With regard to course content, it is important for instructors to know what they can expect during the semester. Instructors can expect all students, regardless of disability, to perform and complete all essential components of their course. This can be accomplished with, or without, accommodations. Essential components of the course are those requirements listed in the syllabus, hence the importance of a syllabus that outlines all expectations from the beginning of the semester including all assignments, required books and readings, research projects, project due dates, exam/quiz dates, etc.
Instructors are not expected to accommodate disabilities that they are not made aware of in advance but it is also important to keep in mind that students may be timid to self-disclose their need for accommodations. We strongly recommend that faculty put a statement on their syllabus that invites students to talk with them about needed accommodations. This statement might look like:
"If you are a student with a disability and feel that you may need a reasonable accommodation to fulfill the essential functions of the course that are listed in this syllabus, students with physical, medical and/or psychiatric disabilities or students with AD(H)D and/or specific learning disabilities are encouraged to contact Student Disability Services at 529-1541 (V/TTY)."
This is a general statement. Instructors are welcome (and encouraged) to state that they support inclusion, foster an equitable classroom experience, etc. This message is simple but goes a long way in making students with disabilities feel welcome and comfortable in the classroom (and at Miami). It may be appropriate, at times, for the instructor, student and disability support staff to have an interactive dialogue about accommodations if the instructor feels that the accommodations being recommended are a fundamental alteration of the course.
In order to foster an inclusive classroom experience and to ensure services, students are encouraged to self-disclose their need for accommodations to their instructor or the Student Disability Services support staff as soon as a need for an accommodation is evident. Obviously, faculty are not required or expected to accommodate a disability that they are not informed or made aware of, nor are they required to waive portions of the course. Substitutions to certain requirements (i.e., students who are Deaf may not be able to complete the foreign language requirement) may be reasonable, but such recommendations should come from the Director of SDS or Student Disability Services specialist for consistency.
Some faculty have chosen to draft a "Memo of Understanding" after the initial meeting with the student (copying SDS) that outlines accommodations for the semester. Such a document goes a long way in outlining expectations for all parties.
It's also very important that course content be made accessible for students with disabilities in your course. You can find resources to assist in the creation of accessible course content at Accessibility at Miami University. If you have any questions about building accessible material, please contact SDS at (513) 529-1541.
Additionally, more resources and information can be found at the the Faculty Room link through the University of Washington DO-IT organization.