Academic Accommodations Guidelines
Students with documented disabilities may need alternative testing accommodations. Testing accommodations are determined according to documented individual need. Adjustments to testing conditions are designed to allow a student with a disability to fairly demonstrate what has been learned rather than the impact of a disability. Commonly utilized testing accommodations may include: extended time (time-and-a-half is standard); a reduced-distraction environment; use of a reader or text-to-speech software; use of a computer, scribe, or speech-to-text software; exams using alternative materials; etc. Approved testing accommodations are documented on the student’s Academic Accommodation Plan (AAP).
Students should notify professors of the need for test accommodations by sharing the approved AAP with each professor early in the semester. Students should also ensure a discussion is initiated with the professor at least a week prior to any scheduled test date regarding the means and plan of implementation for approved testing accommodations.
Test accommodations may be achieved in several different ways:
- The instructor may facilitate the test session through use of a nearby office/conference room during regular test time, during office hours, or with assistance of another department employee.
- With instructor approval, the Disability Services Coordinator may assist in providing a separate setting or implementing other accommodations in the Counseling Center. Students should contact the DSC and submit a test request form at least 72 hours in advance of the need for a testing site.
- With instructor approval, students who are also registered with Student Support Services (SSS Center) may request an alternative testing site with SSS staff in Marshbanks Hall. Students should contact the SSS Administrative Assistant and submit a request form at least 72 hours in advance of the need for an alternative testing site.
Scheduling Alternative Test Settings: Alternative test settings should be scheduled as close as possible to the day and time of the regularly scheduled class exam. Alternative settings should not be requested for the purpose of finishing exams early or to extend time for test preparation. Students who utilize extended time and who have adjacent or more than two final exams in one day, or another disability-related extenuating circumstance, may request special consideration for approval to schedule test settings on alternative dates/times. The DSC can assist students with scheduling issues as needed.
Students with a documented disability may request note-taking assistance as a reasonable accommodation for their disability. The following criteria must be met in order to obtain this accommodation:
- Student must be approved by the Disability Services Coordinator/Disability Services Committee for the accommodation of note-taking assistance. The student and professor should discuss the best means for note-taking assistance to occur and meet the student’s needs within their classroom.
- Student must attend class regularly. Having a note-taking assistance is not a substitute for regular class attendance.
Students may use the following independent strategies:
- Students may use a personal technology device to record lectures. Students should notify the instructor in advance of the presence of recording technology and to ensure permission.
- Students may utilize a laptop for typing their own notes.
- Students may exchange notes with other students in their class so that they have a second set for reference.
Professors may assist students to use the following strategies:
- Arrange for another student in their class for a copy of their notes and to serve as “voluntary” note-takers for the student.
- Arrange for the class to create shared class notes that may be accessed online.
- Instructors may provide access to their notes, PowerPoint presentations, overheads, handouts, etc. prior to class.
The Disability Services Coordinator may also help to facilitate a note-taker for a particular class by:
- Consulting with both the student and with a professor about the most appropriate and effective means in which to undertake the note-taking process within the classroom.
- Assisting the instructor in identifying a suitable note taker for the course.
Alternate/Audio Format Textbooks
Qualifying students with disabilities may be approved to request audio texts or other alternate book formats. For information or assistance regarding obtaining alternate format text books, please contact the Disability Services Coordinator.
Course Substitution Guidelines
Course requirements for MHU degree programs are designed to provide a comprehensive education in both general liberal arts and in the student’s major field of study. However, in some limited circumstances, substitution of a course requirement may be determined to be a reasonable and appropriate accommodation for a student with a documented disability. An accommodation of this nature is considered only when it has been confirmed that the student’s disability makes completion of the requirement impossible. Consideration of a course substitution is made on a case-by-case basis, as long as the substitution does not substantially alter the student’s course of study or result in decreased standards for the student or the university.
Course Substitution Request Procedures for Students with Disabilities:
- Student must be registered with the Office of Disability Services and have an activated Academic Accommodation Plan.
