Instructor Center

Welcome to the Instructor Center! This page serves as a central hub designed to provide faculty and instructors at OTC with essential information about the Disability Support accommodation process. The easiest way to ensure equal access for all students is for instructors to design courses with accessibility in mind.

Spring 2017 First Day of Class Springfield Campus

Tools For You

Below you’ll find information, tools, and strategies to aid you when developing accessible course content. In the FAQs section we answer many questions you may have and address topics in the DSS Testing process. You’ll find information provided about the accommodation process at OTC. Below that section, you will see educational tools that we hope are useful to you and your course design. In the last section, we have provided helpful strategies for you to use when teaching students with various disabilities.

Instructors as Partners

Not only is DSS committed to serving students, we are also committed to faculty and staff. Instructors are an integral part of the support team in fostering student success and retention.

Because instructors hold intimate knowledge of their subject and courses, DSS relies on their expertise when identifying essential functions of a course or program in order to determine appropriate accommodations.

DSS can provide additional support to faculty and staff by providing resources, facilitating trainings, and offering ideas on creating a more accessible class.

Information for Instructors

DSS Accommodation Process

OTC has a specific process to connect students with Disability Support Services (DSS). After completing the disability support application students will get a chance to meet a disability resource counselor and talk with them about classes and accommodation needs, then interactively set up a plan together if the student is found eligible for services. To be eligible, students must have a disability as defined by the ADAAA and must provide supporting documentation. Accommodations are determined by the limitation caused by the disability–not solely on a diagnosis.

If a plan is approved, an Accommodation Letter is emailed to the student using their OTC email account at the beginning of the semester (or at the time of the plan if the semester has started). In order to implement and use the approved accommodations, the student must present their Accommodation Letter to each of their instructors at their discretion.

To see the whole process please visit our Apply page.

Please review the student’s Rights & Responsibilities

What is My Role?

Instructor’s Role in the Accommodation Process:

Are you expected to become an expert on disabilities? No. Disability Support Services has staff who have expertise in verifying disabilities and determining academic accommodations. However, below is a list of your role in making OTC welcoming and inclusive:

  • Syllabus Statement: You should have a statement in your syllabus directing students who may need accommodations to Disability Support Services.
  • Accommodation Letter: Upon receiving an Accommodation Letter, you take an active role in implementing the accommodations. It is best practice to discuss each accommodation with the student so that you both have a clear understanding about how the accommodation will be implemented. If you need help implementing an accommodation, let DSS know. We are here to offer support to you, too! If an accommodation is not appropriate for the class (fundamentally alters the course, is not logistically possible, accommodation poses a threat to others, or other concern) please contact DSS immediately to discuss possible alternatives. It is not always possible to anticipate how each student’s disability will impact them in the classroom. As a result, it may be necessary to amend the approved accommodations. This will be done with a team approach; you, a DSS counselor, and the student.
  • Accessible Materials: If you are able to choose your course textbook and materials, please do so with accessibility in mind! Choose vendors who include accessibility features that are vetted. Consider Universal Design principles when adding and creating content, lecturing/presenting, and creating assessments and assignments.
  • Make Referrals: Students sometimes disclose their disability to their instructors. Some feel reluctant to do so. In either case, if you think that a student would benefit from accommodation services because of a disability, please kindly and discreetly refer them to our office. Direct them to the DSS website/application or even walk with them to our office for a warm handoff.


Legislation: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with disabilities Act of 1990 and its 2008 Amendments prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities. According to federal law, no otherwise qualified individual with a disability shall, solely by reason of his or her disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity of a public entity.

“Otherwise qualified” means “a person who meets the academic and technical standards requisite to admission or participation in the education program or activity, with or without reasonable modifications to rules, policies or practices; the removal of architectural, communication or transportation barriers; or the provision of auxiliary aids and services.”

“Person with a disability” means “any person who (1) has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities [including walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working], (2) has a record of such an impairment, or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment.”

“Reasonable accommodation” means a reasonable adjustments or modifications to practices, policies and procedures, and to provide auxiliary aids and services for students with disabilities, unless to do so would “fundamentally alter” the nature of the programs or result in an “undue burden.” Providing accommodations do not compromise the essential elements of a course or curriculum; nor do they weaken the academic standards or integrity of a course. Accommodations simply provide an alternative way to accomplish the course requirements by eliminating or reducing disability-related barriers. They provide a level playing field, not an unfair advantage.

