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FAQ: Disability Services

Student questions

Faculty questions


Refer to the Disibility Sevices Guidebook for Faculty and Staff (807 KB) for more details about

  • Persons with disabilities
  • Proctored testing
  • Accommodations
  • Faculty procedures


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Student questions

I have been diagnosed with LD and/or ADHD for a long time, should I be retested?

By providing the most current assessment of your performance and abilities, we will be able to best meet your needs. Also, because the provision of all reasonable accommodations and services is based upon assessment of the current impact of the disability on academic performance, it is in a student’s best interest to provide recent and appropriate documentation.  In most cases, this means that a diagnostic evaluation has been completed within the past three to five years, however no student should delay requesting accommodations out of concern for not having the appropriate paperwork. Make an appointment with one of the Disability Coordinators (616-526-6113) and bring all the previous documentation you have and we will work with you on whether or not it is in your best interests to be retested.


What are the procedures for implementing accommodations?

Once admitted to Calvin College, contact a Disability Coordinator. We will set up an appointment to meet with you to discuss your disability and request documentation. It would be helpful to read our Documentation Guidelines and/or print a verification form and forward these to the clinician providing your documentation.  Send us any records of accommodations/services provided to you at any previous academic settings (e.g., IEP, Section 504 plan, college service plan, etc.).  If serviced by a State/Provincial Rehabilitation agency, have your caseworker contact a Disability Coordinator.  Eligibility for services is based on a combination of the student’s description for need, the thoroughness of the disability documentation, and documentation policies.  Once eligibility is determined, we will assist you with implementing the agreed upon accommodations.


Do I need to do anything to get accommodations again next semester?

Yes, students seeking accommodations must set up a Secondary Advising appointment each semester during advising days to set up your accommodations for the following semester.  It is not done automatically.


What do I do if I am taking summer classes and will need to receive accommodations?

As soon as you know you are taking classes in the summer at Calvin, notify a Disability Coordinator to discuss possible accommodations. If you take a course off campus, accommodations will be provided by the host school.


What do I do if I am transferring from another university?

Transfer students must go through the same processes as regular admitted students. However transfer students are also eligible for provisional status for one semester in our office until their documentation is reviewed by the Disability Coordinators. 


Who will monitor my medication once I arrive?

You are responsible to monitor your medications with a licensed professional in your own community or within the Calvin College community (Health Services Center, Broene Counseling Center).  We encourage students to work with a psychiatrist who is familiar with the issues you are facing as a college student. It is important to maintain regular appointments with this provider during your first few months at college because you might need changes in medication due to the change in requirements and environment.  The disability staff can help you with problem-solving around medication management in college.


If I am eligible for testing accommodations through SAS, what are the policies I should know about?

 If you are taking a test in the SAS office, the policies are as follows:

  1. Accommodations need to be discussed with your professor at the beginning of the semester and they may need a reminder before every test that you are taking the test in SAS.
  2. Sign up for each test (including the final exam) for the entire semester and notify SAS of any schedule changes throughout the semester.
  3. The late policy for test sign up in SAS is no less than 3 business days prior to the test and no less than one week prior to any final exam. This allows our office time to obtain the test and secure a space and a proctor.
  4. All testing accommodations (outside of extended time) need to be stated at the time you sign up for your test in SAS (e.g. use of a computer or reader).
  5. Take your test at the same time as the rest of the class. All exceptions need to be cleared by the professor.  Note: times should be shifted if extended time interferes with another class.
  6. Check in with the front desk of SAS at the designated time of your test.
  7. Failure to abide by the sign up policies may result in the ability to use your accommodation for that test (e.g. signing up for a test the day before it is scheduled).



Faculty questions

What components should be included in my syllabus pertaining to students with disabilities?

Please include the following two items on your syllabus:

Disability Clause: It is important that faculty include in each syllabus a statement asking students to inform them of any special needs to ensure that those needs are met in a timely manner. A further recommendation is that the statement be read aloud by the faculty member during the first week of class.  This approach demonstrates to students that you are someone who is sensitive to and concerned about meeting the needs of ALL students you teach.  Furthermore, it affords students the opportunity to make their accommodation needs known to you early in the semester.  One suggestion would look like this: "Calvin will make reasonable accommodations for a student with a documented disability.  You should notify a Disability Coordinator, located in 446 Hiemenga Hall at Student Academic Services (SAS) in order to arrange your accommodations.  Then, come and talk to me within the first two weeks of class so we can put your accommodations in place within the classroom.”

