Faculty and Staff Portal

Frequently Asked Questions

This list encompasses some questions and answers, if in doubt please contact DSR at (616) 331-2490 or dsrgvsu@gvsu.edu. We are always available to assist.

If a student discloses a disability and inquires about accommodations  there are a few ways in which to approach this conversation:

 

If the student discloses a disability and has met with a DSR Program Advisor (and has been approved for accommodations in the classroom) the student will share with you a “memo” which is short for memorandum of accommodations. This is an interactive process between you and the student in which the need for accommodations will help for success in your classroom. The memo lists contact information of the accommodations that have been found reasonable based on the documentation for a disability presented and the ADA finds reasonable for this course, the students’ assigned DSR Program Advisor, as well as the dates of approved accommodations. You will then follow the directions on their accommodation letter. 

If the student discloses a disability and is asking for accommodations in the classroom without benefit of presenting a memo, then please direct the student to the DSR office and we will assist in helping the student register for services, schedule an appointment with a DSR staff member, and discuss the disability as it relates to the requested accommodations. Through our interactive process, we are responsible for following the ADA process for requested accommodations.

Please refer the student to the DSR office first. Faculty should refrain from providing any accommodations due to a disability without a memo from DSR. Even though responding immediately may seem more efficient (or friendlier), acting on a student’s self-report is outside of established policy and problems may result (e.g.., unwarranted or uneven treatment of students, unnecessary work for you, and could establish an obligation for other faculty by setting precedence until the end of the student’s academic career.) 

If the student approaches you seeking assistance, or you notice the student is struggling academically, you could use open-ended questions to generate understanding of how the student learns: 

Is there anything else that I need to know about you and what you need to maximize your learning?

What type of resources do you need to be a successful student?

What type of strategies work for you?

What do you need to perform at your best in class, in a testing situation, and outside of the classroom?

 

These types of questions may lead students to self-disclose a disability and then you may use that opportunity to refer the student to the DSR office if the student is seeking accommodations.  Other resources to suggest may include the Writing Center, Science Success Center, Knowledge Market, Mathematics Lab, Statistics Lab, Tutoring Center, Counseling Center, and the Student Academic Success Center.

 

Please refer the student to the DSR office. We will assist the student with the appropriate accommodations for the temporary state of need. Once the student receives a memo, you should follow the directions on the student’s accommodation letter. Again, this is still an interactive process with the faculty and student, however, some options might include the student taking an Incomplete or asking for a medical withdrawal.  

 

Faculty cannot review the documentation or ask a student to bring them documentation.   We understand that this may be difficult for some individuals who teach; however, requiring that a student disclose the nature of their disability puts the university at risk.  Although you may be open to listening if a student chooses to explain a disability to you (without your actual or implied solicitation of information) it is very important that you communicate respect for the student’s privacy regarding the specific nature of disability.  Comments such as, “What’s wrong with you?” or “You look normal to me.” are clearly inappropriate and put the university at great risk, as they can be interpreted as discriminatory. It is true that many disabilities covered by the law are not easily detected, known as invisible disabilities.  Thus, it is important that verbal and nonverbal responses be monitored.  If you ever suspect that a request for accommodation is not reasonable, contact DSR at 616-331-2490 or dsrgvsu@gvsu.edu.

 

DSR staff verifies all documentation related to student's disabilities.  If you receive a memo from our office it means we have reviewed the documentation provided by an appropriately licensed professional.  If you have any questions, please reach out to our office.

 

A student with a disability who is disruptive in class should be treated as an instructor would treat any student who is disruptive in class.  If an instructor feels that there is a disability-related reason for the student’s behavior, the instructor can discuss this with the student’s DSR advisor listed on the memo to determine if there is a solution to the problem, or strategies for addressing the behavior. Refer to the Student Code: http://www.gvsu.edu/studentcode

Students who are posing behavior issues in the classroom can be referred to the Behavior Intervention Team through the Dean of Student’s office. Steps will be taken to address the issue with the student immediately. In some cases a student is asked to comply with a behavioral checklist which outlines expected behaviors. Students, who disrupt the class to such an extent that learning is compromised, can be asked to leave the classroom. In some cases, security can be called.