Accommodation Plan is a plan created to outline a student’s accommodations. Accommodations are determined based on eligibility, documentation, and student needs. This is an interactive process.

Accommodation Letter is a memo to instructors outlining student accommodations. This is different than the accommodation plan because it includes less FERPA protected information and often includes additional information specific to instructors (how to implement accommodations and DSS contact information).

Office of Civil Rights enforces federal civil rights laws that protect the rights of individuals and entities from unlawful discrimination. Individuals with a disability can file complaints or grievances if they feel their rights have been violated at OTC (i.e. accommodations are not honored resulting in limiting access or participation in a course).

Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) is the leading professional membership association for individuals committed to equity for persons with disabilities in higher education.

Disability Support Services (DSS) is the office at OTC that assists students with a disability with their accommodation needs.

Common Accommodations

Accommodations are access solutions! By providing accommodations, students are able to access course content, notes, the physical learning space, and assessments. It also allows students to engage with you (the instructor) and their peers. The following is a list of common accommodations that you may be asked to provide or you may see in your classroom. Note that reasonable accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis based on the needs of each individuals student. Also, this is not an exhaustive list.


  • Volunteer student note-taker
  • Use of assistive software or equipment such as a Smartpen, voice-to-text, laptop/tablet/cell phone, note organization application, etc.
  • Instructor provide all notes, including PowerPoints, lecture notes, or outlines, to the student


  • Alternate format: books in audio format
  • Alternate format: books in digital format


  • Extended time (typically double allotted time)
  • Distraction-reduced environment
  • Reader, Scribe, Interpreter


  • Preferred seating
  • Assistive equipment or software
  • Raised work station
  • Enlarged printed materials and/or digital format materials
  • Closed captions on videos, sign language interpreter, FM system
  • Audio record lectures

Disability Supportive Language


“Language is a powerful way to demonstrate professional values and, in our specific case, our beliefs about disability.

There are two prevalent ways that we identify with disability in language: person-first and identity-first. Both options have implications for how we think about disability.

Person-first language distances the person from the disability, ostensibly to separate the person from the negative connotations and stigma with which we have all been socialized. As professionals, many of us have been taught that person-first language is preferable, and some disabled individuals choose to identify as a person first, based on their personal orientation to disability.

Identity-first language challenges negative connotations by claiming disability directly. Identity-first language references the variety that exists in how our bodies and brains work with a myriad of conditions that exist, and the role of inaccessible or oppressive systems, structures, or environments in making someone disabled.”

For more about disability supportive language, please visit the following websites:

Association on Higher Education and Disability (Statement on Language)

National Center on Disability and Journalism (Disability Language Style Guide)

Exam Request Form - Instructor Portion

When students request exams with accommodations, DSS will email you the request form to fill out the instructor portion. If you receive a form, complete all the required fields:

  • Scantron Required: Check this box if a Scantron is required. DSS has scantrons that can be used. Remember that Scantron sheets must be either picked up by the instructor or delivered because they cannot be scanned and emailed.
  • Resources Allowed: For each resource allowed, check the box. If no resources are allowed, leave the boxes unchecked or indicate in “other”.
  • Exam Time Limit for Class: How much time are you allowing the whole class to take the exam? Type this number in hours and minutes on the line provided. This number will be used to calculate extended time. NOTE: DSS cannot honor “unlimited” time for proctored exams.
  • Expiration Date: Type in the latest date that you will allow the student to take the exam.
  • Contact Information: Add your contact information (Phone number and Email address). Please use a phone number we that can contact you quickly on if emergent questions/issues arise during the exam (such as an office phone or personal cell phone).
  • How Would You Like the Exam Returned to You?: Choose from the following options: Deliver to my mailbox location (provide location), Pick up in DSS Office, ICE 116, Email to my OTC email.

Email the completed exam request form to Disability Support Service office at .

More information about testing with accommodations and the exam request process, visit our Testing FAQ page.

Image of instructor section of exam request form.

