Faculty and Staff

Hero Background 5

What Faculty Need to Know

Siena Heights University is committed to providing an environment in which all students have the opportunity to participate in the academic experience, which includes students with disabilities. Academic accommodations exist in order to provide students with disabilities equal access and opportunity to the many experiences on a college campus. Federal and state laws govern how and to what extent students with disabilities receive accommodations. Faculty members play an integral role in providing those accommodations. Faculty is encouraged to work closely with Office of Accessibility (OA) when questions or concerns about accommodations arise.

Office of Accessibility is committed to ensuring that all information and communication regarding students and their disabilities is maintained as confidential except when disclosure is authorized by the student or permitted by law. The goal of the confidentiality process is to ensure that students with disabilities will not be discriminated against based on their disability.

No one other than authorized personnel within a university community has access to a student’s disability related information. A student need not disclose his or her specific disability to faculty or staff. Faculty and staff need to know what accommodations are appropriate and necessary to meet the student’s disability related needs. In some instances, a faculty or staff person may request a more in depth discussion to better facilitate the student’s learning. In that case, the faculty member should contact Office of Accessibility to obtain this information, and not ask the student. To protect confidentiality, all disability related diagnostic documentation must be filed only with Office of Accessibility. Information in student files will not be released except in compliance with federal and state law.

Accommodation Process
It is the student’s responsibility to contact Office of Accessibility to request accommodations. Once the student has registered with Office of Accessibility by meeting with the Accessibility Coordinator and providing the necessary forms and documentation, a Letter of Accommodation (LOA will be emailed to the student and the student will be responsible for distributing to their individual professors. That student should then initiate a conversation with his/her faculty during their office hours to discuss those accommodations, if there are any special circumstances, or flexible attendance considerations. If a student requests accommodations without verification from Office of Accessibility, please refer that student to us, do not accommodate on your own.

Faculty Rights and Responsibilities

  • Maintain the fundamental nature of course content;
  • Require students to demonstrate knowledge of essential course material;
  • Ask a student who requests an accommodation to provide a Letter of Accommodation;
  • Discuss an accommodation with the student and Office of Accessibility if it seems unreasonable.


  • Implement best practices to reach a wide range of learners
  • Direct students to the necessary resources such as OA, their Advisor, and Student Support Services
  • Work with the Accessibility Coordinator and the student to ensure they are accommodated in a timely manner
  • Maintain confidentiality

Determining Essential Components
As part of the process of identifying potential accommodations, OA may ask for information concerning the essential elements of your course or program. The first step is for faculty to establish specific learning objectives and/or outcomes for the course or program. When considering outcomes, sometimes it is helpful to divide the outcomes into skills, knowledge, and attitudes.

OA does not determine essential requirements of programs or courses. That work is solely the province of the academic department and its members. When determining essential requirements of a program, departments should consider licensing board requirements, course objectives, and, if applicable, basic job requirements from a general class of occupations such as “staff nurse”.

If a student requests a waiver of an essential requirement in either a course or program, please contact Office of Accessibility immediately, so that we may facilitate that process, as there are processes and procedures that must be followed under the law.

Syllabus Statement
Faculty is strongly encouraged to include a statement on their syllabi directing students to Office of Accessibility, should they need accommodations or assistance for a disability. Such a statement indicates the faculty member’s willingness to assist in the provision of reasonable accommodations and informs the student of the institution’s legal responsibility to provide necessary accommodations. A syllabus statement opens the lines of communication making it more likely that a student who needs accommodations will disclose that need to the faculty member. The current approved syllabus statement is:
“Siena Heights University values diversity and inclusion; we are committed to a climate of mutual respect and full participation. Our goal is to create learning environments that are usable, equitable and inclusive. If there are aspects of the instruction or design of this course that result in barriers to your inclusion or accurate assessment, please notify the instructor as soon as possible. Students with disabilities should contact the Office of Accessibility, accessibility@sienaheights.edu, to discuss a range of options for removing barriers in the course, including accommodations. This process is initiated and driven by the student. It is to your advantage to begin the process in a timely manner, since accommodations are not retroactive. Grades earned before verification of a disability by the Office of Accessibility will not be changed.”

Web Page/Canvas Accessibility
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) require access to all educational material. Faculty should keep in mind that if they use classroom software (Canvas) or web pages as part of their course, they need to be accessible to students with disabilities. Faculty who question the accessibility of their web page or classroom software should contact Office of Accessibility.

Alternate Format Materials
Each faculty member is responsible to provide written information (syllabus, handouts, textbook information) and classroom videos in alternative format in a timely manner (before a student with disabilities is attending). It can take up to four weeks to convert material into audio format, and even more time if the book/document needs to be transcribed into Braille or captioned.  You can contact the Office of Accessibility with any Alternative Text Requests:

​More useful tips can be found on this handout: