Working with a Student? FAQs

Below are frequently asked questions we hear from those in campus community faculty who are working directly with students.

Animal-Related Questions

Animal-Related Questions

Question:  I have seen dogs in the Depot, South Campus Marketplace, Student Recreation Center, and classrooms.  I think they are service animals, but I'm not sure.  What can I do if I'm unsure if the dog is actually a service animal?
The U.S. Department of Justice, Guidance on Service Animals is an excellent resource.  Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.  Generally speaking, service animals are allowed to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the facility where the public is normally allowed to go.  In addition, Under the ADA, service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the service animal's work or the individual's disability prevents using these devices.  In that case, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls.

When there is a question about whether a dog is a service animal, there are only two questions staff may ask the individual:

  1. Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
  2. What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

These two questions should not be asked when it is obvious what service the animal provides (i.e., guiding an individual who is blind).  In addition, staff cannot ask about the person's disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate the ability to perform the work or task.

Question:  Are dogs the only type of service animal allowed?  I've heard of "service cats", "service rabbits", etc.
The U.S. Department of Justice, Guidance on Service Animals is an excellent resource.  Beginning on March 15, 2011, only dogs are recognized as service animals under titles II and III of the ADA.  In addition to the provisions about service dogs, the Department's revised ADA regulations have a new, separate provision about miniature horses that have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.  Miniature horses generally range in height from 24 inches to 34 inches measured to the shoulders and generally weigh between 70 and 100 pounds.  Entities covered by the ADA must modify their policies to permit miniature horses where reasonable. 

Cats and rabbits cannot be "service animals" but may be emotional support animals and be permitted as a reasonable accommodation ("necessary assistance animal") for persons with disabilities.  Emotional Support or Assistance animals do not meet the definition of a service animal and are not allowed to accompany an individual with a disability in all areas of the facility where the public is normally allowed to go.  However, they may be allowed to live on campus with a resident/student.  Students requiring a "necessary assistance animal" should contact the CDRC for information.

Classroom-Related Questions

Classroom-Related Questions

Question:  A student with a disability has advised me that they need special accommodations in my classroom. I want to find out more about their disability but am uncomfortable talking to them. What information can the Campus Disability Resource Center (CDRC) share with me?

Accessibility Advisors in the CDRC can verify that a student has a disability and is participating in the CDRC program but are restricted by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and therefore may not discuss the diagnosis without permission.  Accessibility Advisors may also share information about the accommodations approved for the student. 

Question:  Will CDRC notify me prior to the beginning of the semester that I will have a student with a disability enrolled in my class?

Generally not.  The Americans with Disabilities Act reinforces an individual's right to determine when and how to divulge the existence and effect of their disability.  The CDRC will generally encourage students to discuss the ramifications or barriers presented to them because of their disability with their instructor; however, whether or not to disclose a disability is the student's choice.  Some students with "non-apparent" disabilities choose not to discuss their disability with anyone; however, disabilities that require extensive accommodation, such as deaf, blind, or difficulty with mobility may require prior notification and involvement with instructors.  In these cases, CDRC will contact instructors as soon as possible to discuss strategies for ensuring equal or equivalent access.  The use of Universal Design principles reduces the need to know about a student's disability and thereby reduces pressure on the student to divulge the nature of the disability.

Question:  I have a student who is very disruptive and told me that they have a disability and that their behavior was protected by the law. Is that true?

All students, regardless of disability status, are required to meet the provisions of the Cal Poly Humboldt Student Code of Conduct and the academic expectations contained in the course syllabus.  The law requires that reasonable accommodations be made, but faculty are not required to modify academic standards to accommodate inappropriate or disruptive behavior.

Question:  I sometimes run into a student who does not appear to grasp material in the classroom, blames it on their learning disability and wants me to lower my standards. I teach a difficult course and many students have difficulty grasping the material.  Why do students with this disability receive accommodations?

The term "learning disability" refers to a heterogeneous group of disorders which may result in difficulties in such activities as listening, speaking, reading, writing, and reasoning. While the exact cause of a learning disability is not known, it is presumed to be the result of central nervous system dysfunctions. Persons diagnosed with a learning disability are of average to superior intelligence.

Students with learning disabilities are often taught compensatory strategies to assist them in mastering academic material and are given accommodations in order to overcome the effects of their information processing disability allowing them to have the chance to perform at a level equal to their peers. Common accommodations include extended time on exams, use of a calculator or spell checker and a quiet room in which to take exams. Lowering academic standards is not a reasonable accommodation required by law, and studetns are advised of this when they meet with SDRC Accessibility Specialists.

Question:  Do I have to allow students to record lectures in class?

Recording lectures is a common accommodation for students with a variety of disabilities that prevent the production of adequate handwritten notes.  Numerous Office for Civil Rights (OCR) cases have ruled in favor of the rights of students with disabilities to record class lectures.  Additionally, posting lecture notes and PowerPoint slides on Canvas can be very helpful for all students, especially students with disabilities.

Question:  I have a student who informed me two days before an exam that they have a disability and is entitled to extended test time on their tests.  I have not received anything from your office regarding this student and any approved accommodations for exams.  What should I do?

Students must take responsibility for their educational experience and register with the Campus Disability Resource Center.  The accommodations for which a student is approved are on a course-by-course basis, which is why it is imperative that the students meet with an Accessibility Advisor each semester.  If the student does not have paperwork from the CDRC for your specific class, you should refer the student to our office to meet with an Accessibility Advisor.

Testing-Related Questions

Testing-Related Questions

Question:  Who is eligible for exam accommodations, and who determines what accommodations they receive?
Students with disabilities who have functional limitations that would impact their ability to take exams may be eligible for accommodations. The most common accommodation is extended test time.  There are many "non-apparent" disabilities:  each accommodation is carefully considered by CDRC and supported by documentation.  Accommodations are reviewed each semester and approved on a course-by-course basis.

Question:  May I email exams to the Testing Center?
Yes. Exams may be emailed directly to the Testing Center.

Question:  I am not comfortable allowing a student to take a test in the Testing Center at a different time than the class.  Can I place restrictions on this?
The Testing Center will not allow students to take a test at an alternate time or day without prior instructor permission.  There are occasions where it is physically impossible to take an exam at the same time as the classroom; however, this must be discussed and approved by the classroom instructor.   The Testing Center will establish block schedules for students needing testing accommodations during finals week because of facility limitations.  However, these students will be assigned a testing block that overlaps the classroom testing time.

Question:  Can I take care of a student's extended time accommodation using my office or another arrangement rather than sending the student to the Testing Center?
Yes, as long as the alternative testing space meets the student's accommodation needs.

Question:  Can I send students without disabilities to take tests at the Testing Center?
There may be occasions where this is warranted; however, this must be discussed with the Testing Center in advance and will depend on whether there is space and time available.  Accommodations will not be allowed for students without disabilities.

Question:  How can I accommodate extended time on a Canvas test?
Canvas has the capacity to alter the testing timeframe for individual students.  Please see Canvas Support or call the Canvas office (x3633) for training and information.

Accessible Instructional Materials Questions

Accessible Instructional Materials Questions

Question:  As an instructor, am I responsible for making all of my handouts accessible?
Yes. All handouts given to students should be accessible to all students enrolled in your class. Instructor-created handouts should be developed in an accessible manner. Photocopied or scanned documents can be converted by the Accessibility Resource Center (ARC) office.

If you review handouts during class time, students who need accessible documents will need to have the documents before class so that they can review the materials. You can discuss details with the students, but some possible solutions include posting all documents on Canvas so all students can access the materials before class or emailing the documents directly to students.

Question:  What should I do about the videos I show in class?
All videos should be accurately captioned (not YouTube's automatic captioning), and the captions should always be turned on when you show the videos in class.  You may not always know if there are students in your class that have hearing loss, and asking the class, "Is there anyone here who needs the captions turned on?" requires students to disclose personal and confidential information that they may otherwise not disclose.  In additon, captions are helpful for reasons other than hearing loss or deafness.  For example, individuals with attention difficulties benefit from captions and students who process information better visually rather than auditorily benefit from captioned videos.  The Accessibility Resource Center (ARC) can assist you in geting your videos accurately captioned.

Question:  How do I know what materials I am responsible for making accessible versus what I should take to either Accessible Resources Center (ARC) or CDRC?
Students request their e-text accommodation from the CDRC, and the CDRC converts their required and recommended textbooks into an accessible format.  Instructors are generally not involved with this accommodation beyond their responsibility of identifying the textbook(s) they will be using by the predetermined date. 

Instructors are responsible for ensuring their handouts and other required readings are accessible.  The Accessibility Resource Center (ARC) office is available to assist faculty in converting paper-based documents (articles, chapters from a book, etc.) into an accessible electronic format that can be uploaded to Canvas.

Documents that instructors create and distribute to students should be created in an accessible manner.

Academic Adjustments for Chronic Conditions

Academic Adjustments for Chronic Conditions

Students with chronic conditions, which often are episodic in nature, may experience periods of time in which they are too unwell to attend class or to submit an assignment by an established deadline.  Such conditions may be unpredictable and inevitable, even with prudent and ongoing health and time-management practices.  Should a student need flexibility in attendance and/or extension on assignments, instructors should consider the request on a case-by-case basis, allowing for diligent and critical analysis of how the request is essential to the class learning objectives and pedagogical components.  Should an instructor believe additional absences beyond the stated policy would fundamentally alter the nature or essential elements of the class, or assignment extensions are not possible, then instructors should consult with an CDRC adviser or the ADA/504 Coordinator to determine reason-ability.