It is the beginning of the semester, and one of my students has handed me “The Letter.” What is this?
A “Letter” is an official document used to facilitate communication between Disability Support Services (DSS), students, and faculty. Specifically, a student enrolled with DSS will hand each of his/her professors a Letter that officially indicates that a student is registered with DSS and delineates the legally required classroom accommodations in detail. The Letter is intended to initiate conversation between the professor and student; therefore, DSS encourages each student to self-advocate via open communication with his/her professors. The accommodations will not begin until the student has a discussion with their professors about their letters.
As a faculty member, we suggest that you use the Letter as an informative outline for necessary accommodations in order to allow the student equal access in the academic environment. The Letter is intended to promote an open dialogue between you and the student. If you have any questions regarding the accommodations outlined in the Letter, feel free to contact DSS at (609) 771-3199.
A student is requesting an accommodation that I believe is not feasible in the course I am instructing. Am I allowed to refuse such a request?
If DSS has determined that a student is entitled to specific accommodations according to the evidence of documentation of the disability (or disabilities), the law holds you responsible as a faculty member to adhere to those modifications.
Instead of directly denying the accommodation, we suggest that faculty members contact DSS at (609) 771-3199 so that a solution may be mediated and resolved between the student, faculty member, and DSS coordinator.
If you feel that the requested accommodation is either: unreasonable, ineffective, fundamentally alters the course curriculum, or causes an undue hardship on the faculty/classmates, please confer with the DSS coordinator.
How do I provide testing accommodations that do not fit into the usual testing environment?
Students may receive a variety of accommodations for testing, such as extra time or a reduced distraction environment. Sometimes it is not possible for the student to take the exam with the rest of the class and still have their accommodations provided. Some alternatives to consider:
- Allow the student to begin the test earlier than the rest of the class, or stay later to complete it.
- Arrange for the student to take the test in your departmental office. A member of the office staff can serve as a proctor.
- Permit the student to take the exam in the instructor’s office, if time and space are available.
To maintain academic integrity, DSS does not advocate that any student take a test “alone” or “in a private room”. There should always be someone else present throughout the testing process to serve as a proctor.
Can DSS staff proctor the exam for me?
DSS will be happy to assist with proctoring exams, within certain constraints. We have limited staff, office hours and space available. We cannot guarantee that our offices will be quiet during testing, as we share the space with other departments. Please keep the following in mind for tests that you would like us to proctor:
- Exams can be proctored during our office hours, 8:30-4:30.
- Exam times must be circumscribed. If an instructor wishes to give a student an “untimed” test, we cannot proctor it, as that is impossible to schedule.
- We may have to shift the exam to a day or time other than when it is administered to the remainder of the class, especially during busy times, like mid terms and finals.
- DSS can only provide proctoring for reasons directly related to the student’s disability. If the student wants to move an exam to go on vacation, an interview, family reunion, social event, etc., DSS will not be able to proctor that exam.
- To request proctoring through DSS, please let us know at least a week in advance that a formal request fill be forthcoming. This allows us to set aside staff time. Provide this completed form at least three business days before the exam is given to the rest of your class, and provide the exam itself to us at least one business day before it is scheduled to be administered. We will schedule the exact day and time for the exam with the student.
- Final exams are a very busy time for us, due to the large number of students taking exams on limited days and the length of the exams themselves. We need additional lead time to locate and reserve appropriate space to administer finals. Please let us know two weeks before the end of classes if you would like us to proctor a final exam for any of your students.
I have a student in my class who I believe would benefit from support services; however, he/she is not enrolled in your office. What is the best manner to refer this student?
It is encouraged that the faculty member speak to the student in private to discuss a referral to DSS. Registering with DSS is voluntary on the part of the student.
Before a student is able to be considered for accommodation services at The College, he/she must provide the necessary documentation that he/she has a disability. You may refer to the student to the DSS website, as well as encourage them to stop in or call the office for more information.
Does DSS at TCNJ offer any training services to better prepare me in providing an inclusive classroom for all of my students?
Faculty is encouraged to browse the DSS website for more in-depth disability classroom support information. Any specific details relevant to your course can be discussed with the DSS coordinator. Departmental trainings are available upon request.
If a student discloses a disability to you:
Ask to see an accommodation letter from DSS. This will describe the accommodations to be provided. Discuss with your student what you can do to facilitate learning.
If you have a question about the appropriateness of an accommodation:
Questions about the appropriateness of certain accommodations should be directed to the Coordinator of DSS.
If a student thinks they have a disability?
Refer the student to the DSS.
If a student requests an accommodations assessment?
Refer student to the Accommodation Process link on our web page.
If a student who is receiving accommodations is not doing well in class?
Treat the student as you would any other student.
If a student wants to file a grievance?
Refer student to the TCNJ faculty/student/staff handbook and the ADA policies and procedures.
Or visit TCNJ’s Affirmative Action page to learn more.