Academic Accommodations (General)
OAS promotes equal access for WVU students by authorizing reasonable and effective accommodations. We do not assess, diagnose, or treat disabilities, nor do we investigate or adjudicate complaints for noncompliance with accessibility law.
A reasonable accommodation is an adjustment designed to provide equal access to courses and educational programs at WVU. Accommodations mitigate the impact of a student’s Disability without compromising the academic integrity of the course.
Accessibility Specialists are responsible for determining which accommodations are appropriate, based on review of medical documentation, the functional limitations identified by each medical provider, and disability law. They ensure that all documentation meets the standards required for authorization of accommodations at WVU.
If you have received a notification of accommodation email from OAS, then the student has presented medical documentation that verifies their status as a person with a Disability, legally eligible for accommodation at WVU.
Under the law, faculty are not considered need-to-know personnel and are not entitled to have information about a student’s Disability. Students may offer information about their Disability, but as a faculty member it would be illegal for you to request or require that a student disclose their Disability. If a student discloses their Disability, you are required to maintain confidentiality.
Because all disabilities present themselves uniquely, based on the individual, knowing a student’s diagnosis would not be helpful in accommodating them. Knowing what their accommodations are, and discussing how to implement those accommodations, based on their needs and the course setup is, however, an important part of the interactive process for receiving accommodations.
Determining accommodations does not fall under the scope of practice for faculty, and if faculty were to take on that role, it would place both the institution and the faculty member at considerable liability. By law, students have a right to choose whether/when they wish to make use of the accommodations that they are authorized to receive. Sometimes, students may feel that they do not need to make use of their accommodations, and that is their choice. It does not mean that they have been incorrectly diagnosed or authorized to receive an accommodation for which they should not be eligible. It simply means that, in this instance, they have elected not to make use of the accommodation for some reason. For instance, a student who is hard of hearing may, may make use of their transcribing accommodations in one class but find that they are unnecessary in a different class, based on which approach is most effective in a given classroom environment. If a student with extended time on an exam finishes early and does not make use of their extended time, it just means that they finished the exam early as any other student might.
Accessibility is a shared responsibility. Under the ADA, the “interactive process” is the method used to determine if a student has a Disability that qualifies them to receive reasonable academic accommodations. If so, the process also works to determine how those academic accommodations will be implemented in the classroom. This process requires communication between the student, OAS, and faculty.
Accessibility Services Responsibilities
- Meeting with students and authorizing appropriate accommodations based on documentation
- Communicating rights and responsibilities to students during intake
- Communicating a student’s eligibility for accommodations to faculty
- Maintaining records that verify Disability
- Collaborating with students, faculty, and staff to provide guidance regarding the implementation of accommodations
- Maintaining student privacy and confidentiality
- Renewing accommodations in the OAS online system at the start of each semester
- Discussing the specific implementation of accommodations with each instructor, and digitally signing the Notification of Authorized Accommodations email during/after the initial meeting with the instructor
- Promptly notifying OAS of any barriers encountered during implementation of accommodations
- Informing faculty and OAS staff if they wish to discontinue the use of authorized accommodations
- Maintaining academic standards
- Abiding by the WVU Campus Student Code
- Confirming that OAS has officially authorized the requested accommodations when uncertain
- Confirming that accommodations do not compromise the technical standards of the course and the learning objectives. Please ask your department chair for additional information about technical standards and/or contact OAS before declining to provide an accommodation
- Working with the student to implement accommodations, and digitally signing the Notification of Authorized Accommodation email during/after the initial meeting with the student
- Implementing authorized accommodations within one week, once requested by the student, and adjusting as necessary to ensure effectiveness
- Notifying OAS of any questions, issues, or concerns related to accommodations, especially accommodation requests that are unusual or complex
- Maintaining student privacy and confidentiality
Each class is unique, so initial discussions with students are necessary to determine the best way to implement accommodations in a specific class.
You may discuss with your department or program leadership how accommodations are typically implemented in your department.
If you still aren’t sure how best to accommodate the student, please reach out to the Accessibility Specialist listed on the notification of accommodations email. We are happy to answer questions and assist you.
Being proactive and adopting principles of Universal Design while creating your course can help to ensure that it is accessible. For more information on how to do this, please see our Faculty Resources page. Please reach out to OAS if you have questions.
In some cases, accommodations may not apply to some courses. For instance, if a student is authorized to use a scribe or test reader on an exam but there are no exams in the course, then that accommodation would not apply. Please reach out to OAS if you have questions about the applicability of accommodations to your course.
If you believe the accommodation impedes a technical standard of your program, you should contact the OAS to discuss your concern immediately. Through the interactive process, the accommodations and course standards will be discussed to determine if the accommodation is inappropriate in the specific class. Alternative accommodations can also be discussed at this time.
A student’s Disability-related information must be kept confidential by law. Faculty members should refrain from mentioning or discussing a student’s accommodations or services during class or in front of other students or colleagues. Consultation with your department leadership for the purpose of implementing an accommodation is allowed. Please contact OAS if there are any questions, issues, or concerns regarding an accommodation.
That information is confidential. If students inquire about another student’s accommodation, you may state that the information is confidential.
Students with Disabilities have a right to be accommodated, to have an equal opportunity to succeed on an even playing field. College courses are challenging, and students are evaluated based on their academic performance. As is the case with all students, not every student receiving accommodations earns a passing grade. Faculty should point students to academic resources that might help them (and others) succeed in class, and/or refer them to their academic advisors.
No. You are under no obligation to waive your attendance policy. However, you are strongly encouraged to consider whether regular attendance is essential to your course. Students may miss class due to a variety of medical and health-related issues. There are two broad categories for such absences, including those resulting from emergent or acute medical concerns and illnesses, and those related to a disability(ies).
An acute medical illness or injury is not the same thing as a disability. When a student must be absent from class due to a medical illness or injury, they should contact their instructors directly. In the event of an emergency, the Office of Campus and Community Life can assist students in notifying instructors.
Regarding disability-related absences, an instructor’s choice to excuse students from class is considered an “academic decision.” This means instructors may excuse students at their own discretion. OAS does not issue excuses for absences to any students, regardless of disability.
Students may request their accommodations at any point in the semester, but accommodations cannot be applied retroactively to past assignments.
All students are held to the behavioral expectations set forth by WVU. Conduct issues should be directed to Student Conduct.
At WVU, roughly 10% of students use an accommodation. Nationally, the percentage of individuals with Disabilities is about 15%. Increases in the number of students requesting accommodation may happen for a variety of reasons. As students with Disabilities become more aware of their civil rights, they are more likely to seek accommodation. Likewise, as WVU students with Disabilities become more aware of the Office of Accessibility Services’ mission, they are more likely to utilize OAS as a resource. This is evidence that the system is working to ensure equal access.
Accommodations are provided in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) based on supporting medical documentation. A variety of disabilities can be accommodated through use of the same accommodation. While it may seem that the accommodations are similar, the functional limitations experienced by each student with a Disability can be mitigated in multiple ways through the approved accommodations.
Unlike high school, where teachers routinely refer students to special education services, in college students are responsible for self-advocacy. If a student expresses concerns to you or offers up information that leads you to believe that they might benefit from accommodations at WVU, you may provide them with information about OAS. For instance, you might ask, “Did you know that WVU has an accessibility services office?” or say, “That is a concern that the folks in the Office of Accessibility Services might be able to assist you with.” This type of discussion should happen in private. For more information, see our Faculty Resources page.