“Independence is measured not by the tasks one can perform without assistance but by the quality of one’s life with help.”
- Ed Roberts, founder of Independent Living Movement
No. Academic accommodations provide accessible opportunities for students with disabilities to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and capabilities so that they have an equal opportunity to participate in, and benefit from, the programs and activities of the university. Academic accommodations also allow students to demonstrate what they know rather than being academically limited by the effects of their disability. Providing auxiliary aids and services is not considered special treatment.
Northern Illinois University is committed to providing inclusive learning environments. Equal access can often be achieved through course design; however, barriers to learning may still exist for students with disabilities. Members of the NIU community are expected to provide reasonable and appropriate accommodations and related resources to decrease those barriers.
To make sure that students know about the availability of accommodations, put the NIU accessibility statement on the course syllabus. Using this statement also creates a more welcoming environment and encourages students who have disabilities to meet with you.
The Disability Resource Center (DRC) and NIU’s Presidential Commission on Persons with Disabilities have both reviewed and endorsed the use of the statement and strongly recommend that you use it in all of your course syllabi.
Northern Illinois University is committed to providing an accessible educational environment in collaboration with the Disability Resource Center (DRC). Any student requiring an academic accommodation due to a disability should let his or her faculty member know as soon as possible. Students who need academic accommodations based on the impact of a disability will be encouraged to contact the DRC if they have not done so already. The DRC is located on the 4th floor of the Health Services Building, and can be reached at 815-753-1303 (V) or firstname.lastname@example.org
“Disability is not a brave struggle or ‘courage in the face of adversity.’ Disability is an art. It’s an ingenious way to live.” - Neil Marcus, playwright
You do not need to create accommodations on your own; that is the area of expertise of the DRC. As such, direct students to the DRC to obtain approved accommodations. The DRC can collaborate with you and other departments and faculty across campus to implement accommodations as well as create a more universally designed learning environment.
Auxiliary aids may include the use of an adaptive computer, FM hearing system, and/or alternate format of materials (e.g., Braille, enlarged print). Assistance may include priority registration, route-training, note-takers, interpreters, service animals, human guides, personal care attendants, and real-time captionists. Please note: NIU is not responsible for providing personal care attendants.
The reasonable modification of policies and procedures can also be an example of a reasonable accommodation to a disability. Please remember that a modification to a policy or procedure is not considered reasonable if it would fundamentally alter the underlying program.
The Office of Civil Rights has determined that, under certain circumstances, it may be appropriate to modify course attendance policies. When attendance policies are in place, the faculty or staff member should be able to justify why attendance is an “essential function” in the class. Faculty are encouraged to consult with the DRC on the question of attendance policies.
Exam accommodations for students with disabilities minimize the impact of the disability by affording students an equal opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and ability. Eligibility for exam accommodations is determined by DRC staff on the basis of the student’s disability documentation and informational interview. Some of the most typical accommodations include an alternate format such as an auditory version, large print, or Braille version of the exam; a low distraction room; extended time; and scribe assistance.
Accessible Housing - NIU Residence Halls offer rooms and facilities that are accessible to students with disabilities.
Accessible Parking - Arrangements for parking permits are made through NIU Campus Parking Services.
Accessible Transportation - The Huskie Bus Line runs throughout campus and some areas of the DeKalb community. The Freedom Mobile offers an accessible paratransit system that runs during the same hours as the Huskie buses and provides on-call door-to-door service throughout the DeKalb community.
Everyone has a role to play in making sure that students’ accommodation needs are being met at NIU. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and its amendments (ADAAA) requires students, faculty, administrators, and the DRC to each fulfill certain responsibilities to ensure that courses are accessible. The following sections highlight the responsibilities of each group.
Note: Students are not required to pay for academic accommodations.
Faculty may have multiple roles including employee, classroom instructor, employer, and web/technology developer. Accessibility must be a consideration across all professional activities.
NIU encourages its administrators to work with the DRC and Human Resources to meet the University’s legal obligations as well as create a welcoming and accessible environment for students who have disabilities.
The University has designated the DRC as the entity to verify, determine, and provide appropriate accommodations for qualified students.
In addition, the role of the DRC is to:
Faculty members may have legitimate questions or concerns about a student’s specific accommodation. Concerns should be shared with DRC and the student jointly. While the dispute is being resolved, the student maintains the right to the original accommodation. When disagreements arise the University and student should engage in a conversation regarding the student’s request for accommodations in an effort to identify reasonable accommodations that the University can provide. Students should not be put in the position of “negotiating” his or her accommodations by themselves.
If a student has a disability-related academic grievance or concern about a department, faculty, or staff member at the University, he or she can:
Non-academic grievances or concerns may be addressed through the Office of Community Standards & Student Conduct as described in NIU’s Student Code of Conduct (revised August 2012). Within this process, students file an incident report. If they are not satisfied with the resolution, they my appeal to an Administrative Hearing or Conduct Board. Disagreements with the Board’s decisions may be appealed to the Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management whose decision is final.Students may also contact the Office of Affirmative Action and Diversity Resources as an additional option for complaints based on discrimination and/or harassment.
The mission of the Disability Resource Center (formerly the Center for Access-Ability Resources) is to create an accessible, inclusive, sustainable learning environment, where disability is recognized as an aspect of diversity that is integral to the campus community and to society. The center is located on the 4th floor of the Health Services Building, and can be reached at 815-753-1303 (V/TTY) or email@example.com.
The NIU Homepage has a link that provides additional information, resources, and websites to supplement material in this tutorial.Assistive TechnologyInformation Technology Services provides adaptive technology in computer labs in multiple locations across campus. All assistive technology stations feature screen reading software, screen enlargement software, text-to-speech software, and scanners.
The NIU library system offers specialized library-use assistance to any person with a disability. Assistance will be specifically tailored to the needs of the individual. Assistive equipment is available in a specialized study room. The coordinator of library services for individuals with disabilities is available to discuss paper topics, library assignments, etc.
The Commission serves as a university-wide advocate promoting awareness, educating the university community, and assisting individuals on disability-related issues. The PCPD’s vision is to have a university community characterized by dignity, respect, and equal access where all individuals are valued members of NIU’s living, learning, and working environment.
True or false: Faculty decide what disability-related accommodations a student receives.
True or false: The Disability Resource Center makes the final determination in all academically related disputes.
True or false: Faculty are strongly encouraged to include an "accessibility statement" in their course syllabi.