Guidance for Inclusive Pedagogy

Additional Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

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What does Disability Services do?

Functions of the Disability Services department include (but are not limited to):

  • Meeting with students who identify as having a disability/learning need (whether based on disability status or in need of study skills support).
  • Reviewing documentation provided by a student with a disability.
  • Determining academic accommodations in compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990; Amendments Act, 2008).
  • Providing training, education, and consultation to faculty regarding various disabilities and learning needs.
  • Advising departments, programs, and the administration regarding the College’s statutory obligations to students with disabilities.

How can Disability Services help faculty?

Disability Services can:

  • Recommend inclusive instructional strategies.
  • Discuss the appropriateness of requested academic adjustment and how to implement those adjustments for which a student is eligible.
  • Offer educational consultation and training regarding various disabilities, associated barriers to access, and strategies for inclusion.
  • Advise you as to whether a particular technology or other instructional tool is accessible and compliant with federal law.

How do I know if a student really needs an academic accommodation?

You will be glad to know you do not have to make that decision. Under federal law, eligibility for academic accommodations is determined when a student presents qualified documentation and in an interactive process with a member of the Disability Services Center. Disability Services provides a letter each semester notifying faculty in of reasonable accommodations to which each student is entitled. The Office of Civil Rights has repeatedly emphasized that the authority and responsibility for determining eligibility and accommodations lies with the Disability Services office (or equivalent).

How are academic accommodations determined?

Academic accommodations are determined on the basis of qualified documentation that identifies the existence of specific functional limitations. Accommodations are then based on what would be considered reasonable, according to state and federal legislation for removing barriers to access or “leveling the playing field” and the learning environment at MCCC.

Should I ask a struggling student if they have been tested for or diagnosed with a disability?

No, you should not ask this question. Instead, you should speak to concerns about particular skill and/or knowledge deficits relevant to your course, as you would with any student.

How should I respond if a student tells me s/he has a disability?

Unless you have received a Letter of Accommodation indicating that the student has provided appropriate documentation with recommended accommodations from the Disability Services office, you are not required to provide accommodations. Faculty should not attempt to evaluate educational, medical or psychological reports. If a student gives you such documentation or requests accommodations, return the paperwork to the student and refer him or her to the Disability Services Center.

What are my obligations regarding privacy and confidentiality about any disability-related information I received from a student or Disability Services?

The College policy for Services for Students with Disabilities states, “Faculty should refrain from discussing a student's issues regarding disabilities and accommodations for them in the presence of other students, or to faculty or staff not directly involved in the accommodation process.”

I received a letter informing me a student has a disability and recommends specific accommodations, but it does not state the disability. Don’t I need to know?

No. Disclosure of specific information regarding the nature or type of disability is not required and in most cases not needed to adequately accommodate a student’s learning needs. It is the student’s choice to disclose or not to disclose. Regardless of the goodness of intent, instructors should not attempt to elicit information about the nature of a student’s condition. The ADA and Section 504 protect the student’s privacy.

Disability Services informed me of a students disability and the need for accommodations and the student has not talked with me about it. What should I do?

Students are encouraged to speak with each faculty member to ensure mutual understanding of how suggested accommodations will be accessed for that particular class. If they do not request a meeting, you may ask to meet with them to discuss the accommodations if needed, but receipt of a current Letter of Accommodations is sufficient to “activate” accommodations. However concerns about the impact of a particular accommodation should not be addressed to the student, but directly to the Disability Services Center.

The semester is well underway and I have just received a student’s Letter of Accommodations. Is there a deadline by which students must request academic accommodations for a given semester?

There is no deadline for requesting disability accommodations. An individual may develop a disability in the course of a semester or a pre-existing condition that formerly did not substantially impact the student’s academic performance may have become exacerbated. Additionally, many students decide they want to try to attend without accommodations, but find this is not realistic. The latter is quite frequent among traditional-age incoming students who experienced stigma and/or shame as a result of receiving services in K-12.

