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  • Faculty and Staff

    Student Disability Services (SDS) is here to help faculty and staff best serve our students with disabilities. This page serves as an active and growing resource. Current information will be revised as needed, and new information added when available. For example, information about particular types of disabilities, including tips for instructors working with students with particular disabilities, will be added to on a regular basis. The goal of SDS is to provide as comprehensive and practical a resource page as possible. Comments or suggestions from faculty and staff about content are most welcome.

    Faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to review the entire website to ensure a full and comprehensive understanding of the Student Disability Services office and related services. It is important that faculty and staff know their responsibilities and rights when it comes to providing students with services.

    Notifying Students of Services

    Students are notified of services available to disabled students through a variety of channels, including brochures, this website,, and statements in handbooks, bulletins, and catalogs. Instructors are strongly encouraged to help with this notification process by informing students about available services and related procedures. A good two-fold strategy is to include a statement on your syllabus about disability services and to announce to the class at the start of each semester that any student with a disability who needs accommodations or related services can discuss options with you in private. This will help students with disabilities feel more comfortable speaking with you about their needs and also show a good faith effort on your part to make students aware that the school does have a system to help them obtain equal access. Information about SDS is also available on Starfish, and faculty can make referrals to SDS using this system if a student mentions the need for accommodations or says he or she has a disability. 

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What should I do if a student informs me that he or she has a disability?

    You should inform the student that you need official notification from SDS about his or her accommodations. Faculty should not work unilaterally with students to provide accommodations, as they may not have the expertise to determine whether the student has a qualified disability and/or what is needed or required by law. If a student informs you about a disability but does not provide you with any official notification, you must promptly refer the student to SDS either by putting a referral in Starfish or sending an email to the SDS office directly. Students can also be guided to complete a Disability Self-Identification form. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) intends for faculty to be part of the accommodation process, and that means connecting students with disabilities to the appropriate office when they mention a disability or ask for accommodations.

    What should I do if a student provides me with an academic adjustment notice or I get a Starfish notification about disability accommodations? (Most notifications are provided by email).

    Mandatory academic adjustments are nonnegotiable. They are required by law and you must honor them. These are generally measures like extra time on exams or provision of sign language interpreters. However, in some instances, more discussion will be needed to determine whether a particular request is appropriate. For instance, some students may benefit from more time on assignments because of the way their disability affects them. If an academic adjustment notice includes a note like this or some other special instructions, be sure to review it. Contact SDS for more information or if you are unsure how to accommodate a student.

    What should I do if a student provides me with an attendance and disability memo?

    We cannot require instructors to change attendance requirements, but we encourage an interactive discussion to determine whether the attendance policy can be modified, and if so, to what extent. For more information on determining whether to be flexible with the attendance policy, visit the Attendance and Disability page in the Faculty and Staff portion of the SDS website. Please also feel free to contact SDS at any time with questions or concerns.

    What should I do if a student asks for an accommodation that would totally change an assignment?

    If a student requests an accommodation that could fundamentally alter an assignment or the intended learning outcomes, it may not be appropriate. For instance, if a student is taking a public speaking class and is required to give speeches in the class, it likely would be a fundamental alteration to allow a written paper in lieu of the speech. SDS will work with the instructor to determine whether an accommodation is not appropriate and attempt to devise one that is. Students should not negotiate accommodations directly with faculty, and faculty members should immediately refer students who attempt to do so to SDS.

    What should I do if a student informs me of a medical condition that could result in his or her needing emergency care (seizures, certain heart conditions, etc.)?

    If a student has a medical emergency, you should call 911. As nonmedical personnel, faculty and staff are not expected to and should not provide treatment. For nonemergency health concerns, please contact Student Health Services at 212.229.1671.