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Addressing Faculty Concerns/Objections
to sar approved accommodations

Overview

For any accommodation, there are two determinations. 
 

  • The first will always occur - is it necessary? 
  • A second determination can be made - Is it reasonable?

The staff with Student Accessibility Resources determines what is necessary for access for a particular student.

Faculty are usually notified within the first two weeks of classes regarding what accommodations a student has been approved for but it can occur at any time during the semester.  Additionally, there are times before approval when the staff of SAR identify a potential concern. The timing of the notification is dependent on when a student registers with SAR (which the student must do each semester) and when the student shares the Accommodation Implementation Plan with the faculty member or the staff with SAR identify a potential concern.  Faculty should meet with the student to discuss all approved accommodations to understand if the student intends to utilize the accommodation for the course and if so, how the student intends to utilize the accommodation in that particular class.  Students are provided an Accommodations Implementation Plan and asked to schedule a time to meet with faculty for this purpose.
 

NOTE: students do not have to confirm or reveal the nature of the diagnosis to faculty – the diagnosis and its impacts have already been confirmed and determined by SAR. 

Discussions between faculty and students must focus on – 
 

  • the specific limitations the student experiences (ie difficulty reading, taking notes, etc)

  • how the approved accommodation allows them to access the course 

  • how the accommodation relates to the essential requirements of the course.

When there is a concern or objection, the institution (when utilizing an appropriate process) can determine what is reasonable. The institution must utilize a deliberative process with the appropriate individuals represented to determine when an accommodation is unreasonable.  No single person can make this decision for the institution.
 

Required Protocol for Faculty

Faculty should initiate the Academic Adjustment/Accommodation Review Process in a timely manner. 

Information Faculty Member Provides

  • Which defense they believe is applicable - fundamental alteration, direct threat, or undue burden.

  • Specific and detailed rationale for concern/objection.

  • Core outcomes/expectations as stated in syllabus or program descriptions and required for all students (see Determining Essential Requirements section below).

  • Essential academic or technical standards 

    • goes to the very nature of the subject matter or that are of the utmost importance in achieving the course/program objective), why important and if and why the standard is the only way to achieve the desired academic objective and why.

  • Essential methods of instruction, fundamental to nature of the course - the teaching strategies which most effectively address the essential outcomes, if any methods of instruction are non-negotiable and why, if other sections use other methods of instruction and how other methods might be utilized in this course.

  • If the department has conducted a determination of essential requirements using the appropriate protocol.

Summary of process steps  

  • Consultation with Specialist (can be skipped and move directly to next step)

  • Deliberation by Accommodation Review Committee (statutorily required step)

  • Review by Dean’s Council

  • Review by Academic Affairs 
  • ​Review by President

While the objection is being reviewed, the student shall be afforded the benefit of the listed accommodation(s) pending a final decision.
 

Procedural Steps

Determination of Reasonableness of Accommodation

Faculty who have concerns/objections about a particular accommodation must register these through the following procedure:
 

  1. The faculty member must complete a review request form within 3 business days of meeting with the student (as documented on the Accommodation Implementation Plan [AIP]). 

  2. Upon receipt of the completed form, the specialist will contact the faculty member to set up either an appointment for consultation with the specialist to discuss the accommodation concerns/objections (optional) OR a meeting of the Accommodation Review Committee (required).

  3. If a consultation is requested, it will be arranged within two (2) business days of when the request form is submitted.  During the consultation with the Accessibility Specialist, the following will be explored/discussed:

  • the faculty member’s concerns/objections to the accommodation(s)

  • a preliminary review of the course design/learning outcomes and methods

  • the access or barriers to access in play

  1. If after the consultation the faculty member still has concerns/objections, the faculty member will notify the specialist in writing the justification for their continued concerns/objections with supporting documentation within three (3) business days of the date of the consultation.

  2. Upon receipt of the written justification from the faculty member, the Accessibility Specialist will schedule a meeting of an Accommodation Review Committee within five (5) days to engage in the deliberative process. The committee of objective persons will involve individuals who collectively are knowledgeable about – 

  • the academic area

  • any related licensing requirements

  • any applicable accreditation for the course of study
  • the student’s disability
  • access and accommodation methods

The minimum composition of the committee is to include:
 

  • Faculty member

  • Department chair

  • Accessibility Specialist  

  • Faculty member of SAR Advisory Committee (from unaffiliated department)

  • other administrators or faculty as deemed appropriate

The committee will explore the issue in a well-reasoned manner, without resort to a pretext for discrimination.  The results of the meeting will be documented on the Academic Adjustment/ Accommodation Review form. The committee will engage in the deliberative process with a primary objective of a determination of essential elements and whether the requested accommodation constitutes a fundamental alteration, a direct threat to others or an undue administrative or financial burden.  
 

In regards to the operation of the committee, the members will:
 

  • identify the objective of the requirement in question, taking into consideration the information provided by the instructor, program or department concerning essential requirements.  The committee will ensure that the requirement is not simply based on tradition or routine practice without direct connection to essential requirements.

  • consider whether the requirement is consistent with similar programs at other educational institutions, and with relevant national and expert guidelines; and whether there is any unique justification for a requirement that is not generally adopted by other educational institutions.

  • consider information provided by the student relevant to determining whether notice of the essential requirement in question has been provided to the student

  • determine whether the accommodation requested by the student would invalidate the objective of the requirement. 
  • ​consider if there are alternate ways that the student can acquire or demonstrate mastery of the knowledge or skill that would meet the same fundamental objectives of the course or program?
  • determine if it has diligently searched for potential alternatives and included all the necessary people in this search?

