At every College or University campus, one person or office is charged with the responsibility of maintaining confidential, disability-related documentation for students with disabilities in order to determine reasonable accommodations for programs or courses. Disability Services is that office at Macalester.
The Department of Justice has established that a faculty member generally does not have a need to know what a specific disability is, only that it has been appropriately verified by (Disability Services) on behalf of the institution.
Faculty do have a right to know accommodations and how these may or may not impact what is essential in their courses; faculty can ask students to provide accommodation letters to substantiate accommodation requests.
General guidelines for student confidentiality in courses:
- The Faculty Notification Letter serves as a confirmation of a student’s disability and that they have been through the appropriate process to verify disability.
- When meeting with a student, discuss only how the indicated accommodations either would or would not fit into course parameters, not disability specifics. In some cases, faculty may be informed of a specific disability to provide the best access for the student.
- Students should not be asked to provide documentation to you directly. Asking for a “doctor’s note” to miss a class is generally not appropriate if the Faculty Notification Letter indicates accommodations for absence flexibility are needed.
- Do not identify which students in your course require accommodations to other students/colleagues who don’t have a specific “need to know” information. Example: discussing if accommodation is appropriate with a Department Chair is reasonable, but not with other faculty colleagues who have no direct educational connection to your course.
- A good general rule: Before sharing, ask, “Who needs to know this and why?” and for students, “How can I address their accommodations while respecting medical information?”
Have concerns? Please ask! We are here to support you!
Note: accommodation concerns about student employees should be referred to Employment Services.