WIU recently updated its policy regarding the academic accommodation statement included on course syllabi. Point 3 now reads:

In accordance with University policy and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), academic accommodations may be made for any student who notifies the instructor of the need for an accommodation. For the instructor to provide the proper accommodation(s) you must obtain documentation of the need for an accommodation through Disability Support Services and provide it to the instructor. It is imperative that you take the initiative to bring such needs to the instructor’s attention, as he/she is not legally permitted to inquire about such particular needs of students. Students who may require special assistance in emergency evacuations (i.e. fire, tornado, etc.) should contact the instructor as to the most appropriate procedures to follow in such an emergency. Contact Disability Support Services at 298-2512 for additional services.

I am disappointed for three reasons. First, this firmly places the process for accommodation in the land of red tape. I understand the reasons for doing that, but there’s little or no attempt to moderate bureaucracy here (for example, by suggesting that faculty are free to make their own policies which are more generous than these). That doesn’t necessarily have to occur in the statement, but should definitely be addressed in the policy.

Second, there is no mention of web accessibility. Again, there’s a missed opportunity here to deal with a huge problem. Not to mention the process for fixing it runs through Disability Support; no suggestion that perhaps instructors could fix the problem by making accessible web sites.

Third, the policy mixes second and third person, singular and plural. That’s just sloppy. And I say this for more than pedantic reasons: the second person singular makes it seem like folks who need accommodation are alone in the world, opposed to the mass of normal students.

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One Response to Policy

  1. gavantmood says:

    In response to the comments about University policy and ADA, I am surprised that this policy has not been more recently updated. Also, the policy is written in a very cold and detached manner. There are no warm fuzzies and it is written with the assumption that disabled students are physically able to go through the red tape of gathering the necessary paperwork.

    It’s true, there is no mention of web accessiblity. You would think that a form would be accessible with special consideration for the disabled student and posted on the instructor’s website or the university website, with ease of use in mind for the disabled student. The form should have the capability to be completed online with the option of direct submission to a specified name within the Disability Support Services Department at the end of the form. Some sense of urgency and importance, in addition to a high level of communication should be given with the updated policy.

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