A few points to help you understand the role of accommodations for students with special needs. Accommodations are put in place to palliate for specific deficits. For example, many of us wear eyeglasses or contact lenses to accommodate for less-than-perfect vision. For students with specific disabilities, the accommodations provided in the learning environment (classroom, exam room, lab or studio, or even at home) have the same effect of wearing prescription eyeglasses for the nearsighted. They can now access the material, participate in academic activities and demonstrate their abilities on a level playing field with their peers. Academic accommodations are not designed to give students extra advantages; instead, they compensate for documented deficits.
Students registered with SAAC present teachers with an updated accommodation letter each semester. The accommodation letter is addressed to you, the teacher, and it assures you that:
- The student is registered with the SAAC;
- The student has a documented condition/disability that we have determined can be palliated with specific accommodations;
- We have a document or documents on file from a licensed professional that attests to the disability(s).
The accommodation letter outlines a list of the student’s accommodations in the classroom and during evaluations. Most often, classroom accommodations include the use of laptop for note taking, or the need for a peer note-taker in class. It is important to remember that these are necessary tools for this individual to access course material and in-class instruction; it is the student’s right to have access to these accommodations. You might also see a note about specific accommodations that an individual student may need, such as alternate arrangements for class presentations, or in the case of students suffering with a chronic illness, there may be a reference to occasional absences from class.
You may also view the accommodation letter via the AccessAbility Online Module once they have been updated and issued for the semester.
In order to respect students’ confidentiality we cannot specify the nature of a condition, or diagnosis in the accommodations letters. In the case of students with chronic medical conditions that result in absences from class, please be assured that SAAC has the relevant medical documents on file and it is not necessary for students to submit for proof of their condition to teachers following such absences. However, should a SAAC student be obliged to miss a regularly scheduled exam, teachers may still request a supporting document from a licensed professional.
Occasionally, we may need to advise you that a sign language interpreter, or student assistant will accompany a student in class, or that a student has a major functional disability. You will see a note on the accommodation letter, and should this be the case, we will make every effort to let you know you as soon as possible and before classes start, in order to best prepare ahead of time.