Students seeking academic accommodations must first register with the Office of Accessibility Resources (OAR). Eligibility for academic adjustments and modifications are determined through an interactive process between the student and the Director of Accessibility Resources during which the intersection of the disability and the academic environment will be discussed.
Following this discussion, if eligibility is determined, a Letter of Accommodation (LOA) will be developed and given to the student to provide to instructors. Please note the LOA does not reveal a student's disability or how it's manifested, only the accommodations for which the student is eligible. Simply, the LOA serves as official verification that the student is registered with OAR and outlines the reasonable accommodations to be implemented by faculty if requested by the student.
Self-advocacy is a key skill for college students with disabilities. It involves understanding the impact of one's disability, being able to communicate one's needs, understanding one's rights and responsibilities in the accommodation process, problem-solving, and utilizing support systems. Self-advocacy is about self-determination.
Steps to becoming a self-advocate:
- Understand your disability, how it will affect your life as a student in and out of the classroom and be able to discuss it as needed to utilize support systems.
- Understand your rights under the Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act (ADAAA) 2008.
- Take the initiative to seek assistance for academic and other problems as appropriate.
- Keep in regular communication with parents, friends, professors, academic advisors, and OAR. Know what you want and how you are going to ask for it before you begin a conversation. If it helps you, practice in advance!
- Let your professors and OAR know how accommodations are working for you. While you have the right to reasonable accommodations, if they are not working, you have the responsibility to inform OAR.
- Recognize that living with a disability can be challenging at times and the transition to college can be especially difficult. Stonehill is a caring community! Reach out to OAR, Counseling Services, your RA or RD, your professors, friends, and roommate(s). Be there for others when they need a helping hand. We all need a helping hand from time to time.
Accommodations Do Not Lower Standards
While faculty will be expected to assist with the provision of accommodations when reasonable and necessary, they are not expected to compromise essential elements of the course or evaluation standards. The LOA invites students and/or faculty to contact OAR if there are concerns or questions about the provision of accommodations. There is no obligation on the part of the student to use accommodations if they choose not to, or to notify a professor that they have accommodations unless they plan to use them in that course.
Requesting Your Letter of Accommodation (LOA)
Each semester, students who plan to use accommodations must request their accommodation letters by completing a brief, online form. The link to the form ca be found on the left menu bar of the OAR webpage and is emailed to students just prior to the start of a new semester.
Reasonable Accommodation or Fundamental Alteration
A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a course, program, service, job activity, or facility that ensures an equal opportunity for qualified students with disabilities to participate in, and enjoy the benefits of, a service, program, or activity. Aids, benefits, or services need not produce equal results, but must afford an equal opportunity to achieve equal results. When necessary, OAR will consult with an instructor when it is believed that an accommodation may compromise the academic integrity or create a fundamental alteration of the course and/or program.
Examples of Reasonable Accommodations
The following section highlights some of the accommodations that have been requested by our students. The list is certainly not exhaustive and OAR encourages all students to meet with OAR to discuss other reasonable accommodations.
Extended Time for Exams
- Extended time for exams means that the student is given “time and a half” to complete the exam (i.e., for a 50-minute exam, a student with this accommodation is given 75 minutes). Time and a half is the standard accommodation at the post-secondary level.
- Double time for exams means that the student is given twice as long to complete an exam (i.e., for a 60-minute exam, the student with this accommodation is given 120 minutes). Double time is typically reserved for students who have an impairment that drastically diminishes their ability to complete an assessment due to a sensory or mobility impairment.
- Guidance for the instructor:
- The Office of Accessibility Resources (OAR) strongly encourages instructors to proctor extended time exams if their schedules allow for it.
- An accommodation for a "distraction-reduced testing setting" does not mean "private" testing setting. It simply means a space that minimizes visual and auditory distractions.
- Instructors should schedule extended time directly before or immediately after a scheduled exam time, during office hours, or at any other mutually agreed upon time and location, provided that this arrangement does not interfere with the student's course schedule. Instructors are not required to schedule exams around any student activity that is unrelated to a course, job or mandatory team sport.
- If instructors are able to proctor the exam, but are unsure of what that entails, please contact OAR for assistance at 508-565-1306 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Instructors who are unable to proctor exams should direct students to OAR to complete an Exam Accommodation Request Form. OAR will coordinate a proctored exam in our Testing Center located in Duffy 264.
Guidance for the student:
- It is the student’s responsibility to self-advocate, and to make arrangements with his or her instructors at least 3 business days in advance of a quiz, exam or other assessment.
- If the instructor is unable to proctor the exam, the student must fill out an Exam Accommodations Form with the instructor, and submit the form to the OAR at least 3 business days prior to the scheduled exam date. Prior notice is essential so that OAR can schedule a proctor. If advance notice is not provided, OAR cannot guarantee that proctoring will be available which may result in the student not being able to use the accommodation(s).
Distraction-Reduced Setting For Exams
- Based upon the nature of the disability, a student may require a distraction-reduced environment in which to take an exam.
- Instructors may administer their exams before or after class, during office hours or through a staff assistant to administer the exam with the separate setting accommodation provided this arrangement does not interfere with the student's course schedule. Instructors are not required to schedule exams around any student activity that is unrelated to a course, job or mandatory team sport.
- If the instructor is able to proctor the student’s exam but unsure what that entails, please contact the OAR for further instruction.
- If the exam is unable to be proctored by the instructor due to scheduling conflicts, the student is responsible for contacting the OAR to make exam accommodations arrangements
- To take an exam with OAR; the student is responsible for filling out an Exam Accommodations Form with their instructor. The student is then responsible for submitting this form to OAR at least 3 business days prior to the scheduled exam date. Prior notice is essential so that OAR can schedule a proctor. If advance notice is not provided, OAR cannot guarantee that proctoring will be available which may result in the student not being able to use the accommodation(s).
Use of a Computer for an Exam
- When appropriate, a student will be permitted the use of a computer to take an exam or to complete an in-class assignment. In most cases, the student will be limited to the word processing function of the computer for the exam.
- A computer will be provided for the student's use. Unless permitted by faculty, a student may not use their own computer for taking an exam.
- Under no circumstances is the student permitted to view files or connect to the internet while taking the exam.
- If a student is seeking to utilize a computer on their exam, it is the student’s responsibility to submit an Exam Accommodation Request form to the OAR at least 3 business days prior to the scheduled exam date. Prior notice is essential so that OAR can schedule a proctor. If advance notice is not provided, OAR cannot guarantee that proctoring will be available which may result in the student not being able to use the accommodation(s).
- To take a proctored exam through OAR, the student is responsible for filling out an Exam Accommodations Form with their instructor, and submitting this form at least 3 business days prior to scheduled exam date.
Peer Note Taker
- OAR will request that the professor help to identify a peer note taker in the class. The note taker will need to meet with the OAR Director to review responsibilities. The peer note taker receives a gift card at the end of the semester as a thank you for assisting with note taking services.
Permission to Audio Record Lectures
- OAR will consider a students preference and history when determining accommodations related to effective communication. Audio-recording is often an effective substitute or a supplemental means of note taking.
Recording devices include, but are not limited to, audio recorders, cellular phones, tablets, computers, smart pens, and other handheld devices that record sound.
Conditions of the agreement:
- All students in the class as well as guest speakers will be informed by the instructor that permission was granted for audio recording to occur. The student will not be named.
- Lectures recorded for this reason may not be shared with other people without the consent of the lecturer. Recording of lectures or class presentations is solely authorized for the purposes of this individual and only to allow access to the course.
- Permission to allow the recording is not a transfer of any copyrights in the recording. The recording may not be reproduced or uploaded to publicly accessible web environments.
- Recordings, course materials, and lecture notes may not be exchanged or distributed for commercial purposes, for compensation, or for any other purpose other than study by the students named above.
- Students must destroy recordings at the end of the semester in which they are enrolled in the class.
- Public distribution of such materials may constitute copyright infringement in violation of federal or state law, or College policy. Violation of this agreement may subject a student to disciplinary action.
The faculty member may require a signed agreement with the conditions noted above before lectures can be recorded. It is the responsibility of the student to notify the instructor that they may be recording the lectures due to their disability.
What if an instructor objects to the use of an auxiliary or personal aid?
Sometimes postsecondary instructors may not be familiar with Section 504 or ADA requirements regarding the use of an auxiliary or personal aid in their classrooms. Most often, questions arise when a student uses a tape recorder. College teachers may believe recording lectures is an infringement upon their own or other students' academic freedom, or constitutes copyright violation.
