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  • Working with the Student

    Provide Equal Treatment

    In general, treat students with disabilities as you treat students without disabilities. Some adjustments may be necessary to provide them with access to course materials and related services, but they are still students with the same issues and concerns that other college students have. Make sure to include a student with a disability in all classroom activities and offer the same level of attention you give other students. Don't send a student with a disability to Disability Services for non-disability related issues.

    Communicate

    The best way to work with a student with a disability is to talk frankly to the student about his or her academic adjustment needs and establish a rapport for future discussions. Don't be afraid to ask a student questions about his or her disability and possible accommodations, especially if you are unsure how best to assist. For example, you could say to a student using a service animal, "I've never had a service animal in class before. Is there anything you could tell me that might help me help you in the class?" Generally a student in this situation is more than happy to provide you with information about service animals and answer your questions in detail. However, you must be careful not to pry too deeply. Don't say, for example, "I've read the list of accommodations, but what exactly is your disability?" As stated previously, it is the student's right to disclose or not his/her disability status to the instructor. A specific diagnosis does not have to be given to you in order for you to provide accommodations.

    Respect Confidentiality

    Treat all conversations with the student as confidential. Some students with disabilities are quite open about their disability status and related needs. Others are more concerned about privacy. Don't make any assumptions in this area. Even students with readily apparent disabilities may not be comfortable with their disability being the subject of a class discussion or with their accommodation requests being discussed in front of other students. There will be times when other students notice that an accommodation is being given. If they bring this to your attention, explain to them that it is a confidential matter than you cannot discuss.

    Emphasize the Whole Student

    Avoid referring to a student as the "disabled" student. Do not make statement such as "I have a disabled student in my class." While there is nothing wrong with the word disabled, you want to emphasize the whole person and not make any person feel as totally defined by a disability. Say instead, "There is a student in my class with a disability." Likewise, never say, "I was talking to my blind student yesterday and learned some interesting facts about Braille." Instead say, "A student in my class who is blind told me some interesting facts about Braille." If you are not sure of appropriate terminology to use, speak with the student and/or the director of Disability Services.

    Utilize Student Disability Services

    Develop a relationship with the director of Disability Services. Make yourself available for training. Request information. Encourage your department to schedule training sessions. Provide the director of Disability Services with a list of topics you're interested in. Attend off-campus workshops or conferences in your field that cover teaching students with disabilities.

    Notification to Instructors

    It is a student's responsibility to notify instructors of his/her need for reasonable accommodations. The instructor is most often the person directly responsible for ensuring that these accommodations are made and for helping the student address any problems or concerns related to the accommodations.

    Student Disability Services will prepare for the student a form called the Academic Adjustment Notice (saved as a PDF), which will list the accommodations the student requires. It is then the student's responsibility to provide their instructors with the notice, which is generally done via official New School email. After emailing the Academic Adjustment Notice PDF, a students is supposed to follow up with instructors by arranging a meeting in person to confirm that they have received the notice and review the accommodations listed. This helps develop a working relationship between the student and the instructor and helps ensure that any problems or concerns are addressed early in the semester.

    If a student emails an Academic Adjustment Notice to you and does not talk with you about the request, you should try to arrange a meeting with the student. Under certain circumstances the notice may come directly from Student Disability Services, but the student will still be expected to speak follow up by meeting with you to discuss his or her accommodation needs.

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