Faculty Quick Tips
Merced College is committed to creating an academic environment that supports its diverse student population. Disabled Students Program & Services (DSPS) coordinates academic accommodations for students with verified disabilities. If you have, or suspect you may have, a disability that impacts your education, please contact the DSPS Office to determine your eligibility for accommodations. All information and documentation is confidential. In Merced, DSP&S is located in the Lesher Student Services Building, Room 234, phone (209) 384-6155. In Los Banos, DSP&S is located in Building A, phone (209) 381-6423. You can also contact DSPS at email@example.com.
- Students with disabilities who may need academic accommodations are encouraged to discuss their authorized accommodations from DSPS with their professors early in the semester so that accommodations may be implemented as soon as possible.
- If faculty have any questions regarding the student’s authorized accommodations, please contact the assigned DSPS counselor (DSPS Certificated staff member). Per Title V, the DSPS Certificated staff member determines which accommodations are appropriate through the interactive process with the student.
2 Section 508
Accessibility - For more information about Section 508, an amendment to the United States Workforce Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a federal law mandating that all electronic and information technology developed, procured, maintained, or used by the federal government be accessible to people with disabilities, or view their section 508 webpages.
Students do not need to disclose the nature of their disability to instructors in order to receive accommodations. Academic Accommodation letters from DSPS never disclose a student’s disability, only the accommodations that are authorized.
Merced College DSPS Certificated staff members use the information from the student’s verifiable disability to determine a student’s accommodation(s). Any documented information is confidentially stored within DSPS.
Portions of documented information that is confidentially stored within DSPS may be shared with the Chancellor's Office of the California Community Colleges or other state or federal agencies; however, disclosure to these parties is made in strict accordance with applicable statutes regarding confidentiality, including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (20 U.S.C. 1232(g)). Pursuant to Section 7 of the Federal Privacy Act (Public Law 93-579; 5 U.S.C.§ 552a, note).
4 Guidelines to ensure that confidential student information is kept secure
- All information that a student shares with a faculty member is to be used specifically for arranging reasonable accommodations for the course of study.
- Do not leave student disability information visible on your computer or in any printed format that others can see, and dispose of it securely at the end of the quarter.
- Refrain from discussing a student’s disability status and necessary accommodations within hearing range of fellow students, faculty, staff, or others who do not have an “educational need to know.”
- Do NOT use students' names in the subject line in emails. Instead, use initials in the subject line.
- At no time should the class be informed that a student has a disability.
- Discuss accommodation memos and logistics of implementing accommodations with students in private. Make yourself available by email, during office hours, or by appointment to discuss. Contact DSPS if you would like a DSPS counselor to be present during your appointments with students.
- Requesting specific information about a student’s disability is inappropriate. Requesting a letter from the student’s physician is inappropriate. The Accommodation Letter is all that is needed to justify the accommodation.
- If a student voluntarily discloses the nature of their disability to you, even if it is obvious, do not disclose it to others.
- If a student tries to provide you with their primary disability documentation, refuse to read or accept it and refer the student to DSPS.
5 Maintaining Confidentiality of Student Disability Information
Breaches of confidentiality are taken very seriously by Merced College DSPS. Unauthorized disclosures of student information must be documented and can result in the College being in non-compliance with federal regulations. Additionally, such disclosures may violate state privacy laws and may subject the university and the individual to liability. Please contact DSPS if there are any questions, issues, or concerns regarding maintaining confidentiality of information.
6 Important information in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 AND the Americans
with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)
Under Section 504 and the ADA, a person with a disability is defined as an individual:
- who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities
- who has a record of such an impairment
- or who is regarded as having such an impairment
Major life activities include:
- Performing Manual Tasks
- Engaging in Sexual Relations
- Caring for Oneself
- Interacting with Others
- Performing Bodily Functions
7 Some unique accommodations
Some student will require audio recording their lectures due to their disability. However, in order to use this accommodation, they must agree to and sign our audio recording policy
Students who require extended time are students who:
- Often have physical trouble with writing and typing. This could be due to an illness, injury, or visual challenges that make it difficult to read and write in a timely manner.
