Faculty and Academic Access
This page is meant to be a valuable resource for Tennessee Tech University faculty members who need assistance in formulating an appropriate access plan for the classroom. The goal is to help TTU faculty members better understand the process for facilitating academic access for students with disabilities. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Rehab Act) and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) require "reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures...unless an entity can demonstrate that making such modifications in policies, practices, or procedures, including academic requirements in postsecondary education, would fundamentally alter the nature of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations involved." This page is intended to help explain in greater detail what that means for faculty members on TTU campus. As content experts in their field, faculty members play an integral role determining appropriate accommodations and access plans. Below is some information faculty members may find helpful. Of course, any faculty member is always welcome to call the Office of Disability Services (ODS) at 931-372-6119 or come by our office in the Roaden University Center (RUC) Rm. 112 to speak with someone directly about any concerns.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are my obligations as a faculty member?
- Faculty members will receive an Academic Access Letter at the beginning of each semester. That letter is meant to serve as notification that the student has identified as a student with a disability and to outline broad basic accommodations. It can also serve as a reference point for further discussions if needed.
- Reasonable accommodations, however, are individually determined based on the nature of the course and the individual student's situation. As a result, some accommodations listed on the AAL may be irrelevant to a particular course. In those cases, ODS will reach out to the faculty to determine a more appropriate plan.
- All faculty members are required to have an ADA statement on the course syllabus, such as the following: "Any student who believes that he or she will require accommodations to meet the course requirements should consult the Office of Disability Services located in the Roaden University Center (RUC) Rm. 112 (931-372-6119) preferably during the first week of classes so that reasonable accommodations can be made to ensure that everyone may participate in the course."
Who determines what is a reasonable accommodation?
The Office for Civil Rights has repeatedly determined that on a university campus, the Office of Disability Services should be tasked with making decisions regarding what constitutes a reasonable accommodation. (See the University of the District of Columbia Resolution Agreement). Please be mindful that the Office of Disability Services is devoted to maintaining high academic standards. If an accommodation involves altering the academics of a course, the Office of Disability Services will always reach out to the faculty member as the content expert to determine the fundamental elements of the course.
What if a student approaches requesting academic accommodations?
Faculty members will always receive an Academic Access Letter (AAL) for any student officially registered with the Office of Disability Services. If the faculty member has not received an Academic Access Letter for the student in question, please refer that student to the Office of Disability Services. It is imperative that faculty members refer the student to the Office of Disability Services if a student identifies as having a disability. There have been cases where students have sued universities and won because they were not adequately accommodated after they notified university officials (administrators, faculty members, etc.) of disability status. (See the Grabin vs. Marymount case. Refer to Section 2 "Marymount's Disability Policy" and Section 3 "Grabin's Attempts to Report Her Disability to Marymount" & "Whether Defendant was Notified of Plantiff's Disability").