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However, students with disabilities may feel nervous to disclose sensitive medical information to an instructor.Often, students must combat negative stereotypes about their disabilities held by others and even themselves.When planning your course, consider the following questions (from Scott, 1998): Answering these questions can help you define essential requirements for you and your students.For instance, participation in lab settings is critical for many biology classes; however, is traditional class lecture the only means of delivering instruction in a humanities or social science course?When students enter the university setting, they are responsible for requesting accommodations through the appropriate office.This may be the first time the student will have had to advocate for himself. Department of Education has a pamphlet discussing rights and responsibilities for students entering postsecondary education: Every university has its own process for filing paperwork and the type of paperwork needed.For example, if you ask the students to rearrange the desks, a student may not help because he has a torn ligament or a relapsing and remitting condition like Multiple Sclerosis.
Only the approved accommodation arrangements are discussed with faculty and administrators on an as-needed basis.For first year students, this may be a different process than what they experienced in high school with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Section 504 plan. At Vanderbilt, students must request accommodations through the Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Disability Services Department (EAD) [As part of the required paperwork, the student must present documentation from an appropriate medical professional indicating the diagnosis of the current disability and, among other things, the types of accommodations requested.Instead of adapting or retrofitting a course to a specific audience, Universal Design emphasizes environments that are accessible to everyone regardless of ability.
By focusing on these design principles when crafting a syllabus, you may find that most of your course easily accommodates all students.For more information on terminology, see the guide provided by the National Center on Disability and Journalism: Disabilities can be temporary (such as a broken arm), relapsing and remitting, or long-term.