Frequently Asked Questions
What services are offered through the Office of Disability Support Services?
Disability Support Services (DSS) at Seton Hall University seeks to foster an inclusive learning environment for all students. To this end, DSS provides reasonable accommodations based on appropriate documentation. All documentation is reviewed by a DSS Administrator, who determines appropriate accommodations in compliance with University policy, and state and federal law.
Disability Support Services exists to assist students with disabilities in achieving their educational goals.Our focus is on equal access to all programs and activities. DSS provides the following services for qualified students with documented disabilities:
- Academic Accommodations
- Housing Accommodations
- Exam Proctoring
- Medical Exception Parking
- Referrals to on- and off-campus resources
What laws cover a student with a disability at the post-secondary level?
Students with disabilities are protected by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which was revised to the ADA Amendments Act in 2008. According to these laws, "no otherwise qualified person with a disability in the United States shall, solely by reason of disability, be denied the benefits of, be excluded from participation in, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”
"Otherwise qualified," with respect to post-secondary education, means a person who meets the academic and technical standards requisite to admission. Seton Hall University does not have any special admission provisions for students with disabilities. Students with disabilities must meet all standard requirements.
What is the definition of a disability?
A person with a disability includes any person who: has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such impairment; or is regarded as having such impairment.
Types of disabilities include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Blindness or visual impairments
- Deafness or hearing impairments
- Chronic illnesses, such as AIDS, lupus, arthritis, and diabetes
- Psychiatric disabilities, such as major depression, bipolar disorder, or generalized anxiety disorder
- Neurological disorders
- Specific learning disabilities
What is appropriate documentation?
Eligibility for reasonable accommodations and other support services depends on the nature of the disability and its impact. Accommodations and services will be identified based on documentation from a qualified professional. Adequate documentation should be recent and include: a description of the nature and extent of the disability; an explanation of the functional impact of the disability, especially as it relates to the academic environment; and recommendations for reasonable accommodations.
In order to establish eligibility as an individual with a disability, it is the responsibility of the student to submit documentation that is comprehensive, clearly specifies the presence of a disability, and is appropriate to the postsecondary setting.
Any specific recommendations for accommodations must be based on significant functional limitations and must be supported by the diagnostic assessment. Accommodations and academic adjustments cannot be implemented until the student’s documentation meets these criteria. Prior history of having received an accommodation does not, in and of itself, warrant or guarantee its continued provision. An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan from high school is almost never sufficient documentation of a disability in the postsecondary setting.
How is documentation reviewed to determine eligibility?
After a student submits documentation, the information is reviewed by a DSS Administrator. The student and the DSS Administrator will then meet to discuss the types of accommodations and services that are recommended by the supporting documentation.
What are reasonable accommodations?
A reasonable accommodation, or academic adjustment, is always based on an individual’s documented need and is intended to “level the playing field” by reducing the discriminating effects of the disability. The law also requires universities to provide auxiliary aids and services necessary for effective communication. Accommodations are modifications designed to reduce the impact of the disability without fundamentally altering the degree program. Services that are personal in nature, such as tutoring, are not considered a reasonable accommodation in most cases. The following is a sample list of accommodations that a student may be eligible to receive:
- Note taker
- Ability to record lectures
- Textbook and other course materials in electronic format
- Extended test-taking time
- Reduced distraction environment for testing
- Sign-Language Interpreter
- Use of specific assistive technology programs
How do I know if a student requires accommodations?
After students registers with DSS and are approved for academic accommodations, they receive a copy of their accommodation letter, which they need to share with each instructor. We encourage students to share this form early in the semester. We advise students to see their instructors during office hours so they can discuss details regarding the provision of accommodations. In order to ensure equal access for all students, it is strongly recommended that instructors only accommodate those students who have been approved for accommodations through DSS. Professors should not provide any additional accommodation without consulting with DSS.
What if I disagree with an accommodation?
Please contact DSS at 973-313-6003 if you have any questions or concerns. If a student has self-identified, provided appropriate documentation, and has an accommodation letter, s/he is entitled under law to receive the specified accommodation(s), as long as it does not represent a fundamental alteration to the curriculum or compromise an essential requirement of the course. DSS is happy to consult with you and discuss any concerns regarding accommodations.
How do I refer a student to the Disability Services?
If you suspect that a student may benefit from services, you may be able to approach the student in a private setting and express concern about his/her performance. It could be that the student may be able to benefit from some assistance through DSS or other campus resources, such as the Academic Resource Center or Counseling & Psychological Services. It is acceptable to mention that there are free services available on campus and provide DSS contact information, along with information regarding other campus support services. Please note that at the post-secondary level, students must self-identify to DSS prior to services being initiated.
