Disability Services: Faculty/Staff Resources

Referrals and Accommodations

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Making a Referral to Disability Services

Our goal in Disability Services is to create learning environments that are usable, equitable, inclusive, and welcoming for students experiencing barriers to their academic experience. Faculty or staff members are often the first people who students share health conditions and/or struggles related to disabilities in interactions. If a student discloses this information to you, or you notice that there may be a barrier to the student’s learning, please refer the student to Disability Services. The Assistant Director of Student Engagement & Coordinator of Disabilities works with students who have disabilities and/or health conditions that affect a wide range of major life activities. Disability Services works with students who have issues pertaining to, but not limited to:

  • Mental Health
  • ADHD and other Learning Disorders
  • Mobility Impairments
  • Physical Disabilities
  • Chronic Medical Conditions
  • Traumatic Brain Injury/Impairment
  • Sensory Impairment
  • Speech or Language Impairment
  • Substance Abuse
  • Eating Disorders

While this is not an exhaustive list, it does represent common reasons that students request accommodations from Disability Services. It is common for students to be unaware of Disability Services as many students did not engage with these resources in K-12.  Below are some resources on how to refer a student to Disability Services to see if we can be a resource for them.

If you have questions about whether Disability Services is an appropriate resource please contact Crystal Wilson – cwilson@msmnyc.edu.

When a referral to Disability Services needs to happen

  • If a student directly discloses a disability, health condition, and or pregnancy to you
    • Example: a student shares with you that they have a hard time sitting and focusing for long periods of time
  • Student discloses receiving past accommodations or services, either as a transfer student or in K-12
    • Example: a student shares they previously had extra time on an exam in another course or school and want to have that here

Ways to document a referral to Disability Services

  • Email template idea to share with a student who directly self discloses a disability or health condition to you is below. You are welcome to copy and paste, with necessary edits related to your situation, while cc’ing cwilson@msmnyc.edu so she can follow up with an outreach directly. If a student shares information with you about a disability, making this direct referral is not a violation of confidentiality; rather, you’re giving them the resource who can best help them explore options:
    • Hello Student- Thank you for our conversation yesterday. It was great to learn more about you and discuss aspects of the class. I wanted to follow up with information about a support resource on campus that you can connect with to discuss resources that could be helpful in your academic pursuits.
    • Disability Services works with a wide range of disabilities and health conditions either on a temporary or permanent basis. Their focus is to ensure access for students. You can learn more about them in a variety of ways: visit during office hours (Mon-Fri, 10am-6pm; room 120), view the Disability Services website for more information and or schedule a personal consultation meeting if you want to talk in detail about questions you have. They will be reaching out to you as well, as I have included them on the email, in case you want to get any more information. Thank you.

Students right to self-disclosure & confidentiality

Remember that our students are adults; they may respond best to private conversations in which you use an inquiring and supportive approach and share information about the existence and resources of Disability Services. Only the student can decide to disclose their disability, or to pursue information about services available through Disability Services. Therefore, it is essential that disability information be kept confidential as it falls under FERPA.  Again, making the direct referral to Disability Services is not a violation of the student’s confidentiality but at no time should the class or other students be informed that a student has a disability, except at the student’s request. All information that a student shares with a faculty member is to be used specifically for arranging reasonable accommodations for the course of study.

Frequently Asked Questions for Faculty:

Guidelines for Faculty: Maintaining Confidentiality of Student Disability Information

All disability-related information including accommodation letters, correspondence, and consultations are considered confidential and must be managed in line with The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) regulations. This includes electronic, paper, verbal, and any other types of communication.

In addition to fulfilling legal obligations, maintaining a high standard of confidentiality also serves to maintain an environment in which students with disabilities feel respected, safe, supported, and protected.

Breaches of confidentiality are taken very seriously by MSM. Unauthorized disclosures of student information must be documented and can result in the School being in non-compliance with federal regulations.  Such disclosures may violate state privacy laws and may subject the School and the individual to liability.

We recognize that disclosures of information are generally inadvertent. For this reason, a high level of vigilance to avoid unintentional but inappropriate disclosure of disability information must be maintained. Please contact Disability Services if there are any questions, issues, or concerns regarding maintaining confidentiality of information.

Disability Services offers the following guidelines for faculty, staff, and administrators to ensure that confidential student information is kept secure:

  • All information that a student shares with a faculty member is to be used specifically for arranging reasonable accommodations for the course of study.
  • Do not leave student disability information visible on your computer or in any printed format that others can see.
  • Disability Notification letters should be filed in a safe place and disposed of securely at the end of the academic year.
  • Refrain from discussing a student’s disability status and necessary accommodations within hearing range of fellow students or others who do not have an “educational need to know.”
  • Do not assume that students registered with Disabilities Services are aware of other students’ disability status. If for some reason you feel it might be beneficial for students with disabilities to know each other, Disabilities Services is happy to discuss this further with you. However, the default action is to keep this information private.
  • When sending emails to a group of students, even if they are all registered with Disabilities Services, blind copy (BCC) students so they are not privy to other student’s information, or better yet, send separate emails to each student.
  • At no time should the class be informed that a student has a disability, except at the student’s request.
  • Discuss Disability Notification letters and logistics of implementing accommodations with students in private. Make yourself available by email, during office hours, or by appointment to discuss.
  • Casual conversations with colleagues about a student’s disability status are prohibited. Confidential disability information, to which you have access, should be released to other faculty or staff based only on their need to know (e.g. they are a co-instructor in the course, they are proctoring an exam, they are arranging for exam space, they are assisting you to identify a note taker in the course). In such cases, disclose only the necessary information. For example:
    • An exam proctor would only need to know the student’s approved exam accommodation (e.g. 1.5 extended time and private room).
    • A TA who is providing Disabilities Services with a list of the required books for the course only needs to know that the book list is needed, not which student the request is related to.
  • However, conversations with colleagues about a student’s disability status, in order to share and exchange best practices, are not discouraged, as they provide learning opportunities for faculty.
  • Requesting specific information about a student’s disability is inappropriate. Instead, faculty should focus any inquiry on how a student’s learning is impacted by their disability.
  • Requesting a letter from the student’s physician is inappropriate. The Disability Notification is all that is needed to justify the accommodation and supersedes any letter from the student’s provider.
  • If a student voluntarily discloses the nature of their disability to you, even if it is obvious, do not disclose it to others.
  • If a student tries to provide you with their primary disability documentation, refuse to read or accept it and refer the student to Disabilities Services. MSM has designated the Assistant Director of Student Engagement & Coordinator of Disabilities as the repository of all disability documentation for students with disabilities.

Syllabus Statement

Disability Services and Academic Accommodations:

Manhattan School of Music strives to provide all students with the educational auxiliary aids and other reasonable accommodations which are necessary to permit a student with disabilities the opportunity to succeed. The Assistant Director of Student Engagement & Coordinator of Disabilities, Crystal Wilson, coordinates academic accommodations for students with disabilities, as well as any other student needs occasioned by disability status. Appropriate accommodations and/or academic adjustments will be provided on a case-by-case basis for students who register a disability with the Assistant Director of Student Engagement & Coordinator of Disability Services. Please refer to the Disability Services and Academic Accommodations.

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