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FAQs For Faculty


What is a Disability? 

 According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), "a person with a disability is someone who: 

  • has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, 
  • has a history or record of such an impairment  
  • is perceived by others as having such an impairment  

What is the procedure for students with disabilities to obtain accommodations at Community College of Rhode Island?

The process of registering as a student with a disability includes three elements in order to be considered complete:

  • Step 1: Students are required to self-disclose their disability. They should make an appointment to meet with the Office of Disability Services. During this appointment, the campus coordinator and the student will discuss the college's Policies and Procedures for Students with Disabilities and the student's specific accommodation needs.
  • Step 2: Documentation of the disability must be provided from a qualified, licensed and impartial professional and must contain a comprehensive assessment including, when possible, clearly identified recommendations for accommodations. See Guidelines for Providing Documentation of Disability to the Community College of Rhode Island. Appropriate accommodations for each student are based upon the specific recommendations and justifications for reasonable accommodations provided in the disability documentation.
  • Step 3: The Request for Accommodation (RFA) letter will be delivered electronically via email and the professor should reply to the DSS Coordinator. This RFA confirms to CCRI Faculty and Staff that the student is registered with the Office of Disability Services and is eligible for the requested accommodations. In order to protect the rights and privacy of students with disabilities, the student's disability documentation will remain confidential and will not be released without the student's informed and written consent. However, faculty are encouraged to use this interaction as an opportunity to discuss the shared responsibility of implementing the accommodations and develop a specific plan for their course.

What do I need to know about Request for Accommodation letters?

  1. Once DSS has reviewed the student's disability documentation and determined that a student is qualified under the law, Request for Accommodations (RFA) letters are prepared by DSS coordinators. Both the DSS coordinator and student then sign the RFA.
  2. Request for Accommodation letters will be delivered electronically to professors via email. Professors are asked to reply to the Coordinator as a form of receipt as early in the semester as possible. Receipt of the emailed RFA is the faculty member's assurance that the student has a documented disability and is eligible for reasonable accommodations.
  3. The Office of Disability Services strongly encourages the faculty member to use this interaction as an opportunity to invite student to meet privately during office hours to discuss the shared responsibility of implementing the accommodations and develop a plan specific to the course. Faculty may make copies of the RFA letters, as needed. Faculty members should direct all questions or concerns regarding the accommodation, to the DSS coordinator personally to discuss their concerns.
  4. Testing and classroom accommodations become effective on the date that the Request for Accommodations letter is emailed to the professor and are only valid through the end of the semester. Accommodations are not retroactive.

What does The Office of Disability Services recommend I include in my Syllabi?

  • Faculty are encouraged to add a statement to their syllabi regarding CCRI’s commitment to assure reasonable access to academic programs, opportunities, and activities for students with documented disabilities. 
  • Sample Syllabus Statement 
  • A similar announcement to the class at the beginning of the semester is suggested. 

What do I need to know about Testing Accommodations? 

  • Typical testing accommodations include extended time and/or a separate location for testing.   
  • If a faculty allows more than the necessary amount of time to complete an exam for the entire class that does not mean the accommodation has been addressed, the student should still receive their extended time.  
  • As faculty, you can make arrangements with the student to implement these accommodations directly (e.g., during office hours or a classroom nearby) 
  • There is also a DSS Testing lab on each campus.  Student must self-schedule an appointment and professors will receive a request from the DSS lab via email to provide the test and any additional information (e.g., notes, calculators) DSS Test Request Form 
  • In specialized cases, the Office of Disability Services will provide other testing accommodations, such as scribes, readers, assistive technology, or sign-language interpreters. 

What do I need to know about online Testing Accommodations? 

  • Faculty must provide the full amount of the student’s approved extended time for testing.  
  • It is discriminatory to expect students to come to campus and be proctored for their tests if the rest of the class will be completing exams off campus.  
  • Extended time should be added automatically for online tests/exams/quizzes when the accommodation letter is received. 

Will providing a student with accommodations give him or her advantage over other students?

  • No. Providing accommodations simply levels the playing field so that the student with the disability has an opportunity that is equal to the other students to learn and demonstrate mastery of course material. 

Will providing accommodations mean that I will have to restructure my course and lessen the requirements of the course?

  • Accommodations should never change course standards or the essential functions of the course.  
  • All students, including students with disabilities, must meet the requirements of a course - with or without accommodations.  
  • Accommodations are adjustments that help ensure that students are not excluded from the course because of a disability. 

What should I do if a student tells me they have a disability or they had a “504” or “IEP”? 

  • The student should be referred to the Disability Services office.  They should contact [email protected]

Do I have the right to deny a student an accommodation if I feel that it is not necessary in my course? 

  • No, a faculty cannot deny an accommodation.  Reasonable accommodations for otherwise qualified students with disabilities are mandated by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. 
  •  If a faculty member would like DSS to consider a modification to an accommodation, the faculty member may make a written request to DSS that 1) specifies how the accommodation fundamentally alters the program, and 2) provides recommendations for an alternative format or accommodation that will enable the student to acquire the same information provided to other students, in a timely manner. 
  • If you have questions/concerns about how to best support this student in class or questions related to academic accommodations, please contact [email protected] 

I have a student with a disability who is failing my course. Is there something that I should be doing differently to help this student succeed? 

  • All students, including those who have disabilities, can fail courses. However, as you would with any student, it is appropriate to address the issue with the student and encourage them to utilize college services (e.g., Succes Center, Writing Center). It is possible the accommodations may need to be amended so you could also advise that they contact the Office of Disability Services as well.  
  • It may be exceedingly difficult for students to self-disclose their disability to the Office of Disability Services, as they are apprehensive of perceived stigma. To maintain a student’s confidentiality, any conversations, or questions about a student’s use of disability services and/or accommodations should always be private between the instructor and student.  

When should I refer a student to Disability Services? 

  • Faculty members are encouraged to refer students to Disability Services if the student has disclosed that they have a disability.  The best way to get started is to recommend that they contact Disability Services via email at [email protected] 
  • A student who is an English Language Learner is not considered to be a student with a disability based solely on being a non-native English speaker. However, if they are a student who has been officially diagnosed with a disability CCRI Disability Documentation Guidelines ,then they would then qualify to receive accommodations through Disability Services.