Quick Reference Guide: Faculty Responsibilities to Students with Disabilities

Faculty and Staff Responsibilities to Students with Disabilities

Documentation of Disability

    Tillamook Bay Community College instructors should never accept or review medical or psychological reports if offered by a student to support a request for accommodation. Students should always be referred to meet with a Disability Services Advisor available on campus who will review documentation and determine eligibility for accommodations and services.

Reasonable Accommodations

    Reasonable accommodation of a disability is any reasonable adjustment of the learning environment that eliminates, as much as possible, physical or instructional barriers to learning encountered by the student. The adjustment must be based on the individual student's documented need and tailored to the specific student's disability. Both the student's physical accessibility to the classroom as well as the ability to fully participate in all course activities are considered in the process of providing reasonable accommodation.
    An accommodation is unreasonable when it creates a change in requirements that are essential to the program of instruction or to meet licensing prerequisites; fundamentally alters the nature of the program; imposes an undue financial or administrative burden; or poses an appreciable threat to personal or public safety. If you feel a request is unreasonable, discuss your concerns with the advisor indicated on the "Approved Academic Accommodations" letter. If there is a difference of opinion, the college will consult with appropriate department administrators and make a determination about the appropriateness of the accommodation.


    TBCC has designated Disability Services (DS) to be the office to hold documentation and handle information about a student's disability. DS staff and Career Education Advisor cannot share information about a student's disability with TBCC staff unless the student has granted permission to share this information or there is a demonstrated institutional need to know. With the student's permission, designated faculty and staff will be advised only of the information they need to know to accommodate the student or to protect the safety and health of the student or others. Consider any communication regarding a student's disability or special needs to be confidential. Destroy any written communication you receive at the end of each term.


    Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act define disability harassment as,
      "...intimidation or abusive behavior toward a student based on disability that creates a hostile environment by interfering with or denying a student's participation in or receipt of benefits, services, or opportunities in the institution's program. Harassing conduct may take many forms, including verbal acts and name-calling, as well as non-verbal behavior, such as graphic and written statements, or conduct that is physically threatening, harmful, or humiliating."
    TBCC takes this issue extremely seriously and will not tolerate any behavior of this type.

Meeting With Your Student

    The Disability Services Advisor will identify accommodations for eligible students with disabilities based on documentation as stated above. These accommodations are communicated to TBCC instructors via an "Approved Academic Accommodations" letter delivered by the Disability Services Advisor to you and to student.
    If your student presents you with an "Approved Academic Accommodations" letter, sit down together privately and review the accommodations as they relate to your class. You may ask how the disability may affect specific tasks required in your class, but never ask what is "wrong" with your student or for details about the disability.
    If your student does not present you with a letter and requests accommodations, explain that you must have one before any modifications can be made. Refer your student to the Disability Services Advisor.
    Here are tips for setting a positive tone when you interact with your student:
  • Always use appropriate terms when describing individuals with disabilities. First and foremost, they are people; secondly, they have one or more disabling conditions. Hence, they should be referred to as "students with disabilities," rather than "disabled students." Avoid terms such as "handicapped," "victim," "special needs," and "wheelchair student."

  • Be aware that many students are extremely uncomfortable in approaching instructors to discuss their accommodation needs.

  • Treat everyone as adults.

  • Always use a normal tone of voice when extending a verbal welcome. Don't raise your voice unless requested.

  • Always speak directly to the student, not to an interpreter or an aide. Never turn to the others and ask, "What does he want?"

  • Be sure that discussions with students about their particular needs are done in private or are discrete.

  • Always treat the information you discussed in your meetings as confidential.

Your Responsibilities

Class Syllabus

    The college recommends that you include the following statement on your syllabus:
      "TBCC is committed to supporting all students. If you plan to use academic accommodations for this course, please contact your instructor as soon as possible to discuss your needs. Accommodations are not retroactive; they begin when the instructor receives the "Approved Academic Accommodations" letter from you (submitted in person for courses on campus; via email for Distance Learning courses). To request academic accommodations for a disability, please contact a Disability Services Advisor."
    This approach preserves the student's privacy and also indicates your willingness to provide assistance. Bring this statement to the attention of your class at the first class meeting.

Accommodation Request Timelines

Student Requests of Instructors:

    The instructor should negotiate the timelines for students' accommodation requests on a case-by-case basis. Requested accommodations are not retroactive; that is, you are not required to re-administer tests or make adjustments to course activities that have already occurred if the student makes a request late in the term. However, from the date of receipt on you must make the necessary adjustments. Instructor and Student Requests of Disability Services' various services have specific timelines for requests. Check with the Disability Services Advisor or our website for more information.

Common Accommodations

    The following are common classroom accommodations listed on "Approved Academic Accommodations" letters:

Alternate Media Formats:

    Students may contact you about printed materials that need to be adapted into an alternative format (such as audio or electronic). They may request copies of your handouts and overheads or text information so that printed materials can be ready at the start of the term. They may ask to borrow an extra text copy while their texts are used for production.

Media Captioning:

    All videotapes and DVDs used in class must be captioned or subtitled. Students needing this accommodation may contact you early in the term about your media plans for the course. If your material is not already captioned, Disability Services must have a minimum of three weeks to produce a captioned copy.

Notetaking Assistance:

    If this accommodation is indicated on the "Approved Academic Accommodations" letter, you will need to assist your student in recruiting a classmate as a volunteer notetaker. DS offers free NCR notepaper and the use of a photocopy machine. Never identify your student to the class in any way. You may wish to make a statement such as,
      "We have a student in our class who needs assistance with taking notes. Please come up to see me after class to volunteer. You will be provided with notetaking paper. Your assistance will be greatly appreciated."
    You may consider offering incentives to students who volunteer (such as extra credit points). If you and your student have difficulty setting up a notetaking system, contact DS.

Service Animals:

    Students may request to have a service animal accompany them on campus. See our website for information on the definition of a service animal, the types of animals allowed, the individual's and college community's responsibilities, how to clarify an animal's status, and how to report a concern.

Sign Language Interpreters and Transcribers:

    Sign language interpreters and transcribers provide services for students who may need assistance in class and with related activities such as instructor conferences and field trips. Your student will make these requests with DS. You may request a brochure that describes how to use an interpreter appropriately.

Tape Recording Lectures:

    Reviewing material presented orally in class may be a vital study aid for some students and they must be permitted to record class lectures. You may ask that a student sign a statement promising that recordings will only be used for their personal study and not shared.

Test Accommodations:

    Students may need test accommodations such as extra time, a distraction-reduced site, a test reader and/or scribe, or a raised workspace. You may work with your student to set up these arrangements on your own or you may choose to contact DS for more information.

Helpful Links

To schedule an appointment, or for more information, contact Disability Services Advisor (503) 842-8222 x1145.


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