Confidentiality

Being mindful of a student’s right to confidentiality during the accommodations process, faculty and staff members can comply with federal law and avoid creating uncomfortable situations for a student with disabilities. All disability-related information is protected by Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) guidelines, including:

    • disability-related records and documentation, including students’ official DRC Academic Access (AA) Letters
    • a student’s affiliation with the DRC
    • a student’s disability status
    • a student’s accommodations

 

Best Practices for Keeping Confidentiality for Faculty

  • Be welcoming to students with disabilities in your class. Encourage students to come to your office hours or to make an appointment, so that you can discuss their disability-related accommodations. Not only does this allow for a meaningful dialogue about how the student’s disability affects them academically, and how their accommodations can best be implemented, but it also ensures the student’s anonymity.
  • AA Letters do not reveal a student's disability diagnosis. Instead, the form explains that the student has documentation on file in the DRC which confirms her or his disability and a need for individually determined, reasonable accommodation. Professors are not allowed to examine disability-related documentation for any student, nor is it appropriate to ask the student for their documentation or their diagnosis.
    • Ask the student, “How can I help you with these accommodations in my class?” not, “What is your disability?”
  • Remember that disclosing a disability is a choice, not a requirement, and privacy is a major consideration.
  • AA Letters are official, disability-related documents and must be kept secure and confidential. Share the information in AA Letters only on a “need to know” basis, for example, with a TA or Department Manager in order to facilitate a testing accommodation.
  • After your meeting with the student, keep the AA Letter in a secure location. Do not, for example, leave the letter out on a desk where others may see it. If the AA Letter or your dialogue with the student raises questions or concerns, please consult with the DRC.
  • At no time and in no way should a DRC student be singled out or pointed out as such. When implementing accommodations, do not identify DRC students or acknowledge their requests for accommodations in public. For example, it is a major breach of confidentiality to request, “all DRC students who need accommodations, raise your hands.”
  • Make accommodated testing arrangements early rather than asking the student to come to the classroom and then leave with a test in hand. If possible, arrange for accommodated testing in a quiet, private setting rather than in an open, public place.
  • When asking for a class notetaker, say that this service has been authorized by the DRC for “a student in the class” without giving the name of the student(s) needing the notes.
  • Keep all of your DRC students’ AA Letters for reference during the current quarter.
  • The DRC recommends that AA Letters and any internal list containing DRC student information be shredded at the end of each term.

 


 

Best Practices for Keeping Confidentiality for Staff

  • It is the responsibility of the student to deliver AA Letters to faculty directly. It is not appropriate for departments to provide copies of courtesy letters DRC sends to instructors. Remember that disclosing a disability is a choice, not a requirement, and privacy is a major consideration.
  • Share the information in AA Letters only on a “need to know” basis, for example, with a TA or Department Manager in order to facilitate a testing accommodation.
  • Any internal department lists containing DRC student names used for coordination of test accommodations need be labeled: “confidential for internal use only” and should display a shred date. 
  • The DRC recommends that AA Letters and any internal list containing DRC student information be shredded at the end of each term.