- Some students have medical/health issues such as anxiety, migraines, ADD/ADHD, or are undergoing medical treatment that affect their ability to complete tasks in a timely manner.
- Other students have processing deficits that require more time to comprehend and complete work.
Tips to provide extended time in the classroom:
We advise professors to discuss with students who require this accommodation to come up with a routine that will help students not get behind in their work as the semester progresses. Here are a few routines that are popular:
- Classwork will be provided to students in advance so that students have the extra time BEFORE the classwork is assigned.
- Any classwork that is not completed during class should be emailed to the professor within 24 hours or it is considered late.
Tips for extended time on tests/quizzes:
How extended time is provided is determined between professors and students. Most people think that the extended time must occur on the same day, but that is not true. Here are a few ways that professors can provide extra time:
- Students may begin the exam in their office before the class begins and then finish the exam with the rest of the class later.
- If a student does not finish during class time, they may finish the exam in another class that the professor teaches.
- Professors can give students part of the test on one day and the next part on another day.
Breaks during class time
Duration and frequency of breaks need to be determined between professor and students. Therefore it is very important to have a detailed conversation of how the class activities and lectures can be impacted by breaks. With your students who require this accommodation.
It is also important to note that when professors see the word "breaks", they automatically assume it means that the student needs to leave the classroom for a short time period. This is not always the case, so please make sure to discuss the details of this accommodations with your students.
Breaks during class time:
Depending on the structure of the class, professors can make recommendations to the students. Here are a few examples of how breaks can be applied in the classroom:
- Some professors request breaks be taken after the first 30 minutes due to important lecture material
- Many professors would like students to give them some kind of cue (e.g. hand signal) to let them know they are going on a break and another gesture if they will not be coming back (usually due to health related issues)
- Other professors request a break that is no more than three to five minutes at a time and no more than two breaks per class.
- Also professors may make sure that there is room in the back of the room if the student needs to take a standing break in the room during lecture time.
Breaks during exams:
Many professors worry that students may cheat during their breaks. Therefore, we recommend that you give them either a page at a time or sections at a time, and when the student has completed those pages, they will be allowed to have a break. And when they return, the next section/pages can then be given to them. This can give the professor peace of mind that students are not looking for answers to the questions that they viewed before their breaks.
Please also keep in mind that students who are given breaks as an accommodation also have extended time, so please do not count the time during their break toward the amount of time they are allowed to finish the exam. We call this "Stop the Clock".
And just like breaks in the classroom, please provide students the option to take their breaks in the exam room. Most of the time, they just need to stand and stretch.
Distraction Reduced Environment
Distractions vary from individual to individual. So please sit down with your students and ask then to explain what distracts them. Things that distract students can include:
- Lighting in the room
- Temperature in the room
- Noise distraction
- Visual distractions
Just making minor alterations can make all of the difference. Here are some examples:
Students who get visually distracted can sit at a desk facing the wall
Students who need cooler temperature can sit next to the fan or vent
Students who get distracted by noise in the room, can wear headsets or ear plugs
8 It is the faculty's responsibility to make sure all class materials are accessible
- Closed Captions are Mandatory
- All text must be available in alternative formats
- This includes descriptions of all illustrations
- All assigned electronic reading must be readable by a screen reader
If you need further assistance with alternate print accommodations, please contact our Accessibility Specialist, Kito Moua at firstname.lastname@example.org
9 Helpers in the Classroom
Real Time Captioning Services (CART)
Cart Services are for students who are deaf or hearing impaired. Students who need communication access accommodations may choose which local captioner they prefer. This process can take up to 6 weeks to complete so plan ahead!
Tips for having a captioner in the room:
- Please make sure they have a seat and table next to an outlet.
- Please make sure they sit somewhere they can clearly see you.
- Please do not speak too fast as the captioner will be transcribing everything you say.
- Please make sure no one is speaking over each other during classroom discussions so that the captioner can effectively capture everyone's dialog accurately.
