Welcome Faculty and Staff

What we do.

Welcome to the Office of Student Access and Disability Services, Colby’s center for ensuring access for students with disabilities. We believe that students with disabilities bring unique knowledge as learners to the classroom that can benefit all students. We take a universal design approach in supporting faculty and staff in finding creative, seamless ways to increase access not just for students with disabilities, but all students. Watch and listen to a quick welcome from our Associate Director of Student Access, Kate McLaughlin,

Below you will find information on how to support students with disabilities as well as resources for supporting access both in and out of the classroom for all students. COVID-19 MODIFIED PROCESSES Please view the following pdfs to learn more about changes in processes related to COVID-19. Colby Test Center Processes & Protocols   Office of Student Access and Disability Services- Modified Processes  
With remote learning, the barriers faced by students both with and without documented disabilities will vary. Some students will thrive where others will face significant barriers often for the first time. Taking a universal design approach, by thinking through the barriers that your students with documented disabilities will face and creating alternatives that are then given as options to all students, is apt to be both efficient and supportive of everyone. Below are suggestions for reducing common barriers faced by remote learners with disabilities. Difficulty with time management and self-scheduling: Include conversations about scheduling and time management as part of your course. Assign intentional student pairings or small groups to support student connection to the course and due dates. Difficulty engaging with content: Provide your lectures for students to re-watch. Use software like Otter to create dictated notes of your lecture that can then be shared with everyone. Identify and share content videos that compliment your lecture. Increased physical and mental health symptoms related to anxiety and stress: Provide multiple opportunities for students to check-in with you about their progress. Consider including socio-emotional prompts at the start and end of your class to support students during this time. Decreased focus due to anxiety and stress: In addition to the ideas given for engaging with content, you can break up your lecture into smaller 5-10 minute videos to support focus. Use prompts or turn and talks or even think breaks more regularly to support student processing. To see examples of using Universal Design to brainstorm alternatives for common academic accommodations click here: Universal Design to Reduce Barriers_ Extended Time Universal Design to Reduce Barriers_ Notes Assistance Universal Design_ Excused Absences_ Extensions.
Watch and Listen to a short powerpoint slide on understanding accommodations. Unlike the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act which covers the protections of students with disabilites in education from pre-k to 12th grade, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and similar protections such as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, require that students notify institutions and individual professors of their eligibility. The purpose of accommodation letters is to provide this as well as the accommodations that a particular student may require. Accommodations are meant to ensure that students are not denied access to content, engagement in a class or unfair assessment that might conflate their disability with their understanding. However each student’s experience of their disability is as unique as a particular course, such that students may need to use all, some or none of their accommodations. This is why having a conversation with each student about their accommodations is key. For students, the requirement to tell professors, or “disclose” their disability is a recognized barrier to receiving accommodations and appropriate supports. Students are understandably fearful of being seen as not capable, asking for more than what is “fair” or being a burden to you (NCCSD Campus Climate and Students with Disabilities). For these reasons your interaction with students regarding their letters can significantly impact their views of themselves as competent and part of the Colby community. We ask for your support in helping students understand their disabilities as unique sources of knowledge that, when shared, support increased access for everyone. Below are suggestions for engaging in supportive conversations with students. Suggestions:  
  • Presume Competence. Students with disabilities want to do their best and have experienced a great deal of doubt in their abilities and discrimination in their education thus far. They are more likely to not ask for what they need than to appear as though they are “asking for something more.”
  • Use language on your syllabus that encourages students to come speak with you. A welcoming invitation and conversation can dramatically impact a student’s performance. Example: I value disability as diversity in this classroom. Please come speak with me about your accommodations as early as possibly so that we can work towards your success.
  • Require each student with a letter to meet with you. While every letter has the same accommodations, whether they may need to use them in your class varies greatly on the content, class size, and instructional practices. They may or may not need to use all of them in your class.
  • Ask about their experiences. Students with disabilities have wonderful insight into effective practices as a result of their life experiences. They have been managing these processes for a long time and often have efficient ideas that increase your ability to support all students.
  • Try not to make decisions based on past negative experiences or fears of what might happen. While it is important to be thoughtful about the practices we choose, often, universal design approaches are more beneficial than not.
  • Share with your colleagues! There are so many good practices being used across the campus that reaching out to see what others are doing may be the easiest practice of all.
At Colby, we recognize that each individual experiences their disability in a unique way. We take an individualized approach to helping students identify the specific barriers they face and the most efficient accommodations to address those barriers. We also work closely with campus members to support students in developing the skills to work around barriers as they prepare for the future. Receiving accommodations is a three step process. First, students are asked to submit an official request with documentation from a health provider.They are then asked to meet with our Associate Director of Student Access and Disability Services to discuss their needs, identify barriers and potential accommodations, as well as campus wide resources and supports. Requests are then reviewed by a committee consisting of individuals with expertise relevant to the particular type of request to determine approval and next steps. Financial support is possible for eligible students. Our aim is to support students in understanding their disabilities as unique sources of knowledge that, when shared, support increased access for everyone. If you have a student that you feel might be helped by knowing more about the process of accommodations, please have them email us at accommodations@colby.edu.
Generally speaking students with disabilities face barriers across three aspects of a lesson/curriculum, accessing information, engaging with the information in class and demonstrating their understanding. To lessen the barriers students may face and increase the outcomes for all students, some pedagogical approaches are listed below. However your best resource for more ideas is the Center for Teaching and Learning! Accessing information: Outside of class, students are able to utilize assistive technologies as well as specific strategies to ensure that they access the information. However in class, due to a myriad of constraints, students typically struggle to retain accurate and complete representations of presented information. The following strategies have been shown to support access to information:  
  • Intentionally incorporating think time after explaining new material. Think time is simply stopping, asking students to take a minute to think about what’s been presented and then after a minute or two, allowing for questions.
  • Asking students to volunteer to recap what was learned during class prior and check in with a peer.
  • Using turn and talks to allow students to explain to each other what was explained when preseting new or complex ideas.
  • Allowing time for a question and answer session at the end of class.
  • Having students be responsible for preparing and teaching concepts using structures such as jigsaw.
  Engaging with information: Small group activities and discussions are proven ways to help students clarify, strengthen and apply their new learning, however, many students benefit further from the use of scaffolds and structures. The following strategies have been shown to support engagement with information:  
  • Providing a goal for the group work or discussion that encourages collaboration of all voices such as a poster, online post, or information to be projected.
  • Structuring group work/ discussions with time at the start for each person to consider and jot down their thoguhts before working.
  • Asking students to share their processes for group work and discussions to both identify best practices and signal a valuing of cooperative learning.
  • Engage students in exploring their understanding by allowing them to chose a different mode such as drawing, singing or acting out a concept.
  • Using an active learning strategy.
  Demonstrating understanding: Whether informally or not, getting an accurate sense of student understanding is key to supporting their development.The following strategies have been shown to support accurate assessment of student understanding:  
  • Asking students at the start of a section of content to determine what they think they will be asked to demonstrate in an exam and compare with a peer.
  • supporting recall by having short untimed low risk quizzes each week. Ask students to consider how they prepared, how much time they needed as a means to support meta cognition.
  • Have students submit summaries of information online on a regular basis. – Ask students to chose a peer to study with each week and share a question they had after each meeting.
Accommodations are a retrofit approach to ensuring access for students. They assume that the pedagogical approach can not be amended such that the only option is to accommodate the need of a student with a disability. As a result, accommodations often feel clumsy, and put the student in a position of choosing between what works and disclosing their disability status to the class. Here you will find information and suggestions for implementing accommodations that takes a Universal Design approach and allows for a more efficient and respectful approach to access. Our hope is that these ideas may spur creative solutions that reflect the unique needs of your course. If you or your department are interested in brainstorming possible options to a policy, please feel free to email us. Universal Design does not preclude the need for accommodations, but rather signals a recognition and desire to have all students included. Students may still need and ask for specific accommodations which can be facillitated by the Colby Test Center.

