What does the Office of Disability Services do?
The Office of Disability Services (ODS) works with students who self-identify that they have a disability with the appropriate documentation. The ODS confirms the disability and determines appropriate accommodations for the student. The ODS also assists students and instructors in obtaining and providing reasonable accommodations.

What do accommodations entail?
Accommodations are adjustments  to facilities, or learning formats that provide the student with the disability equal access to materials and/or assignments. Students with disabilities are held to the same academic standards as all Polk State College students.

What are my responsibilities as an instructor?
The College is required by law to provide accommodations to students. We comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Because we are a public college, we receive federal funding. If we do not provide reasonable accommodations, which are carried out in the classroom, the College can lose its federal funding. Your job as an instructor is to provide reasonable accommodations to students who have registered with the ODS.

How do I know if a student has a disability?
Students who have registered with the ODS are eligible to receive accommodations. You will receive an accommodation letter via your Polk State e-mail that lists the accommodations for a particular student. Students are not required to discuss their disability with anyone other than the Director of Disability and Counseling Services. However, the ODS encourages students to discuss their disability and accommodations with their instructors.

Who do I contact if I have a concern about a student’s accommodations?
If you have a concern or question about a student’s accommodation(s) or are unsure how to carry a specific accommodation, please contact the Director of Disability and Counseling Services.

What happens when a student registers with the ODS?
A registered student has provided documentation to the ODS that confirms his or her disability. The Director provides instructors with accommodation letters stating the accommodations the student is to be provided in their classes by law. Students who have a disability are not required to register with the ODS. However, if they do not register, they are not eligible for services.

What is an accommodation letter?
An accommodation letter is a letter the ODS sends to instructors indicating the particular accommodations for which the student is eligible.

When will I be notified that a student has a disability and what accommodations are needed?
Accommodation letters are e-mailed to your Polk State e-mail account at least one week prior to the start of classes each term.

What do I do when I receive an accommodation letter?
Accommodations letters are confidential. Please review the letter and the eligible accommodations. If you have a question about an accommodation, please contact the Director of Disability and Counseling Services. Instructors are encouraged to meet with students to further discuss their accommodations and classroom needs.

Can I discuss a student’s accommodations with another faculty member for suggestions on working with the student in the classroom?
No. Specific information pertaining to a student’s disability and accommodation needs is confidential and cannot be shared without the student’s written consent. However, sharing general information about academic adjustments, classroom strategies, etc. can be discussed as long as the particular student’s identity is protected.

What if a student requests an accommodation, but I have not received an accommodation letter for the student?
First, ask the student if he or she has followed proper procedure by submitting his or her schedule to the ODS. If the student has done so, contact the Director of Disability and Counseling Services. They will send the accommodation letter to you.

How do I handle a student who needs extended time on a test and a distraction-reduced testing area?
Drop off or e-mail a copy of the test to the TLCC. Students are responsible for arranging for a distraction-reduced area.

How do I give extended time to online students?
Desire2Learn (PAL) has mechanisms for increasing the time limit for exams. If you need assistance with this, contact Chris Amato or J Cody Moyer.

What do I do if I notice a student not using his or her accommodations, such as extended time?
If a student is not using his or her accommodations, please let the Director of Disability and Counseling Services know. They will contact the student to determine why the student is not utilizing the accommodations. However, if a student has an extended time accommodation and chooses to take the exam in the classroom, you as the instructor are not required to grant him or her extended time. Extended time can only take place in the TLCC.

I have a student who is struggling and may have a disability. What do I do?
For legal reasons, do not ask the student if he/she has a disability. You can remind, encourage, and suggest to students where the ODS is located, and what services it provides. For various reasons, some students choose not to disclose their disability.

If a student needs a note-taker, who arranges that?
The ODS will arrange for a note-taker prior to the start of class. However, if the ODS is having trouble locating a note-taker for a particular class, instructors may be asked to help.

Am I allowed to see a student’s documentation?
No. Students’ rights to privacy and confidentiality regarding information about their disabilities are protected under the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. This information is confidential and can be given only with a student’s written permission. However, the ODS encourages students with disabilities to share information regarding their disabilities with their instructors.

If a student is diagnosed with a learning disability near the end of the semester, should I let the student re-take tests that he or she did poorly on earlier in the semester?

No. Accommodations begin at the time the student self-identifies with the ODS, and from there, accommodation letters go out to instructors. Accommodations are not retroactive.

If a student with a disability is disrupting my class with his or her comments or behavior, what recourse do I have?
Students with disabilities must abide by the same Polk State College rules and codes of conduct as any other students. Follow regular procedure for disruptive behavior by contacting the Dean of Student Services on the appropriate campus.

How does the ODS determine accommodations?
The ODS determines accommodations based on documentation provided by the student, the nature of the student’s functional limitations, and what past academic modifications have helped the student achieve success in the classroom.

What do I do when students come to me with a complaint about students registered with the ODS because they perceive it as unfair that the student is receiving “special treatment,” i.e. extended time, alternate test format, etc.?
We advise you to explain that the student with a disability has qualified for accommodations under state and federal laws. The accommodations entitle the student to equal access to education. If they have further questions or concerns, please tell them to contact the Director of Disability and Counseling Services.

For an online course, what font, size, and color is recommended?
The best fonts to use for online courses are Sans Serif type fonts. These include Hevetica, Arial, Calibri, Times New Roman, Century Gothic, and Verdana. Size 12-14 font is recommended with black color.

What type of statement should I put on my syllabus in regards to students with disabilities?
The following statement is recommended for your syllabus and can be found in the BCI:

The College complies with The Americans with Disabilities Act and provides equal educational opportunity for qualified individuals. A student with a disability who requires special accommodations or auxiliary aids under The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) should contact the Student Services Office on either campus and speak with the Director of Disability and Counseling Services. Note: Limited admission programs may have performance restrictions that apply. Restrictions (where applicable) are outlined in each program’s student handbook.