Faculty & Staff Resources
As an instructor or faculty member at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, you play an important role in ensuring access for students with disabilities. Students with disabilities are encouraged to work with their instructors to obtain reasonable accommodations that provide equal access and equal challenge in the classroom.
This information is intended to assist staff and faculty in developing a greater understanding on how to assure equal access. The Accessibility Center office is available for consultation and short presentations on disability related topics.
Faculty Roles, Rights and Responsibilities
Each member of the university has particular roles and responsibilities related to the Accessibility Center. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) provides guidance on procedures used to determine and arrange accommodations. The Accessibility Center and Project Success are charged with reviewing documentation and determining reasonable accommodations.
Refer to the following roles, rights and responsibilities you have as an instructor.
- Make reasonable accommodations as outlined on the Accommodation Recommendation Card
- Provide access to classroom and materials
- Maintain confidentiality
Students present their Accommodation Recommendation Card (ARC) to the instructor in order to request accommodations. Once the ARC is shared and reviewed with the instructor, the instructor is then responsible to make accommodations as outlined.
Faculty and staff should not make determinations about disability or accommodation needs. When a student presents their Accommodation Recommendation Card, the student and instructor should discuss how to best meet the accommodation. If a student discloses to you that they have a disability and need accommodations but does not present an Accommodation Recommendation Card, please refer the student to the Accessibility Center located in the Dean of Students office.
In some cases, accommodations may require modifications to standard classroom approaches. Some examples include the following:
- Exam modifications such as taking a copy of the exam to Testing Services or Project Success so that a student may utilize extended time or have access to a less distracting environment or, in rare cases, an individual proctor or scribe.
- Allowing the use of adaptive technology such as a notebook computer or similar device to aid in taking notes or assisting in recruiting students in the classroom to work as note takers.
- Providing some materials to students in an accessible electronic format.
- Consider alternative ways of evaluating content mastery that measures academic ability rather than a disability. For example, modifying an exam from multiple-choice to an essay format or allowing an oral exam option.
If there is a question about how to make an accommodation work or a concern that an accommodation alters the fundamental nature of the course, please consult with the Accessibility Coordinator.
- To maintain academic standards for courses they teach.
- Determine course content and delivery methods.
- Confirm a student’s request for accommodations and seek clarification.
- Deny a requested accommodation if it has not been authorized on the ARC.
- Award grades based upon the student’s level of mastery of course material.
- Award a failing grade to any student who does not perform to academic standards regardless of disability.
Faculty members do NOT have the right to:
Refuse to provide an approved accommodation for a documented disability.
Challenge the legitimacy of a disability.
Request separate documentation concerning a disability or review a student’s disability file.
- Understand laws and University/UW System policies and guidelines related to students with disabilities.
- Refer students to the Accessibility Center when necessary.
- Provide requested accommodations and adjustments in a timely manner.
- Provide handouts, videos and other course materials in an accessible format upon request.
- Evaluate students based upon their ability rather than a disability.
- Maintain confidentiality of information.
The faculty member should meet with the student to discuss accommodation recommendations and make suitable arrangements for those accommodations. If a faculty member has questions regarding the provision or appropriateness of the recommended accommodations, please contact the Accessibility Coordinator noted on the AR.
The Accessibility Center assists staff and faculty with several services, including text conversions, captioning of videos and similar accommodations. The Center also provides information about specific accommodations and ways to serve those students with approved accommodation needs.
Classroom Accommodations (Note-taking, Attendance, Preferential Seating, etc.)
Note-taking assistance can come in a variety of forms on campus. Most often, the instructor is requested to announce (in class or via email) the need for a note taker, explain that the position is paid ($50 Titan Dollars for handwritten notes, $75 Titan Dollars for typed notes), and ask those interested to meet with the instructor briefly at the end of class. The instructor should then introduce the note taker to the student making the request. Instructors should not announce the name of the student who needs note taking assistance or the reason why. After connecting the students, they will come to the Dean of Students office to complete some quick paperwork. Also, we can provide them carbon copy paper for easy note sharing.
Other note taking assistance that might helpful is for the instructor provide PowerPoint slides in advance for a student to assist in note taking or for the student to record lecture (see below).
Technology has also made it possible for some students to use electronic devices to assist with note taking. Devices you may see utilized in class may include SmartPens, iPads, notebook computers, or similar electronic devices. Any concerns with use of electronic devices in the classroom by a student with a disability should be referred to the Accessibility Center.
Some students may be allowed to record lectures and class discussions. Students with this accommodation are informed that they may not share recordings with other students or other entities on or off campus and those recordings should be destroyed when they are no longer needed.
This accommodation is provided for several different reasons including, but not limited to, visual impairment, hearing impairments, attention difficulties, or psychiatric concerns. Usually, students with ADHD or similar attention difficulties might request front row seating to minimize distractions while students with other health conditions may request back-row seating or seating near a door to minimize disruption in the even they need to leave class unexpectedly. Additional seating accommodations may be necessary for a sign language interpreter or other instructional aid for a student.
Some students may need specific furniture, such as a padded chair, a table (instead of an attached chair and desk), or an adjustable height desk to allow for standing and sitting. These arrangements are coordinated between the Accessibility Center. and Facility Services.
Some students have health impairments that could interfere with class attendance. Faculty should discuss expectations for class attendance and participation with the student and whether participation, or lack of participation, could affect the final grade. Opportunities to make up missed work due to a disability related absence should be provided. While the Accessibility Center will not grant a blanket exemption from having to attend class, faculty should exercise extreme care in determining whether to lower a student’s grade because of attendance if all other course objectives can be met successfully. The student is expected to follow up with the instructor after missing class. If attendance is a concern, please consult with the Accessibility Center.
