University Accommodations: Talking to Professors
This is where I wish more schools would adapt the student driven IEP model in middle and high school. It’s coming for New York in the most recently updated special education policies and I can’t wait. I’m willing to give suggestions on that. But more on that in another post.
At the university level, as the student, it is 100% your responsibility to advocate for yourself. Your parents aren’t legally allowed to be involved (due to privacy laws) and the disability office cannot get too involved for the same reason. I’ll get to what the disability office can and cannot legally do in a separate post.
So you did your intake meeting. You know what your accommodations are. What next? Well you need to meet with your professors to discuss accommodations. This can go multiple ways:
•They insist you meet in their office
•You wait for the class to drain out and you talk to them after class if they are available.
Then their response usually falls somewhere between:
•Incredibly helpful, asking on a regular basis how they can best assist your learning according to your accommodations so you get the most out of their class (I don’t know how I managed three of these professors this semester).
•Indifferent, they’ll follow the accommodations and not much else. If it isn’t specifically written in the accommodations, they might not do it.
•Intentionally obstructive, trying to get in your way. Ableist as hell. Don’t believe students who need accommodations belong at universities. Has the false belief that accommodations affect academic integrity (they legally aren’t allowed to do that). I’ll be covering that in a separate post.
Usually a disability services office that goes out of their way is on a campus that has mostly incredibly helpful to helpful professors. Can you get an intentionally obstructive professor in this scenario? It’s theoretically possible (remember the best professors are constantly checking themselves for bias) but unlikely as it’s likely university policy to be accountable for all student learning. The reverse is also likely.
Anyway, so you have your time for when you are going to speak to your professors. What do you say? First, you introduce yourself. Tell them why you wish to speak to them (or remind them of you schedule an appointment over email). Then tell them what accommodations from the disability office you were given and how it will affect their specific class. So I’m going to use my accommodations from this semester and my hybrid class as an example of applying the accommodations to the class:
•Time and a half on tests [Blackboard quizzes require Time and a half, which only needs to be set once]
•Small group test taking in alternate location [Will be taking final exam at disability office]
•Requires computer for written exams/essays etc.
[N/A, quizzes already on computer, all papers typed and submitted electronically]
•Requires computer for taking notes in class
[During on campus classes, I need to have my laptop to take notes on]
•Requires audio note taking software
[It’s easier for me to record audio then only type the absolutely important things vs trying to type everything and getting frustrated. My laptop mic is pretty good plus there are settings I can adjust and I have a USB mic just in case.]
•Requires books and large texts in alternate format (ebook/audio)
[I can’t process long bits of text. It’s easier for me to have text to speech/audible read to me while I read along. I have a way to convert longer PDFs into ones that screen readers can handle but if I look confused on what went on in the reading, it’s because the conversion went array.]
Each class is different, so I tailor my responses to how the accommodations apply to that class. This must be done in the first week if everything is going to go smoothly. If your disability services office is good, they’ll email your accommodation letter to you and your professor every semester so everyone gets it and no one can claim ignorance.
You must be logged in to post a comment.