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Disability Services takes a step forward

The Office of Disability Services recently announced a change in an important accommodation, the Medical Condition Affecting Attendance (MCAA). For students with chronic health conditions that require them to seek treatment at unexpected points in the year, this accommodation increases flexibility in the attendance and due dates policies in classes.

MCAA was changed at the start of the start of the Spring 2016 semester. It puts stricter guidelines in place and encourages students and faculty to create individualized plans for their classes.

“By creating individual plans with faculty and student input, we are able to establish attendance and deadline expectations early on in the semester,” said Grace Moskola, Director of Disability Services.

An e-mail was sent out to students and faculty at the start of the year with the new MCAA form. The form has three sections: Attendance, Assignments/Projects, and Tests/Quizzes, while laying out guidelines of expectations for both the professor and the student in the event of disability-related absences.

“The changes made to the MCAA process were made to improve communication about the accommodation needs and to allow Disability Services staff to have conversations with faculty, which may require some level of negotiation, rather than asking the student to be put in a position where a power differential exists,” Moskola said.

Moskola continued, “Accommodations exist to provide access, but not modify learning objectives in any way, and are used as tools for students with disabilities to have an equitable experience in their education. By improving our processes and procedures, students can focus more on their education with a clear understanding of what the expectations are for each course should they have medical issues.”

The new MCAA procedure is a great improvement in that it increases communication between professors and students. It creates an blueprint for accomodating and starting conversations between students and their professors. This type of plan also allows for Disability Services to intervene when necessary, ensuring that the accommodation takes both the disability and the class demands into account.

For students undergoing a particularly bad or unexpected flare-up, who require more extensive medical attention or who are simply unable to attend class due to their condition, flexibility in the case of emergencies is vital to their academic achievement. The modified MCAA is a step towards helping all students succeed.

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