General Faculty FAQ
See below some of the most common questions that we have been asked by staff and faculty working with students with disabilities. For questions specific to the provision of testing accommodations, please view our Test Accommodations FAQ.
Please also take the time to visit The Faculty Room, an online resource for faculty and administrators in postsecondary institutions nationwide.
- Are faculty and staff responsible for providing accommodations to qualified students with disabilities?
- What kinds of services do you provide to students with disabilities?
- What are some possible academic accommodations?
- What are my legal responsibilities when I have a student with a disability in my class?
- Should I place a statement on my syllabus informing students with disabilities that accommodations are available?
- What responsibilities does the student with a disability have in an academic environment? In addition, what responsibilities does the university have to students with disabilities?
- How do students register for services with the DRC?
- What do I do if a student requests accommodations for a test?
- What do I do if a student requests a note-taker in my class?
- How and when do I refer a student with a suspected learning disability to DRC?
- How does Cal Poly resolve disagreements about the provision of specific services?
- What is the DRC policy regarding the disclosure of information about a student's disability?
- How can I design my classroom to maximize the learning of all students?
- If I have a student with a specific disability in my class, what strategies are available?
- What is the DRC VISA?
1. Are faculty and staff responsible for providing accommodations to qualified students with disabilities?
A. Cal Poly, as a postsecondary institution, is required to provide reasonable accommodations to students with disabilities. According to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, facilities, educational and co-curricular programs, campus activities and employment opportunities must be made accessible to qualified individuals with disabilities. Therefore, all faculty and teaching staff have a responsibility to ensure that each course is accessible. This accessibility is essential and should be considered in the forefront of course and technological planning.
A. Appropriate services are determined on an individual basis, and may include:
- Assistive Technology
- Alternative Media
- Test Accommodations
- Disability Management Counseling
- On-campus Transportation
- Sign Language Interpreters
- Classroom Captioning
- Audio-format, Braille, and Large-Print Materials
A complete list of our services is also available under the Services tab.
A. Please review some examples of specific disability-related accommodations that students and faculty have used successfully.
A. Accommodations are prescribed on an individual basis by DRC Access Specialists, and are determined by documentation and recommendations from qualified professionals. Faculty are required to provide appropriate accommodations, but need not "fundamentally alter the nature of the curriculum". DRC Access Specialists are available for consultation with faculty and staff when questions arise. Here is some useful legal information.
5. Should I place a statement on my syllabus informing students with disabilities that accommodations are available?
A. DRC has prepared some sample syllabus statements to encourage the success of students with disabilities in your classes.
6. What responsibilities does the student with a disability have in an academic environment? In addition, what responsibilities does the university have to students with disabilities?
A. Please view the Rights and Responsibilities of Students with Disabilities and the University.
A. Students with any disability-related questions or concerns should make an appointment to see a DRC Access Specialist at their earliest convenience. Appointments can be scheduled by calling 756-1395 between the hours of 8:00 am and 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday.
Ideally, students with disabilities who are new to the university should see a DRC Access Specialist before they begin classes. DRC Access Specialists work closely with each student to individually tailor support services relative to their disability. Faculty and staff may also encounter students who self-disclose a disability but may have not yet registered with the DRC. We encourage you to refer these students to our office for a confidential and no-obligation consultation.
Students are required to provide documentation from appropriate, licensed specialists. DRC Access Specialists review documentation materials to ensure compliance with "best-practice" standards. DRC Access Specialists identify potential impact of the disability in the Cal Poly environment.
A. Please read our Testing Accommodations FAQ. You can email a test to DRC at email@example.com or FAX it by calling 756-5451. To ensure receipt of the exam, please call DRC at 756-6087 to confirm the transfer.
A. A student who has been authorized to receive note-taking services from DRC will follow this procedure to request a note-taker in your class. In the event that our Note-taking Coordinator has difficulty finding a reliable note-taker, you may be contacted for assistance in identifying an appropriate student to fill this role. Information regarding a student's disability is confidential; therefore we ask that instructors do not identify students with disabilities in class.
A. The University does not provide screening or diagnostic services. You can refer students to: Should I be tested for a Learning Disability? or, refer to the Learning Disability Assessment Guidelines.
A. Please view the Policy and Procedures For Resolving University 504/ADA Accommodation Disputes.
The information a student shares with faculty about his or her disability is confidential information and must be treated as such, according to the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974, (20 U.S.C. 1232g). Avoid discussing disability issues at the front of the class or in the presence of other students. Information about a student's disability should not be shared with other faculty members or staff, unless they have a legitimate educational need to know [you may need to consult with University 504/ADA Compliance Officer regarding this issue]. Written material about a specific student and his or her disability needs to be regarded as "confidential" material, with restricted access to the file (e.g., limiting access to other student workers or faculty/staff).
In some cases, the student's disability may be obvious. The majority of students have hidden disabilities that they may or may not choose to reveal. While some students have become comfortable with their differences and are able to discuss their needs easily, others are still in the process of adjusting. Your sensitivity to their dilemma is appreciated. They must, however, self- disclose that they have a disability before being accommodated.
Whether or not students with a disability prefer to discuss the nature of their particular disability, their challenges, or personal history with their instructors is entirely up to them. They are NOT required to tell you specifics about their disability when they self-disclose a need for accommodations, having already done this with a DRC Access Specialist.
A. Find out more about Access by Design: an Accessible Materials Checklist for Cal Poly Faculty.
A. The DRC recommends the following resources:
- Possible Academic Accommodations
- Teaching Tips
- College Students with Learning Disabilites
- Seizure First Aid
- Visit for social, relational, transitional and life skill support
- 24 Tips for Faculty Working with students with ASD
A. To receive services from the DRC, students submit medical or other appropriate documentation. DRC staff determines if the documented impairment rises to the level of disability, and if so, develop a service plan called a VISA (Verified Instructional Services and Accommodations). Students requesting accommodations should present you with a copy of their VISA. If a student does not have a VISA, your options are to refer them to the DRC or, as is your prerogative, to provide the accommodations.
Location: Bldg 124 (Student Services, across from Spanos Stadium)