Faculty FAQ – Disabilities and Accommodations

Student Accessibility Services: Who, What, When, Where and Why

1) Where is Student Accessibility Services?

Student Accessibility Services is part of the Academic Support Center, which is located in Buntrock Commons 108. The Accessibility Services website contains a link for information for faculty and staff.

2) Where is SAS positioned in the organization?

SAS, along with the rest of the Academic Support Center (ASC), is on the Academic side of the organizational structure. Mary Cisar is the director of the ASC.

3) What kind of help might I get if I call SAS?

SAS staff can help clarify accommodations; problem-solve regarding behavior or academic issues; answer questions about accessibility of materials or space; provide additional information about the student’s needs or learning style; or connect you with other resources. Feel free to communicate by e-mail, phone or in-person.

4) Who do I contact for information and assistance in Student Accessibility Services?

Nancy Cheeseman (cheese1@stolaf.edu) and Laura Knobel-Piehl (knobel@stolaf.edu) are the Student Accessibility Service Specialists, and Laura manages all assistive technology, including audio and Braille course material, books in alternate format, text-to-speech and speech-to-text.

5) May I arrange a face-to-face meeting with an Accessibility Services staff?

Yes, if it would be helpful to arrange face-to-face time with the Accessibility Services staff, please ask. In the past we have attended department meetings and retreats, conducted a “new staff tutorial” on Accessibility Services, and spoken about students and disabilities in some education/pedagogy classes. Please contact us if you are interested in arranging such a meeting.

6) I’ve already talked with the class dean about a situation. Do I need to contact SAS, too?

The class deans and SAS work closely together. Nancy Cheeseman and Laura Knobel-Piehl receive copies of CRS reports for students registered with SAS.

7) How might SAS staff be helpful to new faculty or to the whole department?

New faculty often are confused and overwhelmed about the responsibilities for alternate testing. Either Nancy Cheeseman or Laura Knobel-Piehl is happy to sit down individually with new faculty to run through how the system works. Nancy and Laura often visit staff retreats or meetings to talk about SAS and answer specific questions.

Students with Disabilities

8) What do I do if a student talks with me about a learning disability, ADHD, or a mental health situation?

If a student has disclosed a potential disability, it is important for you to let them know about SAS. You can suggest the student stop by the ASC to make an appointment, or contact Nancy Cheeseman or Laura Knobel-Piehl via e-mail. If you hear about a mental health (or other) issue which is seriously interfering with classroom performance, please consider completing a Continuous Reporting System (CRS) form and/or contacting the class dean or SAS.

9) It seems we have considerably more students with disabilities in the last few years. Is this true?

There has been an increase in both the number of students with disabilities and the complexity of the situations. Some of that increase is due to the broadening of the definition of disability with amendments to the ADA. St. Olaf along with other colleges are seeing sizable increases in the number of students with mental health concerns and students with chronic health issues. Admissions criteria and standards are not altered because a student has a disability.

10) Whom do I contact with concerns about students with disabilities?

Please contact the Accessibility Specialist listed on the student’s accommodation letter. Student Accessibility Services works closely with the class deans and receives copies of CRS reports for the students with whom they work.

11) What should I do if a parent calls me?

If you should receive a call from a parent of a student, it is perfectly acceptable to say, “I want to work that situation out with the student.” and then end the conversation. You may be interested in reading the Parent Letter we distribute to parents.

In the Classroom

12) What is a suggested disabilities syllabus statement?

If you have a documented disability for which accommodations may be required in this class, please contact Nancy Cheeseman (cheese1@stolaf.edu) or Laura Knobel-Piehl (knobel@stolaf.edu) in the Academic Support Center (507-786-3288, Buntrock 108) as soon as possible to discuss accommodations. If you have already arranged accommodations through Student Accessibility Services, please arrange for the submission of your accommodation letter within the first two weeks of class. Accommodations will only be provided after the letter is submitted to me and with sufficient lead-time for me to arrange testing or other accommodations. Although I will receive the letter electronically, I expect you to initiate a conversation with me about the accommodations.

13) How do I accommodate for students with disabilities if my classroom policy prohibits laptops?

The following is a suggested statement that takes into account the potential needs of some students with disabilities, but does not draw inappropriate attention to them or their disability.

Laptops may not be used in this class unless you have made special arrangements with the professor.

14) What if a student with disability frequently misses class?