The following list contains some helpful suggestions on how to make this accommodation for the student and other students in the class more meaningful:
- When communicating with a Deaf or Hard of Hearing individual, one should address the individual directly. Maintain eye contact. This is a very important piece of etiquette - it takes some getting used to, but keep your eye gaze on the Deaf or Hard of Hearing individual, NOT on the interpreter. If other people interrupt your conversation, signal that you'll be with them in just a moment, and then finish your conversation.
- Avoid asking the ASL interpreter's opinion of the conversation's content. Interpreters follow a code of ethics that requires confidentiality and impartiality. If you want to know how things are going, speak to the Deaf or Hard of Hearing individual and the interpreter will interpret your inquiry.
- ASL interpreters require prep materials and/or subject-specific information to provide an accurate interpretation. So please make an extra copy of any handouts you will be distributing in class.
- Speak naturally. Occasionally an ASL interpreter may need to interrupt for clarification during a meeting or lecture.
- Room set-up, including sufficient lighting and seating arrangements, to provide the Deaf or Hard of Hearing individual with visual access to the instructor/speaker, interpreter and any additional visual information (i.e. PowerPoint). The interpreter will place themselves within the sight line of the Deaf or Hard of Hearing individual(s). This means they will sit or stand as close to the hearing speaker as possible so the Deaf/Hard of Hearing person can pick up on facial expressions and body language from their hearing counterpart. Exactly where the interpreter stands or sits depends on the situation and interpreters will help facilitate this process.
- If your class is longer than an hour, you may want to provide a short break every hour, especially if the interpreter is working without an interpreter team. A short break will provide a physical and mental recess, ensuring the most accurate and successful interpretation possible.
- One person should speak at a time in the classroom. It's very common among hearing people to speak over each other, hold side conversations, or allow no time between comments. An interpretation's success depends on the ability of the interpreter to hear each comment individually. Please encourage group/class discussions to follow this tip.
- With all that said, it may be a good idea to meet briefly with the interpreter before some classes to clarify any special vocabulary or jargon; to make best seating and lighting arrangements; and provide the interpreter with any necessary written information.
- ASL interpreters are part of an instructor’s educational team to facilitate communication in the classroom.
- ASL interpreters are NOT in place to tutor or take over the instructor’s role.
- It is inappropriate for ASL interpreters to participate in the class or discuss the student’s progress.
Personal Service Attendant (PSA)
We make every reasonable effort to accommodate individuals with disabilities as addressed by the Americans with Disabilities Act. In keeping with this commitment, Personal Service Attendant (PSA) may be necessary to address the personal needs of a student with a disability so that he/she/they may participate in the college's activities, services, and programs. In order for the student who requires PSA services to have the same independent experience as all other college students, it is in the student's best interest to hire an impartial PSA who is not a family member or close friend. The college does not assume coordination or financial responsibilities for personal attendant services, and expects PSAs to respect all of the college's policies and codes of conduct.
A PSA is expected to:
- Follow all applicable university policies, rules, regulations, and procedures.
- Assist the student before and after class but wait outside the classroom (unless deemed appropriate by documentation and approved by the Accessibility and Disability Services Office).
- If in the classroom, refrain from assisting any academically-related tasks (i.e. note taking, class participation, group activities) in the classroom or other academic settings.
- Allow the student to take responsibility for his/her/their own progress or behavior.
- Refrain from contact with or asking questions of faculty, staff, or others on behalf of the student.
- Refrain from intervening in conversations between the student and faculty, staff or other students.
- Refrain from discussing any confidential information about the student with faculty, staff, or students.
Tips for having a PSA in the classroom:
- Please make sure they have a seat designated for them. They do NOT have to sit by the student requiring this accommodation.
- However, they do need quick access to the student if the student requires a medical emergency.
Notetakers are volunteers who agree to share their notes with a peer in the classroom. Sometimes the students prefer to disclose their identity to their notetakers, so they can collect the notes directly from them right after the class is over. However, when the student requiring the notes does not feel comfortable revealing their identity, the notetaker will deliver the notes directly to DSPS or the professor, so that we can deliver them to the student without compromising their privacy.
Notetakers are also able to place their role as a notetaker for ADS on their resume for future jobs. Additionally, for professors who practice Universal Design, these notetaker's notes may be published on Canvas for ALL students in the class who may require another set of notes to help them study.
