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SAR - Faculty Information

The number of students with disabilities enrolling in institutions of higher education has increased significantly in recent years.  Ensuring equity and access for individuals with disabilities — now estimated at 10-11% of the student population — requires balancing complex compliance requirements with providing equally-effective and integrated access to programs, benefits and services across the entire campus.  Many factors impact the academic success of students with disabilities including physical access, campus support services, and faculty willingness to make accommodations.

Access for students with disabilities means more than the removal of architectural barriers and the provision of auxiliary services (supplemental resources for students with sensory, cognitive, manual or speaking impairments). Academic adjustments, or accommodations, must also be made in the instructional process to ensure academic requirements do not have a discriminatory effect for these students so they have the opportunity to experience a full educational opportunity. This principle applies to all teaching strategies and modes, including online and other electronic modes of instruction as well as to institutional and departmental policies. Faculty are still expected to hold students with disabilities to the same essential and technical standards as the rest of the class.  Accommodations should not change the essential elements, criteria or performance levels of the course.  

Equity, access and compliance cannot solely be the responsibility of one office. We need to work to engage the entire campus community in reducing barriers to access to better serve our diverse and dynamic population of students and employees with disabilities.  SAR plays a significant role in assisting students and faculty in the development of accessible academic programs. Without faculty support, which is essential for the creation of an environment that values and welcomes diversity, our work would be incomplete.


Detailed information for faculty
is available by viewing-

A Faculty Guide to Teaching Students with Disabilities

An effective accessibility process should begin at a central point.  At WVSU, that point is the Student Accessibility Resources (SAR) office, an administrative unit under Academic Affairs.  The SAR office has been assigned authority for making decisions regarding the options necessary to provide equal access for students.

The provision of reasonable accommodations is a collaborative process in which the student, the Accessibility Specialist, and faculty all play a role.  All three have equally important roles in the process. 

  • The student is the expert on their condition and how it manifests when it interacts with their environment.  It is the student’s responsibility to request and provide supporting documentation for specific accommodations, and to engage in dialogue with his/her instructors regarding their need for accommodation. 

  • Faculty are the subject matter expert in their discipline.  They also are responsible for setting requirements and polices for their course as well as determining appropriate pedagogical processes for the subject matter.  Faculty have an obligation to provide reasonable accommodations and to ensure that the student has equal access to the course/program while upholding the academic integrity of the courses.  

  • The staff of SAR, as the expert on disabilities and disability laws/regulations, determines if the student is qualified and to which accommodations a student is entitled.

We are not required to solicit and/or find students who have disabilities and then provide them with accommodations.  Legally the accommodation process is initiated once a student identifies as a student with a disability to a representative of the university and asks for assistance.  Many times this representative may be a faculty member but also can include staff in various offices such as financial aid or public safety.   

While the courts and OCR have been fairly consistent in placing the responsibility on the student to initiate the process, faculty and staff need to be able to recognize a request and know to refer the student to SAR.  There is no magic language nor does the student have to reference the terms "disability" or "accommodation."  If a student indicates they are requesting a change or modification to a policy, procedure, or process on campus related to a physical or mental condition, the student should be referred to the SAR office to engage in the required interactive process.
If a student is struggling in one of your courses and you suspect they may have a disability, you may choose to approach the student as you would any other student having difficulty in the class. Inquire about what might be impacting the student's progress in the class, if the student discloses the difficulties are related to a mental or physical impairment, faculty should refer the student to the SAR.  

SAR Access Determination Process

In order to be considered for modifications or accommodations at WVSU, a student must complete three initial steps - 
  • submit a request form 
  • complete an access consultation 
  • provide documentation 


If the student is eligible, reasonable options exist and those options are necessary to create access and remove a barrier, the Accessibility Specialist develops a list of approved accommodations and reviews guidelines for receiving accommodations with the student.

Notifications are facilitated through the student who is provided with copies of an Accommodation Implementation Plan for each course to be reviewed in a meeting with the faculty.  The purpose of the meeting is to discuss which accommodations the student chooses to utilize and how they would like to utilize them.

To facilitate access in your course for students with a disablity, follow these steps:

  1. Include the accessibility statement in your syllabi (available from SAR)
  2. Promptly respond to requests to utilize approved accommodations.  
  3. Implement approved accommodations.
  4. Respect the student's confidentiality.
  5. Consult with and/or notify SAR when you have question/concerns about an approved accommodation.

While it is possible for the institution to refuse or deny an accommodation, the institution has to be wary of reaching such accommodation decisions without ensuring all of the following are completed:

  • engaging in meaningful discussion with the student 
  • a careful review of the supporting documentation to determine what accommodations are appropriate in light of the student’s needs in the unique environment of a particular course
  • a thorough review of the program and course in which the student is enrolled 

The decision to deny an accommodation should not be taken lightly. Institutions have found themselves in legal trouble for devoting insufficient thought to the conclusion that a requested accommodation should be denied.  Failure to provide a reasonable accommodation to a student with a disability is a violation of law, potentially putting in jeopardy an institution's federal funding.

As an institution subject to the federal disability mandates, we are required to make adjustments and to provide auxiliary aids and services for persons with disabilities except in certain circumstances when an accommodation can be determined as unreasonable. As an employee of a covered entityu, a faculty member is legally required to provide a reasonable accommodation which has been approved through Student Accessibility Resources (SAR) except in those circumstances when they are determined unreasonable.  In the context of higher education, it is easier to define what is not reasonable and assume that if the accommodation needed does not clearly fall under those guidelines, it is probably reasonable. 

There are four circumstances in which accommodations are not considered reasonable: 

  • allowing participation poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others and the threat cannot be mitigated; 
  • if the accommodation poses an undue financial or administrative burden; 
  • requires a substantial change in an essential element of the curriculum (educational viewpoint); or
  • requires a substantial alteration in the manner in which you provide your services
There may be times when an accommodation is requested that a faculty member believes may compromise the academic integrity of the course or program or, for other reasons, may have a concern, objection or disagreement with an approved accommodation.  Faculty should follow the protocol - Academic Adjustment/Accommodation Review Process - regarding how to register a concern, objection or disagreement with accommodations that appear on the notification generated by Student Accessibility Resources.

Michael Casey, MS, CRC, LCAS, AADC, CDF

Accessibility Specialist - Student Accessibility Resources
Testing Coordinator  - SAR Testing Center
Program Facilitator - Steps-2-Success

Phone/Text:    (681) 533-0850
Campus ext:   3083
Location:         117 Sullivan Hall East

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


Faculty Worksheet - Test Proctoring

Faculty Guide to Teaching Students with Disabilities

Addressing Faculty Concerns/Objections
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