A good syllabus should clearly outline the qualifying requirements necessary to complete any course. Instructors are responsible for setting both academic and conduct standards for their individual classes.
When setting academic standards it may be useful to answer the following questions:
- What prerequisite knowledge and skills will students need to attempt the class?
- What level of reading skill is required?
- Is the course physically demanding?
- Does it require an ability to lift or handle objects?
- Is spelling essential?
- Is speed essential?
- What methods of instruction are non-negotiable and why are they non-negotiable?
- Is memorization required?
- Are oral presentations mandatory?
- Must a student be able to participate in class discussion?
- What are acceptable levels of performance on these measures?
When setting conduct standards refer to the UAF code of conduct .
Disability Sample Statements for the Syllabus
Every UAF syllabus should contain a disability statement.
The purpose of the statement is to convey both important information and create a welcoming environment to a diverse student body.
Below are sample statements which can be adapted and altered to reflect your course.
- Any student eligible for and needing reasonable accommodations due to a disability is requested to speak with me no later than a date convenient to you.
- I encourage students with documented disabilities, including nonvisible disabilities such as chronic diseases, learning disabilities, head injury, attention deficit/hyperactive disorder, psychiatric disabilities, to discuss with me, after class or during my office hours, possible reasonable accommodations.
- Students with documented disabilities who may need reasonable academic accommodations should discuss these with me during the first two weeks of class.
- If you have specific physical, psychiatric or learning disabilities and require reasonable accommodations, please let me know early in the semester so that your learning needs may be appropriately met. You will need to provide documentation of your disability to Disability Services in room 208 of the Whitaker Building and request a letter of accommodation.
- Provide a detailed course syllabus. Make it available in the department or on the Web prior to the registration deadline.
- Invite students with disabilities to meet early in the semester to discuss their needs. This should be included on the syllabus.
- Define expectations at the beginning of the course. Students with disabilities often need lead time to arrange for support services through Disability Services.
- Use a variety of teaching methods. Some examples are:
- Pass out an outline for the lecture.
- Present vocabulary aloud and in written form.
- Use visual aids to reinforce the lecture.
- Describe aloud any visual aids used during the class.
- Illustrate abstract concepts with concrete examples.
- Give opportunities for hands-on learning where possible.
- Encourage students to use current technology, such as hand-held spelling devices or word processors for tests and assignments. Faculty should be aware that penalties for misspelled but correct responses might put some students at a disadvantage due to their disability.
- A number of students have difficulty translating thoughts into written form. Allow students to demonstrate comprehension of course material using alternative methods such as taped or oral exams.
Universal Design Benefits Everyone
UAF Disability Services encourages all instructors to use universal design principles when planning and creating curriculums. For information and a chart of good principles of universal design in academic settings click on the link below.
May I Fail a Student with a Disability?
Students who experience a disability should be treated with the same consideration and evaluation criteria as any other student in the class. Faculty members may in fact fail a student with disabilities in the same way that they would fail any other student who does not meet course standards.
Federal and state laws mandate EQUAL ACCESS to education but do not guarantee academic success. Students with and without disabilities are responsible for their own academic performance and for meeting the requirements outlined on the syllabus and in UAF degrees programs.
It is of course possible for any student to complain, but not all complaints involve evidence of discrimination. When faculty have demonstrated compliance with the law there is no reason to anticipate a law suit.
Below is a compliance checklist to insure that in evaluating and/or grading a student with a disability registered for your class you have complied with laws:
- Communicate clear standards and set concise expectations for all students.
- Be able to distinguish between essential and non-essential components of the course. Are spelling, reading, calculating, and/or physical attendance essential to your class?
- Allow reasonable accommodations. Accommodations are considered reasonable as long as course standards are not fundamentally altered.
- Provide all reasonable accommodations as detailed in the letter of accommodation from the UAF Disability Services office.
- Notify students of your willingness to accommodate.
- Consult with UAF Disability Services.
- Have all accommodations been granted? These include special testing arrangements, note takers, altered formats, enlargements, and attention to:
- Keeping confidential disability-related discussions and information.
- Creating a welcoming, positive, supportive, and diverse classroom.