What if a student discloses that they have a disability but doesn’t provide me with an accommodation form?
Please refer the student to DSS so we can ensure that the student is qualified to receive the requested accommodation(s). Professors should not provide accommodations without consulting with DSS.
A student says she has test anxiety. Is this a disability?
Usually test anxiety on its own does not constitute a documented disability that is protected by law. If test anxiety is part of more pervasive condition that substantially limits a major life activity, the student may be considered a person with a disability and may be eligible for services and accommodations. Students with test anxiety may also benefit from workshops through ARC, services through CAPS, and other campus resources.
Who provides the accommodation(s) to the student?
Accommodations are a shared responsibility between the student, faculty, and DSS. The accommodation process is designed to be collaborative and interactive. A breakdown of some of the roles and responsibilities are discussed below.
A student with disabilities has three primary responsibilities, which must be completed in order to receive accommodations at Seton Hall University. First, the student must identify him/herself as a person with a disability. While the student may approach you as the instructor, it is important he/she identify with DSS. The student must also provide current documentation or supporting evidence that the disability substantially limits the ability to function in a major life activity. Finally, the student is responsible for following the policies and procedures of DSS, including sharing their accommodation letters with faculty and requesting alternative testing arrangements.
If a student identifies him/herself as having a disability and presents a DSS approved accommodation letter, it is your responsibility to ensure the learning environment is accessible and the accommodations are provided. It is strongly recommended that you have available office hours in order to meet privately with these students. While students are not required to share the nature of their disability with professors, their needs as they relate to particular accommodations should be discussed so that both of you understand and agree upon what arrangements are necessary.
Once notified via the student’s accommodation letter, professors are responsible for the implementation of approved accommodations. This may include providing assistance with finding a note-taker in class, facilitating testing accommodations, or providing course materials in an accessible electronic format.
Disability Support Services Responsibility
The DSS staff is responsible for reviewing documentation, determining eligibility, identifying appropriate accommodations, creating accommodation letters for the student, and arranging for contract services such as a sign-language interpreter. DSS is available to consult with faculty regarding the implementation of accommodations, as well as to answer any questions or concerns regarding the approved academic adjustments. DSS will also assist with the implementation of accommodations, when possible; however, it is ultimately the responsibility of the university as a whole – not just DSS – to meet the accommodation needs of documented students with disabilities. This requires that a partnership exist between DSS and faculty/academic departments, and resources of all of these units be considered in meeting accommodation needs.
How can I be sure my course is accessible?
While you are not required to anticipate all the special needs of students in your class, please keep in mind the possibility of various student needs when planning and implementing class activities. The following practices will help to promote an inclusive environment.
Create a Syllabus Statement
It is important that faculty include in each syllabus a statement asking students to inform them of any special needs to ensure that those needs are met in a timely manner. A further recommendation is that the statement be read aloud by the faculty member during the first week of class. This approach demonstrates to students that you are someone who is sensitive to and concerned about meeting the needs of ALL students you teach. Furthermore, it affords students the opportunity to make their accommodation needs known to you early in the semester. The following is an example of a statement that can be included in your syllabus:
It is the policy and practice of Seton Hall University to promote inclusive learning environments. If you have a documented disability you may be eligible for reasonable accommodations in compliance with University policy, the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and/or the New Jersey Law against Discrimination. Please note, students are not permitted to negotiate accommodations directly with professors. To request accommodations or assistance, please self-identify with the Office for Disability Support Services (DSS), Duffy Hall, Room 67 at the beginning of the semester. For more information or to register for services, contact DSS at (973) 313-6003 or by e-mail at DSS@shu.edu.
Choose or Create Accessible Course Materials
Students who are blind or visually impaired, or who have learning disabilities affecting their reading rates and comprehension, require printed materials that are transformed into alternate formats. Conversion of text into alternate formats is a time consuming process. It is important to make your book selections, assigned readings, and syllabus available in a timely manner for those instances when accessible textbooks cannot be located and DSS must convert them.
The best way to make sure students with disabilities have access to your course materials is to choose materials that were designed with access in mind. What does this mean? For a textbook, it means the publisher has already considered the needs of students with disabilities and is willing to provide an electronic copy of the textbook to students who need it. For course materials selected by faculty, it means creating documents with accessibility in mind, and making them available to students. For example, if you wish to incorporate an article you read online into your class, instead of just printing the article and making copies to distribute, save a copy of the article in a Word doc or HTML format. This allows you to send the article electronically to any student in your class who needs printed material in an alternative format.
If you are utilizing videos in your course, it will be important to choose videos that are captioned in order to allow access for students who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have auditory processing disorders.
