Faculty and Staff FAQ
How Does Disability Support Services Work??
In order to receive Disability Support Services at OTC, students must report their disability to our office. The official process for this requires the student to fill out a Disability Support Application, located on the MyOTC portal; followed by an intake appointment with one of our Disability Resource Counselors. The intake appointment lasts approximately 1 hour and is an opportunity for the student to meet with our staff, become more familiar with our office resources and learn what services they may qualify for.
We do require student to provide supporting documentation for their reported disability at the time of their intake. If students do not have a copy of their own, copies can be requested from previous schools or medical offices. This information is kept privately in our office and will not be shared with other OTC staff.
The Resource Counselor will then use the documentation, the student’s application and other information to determine what set of services the student may qualify for, referred to as “accommodations”. The student is then provided with an “Accommodation Memo” via their OTC email to inform their instructor of services. We advise students to present this letter to their instructor in person so the student and instructor both have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss the accommodations listed. Some students still prefer to email a copy to their instructor, so please be prepared for either instance to occur.
Instructors are only required to provide services listed on the official letter from our office. If you are unsure how to deliver certain accommodations or if the student is asking for services that do not appear on their letter, please contact their counselor listed at the top of the letter or contact Disability Support Services.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
There is a good chance that you have or will have a student with autism in your classroom. The number of students on the autism spectrum has increased dramatically in the past 3 years. Students with autism may or may not utilize accommodations, but there are things that you can do to prepare your class to accommodate these students naturally.
- Provide a clear syllabus. Announce changes in advance to ensure that students have time to become accustomed and be sure that classroom rules and academic expectations are written in the syllabus, not just spoken.
- If possible, avoid pop quizzes, changes in seating or other unplanned events that can disrupt the regular flow of the class.
- Because of sensory issues, not wearing strong perfume, lighting candles or air fresheners and avoiding intense patterns on walls or slides can aid in creating a sensory-friendly environment.
- Look for signs of distress. If a student’s behavior has changed drastically, a student may need to find a way to release stress before continuing on with the class. Students with autism tend to unknowingly allow stress to build-up internally. This may not have anything to do with your class and could even result from change in routine earlier in the day.
It is also important to note that students with ASD are also sometimes very blunt. They mean no disrespect. Do not internalize negative comments. Students with autism may need to engage in certain behaviors (vocalization, repetitive body movements). Harmless, non-disruptive or odd behaviors may need to be acknowledged and tolerated. However, if behavior becomes abusive or disruptive, these behaviors will need to be addressed by the instructor. Disability Support Services is always willing to assist in these conversations.
Our staff has also developed a resource specifically to answer your questions concerning students on the Autism Spectrum. Autism Brochure DSS
Emotional Support & Service Animals
Emotional support and service animals have become more and more common in recent years and we are beginning to see them more regularly in the college environment. While emotional support and service animals are not interchangeable terms, here are a few principles that hold true concerning both.
1) The handler must be in control of the animal at all times.
2) The animal must not create any kind of disruption to the educational process.
3) As always, there are more resources for instructors if they have questions or concerns.
Low Vision/ Blind
Low vision and blindness can be among the hardest disabilities to accommodate simply because typically instructional material is visually driven. Although difficult, with only a few modifications much can be done to make material more accessible.
1) Student who are low vision or blind may require PowerPoints, handouts, and/or notes before class as they may need more time to review the material to engage in class discussion.
2) They may also use assistive technology heavily, specifically screen readers or magnification software and hardware to access their material. Because of this, they may require PowerPoints, handouts, and/or notes in digital formats. Or in rare cases embossed to braille.
3) It is common for these students to require testing accommodations as well. This will typically include extra (double) time, a reader, and a scribe. Disability Support and Testing Services staff are trained in providing these accommodations to students.
Deaf/ Hard or Hearing
Approximately 15% of the Americans ages 18 and up report some sort of difficulty hearing. Many of these individuals will qualify and receive services if they attend a college course. Deaf and hard of hearing encompasses a wide range of hearing loss including pitch limitations, volume difficulties as well as total or partial deafness. Because the spectrum of hearing loss can be so wide, we have provided the top 3 things we believe faculty and staff should know about serving students who report as deaf or hard of hearing.
