Information for Faculty

Whitman College is committed to the education of all qualified students, whether or not they have physical limitations or disabilities. Moreover, the law requires us to make our programs genuinely accessible to all qualified students. This means that individual instructors may need to modify some of their instructional techniques or modes of assessment in order to enable students with documented disabilities to participate in courses and to demonstrate their mastery of the material. Any services a department offers to students must be offered to all students without regard to disability.

Faculty members should make sure that each class, when viewed in its entirety, is accessible to students who have documented their disabilities to, and obtained accommodation letters from, Julia Dunn, Associate Dean of Students. Faculty members do not have the option to discourage a student from taking a particular course or declaring a specific major because of a disability; in fact, creative teaching techniques have enabled students to study a wide variety of subjects (i.e., blind students have studied astronomy, geology and art history). At the same time, faculty members are not expected to lower their expectations of student achievement. It would be a disservice to students with disabilities to expect them to achieve less than their peers achieve.

The challenge for faculty members is to provide reasonable adjustments while upholding academic standards. The challenge for college students with disabilities is to acquire and demonstrate their mastery of the subject matter or learning outcomes despite the presence of a disability. Julia Dunn's role is to assist faculty and students in achieving appropriate and academically sound adjustments. Faculty will be notified by letter or e-mail of the necessary course-related accommodations.

Instructors should feel free to discuss disability issues with Julia Dunn, and they should notify her if they feel that the recommended accommodation interferes with an essential element of the course. Concerns regarding the justification or nature of accommodation should be addressed to the director, not the student. Questions about the provision or implementation of the accommodation should be addressed to the student.

Guidelines for Interaction with Students Who Have a Disability

Disabilities are not protected under ADA law, however individuals with disabilities are. Because students with the same type of impairment vary in their level of functioning, it is better to focus on how the student performs in your class than on his or her disability. It is the student’s responsibility to request services from the Academic Resource Center. After the student and Julia Dunn, Associate Dean of Students, meet and agree on reasonable accommodations, you will receive verification of the student’s disability and an outline of recommended adjustments. Students with disabilities are advised to approach their instructors to discuss the requested accommodations.

Information for Faculty Regarding Privacy

Instructors are not given specific information or a diagnosis of the student’s disability, in most cases they will be told that a disability exists, and they will be given an outline of the accommodations recommended. All information about your students’ disabilities must be kept confidential. The provision of accommodations should be done without drawing undue attention to the students or disclosing their identities to the rest of the class. Faculty can learn how to provide the recommended adjustments discretely by speaking privately with the student.

Working with Students