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Frequently Asked Questions


Stephanie Grimes

Office of Disability Support Services



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Student Questions

  • According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.  Major life activities include, but are not limited to, walking, sleeping, eating, learning, reading, writing, hearing, seeing, processing, etc. 

  • An accommodation is an adjustment to a policy or environment to ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to course material, information, activities, programs, housing, and other campus facilities. Accommodations do not change the fundamental nature of a program or class but do provide support for the student so they can better access the information and obtain equal opportunities.

  • Knox helps students with accommodations in all areas of campus life. This includes academic, residential, and employment. Knox offers various accommodations based on the needs of each student who qualifies based on their disability.  Academic accommodations may include but not be limited to extended time for testing, quiet testing space, use of computer laptops in the classroom, classroom (physical) accessibility, note takers, use of assistive technology in the classroom, etc.  Accommodations can also be endorsed for residential needs and those that may impact a student's campus job.

  • Reasonable accommodations are provided within the framework of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disability Act of 1990, as amended (ADA) and the ADA amendments of 2008.

  • A first-time Accommodation Request Form needs to be completed. This can be sent to the student or the student can come to the DSS office to complete the form.  Other forms will also need to be completed in the request process.   Documentation also needs to be obtained from a qualified healthcare profession that describes the disability/health condition as well as share the functional impact on the student’s academic or residential experiences.  DSS has specific documentation guidelines to provide an outline of the information necessary to establish that a student has a disability and/or temporary health condition.  The last part of the process is an interview with a DSS staff member to determine what the accommodation plan will be.

  • The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. All information and documentation submitted to the DSS office is kept separate from an academic record and is considered private under FERPA. It is an individual’s choice whether to disclose the nature of their disability to faculty. The fact that a student received accommodations does not show on any transcript from the college.

  • An academic accommodation notification will be sent to those instructors, advisors, or other staff as released by the student in written form. This notification lists the accommodations that the student is endorsed for in the plan. This notification does not outline the nature of the student’s disability.  It is an individual’s choice whether to disclose the nature of their disability to faculty. It is also the student's responsibility to discuss use of their accommodations with their faculty instructor.

  • Accommodations from a student’s high school do not necessarily transfer to Knox. The IEP ends when a student enters college. If the student had a 504 plan, those accommodations also may not transfer to the college. Accommodations set up by another college institution do not automatically transfer over to Knox College. This information from both high school and/or another college institution might be helpful for the DSS staff and the student as they create an accommodation plan at Knox. 

  • Accommodations must be requested each term at Knox. This is done by completing the registration form each term with the DSS office.  No further paperwork should be needed if there is no change to the plan.  If the student is asking for different accommodations or a new accommodation, there may be additional paperwork or documentation and an interview with DSS staff may be required to process the new request.

  • Yes.  Residential accommodations may include a single room, Emotional Support Animal, air conditioner, off-board meal plan, or off-campus housing. If the request from the student is based on a qualifying disability, the request must be processed in the DSS office first for endorsement. If approved, Campus Life will be notified of the approval.

  • The timing for accommodation implementation varies. This depends on the documentation that is provided to the DSS office for consideration for the request. The information must be available from a qualified healthcare provider and must include a diagnosis and the functional limitation to the student due to the diagnosis. No request can be processed without this information. Other forms are required to be completed by the student and a student interview with DSS staff must also take place. The timing of implementation is based on the acquisition of these items. 

  • Tests can be taken in the DSS office for any test accommodation for students. There is a form to be completed to request this accommodation. This form can be obtained electronically from the DSS office.

  • If a student feels that they require other accommodations or they have a change or addition to their disability with new information, a student can request a change in the accommodation plan with the DSS office.  New disability information may require additional documentation to be submitted to the DSS office, and an interview with DSS staff may be required.  

    Residential accommodations are approved twice a year. Once before the fall term and again before the winter term. Requests and documentation can be in process before these due dates but must be completed and endorsed before these deadlines. These dates may vary from year to year.

  • The DSS office and Knox College does not have the ability, nor funding to test for issues that may be impacting a student's learning in the classroom. If a student feels they might have an issue, they can meet with a DSS staff member who can help them find resources in the Galesburg community or their home community that could help them with the process.

Faculty Questions

  • A reasonable accommodation is one that gives a student with a documented disability equal access to the educational experience. It involves an assessment of both the student’s disability documentation and the institution’s ability to provide the accommodation. The “reasonableness” of an accommodation rests on both the College’s and the student’s responsibilities to address the need. The Disability Services will inform faculty if a student should receive accommodations and describe what those accommodations should be.  [A sample accommodation letter is appended.]