The instructor may not forbid a student's use of an aid if that prohibition limits the student's participation in the school program. The Section 504 regulation states:
A recipient may not impose upon handicapped students other rules, such as the prohibition of tape recorders in classrooms or of dog guides in campus buildings, that have the effect of limiting the participation of handicapped students in the recipient's education program or activity.
In order to allow a student with a disability the use of an effective aid and, at the same time, protect the instructor, the institution may require the student to sign an agreement so as not to infringe on a potential copyright or to limit freedom of speech.
From The Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights
Reader/Scribe for Exams
- Students who are unable to read or write their exam independently due to either a neurological, physical or visual disability, may require assistance reading/writing. However, OAR encourages students to use assistive technology for this purpose as a better way to ensure that their work is completed independently. If assistive technology (i.e. Kurzweil, Dragon) is not an available or appropriate option given the circumstances, OAR can assist with locating a scribe.
- It is the student's responsibility to complete an Exam Accommodations Form with their instructor for this accommodation. The student is required to submit the Exam Accommodations Form to OAR at least 3 business days prior to the scheduled exam date. Prior notice is essential so that OAR can schedule a proctor. If advance notice is not provided, OAR cannot guarantee that a reader/scribe will be available which may result in the student not being able to use the accommodation(s).
- OAR will consider a students preference and history when determining accommodations related to communication needs. An interpreter/transcriber is simply one who bridges the gap between the spoken and Deaf world. When the teacher or a classmate speaks, the interpreter/transcriber translates the spoken words into the language preferred by the Deaf or hard of hearing student. The student likewise participates in the classroom by signing or typing the information and the interpreter voices it (talks) for the class. The interpreter is not meant to be a participant in the classroom, but a communication facilitator, making sure that communication is easily accessible for the deaf and hearing populations equally.
- All DVD’s, video tapes, streaming digital media, video files and other course materials that include an audio portion should be captioned. If captioning is not available, a transcript of the audio must be provided before the media is used. Uncaptioned materials cannot be assigned as a course requirement.
Preferential Seating Arrangement
- While seating in most college classrooms are unassigned, a student may need to sit in a certain area of the classroom in order to have equal access to information. The student's need-based preference will be considered. Students who have limited hearing, vision or difficulty with attention, distraction or an ability to focus will typically need to sit as close to the instructor as possible.
Laptop for Note Taking
- When appropriate, a student will be permitted to use a laptop in class to support their note taking efforts.
Use of a Calculator
- Permission to use a calculator for basic math functions may be permitted unless the instructor determines that basic computational skills without the use of a calculator is essential to the course. In other words, if a test or assignment is designed to measure the student’s ability to perform functions a calculator would perform then this accommodation is inappropriate.
Faculty members, in collaboration with academic departments, identify and define essential requirements for each course. Instructors determine attendance policies and establish an acceptable number of absences in light of these requirements. Often attendance policies are contingent upon the interactive or participatory nature of a course. In most cases, students are expected to follow established classroom attendance policies. However, for students with chronic health conditions that may flare up episodically or psychological conditions that interfere with meaningful engagement, exceptions to attendance requirements may be considered on a case-by-case basis as a reasonable accommodation. Accommodations for absences often include consideration of flexible deadlines for missed assignments, exams and quizzes.
The Director of Accessibility Resources Services is available to discuss questions that will help to determine if attendance is essential to the course: These questions, adapted from an Office of Civil Rights complaint resolution, include, but are not limited to, the following:
- What attendance policies are included in the course description and syllabus?
- Is attendance factored into the final grade?
- What are the classroom practices and policies regarding modifications of the attendance policy (i.e. is there flexibility for athletic team travel)?
- Is there classroom interaction between the instructor and students and/or between students?
- Do student contributions/experiences in class/lab constitute a significant component of the learning process?
- Does the fundamental nature of the course rely on student participation as an essential method for learning?
- To what degree does a student’s failure to attend constitute a significant loss to the educational experience of other students in the class?
- Is the material being learned sequential? Does each week’s class build on the material learned in previous weeks?
- Is there an alternative accommodation that can be implemented instead?
Extensions on Coursework
- Ordinarily, students with disabilities will be expected to complete all course assignments on time, based on the schedule in the course syllabus, and will plan accordingly.