    Extra Time on exams and in-class graded exams

    Extra time on exams and in-class graded assignments is meant to allow students to demonstrate their understanding so that they are not inappropriately assessed via their disability.Taking a universal design perspective asks us to consider the role of time in an assessment. Is the allotted exam time intentional? Are there required physical movements that some students may have trouble performing? Universal Design Suggestions:  
    • Allow extra time for all students.
    • Incorporate strategies that support recall and engagement with information throughout the semester.
    • Consider alternatives to traditional timed, memory recall exams such as presentations, projects, group projects, portfolios or oral exams.
    • Consider the benefit of providing options used by students with physical requirements for all students.
      To support facillitation of testing accommodations, please use the Colby Test Center request form.

    Quiet, distraction-free, and/ or separate location

    For many students, the barrier is in the physical classroom, whether as a result of the number of students or the particulars of an environment. By providing a quiet, distraction free and/ or separate location eliminates distractability during assessments. Separate location does not necessitate that the student be by themselves but rather it be different than the physical environment of the classroom which could be for a variety of reasons. Universal Design Suggestions:  
    • Allow students to use noise cancelling headphones or listen to music.
    • Consider alternatives for exam protocols so as to reduce distraction, such as leaving belongings outside the classroom.
    • Consider alternatives to traditional timed, memory recall exams such as presentations, projects, group projects, portfolios or oral exams.
    • Allow students with distractability the ability to be in an empty classroom nearby so that they are able to access you with questions and clarifications.
      To support facillitation of testing accommodations, please use the Colby Test Center request form.

    Use of a laptop for exams and other in-class graded assessments.

    Use of a laptop for exams and in-class graded assessments is typically for courses that require long bouts of writing to demonstrate understanding. The Dean of Studies Office provides wi-fi disabled lap tops that are wiped of all information after each use. Please use the Colby Test Center request form to reserve a lap top. Universal Design Suggestions:  
    • Allow students to email recorded versions of their answers or oral examinations.
    • Allow students to use alternatives for written exams other than blue or green books.
    • Consider alternatives to traditional timed, memory recall exams such as presentations, projects, group projects, portfolios or oral exams.