Am I obligated to apply accommodations in a post-hoc fashion to a student’s performance and participation if I receive the Letter of Accommodation well into the semester? The student disclosed they were impacted by the condition addressed by the accommodations earlier in the semester, but were unable to get to Disability Services.

The law does not require faculty to provide “retroactive accommodations.”

What should I do if a student hasn’t identified themselves as having a learning need, but I suspect there is a need?

If you suspect a student has a disability but has not identified her/himself, it is suggested you meet with the student privately, give feedback on what you have observed, and ask the student if assistance is needed. If the answer indicates there is a history of a disability, explain that the Disability Services Center may be of help and provide referral information. If the student rejects the suggestion, respect that decision.

I understand that all my course materials must be accessible, including syllabi, videos handouts, and assigned videos and readings posted on Blackboard. How can I receive assistance in meeting this obligation?

  • The tool Blackboard (Bb) Ally is provided to evaluate and provide feedback about the accessibility of documents posted on Bb for each of your courses; it can also provide automated production of accessible alternative formats of your materials.
  • The Library can assist with the identification of captioned videos when choosing your content.
  • The IT Knowledge Base has instructions for captioning video created with TechSmith Relay (formerly Camtasia).
  • The IT Knowledge Base has multiple resources to guide the production of accessible documents, including, PDF and PowerPoint formats.
  • Disability Services provides accessible textbooks to students with documented print disabilities.
  • Disability Services can assist in the conversion of classroom handouts to an accessible format for students with print disabilities with 1-2 weeks’ notice, depending upon the nature and complexity of the material.

A student who has presented me with a Letter of Accommodation is behaving in a way that is disruptive (or disturbing) to the class. What should I do?

All students, whether or not they have a disability, must comply with the College Code of Conduct. If a student with a disability presents with problematic behavior, you should first address this with him or her as you would with a non-disabled student, in a private setting. Identify in concrete terms the nature of the behavior that concerns you, the impact on the class, and describe the changes needed to ensure a productive and respectful learning environment for all students. Invite the student to discuss how this might be accomplished. (E.g., if a student is dominating a class with questions or comments, the student might limit his or her contributions to 2-3 times during the class, try to limit remarks to a couple of sentences, and address remaining points to you in email or after class.)

I have spoken with the student about disruptive behavior ...

  1. The student has told me this is due to disability and reminded me that she/he has accommodations from the Disability Services. Must I accommodate these behaviors if they are due to disability?
  2. The student agreed to modify his or her behavior, but does not seem able to do so in a sustained fashion. What happens now?

In both cases, you should contact the Disability Services Center to discuss the situation. While all students, regardless of disability status, must comply with the College code of conduct, students with disabilities that impact their ability to do so must be offered appropriate supports if these exist, to participate in College programs and activities. Frequently the need for this type of support will not have been known to Disability Services or the student when the original Letter of Accommodation was written.

A student has brought a dog to class and informs me that it is a service animal; however, I have not received any notification from Disability Services. Do I need to permit the animal in class?

Service animals are protected by the A.D.A. Amendments Act. Moreover, the right to be accompanied by a service animal is considered a matter of access, rather than an accommodation. A person who requires a service animal does not need to request permission from Disability Services, just as a person who needs a wheelchair need not obtain permission. Note that this protection applies only to service animals (only dogs and occasionally miniature horses); it does not apply to emotional support animals (sometimes called comfort animals or therapy animals). Remember that some disabilities for which persons use service animals are invisible. For questions about this topic, please contact the Director of Disability Services.

How can I contact Disability Services?

The Disability Services Center on the Blue Bell campus is located in Parkhouse Hall in the BEI suite. We can be reached Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or 215-641-657. Please feel free to phone or email with questions, requests for support, etc. You can also contact the Director at

The Pottstown campus Disability Services office is located in the Student Success Center and can be reached at 610 718-1853 or Please feel free to phone or email with questions, requests for support, etc. You can also contact the Director at or 215-641-6574.