  • identify whether other postsecondary institutions have identified alternatives that achieve the objectives without fundamentally altering requirements? 

If the requested accommodation involves course policy modifications for attendance, participation, assignment deadlines or test dates, the committee will utilize specific questions designed for this purpose.
 

If the requested accommodation would invalidate the objective of the requirement, the committee will promptly and diligently search for alternate accommodations in consultation with the student.
 

  1. Depending on the results of the committee meeting one of the following will occur:

    • If the accommodation is upheld and the faculty member still objects to the decision, they may continue with step 7 below.

    • If the faculty member agrees with the results of the deliberative process meeting –  

      • if the accommodation is determined reasonable, the student and faculty member will receive written confirmation that the accommodation will remain.

      • if the accommodation is determined to not be reasonable and will be denied to the student, a written confirmation will be sent to the student indicating why the accommodation will not be allowed.  The student may then follow the ADA Grievance Procedure.

    • If alternative accommodation(s) are identified, SAR will consult with the student to determine appropriateness and efficacy of the suggested accommodation(s) in light of the student’s needs.  

  • If alternate accommodations are determined appropriate and effective, an amended accommodations notification will be sent to the student and the faculty member.  If the faculty member has concerns or objections with the alternates, they may proceed with step 7 below.

  • If alternate accommodations are found to not be appropriate and effective, the Accessibility Specialist will discuss the original accommodation with the faculty member further.  

  • If the result is not to the satisfaction of the faculty member, the faculty member may proceed with step 7 below.

  1. The faculty member may contact their Dean within three (3) business days to have the Dean present the issue to the Dean’s Council.  The Dean’s Council will request the Accessibility Specialist attend the meeting in a consultative role.

  2. Depending on the results of the Dean’s Council one of the following will occur:

    • If the accommodation is determined reasonable, faculty can register further concerns/objections using step 9 below.

    • If the accommodation(s) are determined to not be reasonable and will be denied for the student, a letter will be sent to the student indicating why the accommodations will not be allowed.  The student may choose to utilize the ADA Grievance Procedure.

    • If alternative accommodation(s) are identified, SAR will consult with the student to determine appropriateness and efficacy of the suggested accommodation(s) in light of the student’s needs.  

  • If alternate accommodations are determined appropriate and effective, an amended accommodations notification will be sent to the student and the faculty member.

  • If alternate accommodations are found to not be appropriate and effective, SAR will discuss the original accommodation with the faculty member further. If the accommodation is determined reasonable, faculty can register further concerns/objections using step 9 below.

  1. If the faculty member is not in agreement with the results of the Dean’s Council and notifies the Accessibility Specialist in writing of the same within three (3) business days, the Accessibility Specialist will review the results of the prior meetings/discussion in consultation with the provost and/or the associate provost for Academic Affairs within three (3) business days.

  2. Following consultation with the Academic Affairs administrators, Student Accessibility Resources will notify the faculty member of the decision in writing. 

  3. Depending on the results of the consultation one of the following will occur:

    • If the accommodation is determined reasonable, faculty can register further concerns/objections using step 12 below.

    • If the accommodation(s) are determined to not be reasonable and will be denied for the student, a letter will be sent to the student indicating why the accommodations will not be allowed.

    • If alternative accommodation(s) are identified, SAR will consult with the student to determine appropriateness and efficacy of the suggested accommodation(s) in light of the student’s needs.  

  • If alternate accommodations are determined appropriate and effective, an amended accommodations notification will be sent to the student and the faculty member.

  • If alternate accommodations are found to not be appropriate and effective, SAR will discuss the original accommodation with the faculty member further. If the accommodation is determined reasonable, faculty can register further concerns/objections using step 10 below.

  1. If the accommodation(s) is upheld at this level and the faculty member still objects to the decision, they will notify the Accessibility Specialist within three (3) working days.  The Accessibility Specialist will forward the concerns along with documentation of all previous discussions regarding the matter to the President of the University who shall have the final determination.

While the objection is being reviewed, the student shall be afforded the benefit of any approved, necessary accommodation(s) pending a final decision.


Determination of Essential Requirements


When evaluating essential requirements, questions that need to be answered include, but are not limited to – 
 

  • What is the purpose of the course?

  • What are the prerequisites or other background knowledge, abilities or skills?

  • What are the essential academic standards of the course (course/program requirements that go to the very nature of the subject matter or that are of the utmost importance in achieving the course/program objective)

    • Why is the standard important to the course/program?

    • Is the standard the only way to achieve the desired academic objective?

    • Will the requested accommodation lower academic standards of the course/program?

  • What core outcomes/expectations are stated on the syllabus and required of all students?

    • What specific knowledge, principles, skills or concepts must be mastered and demonstrated?

    • What are the unique qualities of the course/program in relation to its overall objectives?

  • What aspects/requirements constitute a significant component of the learning process?

    • Why is the standard important to the course/program?

    • Could an alternative achieve the same result?

  • What are the essential methods of instruction which are fundamental to the nature of the course?

    • What teaching strategies most effectively address the essential outcomes?

    • Are any methods of instruction non-negotiable? If so, why?

    • Do other sections use other methods of instruction?  How might those other methods be utilized in this course?

Some of the above questions may have been addressed and documented in curriculum approval or course creation documents which will be included in the process.

MICHAEL CASEY, MS, CRC, CDF, LCAS

Accessibility Specialist - Student Accessibility Resources
Testing Coordinator  - SAR Testing Center

Email:               sar@wvstateu.edu 
Phone/Text:    (681) 533-0850
Campus ext:   3083
Location:         117 Sullivan Hall East

Hours:  Monday - Friday
              8:30am - 5:00pm

Academic Adjustment/Accommodation Review
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