Information about Service Animals/Emotional Support Animals

Service animals and Emotional support Animals are increasingly common on today’s college campuses. Service animals and ESA’s are allowed on all OTC campuses and in all OTC education centers. Exceptions to campus access may include sterile environments and/or those requiring personal protective equipment. Determinations for access will be made on an individual basis. Please see this  Additional Information.

image toolbox

Instructor Toolbox

Ask the Director: Reoccurring Topics Between DSS and Faculty

As we partner together to provide the best service for our students there are certain topics that pop up over and over again for discussion. Please check out any of these of interest to you.

DSS – Faculty as Partners

Service Animals/Emotional Support Animals

Accommodation Letter Processes – Responsibilities

Release of Information ROI Form Students Sign (When Parents Call You)

Accommodations Information

Exam Request Process

Syllabus Statement (sample)

Sample Syllabus Statement:

Disability Support Services

The college complies with Title II, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  OTC makes every effort to ensure persons with disabilities admitted to the college as students or employed by the college are afforded all the rights and privileges provided to them by state and federal law.

Any student should notify the instructor immediately if special assistance or devices are needed to accommodate a disability. To request academic accommodations for a disability, contact Disability Support Services at your Campus or Location. Students are required to provide documentation of disability to Disability Support Services prior to receiving accommodations.

Anyone with questions is welcome to contact Disability Support Services Staff at your Campus or Location: (List Locations)

Refocus: Syllabus Statement

More information about syllabus statements can be found at

Supporting Students with Disabilities

Supporting Students with Disabilities presented by Corey Charle’ (College Navigator, Technical Education Student Success) & Jeff Jones (Disability Support Services)

Presentation – Supporting Students with Disabilities

Article: Making Accommodations-The Legal World of Students with Disabilities

Making Accommodations: The Legal World of Students with Disabilities

Everybody benefits when colleges serve students with disabilities.

By Paul D. Grossman

My brother sat in the wheelchair he had used for the past five years, ever since cancer had reached his spine in 1991. As a teacher and a disability lawyer, I was curious to find out whether he regretted entering and persevering through law school well after he understood that his cancer would never remit. His response to my query was remarkably clear. Attending law school had been one of the wisest choices in his life.    READ MORE

How do I make materials accessible?

Accessible Print refers to printed materials that have been made accessible for persons with disabilities. Students with limited mobility, print-based learning disabilities, or who have complete or partial vision loss often require Accessible Print materials in order to have equal access to academic coursework. In this section you will find information on how you can help to provide accessible print materials to all students in your courses.

In Class Materials:

Some students, primarily low-vision and blind students, will require that all in-class print materials are made accessible to them. Typically this involves providing the student with accessible digital copies of Power-Point slides, handouts, or in-class assignments. Below are a list of resources to help you create accessible digital copies of your print materials before distributing or presenting them in your classroom.

Online Course Materials:

Individual faculty are responsible for making sure that course materials posted on Blackboard and other online course management systems are accessible to all students. This includes PDFs, Power Point slides, and links to outside resources. Below are a list of resources to help you create accessible print materials before posting them online.

Occasionally, students may need make accessible copies of course documents, journal articles, or textbook excerpts. This can be done by enhancing a digital copy using screen magnifier or printing the materials and using one of the two desktop magnifiers in Disability Support Services.


Textbook Accessibility:

The Disability Support Services (DSS) office helps to put qualified students in touch with accessible formats of their textbooks each semester. Because acquiring or converting to accessible formats takes time and labor, it is important for faculty to submit their book lists to the bookstore as early as possible. If you are considering adopting an online textbook, please be sure that it has been tested for accessibility. If you have any questions about whether an online textbook is accessible, please email

Many courses at OTC, both seated and online, now use AutoAccess course materials. These materials are online textbooks which are meant to improve access and affordability. Many of these course materials have accessibility options.

Canvas Courses for Faculty

Survival Signs

If you find yourself with a deaf student in your class, here is a link to some “survival signs!”

How to prepare better Multiple Choice exams

Educational Strategies For:

Resources for Instructors

Resource Spotlight with
Ed Derr LPC, NCC
DSS Resource Counselor

Coming Soon!

Student Perspectives for Faculty Video