Faculty/Staff Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


1.  What does the Office for Disability Accommodations (ODA) do?

The Office for Disability Accommodations (ODA) is USM’s designated office to verify students’ eligibility for accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). ODA assists eligible students on an individual basis to develop and coordinate plans for the implementation of reasonable accommodations that are specific to their disabilities. Reasonable accommodations are offered in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).


2.  What disabilities are covered?

The Office for Disability Accommodations (ODA) assists students who have disabilities which may include, but are not limited to: ADHD or ADD, learning disabilities in reading, writing and/or math, acute or chronic illnesses or injuries, psychiatric impairments which may include anxiety and depression, mobility impairments, hearing impairments, visual impairments, temporary disabilities and pregnancies. This list does not include every disability. If a student states to you that they have another type of disability and they are not sure if it is covered, please refer them to the ODA office via phone at 601-266-5024 or email at oda@usm.edu.


3.  Are Gulf Coast or online students covered by the Office for Disability Accommodations (ODA)?

Yes, Gulf Coast and online students are eligible to receive accommodation from the Office for Disability Accommodations (ODA) once they register and submit their medical documentation.


4.  How do students request accommodations?

Students request accommodations for their disabilities by completing an online application and submitting documentation from a doctor.

Our application can be found online through our website at www.usm.edu/oda by clicking the yellow box to the right of the page labeled “Students New to ODA – Application for ODA Services”. This box can be found on the right side of any of our webpages. The direct link is https://cascade.accessiblelearning.com/usm/ApplicationStudent.aspx.


5.  When should students register with the Office for Disability Accommodations (ODA)?

Students have the right to request accommodations at any point in the semester, however, accommodations are not retroactive. ODA recommends that students register before the beginning of the semester in order to have their accommodations in place the first day of class. Also, instructors should not grant accommodations until an accommodation letter is received from ODA.


6.  How should I recommend a student seek assistance from the Office for Disability Accommodations (ODA)?

In private to maintain confidentiality, an instructor who is aware that a student has low grades, has poor class attendance, fails to turn in assignments on time, has trouble paying attention, etc. should meet with the student in a closed setting to let them know that ODA is an option which can help them succeed. Contact information for ODA and an ADA statement should be included in every class syllabus which should be given to students on the first day of classes. Please see Question #10 for the full ADA statement.


7.  How will I be notified if a student with ODA accommodations is registered for one of my courses?

ODA sends out accommodation letters to instructors detailing each of the students’ accommodations. Generally, these letters will be received at the beginning of each semester unless a student registers with ODA after classes have begun or has a specific accommodation added. Students may register with ODA at any time during a semester.

If you have misplaced an accommodation letter, please contact ODA immediately. Once notified, ODA will resend the accommodation letter to the instructor of note.  


8.   The accommodation letter I received has one (1) or more accommodations that, in my opinion, are not relevant due to the format of my course. What should I do?

Depending upon the course delivery mode (e.g., online, IVN, face-to-face), each specific accommodation may or may not be appropriate for your class. Please communicate with the student to confirm your receipt of this letter and discuss how accommodations will be implemented.

If the student does not need one or more of the accommodations, or your class is such that particular items are not relevant (e.g., preferential seating or note taker for online classes), please make a note in your records and contact our office to let us know. If you have any questions, we can be reached at 601-266-5024 or oda@usm.edu.


9.  Does the Office for Disability Accommodations (ODA) excuse absences?

ODA does not excuse absences. Class attendance is expected of all USM students. Instructors and their departments set attendance policies. A “statement” regarding consideration for disability-related absences or tardiness may be included in some letters of accommodation, but it is only to alert you that the student may have to miss class due to their registered disability. A “statement” is not an accommodation. If the reason for class absences is determined to be reasonable after the review of newly submitted medical documentation, ODA will contact each instructor individually and request absences be excused, and the student allowed to make up any missed work. The decision to allow this is usually made by the instructor.

ODA encourages students that are frequently absent from class to contact USM’s Student Ombudsman. The Ombudsman office authenticates doctor’s excuses which have been submitted by students and then provides official Notices of Absences to instructors.

If a student is missing class but not registered with our office, please refer them to Ombudsman office at 601-266-4025, before suggesting them come to ODA.


10.   What is the ADA syllabus statement?

The ADA syllabus statement is a statement approved by the University that should be included in every syllabus and the wording should not be changed.

Please find our current statement below:

 

ADA Syllabus Statment

If a student believes that they have a disability which is covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and makes them eligible to receive classroom or housing accommodations, they should contact the Office for Disability Accommodations (ODA) for information regarding the registration process.  Disabilities covered by the ADA may include but are not limited to ADHD, learning disabilities, psychiatric disabilities, physical disabilities, chronic health disorders, temporary illnesses or injuries and pregnancies. Students should contact ODA if they are not certain whether their documented medical condition qualifies for ODA services.  Students are only required to disclose their disability to the Office for Disability Accommodations.  All information submitted to ODA by the student is held with strict confidentiality. 

Address:
The University of Southern Mississippi
Office for Disability Accommodations
118 College Drive # 8586
Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001
Voice Telephone: 601.266.5024 or 228.214.3302 Fax: 601.266.6035
Individuals with hearing impairments can contact ODA using the Mississippi Relay Service at 1.800.582.2233 (TTY) or email ODA at oda@usm.edu.


11.   How does alternative testing work?

Students must schedule all exams they intend to take at the ODA offices (Hattiesburg students) or at the Gulf Coast Testing Center at the Gulf Park Library in Long Beach (Gulf Park students) at least 2 business days in advance. After an exam is scheduled, instructors will receive an email that notifies them that an exam has been scheduled and requests they send the exam to ODA via the provided upload link, attached to an email, or delivered in person to the ODA offices in Bond Hall, room 114.  