It is important for instructors to remember that providing reasonable accommodations for a student with a disability does not guarantee success in a course.  Students with disabilities might not master the course material, just as any other student may not.

 

 Yes, a disability does not excuse late assignments and tardiness.  Be sure to speak with the student to find out why this is occurring and contact the student’s DSR Advisor for help if needed.

No, unless there has been a prior arrangement based on the student’s needs (those might be mentioned in the student's memo).  

 

The amount of time given depends on the student’s disability and the documentation. The specific amount of additional time allowed will be detailed in the student’s “Memo” e.g.., 1.5x.  If you are unable to provide the extended time accommodation, please instruct the student to submit an online test request to test with DSR.
 

 

Grand Valley State University strives to provide an inclusive environment across campus that is accessible to all individuals with a diverse range of abilities. As your instructor, it is my objective to facilitate opportunities within all class activities and programs because your success is important to me. If you are encountering difficulties that are interrupting your learning experience please feel free to make those known to me as soon as possible, as early planning is essential. If you feel that you need accommodations in this course, you must present a memo to me from Disability Support Resources (DSR), indicating the existence of a disability and the approved accommodations. If the class meets in person, you should schedule a meeting with me during office hours to discuss your accommodations. If your class is online or hybrid, please forward your memo to me in an email and schedule a virtual or phoneappointment with me to discuss your accommodations.  Accommodations are not retroactive.  If you have not already done so, please contact the Disability Support Resources office (215 CON) by calling (616) 331-2490 or by email to dsrgvsu@gvsu.edu. Please note that I cannot provide accommodations based upon disability until I have received a copy of the DSR issued memo. Furthermore, if you have a disability and think you will need assistance evacuating this classroom and/or building in an emergency, please make me aware so that the university and I can develop a plan to assist you. All discussions will remain confidential.

 

Tell the student in order to respect their confidentiality, you would like to meet during office hours in which the two of you can discuss the request further.  Let the student know that this will give you both an opportunity to review the “memo” and discuss their needs for academic success.  Memos may be forwarded by the student through email, and should not require a password to open.  If you receive a password-protected memo, please notify the student, and request a memo that does not require a password.

 

If you have concerns it’s best to speak to the student.  However, you can’t directly ask them if they have a disability. Listen for key words such as if they mention a doctor, therapist, 504 or IEP in high school.  Then you can direct them to DSR.

 

In order to meet the Americans with Disability Act, you must comply with the accommodation letter. If you have questions or concerns, please contact the DSR office.

 

Listed below are some of the most commonly requested accommodations.  The list is not all-inclusive, as accommodations are always individually determined and based on the individual needs.

  • Extended test-taking time
  • Readers/scribes for tests
  • Electronic textbooks- Electronic books require additional time for ordering and/or creation. For this reason, it is most important for professors to adopt textbooks well in advance of the beginning of the semester. Students are required to purchase or rent books before they can receive electronic editions through DSR because of copyright restrictions. Once they provide documentation of the purchase or rental, DSR can order or create the electronic editions.
  • Enlarged print materials
  • Permission to record lectures
  • Assistive technology
  • Preferential seating
  • Absence, tardiness flexibility and frequent breaks
  • Use of a laptop in class to take notes

It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that the instructor has received the memo and discuss the accommodations with the instructor, so they both understand the accommodations. It is also an opportunity to discuss the plan and decide which accommodations are truly relevant to the class.

 

No.  If a student comes to you and asks for an accommodation not found on the memo you should reach out to DSR.