Students might have an accommodation that allows them to leave to leave during class to attend medical concerns. Generally, the student will return during that same class period.
Some students may require additional assistance to complete laboratory classes such as biology, chemistry, or geology. The assistant should not do the work for the student, but instead follow the student’s instructions to obtain the same lab results or experience as other students.
Testing Accommodations (Extended time, Modifications, Alternate location, etc.)
Testing modifications are one of the most utilized accommodations on our campus and can take many forms. Accommodations for testing can be arranged by the Accessibility Center (White accommodation card) or by Project Success (yellow accommodation card). For those are arranged through the Accessibility Center, tests should go to Testing Services, which offers private, distraction reduced rooms. Please visit their website for more information about getting tests to Testing Services. They request a cover a sheet, and their website outlines this information.
For testing accommodations provided by Project Success, students will take tests in the Project Success office. Instructions for testing are located on their website.
Also some exams may need modification for a student, as long as this modification does not fundamentally alter what is being tested. For example, a student may have an accommodation to not use Scantron tests. An alternative format could still be multiple choice, but the student would circle answers on the test instead of filling in circles on the Scantron sheet.
A student may be granted extended time on an exam to account for difficulties related to a learning disability, a visual impairment, or a health condition that affects stamina or writing ability.
Distraction Reduced Environment
Most students who need distraction reduced environments will utilize either Project Success or the Testing Center for testing purposes. Alternatively, the instructor and student may choose to have an exam in the instructor’s office or a quiet meeting room available to the instructor. The aim is not to provide a completely quiet environment but rather a setting that minimizes distractions from people shuffling papers, moving about in the room, or noise from hallways.
In rare cases, exams may need to be modified to enable a student to effectively demonstrate their mastery of course content. This might include any of the following oral exam, computer assistance (instead of handwritten), and alternative format.
Adaptive technology is the use of technology resources to aid in access to print or other course materials. Adaptive technology may include software solutions, hardware solutions or a combination.
Assisted Listening Devices
Instructors may be asked to wear an FM transmitter and lapel microphone connected to a receiver and ear buds worn by a student who is hard of hearing. This device is available to be borrowed by the student from the Accessibility Center. Hearing Loops have been installed in some locations which transmit directly to a student’s hearing aid, if so equipped. In these cases, suitable microphones will be provided. Currently, hearing loops are installed in Sage Hall 1210, 1214 and 1216, Clow L101 and L104, Reeve Union Ballroom, Reeve Union Theatre, and Alumni Welcome Conference Center Ballroom.
Some students may use adaptive software and hardware to access computer workstations or access computer-based content. Learning Technologies staff will assist in setting up necessary equipment or software in classrooms as necessary.
Other AT Devices
Braille note taker: This device resembles a laptop computer, but converts written notes to Braille or an audio format instead of standard text.
Electronic Course Materials (formatting needs)
Course materials, including E-Reserves or documents distributed through D2L should be in an accessible format for use by students with learning disabilities or visual impairments. The best format is in RTF or Word document format, but PDFs can also be made accessible by scanning or saving them as a text document rather than an image.
Course materials may sometimes need to be enlarged for students with visual impairments. In most cases, increasing the font size to 24-28 point font and using a standard type font such as Arial or Times New Roman will suffice. Other handouts such as charts, pictures, and similar materials may also need to be enlarged. In most cases, Document Services can assist in producing these materials for you.
Sign Language Interpreting & Captioning
Some students may be accompanied to classrooms and related activities by a sign language interpreter or a captionist. The student and captionist may need to sit in a particular location to have access to a power supply. When addressing a student who uses a sign language interpreter or captionist, always look at and talk directly to the student.
Movies and Videos
Whether used in class or online, all videos should be closed captioned for the hearing impaired. When selecting new videos for classes, please purchase editions with closed captioning already installed and functioning. The Accessibility Center can assist in captioning existing videos.
Many videos already have captions or subtitles:
-DVD: Click the CC button on your remote. If you do not have that button, using your remote, click the Menu or Setup option. Look for Language or Subtitles. Click that option and select CC.
– Kanopy: If closed captioning is available, you will be able to click the CC button on the bottom right corner of the video. If transcripts are available, click the More box under the video and select Transcript.
– VHS: Click the CC button on your remote. If you do not have that button, using your remote, click the Menu or Setup option. Look for Picture or Language or Screen. Click that option and select CC.
-YouTube: Click for instructions on how to use closed captioning on YouTube.
If you cannot find the captioning on your video and need it for a student with a disability in your class, please send the information to the Accessibility Center. We can assist with this task. Please be aware that it can take several days to add captioning to videos (depending on the length).
Here are a few explanations that might be helpful as you explore captioning:
Closed Captioning: Captions show words spoken by characters as well as other sounds that have meaning (e.g., door shutting, item falling). Closed captions can be turned off and on.
Open Captioning: Captions show words spoken by characters as well as other sounds that have meaning (e.g., door shutting, item falling). Open captions are always visible and cannot be turned off.
Subtitles: These generally show only the words spoken by characters, intended for people who are hearing.
Transcripts: This is a typed version of words spoken by characters as well as other sounds that have meaning. Where captions are synchronized (appearing when the character speaks), transcripts are not. Sometimes transcripts online will follow along with the movie by highlighting the corresponding line of text.