    Notes Assistance

    Outside of class, students with disabilities are able to utilize assistive technologies as well as specific strategies to ensure that they access the information. However in class, due to a myriad of constraints, they typically struggle to retain accurate and complete representations of presented information. Perhaps unsurprisingly, students with disabilities are not the only students who fail to take accurate and comprehensive notes. This makes universal design approaches to note taking assistance the most beneficial of all. Universal Design Suggestions:  
    • Institute a course program, perhaps as part of participation, that asks students to volunteer for one week out of the semester to share their notes.
    • Ask students to choose a “notes” partner with whom to compare notes.
    • Upload ppts and/or abbreviated notes ahead of class.
    • Allow students to take pictures of diagrams and charts before erasing.
    • Allow students to use live scribe or another form of recording, with a contract to ensure privacy and protection.

    Alternate and/or Audio Versions of Text

    Alternate and audio versions of text refer to either e books, braille or audio versions of text to support students who are unable to access information via text.Similar to notes assistance, providing alternate and/or audio versions of text to all students can positively impact learning outcomes. Universal Design Suggestions:
  • Share information regarding free conversion sites in your syllabus. Sensusaccess is my favorite for pdfs and scanned chapters. Eariously is a Colby alum program that allows for audio versions of web based texts.
  • Recommend that students who would like to use an audio version email me and I will set up a bookshare account for them (this is open to all students).
  • Recommend students reach out to their personal librarians.
  • Work with the library to secure audio versions for your texts before the semester begins
  • Flexible Attendance and Due Dates

    Many students manage symptoms of mental and physical health conditions that are unpredictable and often debilitiating for short periods of time. These “flare ups” can impact class attendance or assignment completion. In response, these students are granted the flexible attendance/ due dates accommodation. Understanding that attendance is an integral part of a course, below you will find suggestions in line with Universal Design which asks us to consider alternatives that would support both the student in need of the accommodation as well as others. However, we’ve also included parameters of the accommodation that can support your conversations with students who receive this accommodation. Universal Design Suggestions:
  • Consider a sliding scale of due dates with parameters to offset your grading and support students who may need extensions for various reasons.
  • Implement check-ins with students to promote task completion. Perhaps a “buddy system” where students are asked to coach/check-in with each other.
  • Include in your syllabus a recognition that no one benefits from (or really wants) extensions along with resources for students to use such as their class dean, using a learning consultant, writing center, or tutor.
  • Parameters:
  • This accommodation is only as helpful as your communication plan. Set up a communication plan with the student at the start of the semester so that you are both clear as to the expectations.
  • Extended deadlines and absences are not replacements for procrastination. They presume that a student has been working on the task and has an appropriate amount completed. You can include in your communication plan that a student send what they have when asking for an extension. If they are unable to provide work, then it is appropriate to contact our office.
  • The intention is to support students but help them to not dig a whole they are unable to get out of…please reach out to their class dean and out office for any support.
  • Condition Specific Accommodations

    While not as common, it is important to know that students may come with letters that contain information or specific requests that relate to their particular disability. Typically these are just to give you information, such as to explain a particular behavior that has often been misinterpreted as negative. These letters of information or requests provide wonderful opportunities to better understand and normalize the presence of disability within our communities. If you have any questions about a particular letter, please reach out to our office.
    The Colby Test Center, located on the third floor of Miller Library, takes a Universal Design approach in supporting the Colby Community by providing proctoring for all students! Whether your students receive testing accommodations or require a faculty approved make up exam, the Testing Center provides proctoring while maintaining exam integrity. Submit a Colby Test Center Request Form here. The Colby Test Center is available from 8-5 Monday-Friday. We have availability outside those hours but require at least 72 hours to process a request. Once your form is submitted you will receive a confirmation within 24 to 36 hours. Exams and materials need to be sent or delivered to the Dean of Studies office 24 hours ahead of exams. Faculty are welcome to pick up exams from the Dean of Studies office 2 hours after the scheduled exam time.
    Below are resources related to different topics around access. If you’d like to learn more or how to support access in your course, department or field, please email! Language: Autistichoya.com Lydia X.Z. Brown discusses the impact of ableist language and includes a list of commonly used phrases. Barriers to Access: thinkinclusive.us discusses the consistent barriers to inclusive education. While focused on k-12, this site has incredible resources and ideas for including all students in the classroom. Accommodations versus Access: Disability Acts is terrific blog by people with disabilities. In this entry, the difference between accommodations and accessibility is discussed. Universal Design In the Higher Education Classroom: CAST talks Universal Design for Learning. CAST includes an array of resources to support leaning about and implementing UDL in your classroom. Universal Design across the Campus: University of Washington DO-IT program focuses on the use of Universal Design Principles across campus and includes, resources, checklists and other materials to support the increase of access for everyone.
    The Access Liaison Program brings representatives from all areas of the Colby campus together, to share and collaborate around issues of accessibility! On this page we will be sharing resources, upcoming events, best practices and insight from our Liaisons. If you are interested in participating in the Access Liaison Program, please contact Kate McLaughlin at kmclaugh@colby.edu.