 

“Please assist the student in finding a volunteer notetaker, if requested. This can usually be accomplished by making an announcement in class without disclosing their identity.”
This verbiage is found on the memo of a student making a note taking request. If a student is unable to find a volunteer notetaker, then the student will ask assistance from the instructor. Faculty will make an announcement during class asking for a volunteer notetaker when this accommodation is requested. This is not a paid position. If the DSR participant wishes to remain anonymous, notes can be sent to the professor or dropped off at DSR for the student to pick up.

It is mandatory that DSR students using notetakers attend all class sessions for which they receive notes.  A notetaker should not be considered a substitute for obtaining lecture/lab material when a DSR participant is absent. It is the DSR student’s responsibility to speak with the notetaker if problems arise with the notes. Please note that your DSR advisor is available to help resolve situations as well.

Yes. You will learn of any specific accommodations that you need to provide via the DSR memo.  However, the time to consider the overall accessibility of your course is before an accommodation request is made on behalf of a particular student. Keep in mind that someone who is deaf or blind or has a learning disability in reading may enroll in your course at any time. Captioning  video content and verifying that posted files and linked-to sites are compatible with screen readers is not necessarily something you’ll be able to rapidly address in order to meet the legal obligation. If you need assistance with ensuring your online course is accessible, contact our Assistive Technology Coordinator at (616) 331-2490.

If the student’s behavior is disruptive, contact the student’s DSR advisor for assistance with a behavior plan.  Otherwise, follow the directions on the student’s accommodation lette

We encourage students to have this conversation with their instructors as soon as possible. Here are some suggested questions you may want to agree upon between you and the student.

  • How many days are excusable without compromising the integrity of the course?
  • How should contact be made in the rare circumstance of rescheduling an exam?
  • How would you like communication when an absence may occur?
  • What recommendations do you have for keeping up with course content when this occurs?
  • What options are available for accessing missed notes for this course?
  • How many days later would you accept an assignment? (1-2 days)

According to Office of Civil Rights, you should consider these questions as well:

  • Is there regular classroom interaction between the instructor and the students and among the students themselves?
  • Do student contributions in class constitute a significant component of the learning process?
  • Does the fundamental nature of the course rely upon student participation as an essential method of learning?
  • To what degree does the student’s failure to attend class constitute a significant loss of the educational experience of the other students in the class?
  • What do the course description and syllabus say regarding attendance?
  • What is the method by which the final grade is calculated?

If you disagree with the accommodations that have been approved, you are welcome to reach out to the advisor listed on your student's memo.  If you still feel the accommodations are inappropriate, please review your objections with your department chair and forward any additional concerns to DSR. The matter will be reviewed by the director of disability support resources and our ADA Compliance Officer.. Do not discontinue or refuse accommodations without formal administration consultation and legal review.

 

Accommodated students sign an agreement on file in the DSR office stating that materials provided are for their use only, and may not be shared or sold. If your class format includes the sharing of sensitive information by other classmates or yourself that will not be included on a test, you may privately arrange a signal to alert students to stop recording during just those portions.

Providing personal copies of professor’s notes or presentations are not mandated as an academic accommodation.

Yes and Yes, however verification of accessibility features should occur prior to choosing technologies to use.  There have been legal consequences for institutions that have by-passed this important phase.  Consultation with DSR and eLearning will help ensure that all your students will benefit from these tools in an “equally effective and equally integrated manner”, and will keep the University in compliance with federal regulation.  

  1. Printed material can be enlarged with a photocopier for a student able to read large print.  Blackboard now includes an add-in called Ally that can automatically create accessible formats from course documents posted into Blackboard.   DSR can obtain textbooks in accessible format that can be used with speech and/or magnification software.  A closed-circuit television (CCTV) can enlarge the printed material for a student.  A reader may read material aloud to the student during a test or quiz.

Ideally, professors should use videos with audio description, which include extra spoken content.  If the described video is not available, and if all essential information contained in the video is provided verbally, then the student who is blind can benefit from the video. 

