Best Practices

1. Access matters at University of Chicago.

Individuals with disabilities are valued members of University of Chicago. Creating an accessible and inclusive community is a shared, University-wide endeavor. It is the role of Student Disability Services (SDS) to work with eligible students to develop an access plan. The successful implementation of access plans is an interactive process involving the student, faculty, staff, and SDS.

2. Use an accessibility statement in your syllabus.

A statement about accessibility in your class establishes a welcoming environment for students to discuss their access needs.

Example:

The University of Chicago is committed to ensuring equitable access to our academic programs and services. Students with disabilities who have been approved for the use of academic accommodations by Student Disability Services (SDS) and need a reasonable accommodation(s) to participate fully in this course should follow the procedures established by SDS for using accommodations. Timely notifications are required in order to ensure that your accommodations can be implemented. Please meet with me to discuss your access needs in this class after you have completed the SDS procedures for requesting accommodations.

To contact SDS: website: disabilities.uchicago.edu phone: (773) 702-6000 email: disabilities@uchicago.edu

3. Prepare in advance to accommodate students.

Access to our programs allows students to learn and be evaluated equitably. Eliminating barriers creates a pathway for students with disabilities to achieve their full potential. Disability covers a broad range of conditions but with advanced preparation, you will be able to accommodate most student’s access needs.

  • Arrange an alternative testing space and a proctor for extended-time administration.
  • Prepare for unexpected flare-ups by having a make-up exam and/or alternate test date.
  • Prepare course documents in accessible PDF formats for use with assistive technology. Learn more about creating accessible course materials.
  • Provide a comprehensive syllabus with clearly specified expectations and due dates so that students can plan ahead as they manage their academics and disabilities.
  • Instructional supports, such as guided notes, multi-modal instruction, and opportunities for feedback and review of course information promote effective learning for students.
  • In advance of class, make available to students copies of slides, handouts, articles, and notes so that students who require additional time to process content can come prepared, or so that students who need to access the material in an alternative format can do so and are prepared to participate in class.

4. Learn more about being a university student with a disability.

  • The majority of students have non-obvious disabilities, such as learning disabilities, ADHD, or psychological or chronic medical conditions. You may not see the severity of the impact of the condition on the student.
  • Many students are concerned about experiencing the stigma associated with disclosing a disability and will make every effort to navigate life on campus without asking for disability support. Common experiences of stigma include:
    • Associating disability with diminished ability.
    • Expressed doubts about the presence or impact of the condition because it is not visible. Students are often inappropriately asked to disclose their disability or present medical proof.
    • Breach of confidentiality of disability status to classmates. Remember to BCC students when sending an email message to multiple students about testing accommodations.
  • Living with any type of disability involves taking more time in one’s day to successfully manage their conditions; students must balance managing their health with course readings, academic preparation and test-taking, and arranging their access needs.

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