FAQ on Learning Disabilities

What's the difference between Project Assist and Disability Services?
Students with disabilities in Higher Education and the work place are protected by the ADA and Section 504. These laws state that people with disabilities should have equal access. Therefore, a student with a physical handicap must have equal access to buildings, equipments, rooms, materials, etc... as a student without a disability. Just as a student with a hearing impairment must have equal access to the professor's lecture, classroom discussion etc... The Disability Service Office at CCC is directed by Dr. Wayne King. Dr. King ensures access for all students with disabilities except for those students with learning disabilities who qualify for the Project Assist program.

Project Assist is a state grant funded program which works exclusively with students whose primary disability is a learning disability. Having a learning disability does not necessarily guarantee your acceptance into the Project Assist program. Students must meet other criteria such as "ability to benefit", motivation, willingness to utilize services... If a student with a learning disability is found ineligible for Project Assist, he/she may still receive accommodations through Dr. King's office.

What is a learning disability?
Under Section 504 and the ADA, a student is considered to have a learning disability based on results of a Learning Evaluation given by a certified LDTC and a Psychoeducational Evaluation given by a certified School Psychologist. A learning disability is determined when there is a severe discrepancy between cognitive ability and achievement scores. Students with learning disabilities have average to above average intelligence.

How do I refer a student?
At the college level, students must self-identify that they have a disability. However, if you have a student that you think may have a disability and has not presented you with this information, you can refer them in a number of ways.

Have a statement on your syllabus referring to disability services such as:
Any student who feels s/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact me privately to discuss your specific needs. Please contact the Office for Disability Services at 691-8600 x301 or X282 to coordinate reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities.

Having this statement on your syllabus and discussing will make students feel comfortable and welcome in discussing their needs.
If a student, who has not disclosed a disability, appears to be struggling and you think that a disability may be impacting their performance, talk to the students about your concerns about their performance. Ask the student how they think they are doing- what his/her concerns are-what they think might be contributing to the problem. Ask about their performance in high school - if they ever received any extra help. At this point, they may self-disclose that they have a disability. If not, ask what they think might help them in the course. If they say tutoring, you can refer them to the Success center. If they say more time on tests or anything that requires academic or testing adjustments, you can refer them to see disability services to determine eligibility. If you simply aren't getting anywhere, you may just want to inform the students of the different types of help that the college can provide
If a student discloses that he/she had special education, an IEP, a 504 plan etc... ask if they have been to the Success center to discuss their needs.

Why can't I know the details of a student's disability?
The nature of a student's disability is strictly confidential. The details of a student’s disability may not be discussed, without proper written permission from the student.

Maintaining confidentiality allows the student to be integrated into the college community as much as possible.

What is meant by accommodation and what are my obligations?
An Appropriate Accommodation means that an otherwise qualified student would be able to successfully meet the essential academic requirements of the program, with no alteration in standards or outcomes, although the manner in which the student demonstrates mastery, knowledge or skills may be altered. Accommodations must be responsive to a student's request and respectful of their dignity. Accommodations are subject to the college's ability to respond without undue hardship.

Duty to Accommodate
In accordance with the ADA and Section 504, staff, faculty and students at Cumberland County College share a responsibility to collaborate in creating an accessible working and learning community, free of discrimination on the basis of disability. In fulfilling its obligation to accommodate students with disabilities, CCC recognizes that the needs of each student with a disability must be individually assessed to determine the appropriate accommodations. Not all students with the same disability will have the same needs. Once a student has been accommodated, it is the student's responsibility to meet the essential academic requirements of a course/program.

Limitations on the Duty to Accommodate
Undue Hardship Under the ADA and Section 504 the most appropriate accommodation will be determined and undertaken short of undue hardship. The ADA and Section 504 sets out three factors that may be considered in assessing whether an accommodation would cause undue hardship: cost, health and safety requirements. Undue hardship can only be claimed in exceptional circumstances. Undue hardship claims must be well supported and documented.
Essential Academic Requirements are the knowledge and skills that must be acquired or demonstrated in order for a student to successfully meet the learning objectives of the course/program. The College will accommodate a student with a disability so that the student may fulfill the essential requirements of a course/program. In some circumstances, the nature and degree of a disability may mean that no accommodation would enable an individual to meet the essential requirements of a course/program. In these cases, the college is not required to accommodate and may refuse accommodations. All efforts must be made to canvass all reasonable options.
What is an Accommodation Form for Professors?
An Accommodation Form for Professors indicates to faculty that the student is registered with Disability Services. It also outlines the student’s individualized accommodations. Guided by the recommendations of medical professionals, Disability Services put in place a variety of accommodations in an effort to level the playing field and ensure access for students with disabilities.

What do I do when a student brings me an Accommodation form for Professors?
In the hopes of creating a positive teaching relationship and an open instructional environment, professors are encouraged to discuss (in private) the accommodations with their student. Instructors must sign the accommodation form and are encouraged to contact disability services if they have questions.

Why do some students bring their Accommodation Form for Professors so late in the semester?
Under the ADA and Section 504, the student can register at any time. The accommodations begin from when the registration is complete. Disability Services is clear with students and professors that accommodations begin with registration; they are not retroactive. Students give reasonable notice before the end of classes except in exceptional circumstances.

When students come to college and make their own choices, they may experiment with the need for accommodation in a new environment. Students are reluctant to be different and mostly want to do things like other people. When they recognize that their academic work is being compromised without accommodation, then they may register. This may occur late in the term. Some students may find that typical exams on smaller chunks of information do not require use of accommodations; whereas midterms and finals that encompass more information may need accommodation. It is considered appropriate for students to make their own decisions as to when or when not they will utilize accommodations.

Some students may not be formally diagnosed with a learning disability until they actually start at Cumberland County College when previously unknown difficulties emerge as a result of the greater demands of postsecondary education. Project Assist is able to provide evaluations for students whose history indicates a possible learning disability.

A general class announcement at the beginning of the term indicating your openness to addressing individual needs may also encourage students to identify themselves sooner.

What if a student requests accommodations and I have not received evidence that they are registered with Disability Services?
Ask the student if they are registered with disability services. If not, please refer them to us where the individual's documentation will be reviewed and appropriate accommodations will be determined. They should then return to you with a completed Accommodation Form.

What if I have questions about a student's accommodations or I am concerned that those recommended may compromise academic integrity?
When you have questions about a student's accommodations or you are concerned that the recommended accommodations may compromise the academic integrity of the course/program, please call the student's disability coordinator whose name will appear at the bottom of the Accommodation Form. 

What measures are taken to ensure the integrity of the exam process?
Policies in place to ensure integrity include:

Exam area checked prior to the start of each exam Staff check all exam instructions, accommodations before students begin Exams are monitored by cameras. Students are required to leave book bags outside of the exam room. Student's are required to sign in and out with start and end time of exam.

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