Attendance Policy: Please include a clear policy on attendance and its role in your grading scheme, if any.  This is helpful for all students to know and understand at the beginning of the semester. 


What if a student misses more classes than permitted because of their disability?

If a student misses class due to his/her disability and it is beyond the number of absences allowed, (as clearly outlined in the syllabus) then it is recommended that there be a discussion between the faculty member, the student and the Disability Coordinator. Generally, if a student with a disability has missed more than three classes it is advised that a meeting like this take place as soon as possible.   The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) suggests considering the following questions when determining whether or not attendance is essential for a course:

  1. Are there classroom interactions between the instructor and the students and among students?
  2. Do student contributions constitute a significant component of the learning process?
  3. Does the functional nature of the course rely on student participation as an essential method for learning?
  4. To what degree does a student’s failure to attend constitute a significant loss to the educational experience of the other students in the course?
  5. What do the course descriptions and syllabus say about attendance?
  6. What are the classroom practices and policies regarding attendance?

If the answers to the questions above are such that additional absences do not threaten the integrity or essential requirements of the course, please do not penalize the student for additional absences. However, if additional absences threaten the academic integrity and the student’s ability to meet the essential requirements, then the faculty member, Disability Coordinator and student will review options for continuing in the class.


Am I required to provide accommodations to a student that notifies me late in the term?

Yes.  There could be numerous reasons why a student makes a late request.  Some students try to take a class without accommodations, but find that they are not doing well and need to use them.  As a rule, however, we strongly encourage students to submit their requests early in the semester.

In some situations late requests may make the accommodation impossible to provide. 


Why is the Disability Services staff asking me to select a book ASAP?

Book selections, compiled course packs and syllabi need to be made available in a timely manner.  Students with visual impairments and/or learning disabilities may require printed materials in alternate formats. Conversion of text is a time consuming process.  Your syllabus is required to determine the extent to which each text will be used and the order in which reading will be assigned.

Some students will rely on having printed material scanned and saved in a computer format that can be listened to using voice output software.  If you are collating various journal articles and portions of books into course packs, please use original copies or a copy that is as clean as possible.  Creating course packs using copies of material (copies made from copies, made from copies, etc.) causes images of text that are illegible.  Such blurring makes it impossible for character recognition software to decipher images as readable text.

In addition, using captioned versions of videos is extremely helpful for deaf or hard of hearing students and students who have other auditory processing difficulties.  Although some videos used in classes are already captioned, others are not.  In most cases, you will be contacted by a Disability Coordinator before a semester begins or early in the semester if there is a student who is deaf or hard of hearing in one of your classes who will need captioning.  If you are aware that you will be using videos in a class with an enrolled student who is deaf or hard of hearing, please contact a Disability Coordinator to discuss how captioning can be created for you.  Captioning requires a minimum turnaround time of three weeks from the receipt of a video, so your forethought, prompt action and cooperation are greatly appreciated.  Please provide us with a transcript if one is available.  Creating captioning from a transcript simplifies the process and may shorten turnaround time.  When requesting audio-visual equipment, make sure you request equipment with a captioning decoder.


What are my responsibilities if a student discloses their disability to me?

Be supportive and inform him/her that you are willing to work with him/her to be sure that they receive the accommodations they need to assure equal access to the academic experience.  Read over their “Confidential Memo” which outlines all accommodations needed by that student.   Refer the student to meet with a Disability Coordinator if they have not already done so.


If a student uses a proctor, will they get an unfair advantage? Is my exam safe?

Academic Services has developed a systematic and secure procedure for receiving exams from faculty and returning them once the student has taken the exam.  There is a rigid check in procedures for exams and no student is allowed to bring their backpacks, cell phones, or ball caps into the exam room with them. Exams in our possession are stored in a locked cabinet.  As students are taking the exams, they are monitored by proctors. Any inappropriate behaviors are reported back to the instructor. 


Can I refer a student to take a test in SAS if they do not have a disability?

The SAS testing services are only available to accommodate students with documented disabilities.  Students who need extra time or make-up test date due to an ESL concern, sports travel or illness will need to be accommodated by you as their professor.


For more details relating to persons with disabilities, proctored testing accommodations and faculty procedures, refer to the Disibility Sevices Guidebook for Faculty and Staff. (807 KB)

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