- Students must submit current documentation of their disability.
- Students requesting accommodations are required to meet with LSS to review recommended academic accommodations. A Student Request for Accommodation Form must be completed to identify the faculty to be contacted. Due to the importance of maintaining confidentiality, students must complete this form each semester with the specific faculty names.
- Reasonable academic accommodations are based on the current impact of the disability on academic performance; therefore it is in the student’s best interest to provide current and complete documentation. If LSS determines that the documentation is inadequate in scope or content, or does not address the student’s current level of functioning and need for accommodation, or that the evaluator does not have the appropriate qualifications, reevaluation may be required.
- Reasonable academic accommodations in the postsecondary environment may differ from those available in the secondary school. Learning Support Services will make the final determination for providing appropriate academic accommodations.
- Depending on the nature of the disability and the accommodations requested, the amount of advance notice provided may impact the University’s ability to provide accommodations. Delays in presenting requests or providing documentation will affect promptness in arranging accommodations.
- Documentation remains locked in the LSS Office at all times. It does not become part of your academic file. It is only viewed by the designated LSS Staff.
Notice of Accommodation to Faculty
- Each semester students must complete a signed Request for Accommodations Form in order to receive accommodations for that term.
- Letters will then be written to each of the student’s professors and advisor, if listed by the student on the request form. The letters identify the student as registered with LSS with appropriate documentation. The student’s disability is not identified to the faculty member. A statement is included as follows: “Based on the documentation the following accommodations would be appropriate…” This would be followed by a list of suggested classroom accommodations. Confidentiality is emphasized. The letters are stamped confidential and sealed in an envelope stamped confidential.
- Students are to personally deliver their letters to faculty. This would be an ideal opportunity to meet privately and discuss specific accommodations relative to course procedures and expectations.
- Each letter sent to professors includes the following statement: "It is the student's responsibility to meet with you, as early as possible, to discuss his/her needs and course requirements, and to arrange for specific accommodations." This is essential to establish communication with professors at the start of the semester. Arrangements need to be made in advance for all accommodations, but especially for extended-time testing. Whenever a test is announced, the student must meet with the professor to determine arrangements for extended time. This cannot wait until the day before the test. It will certainly be to the student’s advantage to establish this positive working relationship early in the semester.
- With few exceptions, students are expected to take a test on the assigned date. The accommodation of extended test time does not mean extended preparation time.
- Faculty members cannot retroactively provide academic accommodations for course requirements for students who have not previously presented a letter from the Learning Support Office supporting such requests.
Suggestions for Talking with your Professors
- Define the goal of the interaction with the professor. What outcomes do you wish to have from the meeting? Do you want to get/give information, get/give advice, or gain/give understanding? A clear goal helps you prepare your approach and keeps you on task for the meeting.
- Every interaction with your professor should leave them with a favorable impression of your motivation, preparation, and overall interest in learning, as well as your interest in the specific course content.
- Make an appointment. Each professor will give you a course syllabus which will list office hours, office location, phone number and email address.
- Be on time. If unavoidably late, call or email your professor.
- Introduce yourself. Identify which class and section you are in, and any other information that will help identify your connection.
- Be calm and courteous. Address the professor by their title and surname (Dr. Smith). If uncertain, address them as Dr. or Professor, unless specifically invited to do otherwise.
- Be prepared. Bring along any material you wish to discuss or examples of problems you want the professor to review, etc.
- Respect the professor’s time. End your meeting at the agreed-upon time, or ask permission to go a bit longer, such as, “Do you have 10 more minutes or should I reschedule?"
- All of your professors will have posted office hours. Villanova professors do encourage their students to make full use of the office hours. They are available to help you with your course work and questions so take full advantage of this one-on-one opportunity.
Discussing your Disability with your Professor
- You will need to meet with each of your professors as early as possible in the semester.