- Depending on the specific nature of students’ disabilities, they may on occasion, require a reasonable extension on the due dates of some course assignments.
- If a student with a disability is unable to meet a particular deadline due to unforeseen or extenuating circumstances, it is the student’s responsibility to request an extension from the professor in advance of the scheduled due date.
- Any extension will be granted on an individual basis by the professor for a specific assignment and not as a blanket allowance for all assignments.
- The guideline for any extension should be a reasonable accommodation at the professor’s discretion, should be time limited, and not at the expense of the integrity of the essentials of the course plan.
- A professor is not required to give an extension on coursework that would fundamentally alter the curriculum of the course. If a professor has questions as to whether or not this accommodation would change the course curriculum, they are encouraged to speak with OAR.
- A Classroom Assistant is a current student that has been hired and trained by OAR. The Assistant will attend all classes with the student and assist with academic tasks. These tasks may include, but are not limited to:
- Provide copies of notes
- Scan course materials
- Computer navigation
- Exam/quiz proctoring
- Organize academic materials
- The Classroom Assistant will report to the Director of OAR and will submit a weekly report.
- The Classroom Assistant is not responsible to attend to personal care needs.
Personal Care Attendant
Some students with significant medical or physical disabilities may require a personal care attendant (PCA) to travel with them. Depending on the needs of the student, the attendant may or may not sit with the person in class.
- The PCA is employed by the student.
- The PCA is required to follow Stonehill College policies and procedures.
- The PCA may assist with personal care needs in the classroom but may not assist with academic needs. It is the not the responsibility of the PCA to be an academic advocate. It is the College’s responsibility to provide reasonable academic accommodations that do not alter the course of study.
- The PCA is expected to allow the student to take responsibility for his/her own actions, avoid speaking on behalf of the student, and refrain from discussing confidential information with others.
Electronic Format of Course Material
- Course materials, including syllabus, handouts, rubrics, and copies of power point presentations, should be sent to the student electronically.
Assistive Listening Device
- ALDs usually refers to a type of wireless system that helps people better understand speech in noisy situations. The ALD will be provided by OAR unless the student prefers to use his/her own personal device. The student will provide the instructor with an transmitter microphone to wear during class via clip-on or lavaliere, or the transmitter is placed in the middle of the group (picking up speech from all around). The student is responsible for storing the device.
- Using harmless radio waves, the FM system sends speech signal(s) to the listener, who wears a tiny FM receiver behind the ear.
Access to teacher handouts, slides, overheads
- Having access to handouts is needed either because a student needs to have the extra time to read them, in advance of class, or they may be beneficial to a student who is not able to access the course information by recording lectures. Materials are posted to eLearn suffice in meeting the needs of the student with this accommodation.
Extended time on in-class assignments
- Some students may require additional time on any in-class writing assignment that would typically be due at the end of class. OAR recommends that the faculty member and the student work out how to best handle this situation directly. If there are any questions, please feel free to contact OAR. This accommodations would not apply to an online course requirement where the assignment is essentially completed at home over a pre-determined period of time.
- Some students have a disability related need to leave the classroom and should therefore not be penalized for missed class time. It is the student’s responsibility to make arrangements to make up any missed work or obtain notes during the period of absence. If the student’s need to leave class interferes with essential course requirements, the professor should contact OAR to determine reasonable options.
- Some students due to visual processing issues or visual disabilities, may not be able to transfer their answers to a scantron. In this case, we ask that the student be able to answer directly on the test. If this is not possible, please contact OAR to determine what other options might be available.
No Penalty for Spelling Errors
- The use of a spellchecker will help this student and may help the grader by making tests easier to read. If a spellchecker is not able to discern more technical terminology, then it may be appropriate to not penalize for spelling errors. If the function of the test or assignment includes measuring spelling ability, this accommodation may not be appropriate.
Alternative Format Course Materials
- Students who are blind or low vision will need to have any materials that are needed for the class available in an appropriate alternative format (large print, braille, electronic) so that they have access to the same information as other students. Many times documents can be emailed to them directly from the professor.
- Students with a variety of disabilities including, but not limited to, Blind or low vision, physical disabilities and learning disabilities, may require their books to be produced in an alternative format (electronic, large print or Braille). This process takes time. Therefore, it is critically important for students to get their books into OAR before they go home for the break at the end of the semester. Faculty can help by getting their book lists into the bookstore early.