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Faculty Guide to Disability Services for Students

Qualified students with disabilities admitted to Lesley University have met all academic standards required for admission. These students may require reasonable accommodations to participate in and benefit from programs and services. As a faculty member, you can support the success of students with disabilities by understanding and implementing these practices.

We encourage faculty to be in communication with our Disability Services team with any questions or concerns regarding policies and procedures.

Syllabus Statements

All faculty members should include the appropriate Disability Services statement in their syllabus. Please review this information with students, explaining that it’s the student’s responsibility to request accommodations and services in a timely manner. You may also wish to read the statement aloud during the first week of class. This indicates a level of sensitivity and consideration regarding the needs of all students, and it allows students to make their accommodation needs known to you promptly.

  • Sample syllabus statement for on-campus and off-campus programs

    Lesley University is committed to ensuring that all qualified students with disabilities are afforded an equal opportunity to participate in and to benefit from its programs and services. To receive accommodations, a student must have a documented disability as defined by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, and must provide documentation of the disability. Eligibility for reasonable accommodations will be based on the documentation provided.

    If you are a student with a documented disability, or feel that you may have a disability, please contact the appropriate disability administrator.

    For Students with Learning Disabilities, Attention Disorders and Autism:

    Kimberly J. Johnson, Director LD/ADD Academic Support Program
    Doble Hall, 2nd floor
    Phone: 617.349.8462 • Fax: 617.649.3704

    For Students with Physical, Sensory, and Psychiatric Disabilities:

    Holly Aldrich, Assistant Director Disability and Access Services
    Phone: 617.349.8655 via Relay 711 • Fax: 617.649.3704

    The contact persons play the role of facilitator between the student's needs, faculty requirements, and administrative guidelines of the University. Disability-related information is not shared without the permission of the student. Additional information can be found on the Disability Support Services webpage.


Disability documentation is confidential information and should be forwarded by the student to the Assistant Director of Disability and Access Services or the Director of LD/ADD Academic Support Program for review and record keeping. Accommodations for students are based on the documentation provided by the student.

To ensure compliance with Section 504 and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, faculty should not review documentation or make a determination of accommodation(s) based on student self report. Students who disclose a disability to faculty should be directed to the appropriate contact person.

Disability information shared with faculty should be kept confidential. At no time should the class be informed that a student has a disability, except at the request of the student. All information a student presents to faculty should be used specifically for arranging and implementing accommodations for assignments and in-class activities.

We recommend that students meet with faculty privately to discuss arrangement of accommodations as listed in their Disability Accommodation Letters.

Receiving a Request for Accommodations                               

The Disability Accommodation Letter verifies the student has a documented disability and is eligible for the listed accommodations. Formal requests for accommodations will be listed in a student’s accommodation letter, which is issued and signed by a Disability Services representative. When the student presents the accommodation letter to the professor, by law, the professor cannot ask the student to disclose the nature of the disability. It is at each student’s discretion to determine what they wish to disclose.

When meeting with faculty to discuss accommodations, students should present this letter and obtain the appropriate faculty signature. Copies of the signed accommodation letter should be retained by students, faculty, and disability services personnel for reference.

A student may request implementation of accommodations at any time. Some academic accommodations may take more time to provide than others. The student should follow established procedures to ensure enough time to request and provide an appropriate accommodation.

The accommodations recommended are meant to facilitate academic opportunity for students with disabilities so they may meet the essential requirements of the course. Faculty members have the right to determine course content and methods of teaching, ensure that students demonstrate knowledge of the material, and assign an appropriate grade per essential requirements of the course.

Accommodations should not compromise or alter fundamental academic standards. If you have questions about denial of a request or the essential requirements of a course, please contact the disability services personnel identified on the accommodations letter.

Common Accommodations

Determination of appropriate accommodations is based on an interactive process with the student, the nature of the disability, and how the disability affects the student in the academic environment. Examples and explanations of common accommodations may help you in your discussions with students.

  • Extended time and distraction-reduced space for exams and quizzes

    Students will provide faculty with a form that facilitates the procedures. Extended time on exams/quizzes is for students who have a disability that prevents them from demonstrating their skills within the standard testing time limit.

    A distraction-reduced environment is a quiet testing room without the disruption of visual or auditory stimulation. Students who have disabilities that impact their ability to concentrate or integrate sensory input may find this helpful. The distraction-reduced environment will most often be in a room at Lesley’s Center for Academic Achievement. Faculty members are not required to arrange or provide a distraction-free environment.

    Students with this accommodation are responsible for notifying faculty in advance of the exam/quiz. Students will arrange for this accommodation by completing the Testing Accommodation Form with the Center to reserve space and time to take the quiz/exam in a distraction-reduced environment. On the form, the professor then indicates how the exam will be delivered to the Center and the professor’s preferred method for the return of the completed exam/quiz. Additionally, the professor will indicate materials that all students will have access to during the exam, i.e., notes, study card, etc.

    The student is responsible for delivering the form to the professor and returning the signed copy back to the Center.

