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Web Lecture: Team Work and Working Together


A Guide for Instructors and Administrators

  1. Confidentiality and building rapport with your student!
  2. Working with Support Services
  3. Supporting students that receive tutoring services
  4. Appropriate Test Accommodations
  5. What to do when you are “stuck”-constructively providing solutions to problems
  6. Universal Design:  Helping ALL students!
  7. Accommodations in the Classroom

I. Confidentiality and building rapport with your student!

Many faculty state that if the “knew” their students’ disability, they would better be able to help them.  Although this may be true, students have the right whether to disclose their disability or not.  For example, if a student does not wish to disclose, we (DSPS counselors) are unable to provide disability information to instructors.  The good news is that sometimes the disability will NOT affect the student in the classroom, so there is no cause for concern.  However, students are encouraged to share disability information with their instructors in order to help them succeed in the classroom!

In addition, building rapport as an instructor with your student is critical and directly correlated to student success in the classroom.  Some strategies utilized include meeting with students one-to-one in order to assess their needs and to ask if the feel they need any assistance in order to learn better.  COLLABORATION IS THE KEY!  It is crucial that instructors inform their students that they would like to work as a team with the DSPS counselor and student!

II. Working with Support Services

  • Sign Language Interpreters
  • In-class Notetakers
  • Sign Language Interpreters
  • What is required of Sign Language Interpreters?
  • Sign exactly what instructor and students say in class lectures and general discussions, including test directions and any questions anyone may have.
  • Voice exactly what the student with a hearing impairment says.
  • It is the students’ choice to decide if the interpreter is “needed” or not.  For example, in a testing situation, often once the testing directions are explained, the student may have the interpreter leave at that time.  In most cases the Instructor and student “work together” to make this decision.
  • Interpreters need to wait fifteen minutes for the student.  If the student does not show, the interpreter will return to the Interpreting Services Office.

The interpreter may NOT:

  • Discuss the student(s) with other students in or outside of class.
  • Discipline the student in any way.
  • Edit the student’s work, or participate in class activities.

The code of ethics states that interpreters “render the message faithfully, and always conveying the content and spirit of the speaker, using language most readily understood by the person(s) whom they serve.”  Interpreters will gladly answer any questions the Instructor may have about interpreting. In addition, counselors and/or the liaison for Interpreting Services would be available to answer questions that faculty may have.


  • When communicating with a student with a hearing impairment, it is imperative that you address the student directly, NOT the interpreter.
  • Whenever possible, it is appreciated when videos are shown to ensure that they are captioned.  It is worthwhile to check with your DSPS office to see if captioning machines may be available.


Students receive note-taking/in-class scribe services if they are physically unable to write or they have another disability which impedes their writing for themselves during class time.

Notetakers are required to:

  • Take notes from lectures and the board.
  • Wait fifteen minutes for the student. If the student does not come, they report back for another assignment.
  • Provide the instructor with one set of complimentary notes. Instructors are welcome to check the notes at any time to verify that class information is correctly recorded. 

Notetakers/In-Class Scribes are not permitted to:

  • Leave a class without clearing this decision with both the student and instructor. At times, there are activity-oriented classes in which a notetaker will not be needed.
  • Carry on conversations with students once the class begins.
  • Discuss the student(s) with others. To protect student confidentiality, notetakers will not have information
  • regarding student's disability, reason for absenteeism, or homework.
  • Accept student's returned assignments or tests.
  • The notetakers may not participate in class activities and are directed to ask questions only to clarify notes.

Instructors can be partners with DSPS Counselors by

  • Accepting the complimentary notes and giving the notetaker feedback through suggestions and comments. An instructor's confirmation that the notes are good provides assurance and positive incentives for the notetakers and the students they serve.
  • Reporting any problems with classroom service providers immediately to the office of Disabled Student Programs and Services. DSPS needs to know about any problem the instructor perceives as serious and that would impact on the quality of services for the student such as, a high rate of absenteeism or lateness on the part of the service provider or serious deficiencies in notes.
  • Not asking service providers  to participate in class. This takes their focus away from the student(s) they are assigned to help.
  • Assistive devices (e.g. a tape recorder, Comtek, adaptive equipment) may be utilized by a student.  Instructors are encouraged to visit the Office of Disabled Student Services for a demonstration on how there devices are used in the classroom.


There are many different forms of tutoring that a student may utilize.  Some of these different types include one-to-one tutoring, or groups of two to three students with a tutor.  The key to this process is that tutoring services must be requested by the student.

If you feel you have a student that may benefit from tutoring services, it is recommended that you encourage that student to request tutoring services and meet with a DSPS Counselor.  Sometimes tutoring centers are available on campus and can be a great tool to point out the first week of the class, or to include in your syllabus as information that the student may utilize.


Instructors often have reservations in providing test accommodations for students with disabilities.  Issues such as “fairness to other students” and “unfair advantages” come to mind.  However, not all students with disabilities need test accommodations.  Test accommodations are only needed if a student’s disability impedes the demonstration of mastery on an exam.  Testing accommodations are important in order to help students demonstrate mastery of material.

