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Instructor Overview

Supporting Full Participation

As an instructor at Ferris State University, you have the exciting opportunity to teach and interact with students from diverse backgrounds. Students with disabilities participate in all types of postsecondary education, and in order to be full participants in every part of college life, they may use reasonable accommodations. While federal and state legislation ensure that all qualified persons have equal access to education regardless of the presence of any disabling conditions, access to education means more than simply admission to a university or community college. Access means that students with disabilities can fully participate in every aspect of their education.

Instructors and ECDS are partners in providing accommodations to students. If instructors need assistance, or have concerns that the accommodations interfere with the learning objectives of the course, they should contact ECDS for a collaborative dialogue about how to best serve the student. In no circumstance should instructors deny an accommodation without communicating with ECDS about alternatives. Below are the most important ways instructors contribute to the partnership:

Include an Access and Inclusion Statement

Include ECDS’s suggested Syllabus Statement in your course syllabus and review it during the first week of each class.

Access and Inclusion for Students with Disabilities

One of Ferris’s core values is diversity and inclusion. I am committed to creating a learning environment that is equitable, usable, inclusive, and welcoming. If any aspects of instruction or course design result in barriers to your inclusion or learning, please notify me. Educational Counseling & Disabilities Services (ECDS) provides reasonable accommodations for students who encounter barriers in the learning environment. If you think you may need accommodations for this course, please contact ECDS at [email protected] or (231) 591-3057. ECDS is located in ASC 1017. If you plan on using accommodations for this course, please contact me as soon as possible so we can make a plan for the accommodations listed on your letter.

Refer Students to ECDS

If a student requests accommodations or self-identifies as a person with a disability who has not registered with ECDS, instructors should encourage the student to contact ECDS ([email protected] or (231) 591-3057) and request an appointment with a counselor.

Respect Confidentiality

Confidentiality regarding a student’s condition and/or registration status with ECDS is essential. Do not inquire about a student’s diagnosis. A student’s diagnosis or condition and/or the fact that they use accommodations should not be announced in class. Individual conversations about accommodations should be held in a respectful and discreet manner.

Collaborate to Provide Approved Accommodations

Students should provide instructors with their Verified Individualized Services and Accommodations (VISA) form. The instructor then collaborates with the student and ECDS in providing the listed accommodations in order to ensure equal access. 

Communicate with Students When Approached 

Students are encouraged to reach out to instructors to discuss the implementation of accommodations in each class. This conversation should occur at a time and place that allows instructors to provide individualized attention and confidentiality.

Contact ECDS with Concerns

When an approved accommodation causes concern, either because the instructor has difficulty providing it, or is concerned that it may constitute a fundamental alteration to the academic objective of the course, instructors should immediately contact ECDS. ECDS will respond promptly with support, suggestions, or reasonable alternative accommodations. To ensure student access, instructors should not stop providing the original accommodation until a reasonable alternative is in place.

Proctor Exams

As instructors are the experts in the educational concepts to be tested and are most familiar with their students, they are generally the primary providers of alternative proctoring arrangements. If an instructor is not able to proctor the exam or find someone else in the department to proctor in an appropriate space, ECDS is able to proctor the exam. Because ECDS does not have the resources to proctor every accommodated exam, it is a courtesy to your colleagues to use this alternative only if it is not possible for you (or other resources in your department) to proctor a test or quiz with the accommodation. 

For more information about testing in ECDS, including how to send exam materials, contact ECDS at [email protected] or (231) 591-3057.

Adapted from Portland State University Global Diversity & Inclusion: Disability Resource Center, 2020.