Faculty FAQs

How can I fairly implement a no-technology policy in my class when a student needs to use a laptop as an accommodation?

The usage of laptops in class can benefit many students with different learning styles, abilities, and organizational skills. While technology bans in classes are often in place to eliminate distractions on the internet, including social media, the result can be stigmatizing to students with disabilities who need to use laptops or other devices as an accommodation. Faculty may want to consider implementing a no-internet policy in the classroom instead of no-technology. Students whose Faculty Emails from the DAO include the use of technology in class should be granted this accommodation, with the expectation that they will be using it for educational purposes only.

How do I know that students with audio recording accommodations aren’t posting my lecture publicly?

Audio recording as a reasonable accommodation can be a necessary and appropriate tool for students with disabilities to assist with their note-taking process. Audio recordings are to be used for educational purposes only by the student approved for this accommodation, and they are not to be publicly distributed or shared in any way. If there are concerns about confidentiality and the proper use of the audio recording, faculty should contact the DAO directly to discuss the completion of a recording contract.

A student with course flexibility accommodations has been absent very frequently. How do I know what is reasonable?

The parameters of a course flexibility plan should be discussed with students at the beginning of the term, or as soon as you receive notice of the accommodation. Many courses are structured in a way that active participation and discussion are fundamental requirements, and absences cannot be made up. Reasonable flexibility should take into account the impact of the student’s condition and the course requirements. All students, including those registered with DAO, must meet the course requirements. Students are responsible for communicating absences related to their disabilities to their faculty within at least 24 hours. In the event of extended absences, including hospitalizations, a student may require additional accommodations to complete the course requirements. If faculty are concerned about a student’s attendance, they should reach out to the DAO as soon as possible. 

How should I provide extended time on tests?

Any tests or quizzes that are proctored during the term, excluding final exams, are the responsibility of the faculty to administer, with reasonable accommodations included. Extended time may include extending the test period, including timed breaks, separate rooms, and other accommodations as specified on the Faculty Email. Please discuss the plan in advance with students and teaching assistants to decide on how these accommodations will be implemented. Having a TF or proctor familiar with the course available during tests creates an equitable testing environment for students who may have questions during the examination.

My classroom is not arranged in an accessible way. Do I need to change locations?

If a student cannot access a physical classroom location due to structural/environmental barriers, faculty can work with the FAS Registrar's Office to change the classroom location. Student's who experience an inaccessible classroom are also guided to contact DAO to discuss the situation. Classroom locations may be changed, in consultation with faculty and the FAS Registrar’s Office, if there are no reasonable alternatives for the student to access the space.

How can I fully assist the student if I don’t know what their disability is?

DAO strives to honor student confidentiality within the parameters of FERPA. In most cases, the student’s diagnosed disability is not necessary information for faculty to know in order to create an accessible learning experience. DAO is available to talk through any environmental and course design questions that impact Harvard students with disabilities, and strategize with the faculty on ways to implement accommodations in their courses.

What if one or more of the accommodations on the Faculty Email doesn’t make sense in the context of my course?

There will be times that accommodations are not necessary in a course because of the way it is designed. If faculty believe that a listed accommodation creates an alteration to the fundamental requirements of the course, they should consult with DAO. 

A sign language interpreter is in my class. How do I best facilitate communication?

American Sign Language interpreters and CART transcriptionists may accompany a student who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing to facilitate communication. These professional service providers will not interact in class as a participant, and instead will stand or sit near the student, often at the front of the room, and relay what is being said in ASL or writing, as well as voice for the student if needed. Keep in mind that the interpreter is there only to facilitate communication, and when engaging with the student, the speaker’s attention should be directed to him/her, not the interpreter. There is no need to amplify one’s voice or alter the lecture style, though it is important to face forward, so that students who might be reading lips are unobstructed.

One of my students arrived to class with an assistant who is not enrolled. What should I do?

Some students may require that a personal care assistant (PCA) accompany them to class due to their disability. PCAs are professional employees who are required to make themselves known to the University. It is always appropriate to ask DAO to confirm our awareness of their presence in the classroom. You may discuss the role of the PCA with him/her and the student; PCAs should not interact in the class independently.