General test accommodations include:

  • Supervision of a monitor
  • Extended time
  • Adaptive equipment
  • Testing in another location (other than classroom)
  • Use of a reader or notetaker (scribe)

How can an instructor know if a student really requires a testing accommodation?

 In order to receive a testing accommodation, students must be registered with DSPS and have an agreement with their counselor regarding which accommodation is appropriate in light of their disability. In order to be eligible for services with DSPS, students must present acceptable documentation of their disability. The DSPS counselor will supply students with a form stating that they are to receive a testing accommodation and identifying the recommended accommodations. When students present this form to their instructors, their instructors can be confident that the accommodation is appropriate. However, communication is imperative in the process.  If an instructor has a question regarding the testing accommodation, it is recommended that they contact the office of Disabled Student Services and speak with the counselor.

Where do instructors leave tests for students receiving test assistance?

Often there is a testing center within the office of Disabled Students Programs and Services, or a staff member responsible for testing accommodations. Instructors are asked to use the Testing Center as the focal place to deliver and pick up exams. When the only accommodation needed is extended time, the student usually can take the test within the office of DSPS, or wherever deemed appropriate by the counselor and instructor. When a test assistant and/or use of adaptive equipment is needed, a student assistant will pick up the test, administer it at the DSPS office and leave it with the testing administrator.


(Constructively providing solutions to problems)

Collaboration=STUDENT SUCCESS!

Most problems occur when communication breaks down between instructors, DSPS counselors, and students.  Many problems arise when instructors may feel that “students are taking advantage of the system”, or when instructors have “doubts that the accommodation may be appropriate”, or feel that a support service provider, or student with a disability is a distraction in the classroom and an impediment to the learning of other students.

First, these are all VALID concerns that need to be addressed.  Second, and most important, it is critical that instructors contact the office of Disabled Students Programs and Services and speak with an counselor, email, or stop by to discuss concerns regarding a student.

Without a doubt, we (instructors, counselors, and administrators) are focused on helping our students succeed.  Again, we feel there is a direct correlation between collaboration and student success.   Our students are the reason why we are in higher education.  Without our students, there would not be a need for faculty, counselors, and other support services.  Again, we encourage teamwork and working together to meet the needs of not only students with disabilities, but all students within higher education.

VI. Universal Design:  Helping ALL Students

Here are some techniques that are often used by faculty to help with the learning process of students.  These outstanding instructional strategies can be of benefit to all of our students.  This list is an excellent example of collaboration. Instructors and counselors worked together to compile this list. It is by no means comprehensive, yet provides some outstanding ideas to meet the learning needs of ALL students within higher education. The list includes:

  • Provide an outline before or during the lecture. This could be a handout, listing topics on the board, or using transparencies.
  • Review at the beginning of class to reinforce and associate material taught in the previous class with material to be taught.
  • Present synonyms or short phrases along with specialized vocabulary.
  • Incorporate color in visuals to focus attention, aid memory, aid organization, and tap into whole brain learning.
  • Say key words when writing them on the board. Saying them slowing and clarifying syllables is helpful. Repeat them. Point out meanings in affixes and roots. Differentiate key words from words that look similar.
  • Look at students when talking. Make eye contact with each student.
  • When writing on the board or on a transparency, write large and clearly. Keep only what is needed on the board.
  • Shut the door. Keep as many distractions as possible out of the room.
  • Keep up a good pace when teaching. When asking questions, allow sufficient time for thinking and answering.
  • Give frequent, specific feedback.
  •  If you see that a student has great difficulty in oral reading and want all students to participate in some oral reading, assign a passage ahead of time to all students so they can prepare for this activity.
  • Use charts, mind maps, symbols and abbreviations to organize material. Be sure all students understand the symbols and abbreviations that will be used.
  • Link assignments with study skill suggestions.
  • Have a class notebook available on the reference shelf in the library.
  • After teaching several difficult concepts, stop and allow students to process this information through some type of activity, such as having them work in pairs, with students explaining the concepts to each other. Encourage them to ask questions regarding anything they could not clearly explain to each other.
  • Encourage note-taking in a variety of ways: highlighting and margin notes in the book when the lecture closely follows the book, taking notes from the board and/or transparencies, making notes in the margin of handouts, doing note cards, sharing notes, supplementing notes by reading the text, using a class notebook (this can be housed in the library), and taping notes.
  • If a student has a sign language interpreter, remember that the interpreter is there to sign for the instructor and voice for the student. Talk directly to the student.
  • Call on all students, thus encouraging as much participation as possible.
  • Provide an ending to class: summary, reflect back on a difficult concept, look ahead to the next class.
  • While providing a variety of activities, maintain a structure and a certain rhythm to classes so students will know what to expect.
  • When announcing what tests will cover, also announce the type of items and directions they will encounter.
  • Design clear test formats, typed and  well spaced. Make directions concise and clear. Avoid using double negatives.
  • Provide more frequent, shorter tests as opposed to a few very comprehensive tests. Review material before mid-term and  final exams.
  • Provide both oral and written directions.
  • Avoid bright florescent paper for tests.  Ivory is the best color for most students to read easily.