    Provision of accommodations should not: (1) Fundamentally alter the nature or operation of the College’s programs, services, or activities; (2) Cause undue burden to the college and; (3) Pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others.

  • Direct that student to the Disability Support Services Office.

  • They should not. They should be used to give the qualified student with a disability equal access to the educational experience.

  • Yes.

  • Do not make the accommodation, but do direct the student to the Disability Services Office.

  • No. Disability documentation is personal/confidential and is to be treated like someone’s medical records. Please allow the staff in the Disability Services office to read and evaluate these materials.

  • Yes, and we are happy to give you one should you so desire.

  • Technically, you, the faculty, are responsible for granting students equal access to your classes and course materials. Even so, Disability Services does endeavor to help out when and wherever it can, as when we communicate with you, hire and train note-takers, digitize texts, and teach literacy, social, and other success skills. 

  • Yes, but the faculty member has the right to impose conditions for that use, i.e., that the wireless connection is turned off. Normally, a student seeking to use a laptop in class needs it for the purposes of taking notes or communicating in a legible form what he/she knows. That does not mean that the laptop can be used for other, non-accommodation purposes.

  • Yes. Once an accommodation has been made, unless there is new and powerful information, no additional allowances should be made or expected. Our goal is to ensure access, but we cannot ensure success.  

  • Knox courses involve a broad range of teaching and learning methods, different ways to use classroom time, and a wide variety of assignments. Your teaching methods and assignments may not be known by Disability Services staff. If you anticipate or see a problem, call Stephanie Grimes or Nancy Dillard to explain the situation and ask for guidance. 

  • Generally, the Admission Office cannot seek information regarding disability status. If it did, and if a student were not admitted to the College, then that student could claim that disability was an admission criterion and that the College was guilty of discriminating on the basis of disability. Most students applying to Knox do not disclose disability information until after they have been admitted.  

  • Usually. Because disability documentation records are medical records, we have to treat them as such. This means that we cannot choose to share information without the expressed permission of the student. While some students are comfortable sharing their information, others are not and fear being “spotlighted” in some way. These latter students tend to control carefully what faculty and advisors can know about them and are additionally concerned that what we might tell one person will be told without consent to another. Wherever possible (i.e., with student permission), the Disability Services Office does communicate useful information to appropriate parties. Disability Services provides faculty members with accommodation letters, which outline the accommodations afforded to students in their courses; these letters are usually copied to the student advisors as a matter of routine.

  • The academic program is many things: it involves meeting the requirements for a major or minor and satisfying other graduation requirements. But it also refers to the means by which we deliver or teach a course, including our expectations for how students learn in our classes. Ready examples would be expectations for attendance, learning certain course materials, or completing labs or other experiential components of a course. Academic accommodations ensure access or allow a student to show what he/she knows; they do not water down or otherwise lessen course expectations. Some accommodations may involve a request for a waiver/substitution for an existing requirement (including math or foreign language requirements). In such cases, a student petition must be made to the Curriculum Committee.

  • It can be, but generally, it is no more than work we would do in support of any other student with a challenge. When it is, there are no easy guidelines. Students needing accommodations run the full range of intellectual potential. Often, they have extraordinary coping and/or compensatory skills that have allowed them to succeed. No two persons with even the same disability are alike and our understanding of disability and its implications is constantly changing. In difficult cases, we need to work closely with the student and with one another to do the best job that we can.

  • No. The obligation to provide accommodations has been integrated with our College’s mission through our anti-discrimination statement and is also federally mandated; thus, disability service-negotiated accommodations are not optional. Generally, DSS-generated accommodations are mundane and require very little of you. In more complicated cases, the DSS and faculty must work closely together to negotiate and establish reasonable academic accommodations.

  • It is unfair not to grant adjustments. The accommodations “even the playing field”, and ensure that the student's knowledge is being tested, not the disability. For example, being given extra time to process the questions and then process the answer will give the student with an accommodation what they need so the instructor can assess what the student knows.  

  • All students are responsible for their own academic achievement. Each student must be personally responsible for class attendance, assignments, and all other course materials. It is up to the individual student to seek outside help and to utilize the agreed-upon accommodations. This does not mean that you as the instructor cannot suggest to the student to seek help or reach out to the DSS office with concerns about a student’s progress in classes. 

  • Do not hesitate to call either Stephanie Grimes (ext. 7478) or Nancy Dillard (ext. 7297).

Knox College

Printed on Thursday, April 25, 2024