A student who has some usable vision may be able to use a computer with screen magnification software or a large monitor.  A student with little or no usable vision would benefit most from using a computer in class equipped with screen reading software. The GVSU computer labs and libraries are equipped with at least one accessible workstation. 

In most cases a student who is blind will type assignments using a computer that is equipped with screen reader software.  At times students may also choose to dictate short answers using dictation software.

  1. It is important to face the class when speaking, as many students with hearing impairments read lips.   Don’t turn your back to the class while speaking.  Avoid lecturing against a window, since the light through the window may throw a shadow over your mouth, making lip-reading difficult.  Avoid obscuring your mouth with books, hands, or other materials.  If possible and agreeable, recommend that the student sit near the front of the class.
  2. Some students use CART captioners or ASL interpreters, which are arranged by DSR.
  3. If your class is online, consider using Zoom as the delivery platform.  Zoom includes automatic captioning, which may be beneficial to hard of hearing students.  IT provides this information on configuring zoom captioning. 

English is a second language for many people who are deaf, and therefore presents unique challenges for the student and professor when written assignments are evaluated. For students who use ASL, transferring thoughts to a written form is difficult because ASL has a different syntax than English. You must provide reasonable accommodation for a disability, while not lowering academic standards. Correct the student’s grammar and syntax,  and assist the student in developing their English skills. You may wish to refer the student to the Tutoring Center and the Writing Center.

Modern cell phones pair with hearing aids or cochlear implants via Bluetooth for voice communications.  Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing often prefer email communication and text messaging over voice communications.  

ALDs can provide clear sound over distances, eliminating echoes and reducing the distraction of surrounding noises, and allow the student to more easily hear the instructor.  These devices typically consist of a microphone and transmitter worn by the instructor, and a receiver used by the student.  The receiver may connect to a small speaker, headphones, or a student’s hearing aid.

Yes. Provide written instructions, captioned video instructions, and/or demonstrations prior to the lab. Safety procedures should also be reviewed with the students and visual lab warning signals (e.g. flashlights) need to be in place. Provide any required safety briefing/training to an interpreter or a captioner who attends with the student.   It may also be helpful to provide preferential seating so the student can easily view demonstrations and watch the instructor. It is important to remember that students who use a sign language interpreter, a captioner, or read lips may have difficulty simultaneously observing a demonstration while watching the interpreter/captioner or reading lips. Discuss lab activities with the student, as they are the best source of information about their needs.

Talk to the student what accommodations they need. You may also contact the student’s DSR advisor for assistance

We offer “DSR 101” for faculty and staff.

Faculty and staff are able to ask two questions to determine if an animal is a service animal.  

 

1)  is the animal a service animal required because of disability? (2) What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?

 

Faculty and staff should not ask about a person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the animal, or ask that the animals demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.

 

  • If a service animal is found to be disruptive in the classroom
  • If a service animal shows aggression towards their handler or other members of campus or the community
  • If a service animal is physically ill
  • If the service animal is unreasonably dirty
  • Any place on campus where the presence of a service animal cause danger to the safety of the of the handler or other students/member of campus
  • Any place on campus where a service animal’s safety is compromised

The final determination regarding how to manage the situation will be made on a case-by-case basis.  Please contact DSR for further information if a situation of this nature occurs.

Inform all students about emergency procedures. For students with a disability, work with the student and the DSR office to develop a clear evacuation plan. You may refer to GVSU Emergency Evacuation procedures at the following website www.gvsu.edu/emergency .

You should assist the student to the Area of Rescue Assistance, which is the enclosed stairwell with firewalls, doors and sirens.  Emergency personal checks this area first in an event of an emergency.  You may also notify emergency personal upon your exit from the building.

Yes, the student may self-disclose or it may be obvious due to their disability.  Please ensure that the table and chair are used appropriately and for the assigned student.