Faculty Guide: Talking About Disability
Neither the student’s disability nor their status with ODS should be disclosed to any parties other than those authorized by the student. All communications should focus on needed accommodation(s) (not the student’s disability). Students should never be asked or required to disclose their disability. Remember that students may have varying degrees of comfort discussing accommodations or disability. It is the student’s choice to share information, other than what is needed to make approved accommodations.
Each semester, it is important to communicate with the students in your class about how to seek accommodation(s) based on a disability. Sometimes, however, a student may be hesitant to discuss the accommodations. One way to open this conversation is to develop a disability statement for the course syllabus and to make a general announcement in the class. It may be helpful to have a disability accommodation statement on your syllabus and to also make a general announcement at the beginning of the course.
Disability Statement for Syllabus
Providing students with a disability statement on your course syllabus will aid students who are seeking accommodations. Below is an example of a disability statement:
Wright State University is committed to diversity and inclusion and strives to ensure your academic journey is accessible. If you anticipate or experience disability related barriers, please contact the Office of Disability Services (https://wright.edu/ods | firstname.lastname@example.org | 937-775-5680) to explore solutions and develop a College Accommodation Plan (CAP).
Making a general announcement at the first session of each course will broach the topic of accommodation in a neutral way, and helps students feel more comfortable initiating a discussion with you about their needed accommodation(s). Below is an example of a general announcement regarding the need for accommodation:
If anyone in this course has a disability and wishes to receive accommodations, I am available to discuss reasonable accommodations for those registered with the Office of Disability Services. Please contact me [at best private contact method] or make an appointment to meet with me during my office hours as soon as possible to discuss your accommodations. If you wish to receive accommodations on the basis of a disability and are not registered with ODS, please contact their office immediately.
Other than these general statements, any communication about accommodations should be made with the strictest confidentiality and in a discrete, private manner (email, office hours, etc.).