Academics

Accommodations and Suggestions

Syllabus

Accommodations are individualized, based on the interaction of the functional impairment with the course design. It is helpful for students to have access to each course syllabus prior to the beginning of the semester so they can review it to determine needed accommodations. The syllabus should be made available in alternate format for those students who request it.

The syllabus should communicate information to students about university policy related to academic accommodations, and encourage them to discuss these accommodations with faculty. Examples of syllabus statements are:

  • The University of Massachusetts Boston is committed to providing reasonable academic accommodations for all students with disabilities.  This syllabus is available in alternate format upon request. Students with disabilities who need accommodations in this course must contact the instructor to discuss needed accommodations. Accommodations will be provided after the student has met with the instructor to request accommodations. Students must be registered with the Ross Center for Disability Services, UL 211, www.ross.center@umb.edu , 617.287.7430 before requesting accommodations from the instructor.
  • Your success in this class is important to me. If there are circumstances that may affect your performance in this class, please let me know as soon as possible so that we may work together to develop strategies for adapting assignments to meet both your needs and the requirements of the course. The Ross Center for Disability Services at UMass Boston (617.287.7430) provides resources for students with disabilities. You will need to provide documentation of disability to them in order to receive official university services and accommodations.

For further assistance in developing a course syllabus statement contact the Ross Center.

Recruiting a Note-taker

Students requesting a note-taker will provide the course instructor with a Note-taker Announcement Form.  Students may recruit their own note-taker or the instructor may assist students in identifying and recruiting an appropriate student volunteer.  If the instructor has difficulty recruiting a volunteer note-taker, the Ross Center is available for assistance.  Please contact the Ross Center if you have any questions regarding the note-taking accommodation process.

Attendance Accommodation 

Students who believe that they cannot adhere to an attendance policy because of circumstances directly related to a disability may seek an accommodation. As with all accommodations, the process for students to initiate a request for attendance accommodations is through the Ross Center. All requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis and in consultation with the course instructor.
If you are contacted by the Ross Center about possible flexibility in your attendance policy, we will be interested in understanding the role attendance plays in the design of your course. 

The following are fundamental questions that a course instructor should be prepared to respond to when asked about recognizing a disability-related absence:

  • What is the fundamental nature of the course?
  • Are the learning objectives and activities of the course clearly stated?
  • What do the course description and syllabus state about the learning process, instructional methods, and attendance?
  • What are the classroom practices and policies regarding attendance?
  • Does the fundamental nature of the class constitute a significant component of the learning process?
  • Is there classroom interaction between the instructor and students? Between/among students?
  • To what degree does a student’s failure to attend constitute a significant loss to the educational experience of other students in the class?
  • What is the method by which the final course grade is calculated?

If an accommodation is determined to be reasonable, the Ross Center will work with you and the student to clearly specify:

  • How and when the student should inform you when he or she will miss class
  • How the student will make-up missed work
  • The number of absences that would be reasonable
  • Whether a late drop or grade of incomplete would be appropriate should absences become unexpectedly excessive.

Please note:

  • An accommodation in attendance is not reasonable if regular attendance is essential to the course and/or curriculum or the number of accommodated absences becomes excessive.
  • You should never waive essential academic components of the course.
  • Students who receive an attendance accommodation are responsible for all course work and do not have blanket permission to miss class.
  • Requests for flexibility in assignment deadlines will be discussed separately and may or may not be determined to be reasonable.

Source: The University of Arizona, Disability Resources <http://drc.arizona.edu/instructors/attendance-requirements>.

Essential Course Elements vs. Accommodations

The following are questions that a course instructor should be prepared to respond to when essential course elements and accommodations appear to conflict?

  • What is the fundamental nature of the course (e.g. lecture, lab, independent study)?
  • What are the learning objectives and activities (individual/group projects, field trips, presentations) of the course? Are they clearly stated? Where?
  • What do the course description and syllabus state about the learning process, instructional methods, and student participation?
  • Does the fundamental nature of the course rely upon student participation as an essential method for learning? How?
  • To what degree does a student’s failure to participate constitute a significant loss to the educational experience of other students in the class?
  • Do student contributions (e.g. presentations) during the class constitute a significant component of the learning process?
  • Is there classroom interaction between the instructor and students? Between/among students?
  • How are student achievement and mastery of the course objectives demonstrated? How are they measured? Are there alternative measures that would be acceptable to you?
  • How is the final course grade calculated? Are there alternative methods of calculating the final grade that would be acceptable to you?
  • Is this course a prerequisite for other courses? Is this course based on prerequisite courses? Are there alternative courses that would met the student’s course of study requirements?

Captioning

Captioning is the translation of the spoken language translated into text and merged with multimedia (YouTube Video, DVD, VHS, etc.). Check out our Captioning Tip Sheet for next steps on how to get uncaptioned multimedia captioned. 

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Inclusive Classroom

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Student Plan

The Student Plan is a student-centered, strategic approach to planning for absences and/or extensions on assignments based on the syllabus of a specific course. The Plan is developed after an assessment is completed by the Ross Center that indicates the necessity of the accommodations of flexibility in attendance and/or extensions on assignments.

  • The Ross Center staff will review the syllabus with the student to identify the attendance requirements and assignment deadlines.
  • The staff may consult with each instructor to determine how much flexibility in attendance, if any, is possible based on the course objectives and design.
  • The student or Ross Center staff and student will share the Student Plan with the instructor.
  • The staff of the Ross Center are available by phone and/or email to answer questions or discuss the Student Plan.
  • The student is expected to follow the instructions or deadlines as described in the Student Plan. The student may request updated instructions or deadlines from the instructor, which the instructor may or may not agree to.

Accommodation Request: Flexibility in Attendance

What is this?

This accommodation may be necessary for students who experience episodic illnesses. The student is not able to predict when he/she will not be able to attend class, or how many times he/she will not be able to attend class.

How does it work?

The student should request the accommodation through the Ross Center for Disability Services, after completing the registration process. A Student Plan form will be completed by the student with assistance from the staff of the Ross Center, and shared with each instructor. The Student Plan will indicate to the instructor how he/she will be notified about each absence. The student is expected to complete all assignments on time as listed on the syllabus. The student is required to reschedule any missed exams with the instructor. If attendance is an essential course requirement, then this accommodation may not be reasonable. This determination is made by the instructor. The Ross Center staff functions as a consultant to the instructor regarding this accommodation.

Accommodation Request: Extensions on Assignments

What is this?

This accommodation may be necessary for students who experience episodic illnesses, or impairments which affect their executive functioning skills. Extensions on assignments applies to assignment deadlines within one specific semester. The extensions cannot be applied beyond the end of the current semester.

How does it work?

The student should request the accommodation through the Ross Center for Disability Services, after completing the registration process. A Student Plan form should be completed by the student with the Ross Center staff assistance. The Student Plan will indicate specific time extensions for each assignment on the syllabus.

Either the student or the staff of the Ross Center will contact the instructor to review the Student Plan for the extensions on assignments.   A meeting that includes the student, the instructor, and the Ross Center staff may be helpful in finalizing reasonable time extensions.