1) Common services may include a sign language interpreter, live transcription, an FM system, volunteer student note-taker, and/or closed captioning
2) When communicating with a deaf or hard of hearing student speak directly to the student—not the interpreter. Face the student when speaking so that they student can read your lips and see your facial expressions. At times, you may need to rephrase questions or statements for more effective communication. Some people who are deaf use American Sign Language—but some do not. Speech-reading can be the least effective means of communication with someone with a hearing loss.
3) Students who are deaf may also identify as a member of the Deaf Community, which is a part of a larger Deaf Culture that adheres to its own set of values, beliefs, language, history, art, and shared life experiences.
For more information and resources concerning deaf and hard of hearing students please visit the National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes (NDC).
For faculty teaching seated courses it is possible that some day you may find yourself teaching in a classroom or working with a student who requires modifications to the environment. Disability Support refers to desks that have been modified as “Accessible Work Stations” and these are usually identified with a placard looking similar to this Accessible Signs. Some of our most common adjustments are listed below.
- Raised/lowered desks
- Raised/lowered monitor, keyboard or mouse
- Modified stools or chairs
- Adaptable mouse or keyboard
Disability Support makes a best effort to ensure these modifications before the semester starts but in the event we are unable to, it is never our expectation that the instructor be responsible for these changes. Please contact our office at 417-447-8189 should a student require a classroom adjustment.
For assistance due to a temporary injury, such as a broken arm or leg, students may request accommodations through the Disability Support office. Students seeking temporary services will be asked to follow the same process outlined in the “How Does Disability Support Services Work?” section of the FAQ. These services will typically last one semester but can be extended based on the injury or illness. If you think one of your students may qualify for temporary services please feel free to contact Disability Support Services or refer them to our office.
Alternative Assignments are a common practice in K-12th schooling. Because of this, many students may expect similar changes to their assignments in college as well. Alternative assignments are rarely given in college because with alternative assignments comes modification of the curriculum, which is not an accommodation.
Depending on a student’s disability it may be asked that an assignment be offered in a different format. Meaning paper copies may be requested as electronic files like Word docs or PDFs or similar adjustments. When these requests are made, the expectation is never that the assignment has changes, only changes the way it is delivered. Disability Support can help you create electronic copies of your files if you do not have one readily available.
“Accommodations change how a student learns the material. A modification changes what a student is taught or expected to learn.” – Erich Strom
Some disabilities require absences for doctor’s appointments or treatment. We ask that instructors excuse these occasional absences when disability-related. Students are expected to communicate with their instructors BEFORE the missed class period whenever possible. Excused absence does not mean excused from assignments however. Students are accountable for any material covered while missing lecture and any assignments/exams/quizzes due or assigned while out. Students should not be exempted from course work due to absences. If at any point you feel like a student is abusing this accommodation, we would recommend contacting their Disability Resource Counselor listed at the top of their accommodation letter.
Who is qualified for Disability Support Services?
Any student with a disability who meets the academic and technical standards required for admissions and participation in the college’s programs or activities.
Can faculty or staff be told what the student's specific disability is?
Generally, no. However, two circumstances warrant faculty/staff be informed of specific information about a student’s disability. First, the student gives permission to the DSS office to disclose disability to faculty/staff. Or two, DSS determines that there is a need to know. This circumstance usually occurs when there is a threat to harm a person or property. Disability Support will not share documentation paperwork with faculty or staff.
How do I Know a Student Works with Disability Support?
The student should present their instructors with an official copy of their accommodations letter at the beginning of the semester or whenever services begin, which can happen at any point in the semester. Students are issued new letters each semester and are issued as PDF’s sent to the student’s email. The current semester, the DSS Resource Counselor’s name, and the students information should be located at the top. We advise students to give this letter to their instructor in person so instructors have the opportunity to ask any questions they have but some students prefer to email a copy, so please be prepared for either to occur.
When Can a Student Register with Disability Support Services?
We recommend students register for services before the semester begins so they may benefit fully from our services, but students may apply for services at any point in the semester. However, accommodations are never retroactive. For example, a student cannot set up accommodations at midterm and expect to be able to retake tests that they took prior to midterm with accommodations.