Part 3 - General Classroom Considerations

Part 3 - General Classroom Considerations

Classroom Accommodations that Frequently Require Faculty Action

Three frequently used classroom accommodations that require faculty involvement are:

Note-Taking Services

With many disabilities, the student cannot take adequate notes. The Senate Policy on tape recording lectures (See De Anza College Academic Senate Policies in PART 2 of this GUIDE) permits instructors to decide taping rights in the classroom with the exception that students with verified disabilities always retain this right.
Some students prefer written notes in addition to, or instead of, recordings of lectures. They may request assistance in locating a volunteer note-taker, who will then use non-carbon reproduction
(NCR) paper or newer technologies (i.e. Smart Pens©) provided by the DSS.
If the student requests that an instructor make a class announcement, the instructor should indicate that a classmate requires a note-taker. The student with the disability, whether visible or not, should not be identified without express permission. Ask that any potential volunteers meet after class. This preserves anonymity while enabling the student to make the preferred arrangements. 
Another option is to provide copies of the instructor’s lecture notes or overheads if these are in a usable form.

Class Materials in Alternative Media

In spring 1999, the State Academic Senate passed Resolution 3.04, "Meeting ADA Requirements".  This resolution affirmed the Senate’s support of the State Chancellor’s efforts to help colleges develop effective systems to provide alternative media. It further urged local senates to work collaboratively with campus groups to develop policies and procedures so that colleges provide materials in appropriate media in a timely and effective manner.
When students’ disabilities impair their ability to read print, they acquire books and materials in alternative media. Many students use:
Large print photocopying and printing materials in a larger font, usually 18 to 24 point, can enable students with vision impairments to access materials and perhaps to take exams in class.
A more recent development is to scan print materials electronically and display them by computer in large print, output them to speech, or output them to Braille.
If students require that materials be transcribed onto tape, into Braille, or into large print, instructors should provide materials as early as possible directly to the student or to the DSS Alternate Media Specialist, Debee Armstrong in RSS 139 or <> or Ext. 5815. It is important that the correct materials be completed and delivered to the student in a timely manner. The goal is to ensure the student with disabilities has the same information at the same time as all the other students in the class.

Test Accommodation

Test accommodation is an essential service for students with verified disabilities whose educational limitations impair their ability to take exams and demonstrate mastery of the course objectives in a standard way. As is usually the case for students with learning disabilities, visual impairments, limited dexterity, or psychological disabilities, the need for, and type of, accommodation depends on the impact the disability has on test taking. Students with other verified disabilities may also be eligible for test accommodations.
DSS Counselors and LD Specialists work closely with each student individually to determine the most appropriate accommodation.  Although test accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis, frequently used accommodations include:
  • Readers and scribes.
  • Braille and large-print tests.
  • Reduced distraction environments.
  • Use of assistive technology.
  • Extended time (1.5X or 2X)
  • Use of dictionaries, spell-checkers, and calculators.
Key Points Regarding Test Accommodations

  • Federal and State Laws mandate test accommodation.
  • DSS Test Accommodation Center (TAC) – LCW 110 (ext. 8927) is a service to instructors to help them meet De Anza’s legal obligations.
  • Use DSPS resources such as the TAC for information and assistance with test accommodations.
  • Students must have their disability verified prior to receipt of accommodations.
  • Accommodations are determined individually and are based on educational limitations.
To ensure fairness to all students, test accommodations should preserve course integrity. In general, DSS does not support unsupervised exams or unlimited time unless all students are permitted these conditions.
The student with a disability registered with the DSPS division will have an appointment with a DSS Counselor or LD Specialist to verify their disability and establish their Academic Accommodation Plan (AAP).  With the student's permission, their DSS Counselor or LD Specialist will e-mail an accommodation letter to each of the student’s instructors outlining the their accommodation plan for that specific class.
Upon request, some test accommodations, such as large-print tests, can be delivered to the classroom.
If the student’s AAP includes test accommodations, students are asked to speak with instructors as early as possible about testing to explain how their disabilities affect their test taking and which accommodations they need.
As early as possible and no later than 5 days before a test, exam, or quiz is to be given to the whole class, students with accommodations will need to obtain test information on the date and times.   The instructor’s course syllabus is usually the best source for this information.  As soon as this information is obtained, the student will contact the DSS Test Accommodation Center (TAC) to enter the dates and times into the ClockWork© database.  As soon as this is accomplished, the instructor will receive notices of the upcoming test accommodation and will be asked to access the ClockWork© faculty module.  There is a Test Accommodation Faculty Help Guide to assist faculty in accessing the ClockWork© module to:
  • Read and acknowledge the student’s accommodation letter
  • Inform TAC if the course is a distance learning class
  • Inform the TAC:
    • If the instructor plans to provide the accommodation instead of the TAC (Instructors are advised to not provide test accommodation without first consulting with the student’s DSS Counselor or LD Specialist.)
    • If the TAC will provide the test accommodations, then TAC must know:
      • What are the test conditions for all of the students in the class?
      • How will the instructor deliver the test to the TAC? (If the test is in a digital format it can be uploaded from the ClockWork faculty module directly to the TAC)
      • How does the instructor want the TAC to deliver the completed test back to the instructor?