Some students have accommodations which state that the disability may impact their class attendance, and that requirements and parameters of attendance may need to be redefined. Please contact Nancy Cheeseman or Laura Knobel-Piehl to discuss the class requirements and to determine reasonable attendance accommodations for your particular class.

15) How will I know if a student has accommodations?

You will be notified of a student’s approved accommodations by a formal accommodation letter delivered through email. These emails will be emailed to you from the student’s Accessibility Specialist (Nancy Cheeseman or Laura Knobel-Piehl). Students are expected to contact you directly about their accommodations after the letter has been delivered.

16) How can I ensure that all my course materials are accessible to all students in my class?

If you need assistance determining whether your course materials are accessible, please contact Laura Knobel-Piehl at ext. 3288 or knobel@stolaf.edu. Our website also offers more specific information and tips for creating Word documents, PDFs, and PowerPoint presentations.

17) Do I need to change my course elements based on a student’s accommodations?

The accommodations listed in a student’s letter are intended to provide equal access to this student. Neither your standards, nor quality, nor the essential elements of a course should be changed because a student has a disability.

18) What are the procedures if there is a medical emergency in my class?

You should contact Public Safety at ext. 3666.

Alternate Testing

19) How are alternative testing arrangements made?

Students with the accommodation for extended testing time and/or a separate room are asked to consult with you a week before a test to finalize testing arrangements. It you are able to arrange an alternate testing location near the regular classroom, that option is preferred. If you cannot arrange the location, the student will submit an online form to the ASC, and we will locate a room in the ASC or another part of Buntrock Commons. The primary contact for all alternate testing arrangements is BreAne Hampsher (hampsher@stolaf.edu).

20) How do I go about finding and arranging an alternate testing place?

You can make room arrangements directly by using the online room reservation system, R25. Your department AAA may be able to help with the booking or walking you through the room reservation process. It may take a day to get the room reservation through R25.

21) What if I do not have adequate time to arrange an alternate room?

If you have not had adequate time to arrange an alternate room, it is very reasonable to refuse to do so at the time a test is to begin. If a student appears at a test saying s/he has accommodations and has not spoken with you previously, you may ask the student to take the exam in the classroom and then stay after class or move to a nearby classroom to accommodate the extended time. If you need help solving an unexpected testing situation, call the ASC at ext. 3288.

22) Is there any reason I can’t use my office for alternate testing?

Considerations for any testing room would be whether the space is quiet and free from disruptions or interruptions; whether there is adequate uncluttered desk or table space; and whether you are (or someone else is) able to stay out of the room for the extended testing time.

23) How do I get the exam to the ASC?

If the student is taking an exam in the ASC or another part of Buntrock, you are responsible for delivering the exam to the ASC. You may do this by hand-delivering a hard-copy of the exam in a sealed envelope during office hours (M-F 8-5), or by emailing the exam as an attachment to ASC Office Coordinator BreAne Hampsher (hampsher@stolaf.edu). We ask that you deliver the exam no later than 8:00 a.m. the day of the exam.

24) How is the Honor Code followed in alternate testing?

Once alternate testing arrangements have been made, you and the student will receive a confirmation email. This email will include the amount of time the student has to finish the exam and states that by signing the pledge they have stayed within the time limit. Students taking test in Buntrock are asked to leave their backpacks and cell phones outside of their testing room. We suggest that you follow similar protocol regarding backpacks and cell phones when you have arranged a testing room.

25) Should multilingual students be given extra time for exams?

This decision is not an academic accommodation provided by Accessibility Services because multilingual students are not students with disabilities. It is solely the professor’s discretion whether to provide time-and-a-half on exams for multilingual students. Whenever possible, those exams should be administered within the classroom at the regular exam time. The ASC does not arrange testing rooms for multilingual students. Please contact Su Smallen (smallen@stolaf.edu) or review the Writing Center Page for more information.


26) What are Livescribe Smartpens?

Student Accessibility Services provides Livescribe Smartpens to some students who are eligible for notetaking accommodation. These pens record the class while the student takes hand-written notes.

27) Can Smartpen recordings be used by other students in the class?

Students are advised that the audio recording is for their use only and may not be shared with other students under any circumstances. Students are instructed to delete the audio recording when they are finished with the material. St. Olaf does not have a policy which prohibits any student from recording a class. If you like the idea of providing Smartpen recordings to all of your students, we can help you figure out how to buy a pen and use it effectively.