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 Student Disability Services (SDS) for non-disability related issues.
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 possible accommodations in relation to your class, 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 disclose 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.
Treat any disability-related 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.
Avoid referring to a student as the "disabled" student. Do not make statements 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." Person-first language is always preferred. If you are not sure of appropriate terminology to use, speak with the student and/or the director of SDS.
Develop a relationship with the director of SDS. Make yourself available for training. Request information. Encourage your department to schedule training sessions. Provide the director of SDS with a list of topics you're interested in. Attend off-campus workshops or conferences in your field that cover teaching students with disabilities.
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.
SDS 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. Students are also asked to cc the director of SDS when emailing their notices to faculty to ensure that all parties are appropriately notified. After emailing the Academic Adjustment Notice PDF, a student may choose 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. When a student emails the Academic Adjustment Notice to you, please acknowledge that you have received it and offer to discuss it in further detail as it relates to your course, whether via an in-person meeting, phone call, video chat (Skype, Google Hangout, etc.), or email follow-up.
Student Disability Services
Student LifeJennifer Francone
72 Fifth Avenue, 4th floor (
New York, NY 10011
Student Health Services
Lactation Spaces Guide (PDF)
All-Gender Restrooms Map (PDF)
Student Support and Crisis Management
University Learning Center