Student Rights & Responsibilities

What are the rights and responsibilities of a student with a disability?

Students with disabilities have the right to equal access to courses, programs, activities, services, and facilities offered at UAB. Students are also entitled to reasonable accommodations. All information about the student’s disability is to be kept confidential. Students have the responsibility to provide acceptable documentation of disabilities and to register with Disability Support Services (DSS) if they would like to receive accommodations. If students deem it necessary to receive accommodations for a particular class, students have the responsibility to inform the instructor, to deliver the accommodations letters that verify their approved accommodations, and to participate in the discussions about how their needs can be met.

How are appropriate accommodations for a student determined?

To determine appropriate accommodations for a student, the student must submit acceptable documentation to DSS. The DSS staff reviews the information and determines appropriate accommodations based upon the substantial limitations of the student and the essential elements of the course.


Faculty Rights & Responsibilities

What are the rights and responsibilities of an instructor when working with students with disabilities?

An instructor has the right to confirm a student’s request for accommodations and to ask for clarification about a specific accommodation with DSS. Instructors do not have the right to refuse to provide an accommodation or to review a student’s documentation including diagnostic data. Instructors have a responsibility to work with DSS in providing reasonable accommodations, keep all records and communications with students confidential, and to refer a student to DSS who requests accommodations but is not currently registered. Instructors do not have to provide accommodations for students not registered with DSS.

Why does an instructor have the responsibility to make reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities?

An instructor has the responsibility to make reasonable accommodations because accommodations make it possible for a student with a disability to overcome barriers enabling the student to communicate what he or she knows in the same way that glasses do not strengthen vision but help a person to see. The instructor also has a legal responsibility to provide appropriate accommodations. For more information go to the Americans With Disabilities Act website.

If an instructor feels that a particular student may have a substantially limiting disability, to where should he or she refer the student?

If an instructor feels that a particular student may have a substantially limiting disability, he or she should refer the student to DSS.

What if a student with a disability is disruptive in class?

A student with a disability who is disruptive in class should be treated as an instructor would treat any student who is disruptive in class. If an instructor feels that there is a medical reason for the student’s behavior, the instructor can discuss this with a DSS counselor to determine if there is a solution to the problem.

What if a student with a disability is failing?

It is important for instructors to remember that providing reasonable accommodations to a student with a disability does not guarantee success in the course. Students with disabilities may not master the course material, just like any other student. Students with disabilities have the same right as other students to fail as part of their educational experience.


Student Accommodations

What do I do if a student is requesting an accommodation that was not on their accommodations letter?

Faculty are only expected to provide accommodations to students that are listed on their accommodation letters. If a student requests an additional accommodation not approved through DSS, please refer the student to DSS for instructions on submitting additional requests.

How do I determine how many disability-related absences are reasonable?

The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) provided the following guidelines to be used in considering whether attendance is an essential element of a course:

  • Is there classroom interaction between the instructor and students and among students?
  • Do student contributions constitute a significant component of the learning process?
  • Does the fundamental nature of the course rely on student participation as an essential method for learning?
  • To what degree does a student’s failure to attend constitute a significant loss to the educational experience of other students in the class?
  • What do the course description and syllabus say?
  • Which method is used to calculate the final grade?
  • What are the classroom practices and policies regarding attendance?

The accommodation should be provided unless the accommodation threatens the integrity of the course as offered. It is important that the student and course instructor discuss the issue so that the student can then make an informed decision regarding alternatives. Requests for accommodations for absences due to a disability should be considered on an individual and course-by-course basis. If you need further assistance, please provide the syllabus to DSS and a counselor will help determine a number.

What do I do if a student is absent due to a disability?

When a student is absent due to their disability, they are responsible for notifying the instructor and DSS within 24 hours of the absence, exceptions to the 24 hour recommendation may occur but DSS is happy to consult in these situations. The student will need to arrange how they will obtain the course content, lecture notes, and information presented that day.

How do I accommodate a disability related absence?

When a class is missed due to a disability related absence, a general rule for determining a reasonable timeframe for a makeup or postponement of an assignment (such as a paper, exam or quiz) is the time equivalent to that which was missed. In certain courses, it may be appropriate to consider an alternative assignment, reading or project to make up for missed class discussion or projects. Other examples of how disability related absences may be accommodated may include the ability to submit or make up missed assignments or assessments that have been impacted by the disability-related absence without grade penalty.

The student’s accommodation letter states they need a peer notetaker, what do I need to do?

When the student confirms the need for a notetaker, a second email will be sent asking for assistance in finding one in your course. We recommend that an announcement be made in class or an email be sent to the class via Canvas. You can also reach out to specific students if you think they would be good for this role. You can track when a notetaker has been assigned and how often notes are uploaded through the DSS Faculty Portal.


General DSS Information

Where can I get forms and publications provided by the DSS office?

Visit the "DSS Forms & Handbooks" tab on the Faculty DSS site for downloadable copies of common forms. Instructors may also want to review the online Faculty Handbook.

I am getting too many emails from DSS – it’s hard to keep up with them all, is there a better way?

The DSS Faculty Portal houses all of the information on students in each of your classes and which accommodations they are approved for. In the faculty portal you can also monitor who the notetaker is for your course and their notes, your testing contract who you is scheduled for an exam as well as monitoring other classroom accommodations.

How do I send a request for captioning of videos?

Do I need to get my podcasts transcribed?

How does an instructor make a document accessible?