    Students are required to complete the Exam Honor Code, which is kept at the Center. In the Honor Code, students agree to the following:

    • I commit not to share any of the contents of this exam with a person who has not yet taken the exam.
    • I attest that I have not learned about any of the contents of this exam from someone who has already taken the exam.
    • I agree to only take items approved on the Testing Accommodation Form into the exam room, and to leave all non-approved items (course materials, handbags, book bags, cell phones, electronic devices, etc.) with the office administrators.
    • I understand that Center staff will be checking in with me from time to time during the exam. Exam room doors must therefore remain unlocked during test times.
    • I realize that computers in the test rooms will remain off unless authorized on the Testing Accommodation Form.
    • I further understand that all Internet access will be disabled during my exam, and I will make not attempt to re-enable it, unless specifically authorized by my professor on the Testing Accommodation Form.
    • I commit to not leave the Center while taking a test, unless escorted by an authorized person from the Center.
    • In the event that I will be returning my test to faculty, I will have an office administrator place it in a sealed envelope that is signed or stamped across the seal before I leave the Center.
  • Extended time on assignments as mutually agreed upon by student and faculty

    Some students have disabilities that impact their ability to meet work objectives quickly and efficiently, and may need extended time in order to prepare for an assignment and fulfill its requirements.

    It’s the responsibility of the student to communicate with faculty directly in advance of the due date to discuss extensions and propose an alternate due date for the assignment. Because assignment due dates are important for efficiency, organization, and grade validity, extensions should only be granted as mutually agreed upon by student and faculty.

    The exception is for students with a medical or health condition, which could impact their ability to complete assignments due to sudden exacerbation of symptoms, medical emergency, or hospitalization. Faculty members are asked to be flexible in this case because students may not be able to give advance notice.

  • Consideration regarding attendance

    While the Lesley University Attendance Policy states that students are expected to attend classes and penalties for student absences or tardiness are at the discretion of the individual instructor, the student’s disability may impact attendance.

    This accommodation is made to acknowledge that some students have disabilities of an episodic nature or disabilities that might make it difficult for a student to meet the attendance policy set forth by faculty.

    Some examples of disabilities that are episodic in nature or issues related to disabilities that might impact attendance:

    • Autoimmune disorders with recurrence and remission such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Crohn’s Disease, Lupus, or Multiple Sclerosis
    • Genetic conditions such as Sickle Cell Disorder or Cystic Fibrosis
    • Developmental or neurological issues such as Traumatic Brain Injury
    • Psychiatric conditions or their treatment. For example, a change in medication for a psychiatric condition and medication may cause physical illness or debilitating side effects
    • Any disorder that requires treatment at a medical facility on a regular basis

    This list is not comprehensive and only serves as an example.

    This accommodation grants flexibility with regard to physical attendance in class. The student is fully responsible for any work due or material covered in class during the absence(s). Neither extended time on assignments nor arrangements for making up tests and exams missed during absences are included in this accommodation. Those must be arranged with faculty individually. Faculty will handle these issues on a case-by-case basis as deemed appropriate.

    This accommodation does not provide for a certain number of absences; instead it provides flexibility in the attendance policy of the individual faculty member. For example, this may mean that a faculty member is willing to:

    • Be flexible by offering additional absences with additional (make-up) work
    • Meet with the student one-on-one to cover the material missed
    • Allow a student to make up classes by attending other sections of the same class
    • Extend the actual number of absences allowed

    Faculty determination of the role of attendance as an essential requirement of the course is a key part of this policy. If you have any questions about attendance flexibility or the essential requirement of a course, please contact Disability Services.

  • Use of a note taker and/or copy of faculty notes

    The note taker service is coordinated for students who have a disability that impacts their ability to take notes, or who need additional notes to supplement their own notes or class attendance.

    Student note takers are identified through the Center for Academic Achievement, by faculty recommendation, or by reference to the existing database of student note takers.

    Recipients’ confidentiality needs to be maintained. Copies of notes are submitted and retrieved through email, notes@lesley.edu. Disability Services may sometimes ask faculty to identify a note taker candidate for a student with a disability enrolled in a course. In the case that a note taker is not sufficient or a note taker is not identified, faculty may be asked to provide lecture notes.

  • Livescribe Smartpen

    Note taking can be extremely challenging for some students with learning differences. As an alternative to an identified note taker, the student with a learning disability uses the Livescribe Smartpen, taking notes in the traditional way and writing and selecting course content while the Smartpen audio records the class content.

    The student has completed an Audio Recording Contract that addresses conditions and limitations to respect faculty and student privacy and faculty intellectual property. The audio recording is used only for personal study as it relates to the course and is not shared with any other person at any time, including other students in the class as well as electronic sharing with individuals outside of the university.

    Additionally, students recognize that the professor has the right to interrupt recording using their best judgment related to student self-disclosure as a part of course learning. The contract also stipulates that failure to abide by the provisions may result in loss of permission to record course content. The student is required to meet with the professor to demonstrate how the Smartpen works before using the Smartpen to record class.

    An announcement to the class is required so that classmates are aware that the class will be audio recorded. In this announcement, the student’s privacy will be maintained by not identifying the individual with the accommodation.

    Sample statement for class announcement:
    As a matter for general housekeeping, from time to time, students are eligible for an accommodation that allows them to audio record classes due to a disability.  The individual has signed an audio recording contract that limits the use of the recordings solely to personal study as it relates to this course and it will not be copied, emailed, or otherwise shared.  Please speak with me after class or connect by email if you have any questions or concerns.

Textbooks, Course Packs, and Syllabi

Please make sure your book selections, course packs, assigned readings, and syllabus are available in a timely manner.

Students who have vision impairments or print disabilities affecting their reading rates and comprehension require materials to be converted into alternate formats. The conversion process may take several weeks, so it’s important that students have access to information about readings, compilations, and textbooks in advance of the beginning of class. It’s essential to provide syllabi and handouts so that they can be made readable by the time the rest of the class receives them.

Some students access print files in audio format with voice output software. Print files such as readings, assignments, and documents uploaded to Blackboard and the Lesley University website should be accessible in this format.

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