For more information on creating accessible course materials, please consult NC State University’s Accessibility Quick Guide: http://accessibility.oit.ncsu.edu/training/it-accessibility-quick-guide.php. (Permission to share resources was granted by NC State.)
Implement Principles of Universal Design
Universal Design (UD) means that rather than designing your facility and services for the average user, you design them for people with a broad range of abilities, disabilities, and other characteristics -- people with a variety of ages, reading abilities, learning styles, languages, cultures, etc. Universal Design of Instruction (UDI) is the process of designing curricula that enable all students to gain knowledge and skills for learning. UDI provides supports for learning and reduces barriers to the curriculum while maintaining high achievement standards for all. Instructors should remain mindful of UD and adopt practices that respect diversity and inclusiveness, including:
Promoting an inclusive class climate
Encourage the sharing of multiple perspectives by demonstrating and demanding mutual respect. Employ teaching methods and materials that are motivating and relevant to students with diverse characteristics. Instructors should make every effort to be approachable and available to students by welcoming questions outside of class and during regular office hours.
Ensuring physical access, usability, and safety
Assure that activities, materials, and equipment are physically accessible to and usable by all students and that all potential student characteristics are addressed in safety considerations. Instructors should consider arranging instructional spaces to maximize inclusion and comfort, while also remaining mindful of student safety.
Employing a variety of delivery methods
Consider using multiple, accessible instructional methods, such as lectures, collaborative learning options, hands-on activities, internet-based communications, educational software, fieldwork, etc. Utilize visual aids that are large, bold, and uncluttered; provide instructions both orally and in printed form. Provide feedback (or arrange for peer feedback) so that work can be improved.
Incorporating accessible information resources and instructional materials
Assure that course materials, notes, and other information resources are flexible and accessible to all students. By preparing a syllabus and selecting texts early, students have the option to begin reading materials early or coordinate their conversion into an alternative format.
Regularly assess student progress using multiple, accessible methods and tools. Creating a straightforward grading rubric with clear statements of course expectations, assignment descriptions, and deadlines will minimize students misinterpretations. Design tests to reflect the same manner in which you teach (i.e. assure that a test measures what students have learned, not their ability to adapt to a new style of presentation).
Information adapted from DO-IT at the University of Washington. For more information, visit: http://www.washington.edu/doit/Faculty/Strategies/Universal/
How do I work with a student who needs testing accommodations?
It is the student’s responsibility to approach you with an accommodation letter which specifies that s/he has been approved for a testing accommodation. We ask that instructors discuss with students how the testing accommodation can be provided in their particular course. Generally, students are asked to arrive early for their test, stay later until their testing time is complete, or a testing appointment is set during a time that is appropriate for both the instructor and student. As a service to faculty, DSS also assists by proctoring exams in our testing center. If this option is better for both the student and instructor, students must initiate the process by completing an online form on the DSS website. More detailed information regarding DSS testing policy and procedure can be found on our website: http://www.shu.edu/offices/disability-support-services/dss-testing.cfm.
Why do students need extended time for tests?
The use of extended time is the most frequently used accommodation through DSS. Extended time for testing situations is normally granted to allow the student with a disability to compensate for the limitations imposed by their disability. For example, students with learning disabilities may have difficulty with processing information and need additional time to read, understand, and respond to questions. Students with ADHD or mental health issues may have difficulty concentrating. Some students need to utilize assistive technology, which usually takes additional time.
What about quizzes and pop quizzes?
If a student’s accommodation form indicates s/he receive extended time, the instructor needs to make arrangements for the student to receive this accommodation. We suggest that the quiz be given towards the end of class which makes providing the additional time more seamless. DSS can consult with professors regarding other options if this does not fit into the class structure.
What are my rights if a student wants to record a lecture?
Some students are provided with the accommodation that allows for them to record lectures. We advise the student to speak with the instructor prior to the first session so the instructor is aware of this situation. We also educate the student as to the proper use of recorded material. If the instructor prefers, there is an agreement available that can be signed by both the student and the instructor regarding the use of this material. Please contact DSS for more information.
How can I help to maintain student confidentiality?
The student with a disability is entitled to confidentiality under the law. This means that if a student with a disability happens to be in your class, you cannot mention that student by name (i.e. “Tom, here’s your test so you can go take it in the Disability Services” or “We need a note taker for Katie, so I need someone to volunteer”). Also, you should not discuss the student by name with anyone else, including other faculty. It is always the student’s decision to self-disclose. DSS is able to verify that we are working with a particular student but we are not permitted to share specific diagnostic information regarding the nature of the disability.