Disability Resource Center

Resources for Faculty & Instructors

Resources for Designing Accessible Learning Environments

"Design has the power to make us feel competent or incompetent; it has the power to include us or exclude us." -Elaine Ostroff, Founding Director, Institute for Human-Centered Design

"Universal design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design." - Ron Mace

Below are resources to assist instructors with implementing Universal Design into the design into the curricular environment.

Universal Design
Designing Accessible Course Materials

For more information on creating accessible documents, check out the following links:

Faculty & Staff Partnerships for Accessible Solutions (FASPAS)

Faculty and Staff Partnerships for Accessible Solutions (FASPAS) is a series of workshops designed to embed Universal Design into the learning, physical and procedural environments at Western Illinois University. Also known as human-centered design, Universal Design is a process rooted in architecture that can be applied to all aspects of higher education to create inclusive, equitable and sustainable environments that welcome a diverse population. Participants in FASPAS agree to implement at least 1 UD strategy into the work that they do and to share what they've learned with others. Facilitators provide ongoing support and opportunities to learn and discuss experiences.

Those interested in participating in FASPAS may contact Tara Buchannan at 309-298-2512 or T-Buchannan@wiu.edu.

Individual Course Development Consultation

DRC staff members are available for one-on-one consultation by phone or appointment. If you would like to ask questions about the accommodation process or a specific student situation, please contact 309-298-2512.

Resources for Providing Accommodations

DRC Information Sessions

At the beginning of the fall semester, DRC provides several information sessions to discuss course design and the accommodation process. All new instructors and instructors who have a DRC student registered for one or more courses will receive an email invitation to these sessions. During these sessions, we will cover what's new at the DRC, the basics of design and accommodation and additional training opportunities.

Individual Accommodation Consultation

DRC staff members are available for one-on-one consultation by phone or appointment. If you would like to ask questions about the accommodation process or a specific student situation, please contact 309-298-2512.

Frequently Asked Questions

Am I required to provide an accommodation?

According to University values and disability law (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended and Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504), the University is required to provide reasonable accommodations. If the student has followed the proper procedure to establish eligibility for accommodations through the Disability Resource Center and you have received an email notification, then please proceed with arranging accommodations.

What if I am not sure how to implement these accommodations in my course (e.g., the student is requesting a copy of class notes, but students do not usually take notes because of the nature of my course)?

If you are uncertain about implementing an accommodation in your course, please contact the Disability Resource Center at 309-298-2512 or disability@wiu.edu.

Why didn't I receive this notification earlier in the semester?

You will likely receive most notifications during the first week or two of the semester. However, students may request accommodations at any time during the semester. Some students wish to wait to see if they experience barriers before requesting accommodations. For example, some students will take the first exam before requesting accommodations for future exams. In addition, some students may connect with the DRC later in the semester for a variety of reasons (e.g., they were recently diagnosed, they were unaware that services are available, etc.).

The law says that accommodation requests should be made in a timely manner, which means the University must be given ample time to make the necessary arrangements. In addition, accommodations are not retroactive. Therefore, if a student chooses to forego accommodations on the first exam and then decides to request exam accommodations, instructors are not obligated to re-administer the first exam with accommodations. However, accommodation arrangements should be made for future exams.

Can a student request additional accommodations later in the semester?

Yes. Students are allowed to request additional accommodations at any time during the semester. In anticipation of this possibility, the DRC Faculty Notification System was designed to differentiate between initial requests and additional requests.

What if a student changes their mind about a requested accommodation?

If you receive an accommodation notification from a student, and later the student decides that it is not needed, it is a good idea to make a note of this. A good way to do this would be to email the student to clarify that they indeed do not want the accommodation and copy the Disability Resource Center (drc@wiu.edu for exam accommodations and disability@wiu.edu for all other accommodations).

I'm concerned that the requested accommodation lowers course standards or modifies an essential element of my course. What do I do?

Disability accommodations are intended to provide equal access, not reduce course rigor or modify essential course objectives. If you have concerns regarding this matter, please contact the Disability Resource Center at 309-298-2512 or disability@wiu.edu.

What should I do if this accommodation doesn't seem fair to other students?

The underlying assumption of the question is that fairness and equal treatment are synonymous with "the same" treatment. However, the same treatment doesn't always measure fairly. First, disability law protects students with disabilities from being subjected to the arbitrary measure of what is best for others, except in cases of safety to others. Second, the assumption of the law is that modifying non-essential tasks should give the student with a disability an equal, or fair, chance to demonstrate their ability, minimizing the impact of the environment to the greatest extent possible.

Examples:
  1. A student who cannot perform the physical task of writing or other fine motor manipulations may be an excellent writer even though they cannot print or type the letters and words. Thus, the physical act of writing is a non-essential task. The student's mastery of language and course material must not, under the law, be judged by their ability to manipulate a pencil or pen, or by use of a keyboard. Accommodating the student by providing a scribe to record the student's essay responses on an exam, permits the student to show whether they can write effectively and whether they have acquired the information and critical skills the instructor wished to convey in the course.
  2. A student with a learning disability can learn, but learns differently. Learning disabilities that involve eye-hand coordination or thought processing may call for accommodations (e.g., alternative format textbooks, readers and scribes for tests, screen readers, help with marking scantron sheets) that reduce barriers to learning in the classroom and/or to accurate demonstration of course competency.

Fairness is ensured by holding students with disabilities to the same academic standards and essential learning objectives as other students (e.g., students with disabilities take the same exam as their peers) and just means each according to their need (e.g. with reasonable accommodations). Therefore, the provision of accommodations is not an issue of fairness but justice.

What is my responsibility once I receive the notification?

The email notification is the official disclosure of disability status and notification of accommodations. Instructors are free to proceed with making plans for accommodations and may contact students to discuss accommodation arrangements.

Hours of Operation

Monday - Friday
8:00am to 4:30pm

Contact Info

Disability Resource Center
Memorial Hall 143
1 University Circle
Macomb, IL 61455

Email: disability@wiu.edu
Phone: (309) 298-2512
Fax: (309) 298-2361