FAQs for Faculty
How do I know what I should do for a student with a disability?
Students with disabilities who experience barriers to their full participation should register with the Disability Resource Center. If the student is registered with our office, the student will be provided an accommodation memo. The student should share the memo with you and discuss the barriers they are experiencing. The memo will outline the accommodations that you will need to provide.
What if a student requests something that is not on the accommodation memo?
Contact the Disability Resource Center. It is not always possible to predict the precise interaction between a student's disability and a specific course requirement; as a result, it may be necessary to amend the memo. In consultation with you and the student, the Disability Resource Center will be able to advise you as to what might be the best environmental/academic adaptation.
Should I waive assignments and course requirements for students with disabilities?
No. Students with disabilities should be held to the same standards as any other student. Accommodations should not alter the course or program in any substantive manner.
Do field experiences have to be accessible to students with disabilities?
Yes. Equal access must be provided to all components of a class or program even if it is not a required element. This would include labs, field trips, transportation provided by MSU and internships.
If I don't feel comfortable providing an accommodation or I feel it alters the nature of the course/program, whom should I contact?
Please contact the DRC. If an accommodation alters or compromises fundamental course or program goals, you have the right to appeal the provision of those accommodations; however, recommended accommodations should be provided until the appeal is resolved.
A faculty member should first address his/her concerns through discussions with DRC staff and may initiate a formal appeal of a recommended academic accommodation by submitting a written statement to the Provost, clearly documenting the fundamental academic goals and demonstrating that the recommended accommodation compromises those goals.
How can I incorporate universal design in my courses?
Think about those with disabilities and other diverse groups during the planning stages of your course, program or event. How welcoming and usable is the environment for everyone who may participate? Here are some basic suggestions for universal design:
- Focus on course content, then design.
- Outline your agenda at the beginning of your presentation so that participants expect and receive a framework.
- Provide information in order of importance or in chronological order. Allow for simple navigation within your course or website.
- Select course management tools carefully. Ensure that all of your materials can be easily provided in alternative formats. Post presentation notes, handouts and summary notes on an accessible website so participants can obtain them prior to the lecture.
- Make handwritten information available in a text format.
- Use a teaching methodology that incorporates all learning styles.
- Provide visuals with verbal descriptions. If the content is visual, make it auditory.
- Choose color and font carefully for your online course and website.
- Model and teach good discussion board etiquette.
- Share examples and rubrics for assignments.
- Provide students choices when making assignments/projects.
- Provide feedback and corrective opportunities often.
- Create a practice exam.
- Have high expectations for all students.
(Adapted from Project PACE, University of Arkansas — Little Rock)
For more resources, visit Universal Design for Instruction and Faculty Focus on Course Redesign.
If universally designing my course isn't legally required, how would approaching my work from a universal design perspective make a difference to me?
Our programs and services must be accessible and usable to everyone. However, how you provide equal access is not necessarily defined. Universal design offers a seamless approach to providing access, which allows the University to be in compliance while implementing approaches to design that are more usable by everyone.
Incorporating the principles of universal design into a class enhances the accessibility of the curriculum to a variety of diverse learners: minority students, second-language learners, returning students, students with disabilities, etc. While re-envisioning the design of a course may seem overwhelming at first, experience has shown that once faculty members experience the increase in student engagement and learning that is achieved through a universally designed curriculum, there is little desire in returning to the traditional lecture format.
Could incorporating principles of universal design compromise the integrity of our programs at Missouri State University?
Universal design is not about removing the challenge of a course or degree plan. In fact, a socio-political perspective would take issue with the idea that things need to be easier for people with disabilities to succeed.
Reducing the challenge would be contrary to this philosophy. Sometimes people get the idea that proponents of universal design are saying that environments and courses should be designed so that everyone should succeed. This is a misinterpretation.
Our goals are the same as the goals of the University. We want to engage all learners in ways that support and increase their fluency with the subject at hand. We want all students to get the full experience.