- Discuss the testing accommodations that you need. If your accommodation is for extended test time, you will need to discuss how to handle this extra time for each of your exams. Potential conflicts exist if you or the professor has a class immediately following a test. This is where you will negotiate with the professor for an earlier start or a different time entirely. Potential solutions may be starting ahead of time in the professor’s office, taking the exam back to the office after class, taking it in a nearby conference room or office, or arranging to have it proctored with LSS.
- Describe any other accommodations you may need. You do not need to identify your disability; however, explaining how you learn best and how you can best be assessed will be helpful.
- Ask for any advice they might offer on learning the material, studying for exams, or otherwise performing well in the class. Do they post their notes on the Web? Are practice problems on their website? Do they conduct review sessions before exams? Will they review a rough draft for any writing assignments?
- It is appropriate to share with them what works for you (or doesn’t help you) in the course and to compliment them on the techniques that you find aid your learning, such as: the outlines of your notes are very helpful in following the lecture or when you are writing on the board while explaining a problem, I am unable to follow you (or hear you)…
Arranging for the Accommodation of Notetaking
- Make your notetaking accommodation request known to the professor at the start of the semester.
- Ask the professor if his/her notes are available online. If not, request that the notes be available for you.
- Recruit a peer notetaker in your class.
- If you have tried everything else, ask the professor to email and/or announce to the class that a notetaker is needed. Suggest the following:
“Learning Support Services needs a volunteer in this class to share notes with a student this semester. Notetaking is an excellent way to enhance your learning and listening proficiency. It is also a rewarding community service activity. LSS will acknowledge your assistance formally at the end of the semester. Expenses involved in preparing copies can be discussed with LSS at 610-519-5636. Thank you for your interest.”
How to Choose an Ideal Notetaker
- Look for someone who demonstrates good organizational skills.
- The person should be reliable, attend class regularly, and be punctual.
- Look for someone with neat, legible handwriting OR someone who uses a laptop for notetaking.
- A good notetaker leaves his/her own biases out of the notes.
- Notes should be organized into a sequential format, with important information emphasized.
Alternatives to Finding a Notetaker
- Record lectures (permission of professor required)
- Compare and/or review your notes with a reliable peer from your class.
- Show your notes to your professor periodically to see if you’re focusing on the right material.
- Consider the “Pulse Smart Pen”. The Smart Pen records audio and links it to what you write. It automatically captures everything as you write and draw. The Smart Pen works only with Livescribe dot paper. Both can be purchased at Amazon, Target, Staples, and other retail stores. www.livescribe.com/smartpen/index/html
Improving your notes
- Attend all lectures and BE PREPARED!
- Take a front seat to see, hear, and concentrate better.
- Use a large loose-leaf binder instead of a spiral bound notebook.
- Start a new page for each class and record the course name, lecture, and date at the top.
- Begin taking notes immediately. Sometimes important information is given in the first 10 to 15 minutes.
- Use a modified writing style that you can understand (abbreviations, synonyms, etc.), but don’t overdo it.
- Use the margin to write your own comments, questions, examples.
- Leave blank spaces so you can go back and fill in later.
- If necessary, use templates to help notes stay sequential and organized. Examples of templates can be found at: http://www.englishcompanion.com
- Sit near friends.
- Convert/change lecturer’s words.
- Look for facts only.
- Give up if the lecturer is too fast.
- Use too many abbreviations.
- Wait for something important to be said.
- Over indent.
- Use spiral-bound notebooks.
Conflict Resolution and Appeals
If you are dissatisfied with the academic accommodations recommended by the Learning Support Services (LSS) Office, you should discuss your concerns with the Director for LSS. If you are not able to resolve a problem at this level, you should request an appointment with the Vice President of Academic Affairs (610-519-4521).
The University would like to address any problem situations internally; however, you may file formal charges with outside government agencies at any time, if you desire. The United States Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the Department of Education is the agency responsible for addressing complaints related to discrimination on the basis of disability. Complaints must be filed within 180 days of the date of the alleged discrimination. Since OCR's policies and procedures may change over time, you should contact the regional office directly and immediately if you wish to file a complaint of discrimination on the basis of disability. You may contact OCR at: 1-800-421-3481.