10 Universal Design
Universal design for Learning (UDL) is a method used to create environments and materials that meet the needs of people of different physical and mental abilities. According to Brittney Newcomer (MS, LSSP), "universal" refers to being flexible to meet the needs of ALL learners.
The goal of UDL is to use a variety of teaching means, methods, and materials to remove any barriers to learning, giving all students equal opportunities to succeed. It’s about preparing the learning environment so that teachers have what they need to flexibly meet the strengths and needs of a wide range of students. This includes individuals of different socio-economic backgrounds, cultures, religions, genders, languages, etc. Therefore, this form of teaching will help effectively support students who have not been formally diagnosed OR do not wish to disclose any physical, mental, or learning challenges to you.
Researchers believe that UDL:
- Provides equal opportunity to succeed
- Offers flexibility in the ways students access and engage with classroom materials and show what they know.
The best way to help students with learning and health challenges is to practice universal design. Here are a few tips:
Multi-sensory Teaching – Some students learn more readily if material is presented in as many modalities as possible (seeing, speaking, doing.) Provide opportunities for touching and handling materials that relate to ideas. Cutting and pasting parts of compositions to achieve logical plotting of thoughts is one possibility.
Visualization – Help students visualize the material. Visual aids can include overhead projectors, films, carousel slide projectors, chalkboards, flip charts, computer graphics, and illustrations of written text.
Auditory - Some students learn and remember better when they hear new information. Giving students an opportunity to ask questions, having class discussions, and group activities are a great way to engage all students.
Analogies - Some students learn new information by connecting to information they already know. Providing something to compare new information to will help students comprehend lessons and concepts on a deeper level.
Access to Information - Many students cannot write notes very quickly, so if you are writing on the white board or projecting information on a screen, allow students to take pictures of white board or screen.
So please feel free to think outside the box! Provide different methods of assessment, as well as practice for your students.
11 Individual Consultation for Faculty and Staff
We're waiting to collaborate with you
The DSPS team welcomes questions from faculty and staff. We love collaborating with you! Please let us know what we can do to help support you, so we can work together to help all of our students be successful in their academic endeavors. Please contact one of us and we will make sure to make the time to meet with you:
Please contact Nyesha Meeks, who is our DSPS Student Support Coordinator. She can be reached at email@example.com
You may also contact Estelina Jones, who is the Acting DSPS Director. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you'd like us to come introduce our services to your class, please let us know. We'd love to spread the word of our services and answer any curious questions that students may have.
If you'd like us to create a workshop for your class, please contact one of us and we'll see what we can do to design just the right workshop for you.
1 What if I disagree with an approved accommodation?
Contact the student’s DSPS Counselor (DSPS Certificated staff member) who is listed on the student’s accommodation letter.
2 The Learning Experience of Students with Disabilities
To gain a deeper understanding of the varied experiences and perspectives of students with disabilities, consider watching these brief informative videos told from the perspective of college students with a range of different disabilities. These videos and the stories will better acquaint faculty with students’ challenges, experiences, and instructional supports that are effective in promoting greater access and success. “From Where I Sit” is a powerful video series featuring eight CSU students with disabilities who share their experiences in the college classroom. They tell their stories by answering five questions:
- What is your disability?
- What made you decide to come to college?
- What is it like in the classroom?
- What do you have to do to keep up with the class?
- What suggestions can you offer to faculty that will make their classroom more accessible?
3 How to approach students who you believe may have a disability?
Do not ask the student directly if he/she has a disability, this might put him/her on the defensive and cause some discomfort. A positive approach would be to share multiple on campus resources with the student to enable the student to explore what he or she may need. Resources are listed below:
- DSPS (Ultimately it is up to the student to pursue DSPS services) and all of our student resources offered on campus.
4 Why am I being asked to provide my instructional materials electronically and in
advance of class meetings?