Students should take exams between 8:00am and 5:00pm Monday through Friday (excluding University Holidays). ODA recommends that students begin their exams no later than 2:30pm to order to ensure they receive their approved accommodations of extended time to test.

At ODA, Students take exams in a minimum distraction testing environment which is closed monitored to protect the integrity of the exam. After students complete an exam, it may be returned to instructors via campus interdepartmental mail, scanned and emailed, delivery, or a picked up at the ODA offices located in Bond Hall, room 114. In the rare occurrence when a test may be misplaced or lost during delivery, ODA maintains a copy of each completed exam on file until the end of the semester.


12.  How does volunteer note taking work?

Students with the approved accommodation of note-taking need a volunteer note-taker from your class to provide notes to them or for you to supply notes to each student with this accommodation. Students with this accommodation should not be identified to the class. The volunteer note-taker should be identified as a classmate who will share a copy of their notes with the student in need. ODA recommends the instructor communicate with each ODA student approved for note taking assistance at the beginning of the semester. If the student states that they do not need a volunteer note taker, please make a note in records of this and contact ODA at your earliest convenience.

If the student does need assistance with note taking, please ask your class to volunteer. You may, also, electronically message the class to request a volunteer. Please remember to not mention the name(s) of the student(s) who need this assistance.

Once a student volunteers, please have the student register online at www.usm.edu/oda and help arrange a method to exchange the notes. This can be done in person, via email, via ODA’s online system, or sent through the instructor who can forward them onto the student who needs assistance. Also, please remind the class that students who volunteer qualify for service hours that are usually required for those who are a member of specific student organizations, fraternities or sororities. Typically, the number of volunteer hours a student will receive is 50-60 hours in Fall and Spring semesters and 30-40 in the Summer semester.

If you no one volunteers within a week, please contact our office at 601.266.5024 or oda@usm.edu.

Example of a Typical Announcement Requesting Assistance with Note-Taking:

“There is a student in our class who needs assistance taking class notes. As a reminder, volunteer note takers are eligible to receive credit for volunteer hours so, if you feel that you can take accurate and legible notes, please apply online via the ODA website at www.usm.edu/oda or by emailing them at oda@usm.edu.ODA will create a letter on your behalf at the end of the semester which will verify the number of hours you spent assisting a classmate.”


13.   How can I make my materials accessible?

All information disseminated to students must be accessible. This is a requirement of all departments and instructors. If you have any questions on how to make your materials accessible, please contact ODA at 601.266.5024 or oda@usm.edu.

AUDIO & VIDEOS RECORDINGS: Please make sure that all audio or video recordings used in courses include closed captioning (sub-titles) or have a transcript for your students.

PDFs: Documents saved as .pdf are great for accessibility as it allows for students to enlarge text and use text to speech software on them. Electronic photocopies should never be given to students, as they are by contrast the least accessible form of information.

ACCESS STATEMENTS: Access Statements about the availability of assistance USM can provide should be included on all university affiliated event announcements, webpages, and publications. Providing this information about how to request accommodations creates a welcoming environment for a student, parent or visitor with disabilities. For more information on these statements and the wording you should use please visit this webpage: https://www.usm.edu/oda/access-statements.


14.   Does the Office for Disability Accommodations (ODA) offer any training on disabilities?

ODA is willing to meet with departments to discuss disability law or possible issues that may occur or have arisen. ODA may also discuss the university’s responsibilities in accommodating persons with disabilities. All USM faculty and staff, including adjunct instructors, graduate assistants, as well as off campus contract workers, should be aware of ADA law and how to comply with ADA law. To schedule a presentation or for more information, please contact ODA at 601.266.5024 (Hattiesburg) or 601.214.3232 (Gulf Coast Campuses). ODA presentations are tailored to meet the needs of the department or individuals who requested the presentation.

If you require technical assistance, please reach out to the following departments based on your needs:

Canvas – please contact the Office of Online Learning at 601.266.5518 or online@usm.edu
Website – please contact web@usm.edu
SOAR, Email, and any other issues – please contact iTech at 601.266.4357


15.  How can I log into myODA?

myODA is the online database ODA utilizes for student applications and interaction. Only students registered with ODA or those who have volunteered as a note taker have a profile on this site. This site does not support profiles for professors, so you may not login unless you are a student (Graduate or Doctoral) affiliated with ODA.

If you are trying to upload an exam, please either use the direct link you were emailed or email it directly to us at oda@usm.edu as an attachment. Please be sure to send it with the full course name (example: ENG 101 H001) and the name of the student taking the exam.


16.    Where is the Office for Disability Accommodations (ODA) located?

ODA’s offices are located on the Hattiesburg campus on the first floor of Bond Hall in room 114. You should enter the office via an accessible wheelchair ramp on the south side of the building which faces the parking lot behind the Bobby Chain Building. You may also enter our offices through the entrance on the north side the building facing the 4th Street parking garage. There is an accessible wheelchair ramp and stairsteps with handrails at the north side entrance.


17.  What are the operating hours for the Office for Disability Accommodations (ODA)?

ODA is open Monday through Friday 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. ODA is closed on university holidays. To access this schedule, please go the Holiday Schedule outlined on this webpage: https://www.usm.edu/employment-hr/2017-holiday-schedule


Have a question not addressed on this page?

Please contact the Office for Disability Accommodations (ODA) at: 

601.266.5024 - Hattiesburg Office
228.214.3232 - Gulf Coast Office
1.800.582.2233 - TTY through Mississippi Relay Service for individuals with hearing impairments
oda@usm.edu - Email Address for all locations