If a student not registered with the DSPS division asks the instructor for test accommodations, it is highly recommended that the instructor contact the Test Accommodation Center or a DSS Counselor or LD Specialist prior to agreeing to provide any accommodations.

Instructors may provide the test accommodation themselves, however, instructors are advised to not to do so without first consulting with the TAC or student’s DSS Counselor or LD Specialist. There are issues related to protecting the student’s right to privacy and confidentiality of which the instructor needs to be aware.  Nevertheless, arrangements must always provide the test accommodations as indicated on the student’s Academic Accommodation Plan (AAP).
For instructor convenience and because many accommodations preclude classroom administration, the TAC oversees and proctors most test accommodations.  The Test Accommodation Center has test proctors who handle exams and administer the test accommodations. Procedures are established to ensure an orderly process that safeguards test integrity and security. (See Test Accommodation for Classroom Tests)
General questions about the logistics of testing arrangements can be addressed to the test proctors. If an instructor has questions or concerns about an individual student’s test accommodation, the instructor should contact the student’s DSS Counselor or LD Specialist whose name and contact information will be on the student’s accommodation letter.
Frequently Asked Questions about Test Accommodations and the Faculty Role
Is it really necessary to take extra time if you understand the material?
Many students with disabilities use readers, scribes, or assistive devices, which slow test administration. For some, the disability slows mental processing or the ability to write. By law, the college must make adjustments so that these conditions do not preclude a student from completing course requirements.
Do faculty need to rewrite their test or allow a different measure of achievement?
In most cases, a faculty member will not need to do either. Accommodations are most often achieved by adjusting the manner in which the student takes the test. In some cases, arrangements for alternatives may better meet the student’s needs while adequately meeting course objectives. For example, accepting student work on tape or restating the question in different words.These are individualized decisions best reached through consultation with the student and their DSS Counselor or LD Specialist.  In all cases, the test must maintain course integrity and measure student achievement and performance. In no case would a fundamental alteration of the course content be required.
Do faculty need to provide an alternative test if it is not possible for the student to take the test at the same time as the class?
This is the instructor’s option. Due to scheduling conflicts, it is not always possible for the student to take the test at the exact time the class does, though it is preferable.
What should faculty do about quizzes?
Each situation should be considered on a case-by-case basis. If an accommodation is needed, the instructor might:
  • Have the student take the quiz with the class and speak with the instructor afterward to clarify the answers.
  • Allow the student to take a make-up quiz.
  • Substitute another activity for the quiz.
  • Increase weighting of exams or homework.
Isn’t it unfair to allow some students extra time when other students have to work within a time constraint? All students would like to have extra time.
Some students with disabilities require extra time in order to level the playing field and to demonstrate what they have learned. The time limit for tests is often set by the class period and is not critical in the actual measurement of learning or performance.
If students receive accommodations, how will they handle university workloads or employment realities?
Students eligible for legally mandated test accommodations in the community colleges would be eligible for similar accommodations at the four-year university. The Americans with Disabilities Act protections also include employment and job-site accommodations. Certification, placement tests, licensing tests, employment entrance, and promotion tests must include accommodations for eligible applicants with disabilities.
What about cheating?
Students must sign a form, stating that they have read and will abide by the De Anza Academic Integrity Policy. The DSS - TAC is responsible for test administration, security, and integrity. Rules regarding the testing conditions are given to each student and is prominently posted in the TAC. DSS - TAC policy is to inform faculty promptly of any irregularities and to support the college in its enforcement of institutional policies regarding academic honesty.  (Academic Behavior Referral Form)


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Problem Practice


When Philipe entered the math course at the beginning of the quarter, the teacher immediately found his dress and demeanor odd.  Philipe didn't speak with the instructor about a disability or any special needs until right before the first midterm.  He caught the instructor just before class and told him he needed extra time for the test because of his "problems."  The instructor asked him how long he needed, and when Philipe said "probably three or four hours," the instructor was at a loss as to how to proceed. The instructor could see that Philipe had some serious problems. When interacting with Philipe, the instructor felt uncomfortable, and in fact, although he couldn’t give a specific reason for it, the teacher felt vaguely uneasy and vulnerable around him. The instructor concluded that the best thing all around would be to just let Philipe take the math midterm home, complete it at his leisure, and return it the next class session.

The instructor should have informed Philipe that any test accommodation would need to be based on a verified disability.  Furthermore, if an exceptional accommodation, such as taking a test home, is considered, the DSS should be consulted to determine the appropriateness of such a practice.


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Last Updated: 6/14/17