For those accommodations that appear on our form letters to faculty with asterisks**
This is one of our most commonly recommended and misunderstood accommodations. Sometimes, it is assumed that this service is supposed to provide notes on days students are absent. All students, regardless of whether or not they have a disability, must find their own way of securing notes on days that they cannot attend. An accommodation should not be a disincentive to going to class. Since courses and disabilities have unique concerns, there is no single best way to provide this accommodation. We suggest that students determine which one works best for your class with your help as early in the semester as possible. As always, the student’s first preference should be provided so long as it is reasonable and does not fundamentally alter your class. It’s also important to note that faculty must maintain the confidentiality of the student with a disability. Never identify the student receiving accommodations in the classroom, only discuss accommodation matters in confidence preferably in your office.
Here are the most common reasonable accommodations in notetaking:
- Student Secures Notes from Classmate
The student takes the initiative and recruits his or her own volunteer making copies of another student’s notes, taking a picture of notes with a cellphone or simply compares notes with a classmate. Students may also give a classmate carbonless copy paper provided by the ODA. These options may not be best for all students, especially when their disability impacts communication.
- Student Records Audio in Class
Student uses a smartphone app, voice recorder, or Smart Pen. Recordings of your lecture must be allowed if this is the student’s preference. If there are any concerns about how students will use these recordings, our office has a recording understanding form that the student may sign indicating recordings will only be used for his or her educational purposes which may be provided upon the request of the faculty member. Students who are recording may need to sit down front in the classroom.
- Professors Provide Advance Copies of Their Notes
Many professors already post Power Points, skeleton notes, handouts, etc. online in advance for everyone, or when a student with the notetaking accommodation requests they may simply send these by email. If you do not have advance copies of notes to provide, you are not required to create them.
- Professor Recruits Volunteer Notetaker
“Universal Notetaker”… if the professor sees a student taking notes on a tablet or laptop, the professor may ask to review the notes for quality and if they seem comprehensive then the professor may ask the student to email or post the notes for the entire class or just the student who needs the accommodation.
OR A professor may recruit a volunteer just for the student needing the accommodations using copy paper, over the years we’ve found this method to be most effective if the student prefers this option:
- The student will bring you a supply of carbonless copy paper from the ODA
- At the start of a class session, and without identifying the student needing notes, simply hold up the carbonless copy paper in front of the class and ask for a volunteer to use it to take notes for the rest of the semester. Most of the time, students who know they take good notes will volunteer.
- Ask the student who is taking notes to leave the copies with you for the student receiving notes to pick up later. It is also a good idea to recruit an alternate notetaker at this point.
On rare occasions, no one volunteers so some professors have offered incentives to encourage volunteers.
We have learned of businesses who are compensating students for uploading copies of their class notes which they in turn provide other students to make a profit. Some of these companies imply that they are doing this to assist students with disabilities, which may be true. However, the UNT ODA does not endorse any of these companies, and does not refer students to them.
Furniture Placed in Classroom by ODA
Students may have disabilities that are not compatible with standard classroom furniture. Students who use wheelchairs may need a desk they can roll under. Students with chronic back pain may need a padded chair. ODA Items will be clearly marked with a plastic, green decal that has a wheelchair logo. Desks and chairs placed by the ODA will typically appear without the need for faculty to do anything. Students make their request from the ODA website after registering. However, we have challenges keeping these items in the classroom. For a variety of reasons, these items are moved around in the classroom and sometimes even taken out. It’s vital that students have these, a day without the padded chair can cause unnecessary suffering and obviously impede learning for a student in pain. We ask that faculty help us by responding to any complaints from students as soon as possible, asking other students not to move or use these items, and reporting any items that go missing. Typically, items are moved into the hallways or nearby classrooms. If they cannot be located please phone the ODA and ask the student to follow up with his or her primary ODA counselor.
This is probably the most misunderstood accommodation for professors and students alike. It’s obvious that students with chronic conditions, medical treatments, etc. may have to miss some classes and most professors are able to work with them. We see concerns arise when the student has missed more classes than the professor considers appropriate. When faculty ask us what to do in such situations, we typically ask about your class. Are any grades based on performance? Is it a lab? Is group work done in class? If this is the case, it may not be possible to allow more than a small number of absences. Students should be informed of these concerns when they provide you with the letter of accommodations. Especially if you have a rule that you will deduct points for missing class. Most professors will choose not to deduct points when the student has this accommodation, but you may still do so if you feel the student is going beyond what is reasonable provided it is discussed in advance. Again, make sure the student understands this at the beginning of the semester. Please, do not ask students registered with the ODA to provide you with a doctor’s note for each time they miss class. It is not reasonable and could be considered an undue burden for a student with a disability like cancer, lupus, HIV to make an appointment and often be charged a co-pay to see the doctor just for a note. The ODA letter at the beginning of the semester should be sufficient. If students still miss too many classes a grade of Incomplete may be considered by the professor after the drop deadline.
Occasional Extensions of Deadlines or Due Dates
Occasional extensions are usually not more than 24-48 hours.
Like absence leniency, this accommodation may not be reasonable in all classes. If deadlines are established because of lab experiments, performance evaluation as in drama, music or art classes, or any demonstration of knowledge that must be completed prior to moving on to the next module or content extensions may not be possible. This is not an accommodation we take lightly, it is rarely granted and only when current, strong documentation is provided from a qualified, treating professional. Early in the semester, it is very important to discuss with the student how long of an extension you will allow. If you feel you cannot allow this, please contact the ODA to see if there are other options.
Alternate formats of required readings (E-Text)
The ODA provides thousands of pages of digital texts to students who are blind or have severe dyslexia. Primarily, the responsibility for arranging this lies with the student and the ODA. However, faculty can make this process much less complicated for all by doing the following:
- Select and post your textbook list as early as possible
- Distribute handouts by email, make sure if you use PDF files that they are accessible see: http://youtu.be/Gidp1bWIugk
- If a student has concerns about access issues due to their disability contact the ODA as soon as possible
- Be flexible, on rare occasions a backlog can develop with our document conversion operations consider allowing extensions or delays of tests if you contact our office and confirm there is a backlog