Faculty Senate to discuss disability accommodations

Tomorrow the Faculty Senate will host a discussion regarding senate members’ questions and concerns with current disability accommodation procedures.
Kelley Osborn, Director of Services for Students with Disabilities, will visit the Faculty Senate meeting to discuss questions raised in the last Faculty Senate meeting two weeks ago.

The Faculty Senate wants to discuss current policies to ensure students are accommodated for without taking advantage of the professors.
“We want to help these students but don’t want to be taken advantage of,” Associate professor Jonathan Breazeale, Ph.D., said.
Breazeale was not alone in his concern.

“We faculty members want to help them be successful, that’s the bottom line,” Associate professor William Jasper, Ph.D. said.
According to their website, the SSD exists to provide students with disabilities an equal opportunity to earn a college education. They form accommodations based on the student’s needs to help them succeed in the classroom.

Standard accommodations include providing students a note taker, allowing lectures to be recorded or making certain seating arrangements, all based upon the student’s medical condition. However, some Senate members said some of the accommodations might go too far and not be in the students’ best interest.
Some of the accommodations discussed in the meeting included allowing a student to eat in the classroom or replace certain classes with others that aren’t on the degree plan. That raised discussion of degree requirements.

Senior mass communication major Jose Medina uses the SSD and said that some of the accommodations he receives includes permission to record lectures and the ability to take tests elsewhere if he needs more time.

“The types of accommodations given to me by the SSD really depend on the course and the professor,” Medina said. “I’m able to have access to any note materials if they aren’t already posted on Blackboard, for example. Some professors have allowed me to record lectures using an audio recorder. In addition, if I need extra time to complete a test, I can schedule to take the exam elsewhere where I won’t be under pressure to finish by the end of a class period.”
Medina said he is grateful the university has allowed him to use the SSD to succeed, regardless of his disabilities.

“These accommodations have helped me manage the stress of college,” Medina said. “Because of my being confined to a wheelchair, I can’t take as many classes per semester as an able-bodied student. I know that the university and its faculty are understanding enough to allow me to work at my own pace in order to be successful.”

The SSD policy states faculty members are permitted to confer with SSD when a student has an accommodation that significantly modifies a necessary course requirement. The policy also states that a student with a disability should have an equal opportunity to complete the course similar to the way other students do.

Osborn declined to comment for this article but will be present at the meeting tomorrow in the LSC at 3:30.

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