Instructors Working with Students with Disabilities


Students with Disabilities

Some faculty may or may not have experience in teaching students with disabilities, and may be uncertain about disability particulars, how much to ask, and how to arrange for accommodations. Discretion is recommended when discussing disabilities and/or accommodations. Guard the confidentiality of personal information the student may choose to share. Create a welcoming atmosphere that enables the student to “fit in” rather than “stand out.”

Academic expectations need to be the same for all students, though accommodations may change the manner in which a student participates in class or gains access to information. For example, the student may use special equipment or resources such as a sign language interpreter, a large screen monitor, or perhaps extra time on written tasks. Again, accommodations should neither give an extra advantage nor alter academic expectations.

Informing Students 

Faculty members are encouraged to include a statement on their syllabi with information about how to receive disability accommodations.

ADA Statement for Faculty

ADA statement for faculty to use on syllabi

If an instructor receives an accommodation request, he/she should ask if the student has registered with DSS. If the student is not registered with DSS, please refer the student to DSS to do so. If already registered, ask for an accommodations letter from the student. This letter is provided by DSS, gives information about how the disability impacts the student, and outlines recommended accommodations. 

Teaching Resources 

For information about a specific disability, the director of DSS is the on-campus resource to contact. Effective teaching techniques and/or adaptive equipment/technology that might benefit a student with a disability are just two examples of information the director can provide.  

For online information about working with students who have disabilities:


As representatives of Rice University, instructors are responsible for responding to requests for disability accommodations. This usually involves directing the student to DSS, engaging in dialogue about appropriate accommodations, and working with DSS and the student to resolve any issues. Ideally, faculty can work from the accommodation letter and discuss with the student how the accommodations will be implemented. If the instructor thinks an accommodation is incompatible with the structure of his/her class, the director of DSS should be contacted immediately.

Faculty members are cautioned against providing any academic accommodations that would be considered disability-related before verifying the student’s disability status with DSS. If there is any doubt, contact the director of DSS to verify or for more information.