- Student will be asked to sign a release of information for his/her advisor.
- The Disability Services Coordinator and/or DS Committee will evaluate student’s documentation and inform the student and his/her advisor if the documentation fulfills requirements for consideration of course substitution accommodations.
When the student’s documentation is determined to meet guidelines, the following steps will be taken:
- The student will consult with his/her advisor regarding appropriate course substitution.
- The student’s advisor will consult with the Department or Program Chair or the Chief Academic Officer to determine whether a course substitution for the student is appropriate and will not lower academic standards for the completion of the desired program. The Department/Program Chair or the CAO will inform the student’s advisor of the decision, who will then notify the student. The advisor is requested to notify the Disability Services Coordinator so this decision may be recorded in the student’s file in the Office of Disability Services.
- The Department/Program Chair will then file the approved course substitution with the University Registrar.
Reduced Semester Course Load Guidelines
Students with documented disabilities may request a reduced semester course load (fewer than 12 hours) if their documentation meets the guidelines set by the university, and if their documentation clearly supports a reduced course load as an appropriate accommodation. Reduced course load requests for disability related reasons should be submitted in writing to the Disability Services Coordinator. In addition, students should discuss the decision to take a reduced load with their MHU Financial Aid Counselor to determine the impact on receiving financial aid.
Disability Related Absences Guidelines
MHU recognizes that a number of conditions qualifying as documented disabilities may at times cause a student to be absent from class beyond the course’s stated absence policy. However, disability-related absences do not alter the student’s obligation to fulfill class requirements.
Attendance is fundamental to traditional course objectives; for example, students may be required to participate in class discussion, in group projects or labs, or otherwise participate as part of a class participation grade component. Faculty is not required to effect substantial modifications of class requirements for accommodation purposes. However, for students adversely affected by documented conditions such as those above, faculty may determine in some instances that a student could master course content and complete course requirements with the accommodation of extra disability-related absences.
The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has provided the following guidelines to assess if attendance is an essential part of a class:
- Is there classroom interaction between the instructor and students and among students?
2. Do student contributions constitute a significant component of the learning process?
3. Does the fundamental nature of the course rely on student participation as an essential method for learning?
4. To what degree does a student’s failure to attend constitute a significant loss to the educational experience of other students in the class?
5. What do the course description and syllabus say?
6. Which method is used to calculate the final grade?
7. What are the classroom practices and policies regarding attendance?
The Disability Services Coordinator may determine whether the student’s documented disability meets the criteria for consideration of reasonable modification of attendance policies for disability-related absences. If deemed to qualify, the student should present each professor with an Academic Accommodation Plan stating approved accommodations at or prior to the start of the course. The student and professor should have a dialogue to determine the following expectations, and the professor should document the agreement as discussed and provided to the student:
- Maximum number of disability-related absences allowed for this student for this course.
2. How and when the student will notify the instructor of a disability-related absence.
3. Procedure for turning in homework/assignments/projects due the day of a disability-related absence including maximum number of days that each assignment may be late and how they are to be submitted.
4. Procedure for making up a missed quiz, examination, or in-class graded assignment given on the day of a disability-related absence.
If class attendance can be justified as an integral part of how the course is taught, and/or how learning is to be demonstrated and measured, there can be a point at which disability-related absences cannot be reasonably accommodated.
Students who have disability-related absences are responsible for monitoring their class performance and determining any negative impact such absences may have had upon their understanding of the course material and their final course grade.
Faculty members are asked to notify the student, the Director of Student Persistence, and encouraged to consult with the Disability Services Coordinator if the student is in danger of failing or falling too far behind. If the maximum number of allowed absences is exceeded during the semester, it is recommended that the student and instructor meet to discuss an appropriate course of action. Possible solutions include: student will be granted an incomplete grade status; student will be advised to withdraw from the course; professor may allow an alternate means of completing course requirements; etc.
For questions or concerns, the Disability Services Coordinator should be consulted as soon as possible so that concerns may be addressed and resolved.