Disability Statement

The University of Missouri-St. Louis provides suggested disability statements for faculty syllabi. However, they are generic and brief, and they do not encourage instructors to develop their own policies. Furthermore, such statements place the burden of access upon the students, who must self-identify as disabled and register with the appropriate services in order to receive accommodation; in other words, they do not advocate an educational partnership between teachers and students.

Composition instructors with UDL in mind may wish to use such statements as a starting point; ultimately, however, we should consider personally drafting our own access statements that best serve the needs of our potential students and of ourselves as teachers.

The following is an example of a disability statement offered by the Disability Access Services at UMSL, which encourages faculty to copy and paste it into their syllabi:

To request academic accommodations (for example, extended time on exams, a note taker or accommodations for access to library materials on reserve), students must register with Disability Access Services, 144 Millennium Student Center, 314-516-6554. This is the campus department responsible for reviewing documentation provided by students requesting academic accommodations, and for accommodations planning in cooperation with students and instructors, as needed and consistent with course requirements.

This is an informative statement in its own right that directs students to the appropriate services. However, it is not enough, and it isolates students who identify as mentally or physically disabled. With UDL in mind, access statements should recognize the diverse needs and abilities of all students.


Suggested Practices for Syllabus Accessibility Statements

  • I also reference these insights in my annotated bibliography, but Tara Wood and Shannon Madden’s work is particularly useful here. The authors provide examples for creating effective and personalized access statements, and readers are encouraged to devise their own using the guidelines outlined within.

Additional Resources, courtesy of Disability Rhetoric

  • Check here for more thoughts on syllabus statements, accessibility, and accommodation.

One thought on “Disability Statement

  1. I was just in a meeting today when accommodations came up, and your discussion of the UMSL statement reminds me of this. I see another issue here with the statement as the way it just make accommodations seem like this legal hoop to jump through. I really worry that if we keep framing disability in higher ed only in legal and “how do I not get sued?” contexts that conversations are going to move in the wrong direction. (Which is another way of saying I really appreciate your advocacy for more personalized access statements–even moving to language of access rather than just accommodation makes a difference!)


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