that office before any accommodations can be provided. Disability Services can be contacted at 765-285-5293 or dsd@bsu.edu.

While it is always best for students to communicate early in the term, we may not put dates or deadlines on legal rights. Should a student request an accommodation, indicate that you will be able to discuss that when he/she has presented you with a letter from the Disability Services office.

Accommodation Letters & Testing Accommodations

Faculty members are under no obligation to provide any accommodations to a student until the student presents the faculty member with a letter of accommodation from the Disability Services office. Before determining what accommodations would be appropriate for a student, Disability Services meets with the student and reviews disability documentation that must be age-appropriate, comprehensive, and must clearly diagnose a disability. Accommodation letters will be on Disability Services letterhead and verify the student's disability, list appropriate accommodations, and describe options for the administration of accommodated tests.

When the student presents you with this letter, the two of you should meet to determine the method for the provision of these accommodations. The two of you may agree that you will provide these accommodations in an appropriate setting (possibly your office or the departmental office). Or, if you and the student agree, you may utilize the accommodated testing program offered through the Learning Center (North Quad 350). Staff at the Learning Center will work with you and the student if you choose to utilize this testing option. Procedures have been developed at the Learning Center to maintain test security and the standards set by you and the university.

Blackboard Exams

If you use online exams (such as Blackboard), you will need to ensure that the student gets extended time. There are two ways you can do this with Blackboard. If the Blackboard system does not shut the student off after the allotted time, you can simply permit the student to continue taking the exam for longer than you have assigned. Otherwise, if you do set a time limit for your exams, you can easily go into the Blackboard system and extend the time for this student’s exams. More information about how to do this is available on Disability Services’ website at: www.bsu.edu/disabilityservices (go to ‘Faculty Resources’, then ‘Blackboard’). Please make sure you communicate with the student as to which approach you will use.

Making Technology Accessible for Students with Disabilities

While technology has offered individuals with disabilities access to many new opportunities, not all new technology has been created with access in mind. If you are creating or using technology in your classes, please consider how a student with a disability would access that program; how would a student who is blind or deaf use the technology? If you are using media/technology in any of your classes, it is necessary that the technology be accessible to students with disabilities. BSU has terrific resources to ensure technological access.

For students with visual impairments: Contact Carlos Taylor, BSU's Adaptive Technology Specialist, (cetaylor@bsu.edu, 285-6124) to ensure that technology is accessible for students using adaptive software. Carlos can also assist with Braille and other options for making text accessible.

For students who are deaf/hard of hearing: If captioning is needed for any video used in class, first contact Educational Resources (285-5333) to see if there is a captioned version available. If not available, contact Jeff Bowers (285-2766) at the Teleplex to get assistance with captioning of the video. Advance planning is important as adding captions to video is a laborious process.

Field Trips

When planning a field trip and providing university transportation for the class, please plan ahead if there are access needs. Contact Transportation (285-1022) for assistance in arranging for an accessible vehicle. Extra costs (if any) will be paid by the university.

Emergency Evacuation Procedures

Since elevators should not be used for evacuation during an emergency, persons with mobility impairments will need assistance evacuating. First, contact Public Safety (285-1111) to notify the first responders of the location of the person with a disability. If there is no immediate danger, take the individual to a safe place to await emergency personnel. Whenever possible, someone should remain with the person while another individual exits the building and notifies emergency personnel of the person with a disability’s exact location.

Only in situations of extreme and immediate danger should you try to evacuate a wheelchair user yourself. The person with the disability is the best authority on how he/she should be moved. Ask before you move someone. While it is best to let professional emergency personnel conduct the evacuation, a person with a mobility impairment can be carried by two people who have interlocked their arms to form a "chair" or by carrying the person in a sturdy office chair.

Disability Services’ Website

More information about policies, procedures, and accommodations for students with disabilities can be found online at www.bsu.edu/disabilityservices. Included on the website are resources, tips, and strategies for teaching students with various types of disabilities.

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