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Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ for Faculty

What is a disability?

The Americans with Disabilities Act defines disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. This includes persons who have a record of such impairment and those who do not have a disability but are regarded as having a disability. The degree of impairment must substantially limit a major life activity (e.g., walking, seeing, hearing, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, and communicating). Some examples include specific learning disabilities, visual impairments, and psychological conditions.

How does Montgomery College determine eligibility for disability related accommodations and services?

Students must self-identify to the DSS office to initiate the process of determining eligibility. Montgomery College uses an individualized interactive process to determine eligibility and accommodations which includes review of disability documentation, functional limitations, impact in an academic setting and student’s self-report regarding disability and needs.

What laws protect students with disabilities in higher education?

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. It specifically states, “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability shall solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 expanded the mandates set forth in section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications, and governmental activities. The Americans with Disabilities Act was amended in 2008 and expanded the definition of disability. Section 508 is an amendment to the United States Workforce Rehabilitation Act of 1973 mandating that all electronic and information technology developed, procured, maintained, or used by the federal government be accessible to people with disabilities.

What is a reasonable accommodation?

A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a course or program that enables a qualified student with a disability to have an equal opportunity to participate in an academic program. The ADA stipulates that colleges are responsible for providing reasonable accommodations when a student discloses a disability. The purpose of an accommodation is to correct or eliminate a disability- related barrier to provide access to the curriculum. Examples of accommodations include extended time on exams, access to lecture notes, or reduced-distraction testing environment.

A student provides me with an Accommodation Letter, do I have to provide accommodations?

Yes, if the student presents you with an accommodation letter from the DSS office, you must provide the identified accommodations. If you believe the accommodation request significantly alters the essential requirements of your class, contact the DSS office to discuss your concern. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the American with Disabilities Act, protect students with disabilities from discrimination and require that they be afforded access to the curriculum, activities, and programs offered by the College. Denying an accommodation is prohibited under these laws.

The accommodation letter indicates volunteer note taker, what do I need to do?

It is the College’s responsibility to make sure the student has access to classroom notes when this is indicated on the accommodation letter. Identify a student in the class who can act as the volunteer note taker. The student with a disability will provide directions and a note taking pad. If you are unable to secure a volunteer note taker for the class, contact DSS for assistance immediately.

What if I do not agree with an accommodation that is listed on the accommodation letter?

If you believe a specific accommodation alters the essential course requirements, contact the DSS office to discuss your concern.

Am I required to lower the standards of an assignment because a student has a disability?

No, students with disabilities are required to meet the same essential requirements and course standards as other students. However, it may be reasonable to exercise flexibility in a component of a course that is not essential. For example, it may be appropriate to complete an assignment in writing versus an oral presentation if the purpose of the assignment is not to assess oral expression.

What do I do if a student with disability is failing?

The purpose of the accommodations is to ensure access and does not guarantee success. Treat the student as you would any other student who is not performing well. Encourage the student to visit you during an office hour to discuss reasons for failing performance and what resources the student may use to improve. Encourage the student to consult with his/her DSS counselor regarding needs and strategies. You may also consult with the DSS counselor directly.

What if a student with a disability is disruptive or behaves inappropriately?

Montgomery College’s Student Code of Conduct applies to all students. Students with disabilities are expected to comply with the College’s policies. It is helpful to clearly state behavioral expectations for all students; discuss them in your classroom, on your syllabus, and with individual students as needed. If a student continues to exhibit inappropriate or disruptive behavior, discuss your observations and expectations privately with the student. The DSS office and the Office of Student Conduct are available for consultation if you need assistance.

Can I ask a student who is having difficulties whether he/she has a disability?

Asking a student directly about the possibility of a disability is inadvisable. Disability rights laws prohibit unnecessary inquiries about the existence of a disability. Treat the student who is having difficulty as you would any other student. This may involve encouraging the student to utilize supports and resources such as tutoring centers on campus, counseling and advising, and use of your office hours. If the student shares with you that he or she has a past history of a disability, or suspects he or she has a disability, it would then be appropriate to refer the student to DSS directly.