Some students require an alternative way to read their reading materials for your class. For example, some students require all text to be in braille. Other students require text to be converted into a format that can be read by their text-to-voice software on their smart device. Both of these types accommodations could take weeks and sometimes months to convert/create and deliver to your students in a timely manner. Therefore, that is why you may receive requests from our Alt Media team for:
- ISBN of textbooks
- Approximate timelines of dates for starting each chapter
- A syllabus for approximate dates of assignments, quizzes, and exams
- All handouts and supplemental written materials
5 As a faculty member, am I required to provide the accommodations the DSPS authorized?
Yes, you are. However, if there are any accommodations you cannot provide for any reason, please contact a DSPS counselor or director, so we can brainstorm with you on finding an alternative/similar accommodation.
6 A student told me that they have a disability, but has not requested accommodations
from the DSPS. Am I still responsible for accommodations?
Yes and no.
No, because you are only responsible for reasonable accommodations if a student has an official accommodation letter. However, it's also yes because if you can clearly observe that the student requires accommodations in your class, you must work with the student to come up with an equitable way they can access all of the opportunities as other students in the class (e.g. student is in a wheelchair. is wearing a hearing aid. has a service dog, is clearly pregnant, has lost all of the hair on their face and head from chemotherapy, etc).
But it is highly recommended that you encourage them to register with the DSPS in case they need more accommodations that the college can purchase for them (such as adaptable furniture, a magnifying machine, real time captioning, etc).
7 Do faculty members have the right to access diagnostic information regarding a student’s
No. Faculty do not have the right to access the student’s diagnostic information. Merced Community College District follows the rules of confidentiality that are described in Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act(1973) and Federal Education Right to Privacy Act (FERPA).
8 Is there a guide for faculty to help us create accessible materials for our students?
Yes. Download our Quick Start Guide.
9 What are the signs that students may have learning disabilities?
- Signs that a student may have visual processing or reading disabilities:
- Confusion of similar words, difficulty using phonics, problems reading multi-syllable words
- Difficulty finding important points or main ideas
- Slow reading rate and/or difficulty adjusting speed to the nature of the reading task
- Difficulty with comprehension and retention of material that is read, but not with materials presented orally
- Signs that a student may have expressive language or writing disabilities:
- Difficulty with sentence structure, poor grammar, omitted words
- Frequent spelling errors, inconsistent spelling, letter reversals
- Difficulty copying from chalkboard
- Poorly formed handwriting
- might print instead of using script
- writes with an inconsistent slant
- has difficulty with certain letters
- spaces words unevenly
- Compositions lacking organization and development of ideas
- Signs of auditory processing or language processing disabilities
- Difficulty paying attention when spoken to
- Difficulty listening to a lecture and taking notes at the same time
- Easily distracted by background noise or visual stimulationvvv
- Might appear to be hurried in one-to-one meetings
- Inconsistent concentration
- Signs of oral language or expressive language disabilities
- Difficulty expressing ideas orally which the student seems to understand
- Difficulty describing events or stories in proper sequence
- Difficulty with grammar
- Using a similar sounding word in place of the appropriate one
- Sign of disabilities in math (ex: Dyscalculia, Visual-Spatial Aspects of math)
- Difficulty memorizing basic facts
- Confusion or reversal of numbers, number sequences or symbols
- Difficulty copying problems, aligning columns
- Difficulty reading or comprehending word problems
- Signs of attention deficits, physical health challenges, and mental health challenges
- Problems with reasoning and abstract concepts
- Exhibits an inability to stick to simple schedules
- repeatedly forgets things
- loses or leaves possessions
- and generally seems "personally disorganized"
- Difficulty following directions
- Poor organization and time management
- Signs of students who are under the spectrum or may be experiencing mental health
- Difficulty "reading" facial expressions, body language
- Problems interpreting subtle messages, such as sarcasm or humor
- Seems disorganized in space: confuses up and down, right and left; gets lost in a building, is disoriented when familiar environment is rearranged
- Seems disoriented in time: is often late to class, unusually early for appointments or unable to finish assignments in the standard time period
- Displays excessive anxiety, anger, or depression because of the inability to cope with school or social situations
10 Can faculty get accommodations too?
Yes. All schools are legally obligated by the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act to provide general accommodations for employees who have disabilities. You may contact HR which is the department that will be processing your accommodation requests and making sure you receive your accommodations.