Faculty Guide for Disability Services

Faculty and staff requesting accommodations for their own disabilities must contact Human Resources Disability Services.

Collaboration between Faculty and Disability Services

Disability Services deeply values the input of Columbia’s faculty in its effort to ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to University curricula. In particular, Disability Services relies on faculty guidance in striking the balance between accommodating students with disabilities and preserving academic standards.

Disability Services collaborates with faculty to determine appropriate reasonable accommodations and to maintain the integrity of course standards and program requirements.

Faculty Procedures for Testing Accommodations

In some cases, students with disabilities are entitled to accommodations related to administration of examinations. These testing accommodations modify, in specific ways, the way an exam is administered to students. Typical testing accommodations include extended time to complete the exam, alternate format (e.g., large print), smaller proctored environment to take the exam, or the use of computer to type the exam. The intent of testing accommodations is not to alter the performance requirements or lessen course standards; rather, their purpose is to ensure equal access to the testing setting for students with relevant disabilities needing modification related to the administration of exams.

Such testing accommodations can either be provided directly by course instructors or by Disability Services (for undergraduate students), or through the program’s Graduate Liaison (for graduate students). Many instructors have been able, and prefer to coordinate these accommodations with assistance from their teaching assistants. If faculty members choose to provide accommodations, they must be prepared to:

  • Provide an appropriate testing environment, including a dedicated testing space that is quiet, offers minimal distractions, and provides the ability to take and complete the exam without interruption;
  • Ensure that students with disabilities have the same exam opportunities and resources as all other students (e.g., the opportunity to ask clarifying questions related to the exam).

Alternatively, for undergraduate courses, Disability Services may administer your exams. The staff at Disability Services is equipped to administer exams in an appropriate and secure manner.

Disability Services is fully committed to preserving the University’s academic integrity. To arrange testing accommodations through Disability Services, students have been instructed to notify Disability Services at least one week prior to the exam date. This lead time is necessary so that Disability Services can secure space and proctors to administer the exam. Disability Services also requires that the Testing Accommodation Request Form be completed by both the professor and student and submitted to Disability Services. Please be sure to complete the form in its entirety so that the exam can be administered to your specifications.

All exams must be delivered to Disability Services at least one day prior. Exams can be sent via email dsexams@columbia.edu, by fax at (212) 854-3448 or dropped off at the Disability Services main office (Wien Hall, 1st floor).

If, during the exam, you provide the class additional instructions or make modifications to the exam, please contact Disability Services so that we can alert the student to such changes.

For graduate courses, arrangements can be made for exams with accommodations to be administered with the support of a graduate program’s designated Graduate Liaison. Procedures for requesting support in testing administration vary by graduate school or program. Professors should contact their respective liaison for more information about procedures within their school.

Faculty Procedures for Note-taking Services

Upon request from an eligible student, Disability Services or the program’s Graduate Liaison will contact you to make an announcement in your class to assist in recruiting a classmate to provide a copy of his/her notes. Note-taking services are coordinated in ways that preserve the anonymity of those receiving this service. Disability Services or the Graduate Liaison will review potential classmates’ notes for quality, content, neatness and organization. Note-takers are required to provide a copy of their notes each week. Note-taking services are not intended to be a substitute for class attendance.

Last updated April 18, 2014