[nabs-l] Legal Advice

Arielle Silverman arielle71 at gmail.com
Wed Dec 31 00:00:35 UTC 2008

Hi Eric,

You certainly can send your prof a letter informing him that his
failure to give you the exam materials in a timely manner are a legal
problem, for his own education and hopefully improved treatment of
future blind students he may have. Whether you want to go further by
taking legal action or seeking some kind of compensation is a complex
decision. Legal action or lower forms of  advocacy (such as
complaining to a dean or department head) can be more powerful than
just talking to the individual professor about your concerns.
However, advocacy and especially legal battles can require a great
deal of time, effort, and money, and may or may not be effective. It's
key to decide whether the gain is worth the cost especially if you
will probably never interact with this prof again or suffer further
consequences of his delinquency.

In general, when deciding which advocacy battles to fight there are a
couple of factors to consider. First, is this a repeat offense or a
one-time breach of the agreement? Repeated forgetfulness or failure to
accommodate is in my mind a more stubborn problem than one slip. Not
that this makes his behavior OK, but some professors are simply too
lax about keeping up with their email--and are not intentionally
slighting their blind students. Another factor to consider is whether
the delay in receiving materials impacted your grade on the exam or in
the course.

Of course we want all our professors to comply with the ADA all the
time, regardless of whether or not their noncompliance hurts us
permanently, but some breaches are more serious and deserving of
remedy than others.

In any case I commend you for doing the most important thing of all
and that is using a backup method to get your assignment done. Blind
students sometimes get in the habit of relying on just one method for
access and then let their grades slip when the method fails, blaming
the failure on their poor performance or doing things like dropping
courses instead of trying to find an alternative solution. No method
is perfect and an important skill for blind students to have is the
willingness to use more than one technique to get their assignments
read and completed. Using a scanner is a good example of a secondary
method to use when electronic materials aren't available. Another
technique that's often neglected is the use of human readers. Readers
have their disadvantages and aren't always ideal as a primary method
for accessing material, but if your technology breaks down or
professors or DSS fail to provide access in a timely manner, finding a
reader is always an option, and a better one than dropping classes or
not doing the work.


On 12/30/08, Jamie Principato <blackbyrdfly at gmail.com> wrote:
> I would definitely go ahead and send that letter. You may have finished the
> class just fine, but you should not have had to do it in the way you did. If
> not for your own benefit, proceed for the benefit of future blind students
> in that class.
> On Mon, Dec 29, 2008 at 5:02 PM, <golfereric at verizon.net> wrote:
>> Hello Everybody
>> I was telling a sighted friend about the following situation and got a
>> response that other professors might have a problem with it. The situation
>> occured during the last full week of school. I was taking Introduction to
>> Sociology and the professor decided to issue a take home final exam on
>> Tuesday to be due on Friday. So he signed a document with approved
>> accomodations and one of them was to receive all tests and exams in
>> electronic format and when the professor issued the exam, the professor
>> promised me that I would receive a copy of the exam the same day it was
>> issued to everyone else in class. I waited all day and checked my student
>> email constantly and there was no exam from the professor. So I sent a
>> reminder email to the professor and got no response. The next day I
>> checked
>> my student email constantly and received no final exam. So on that day I
>> sent an another reminder email to the professor. So I was scheduled to
>> have
>> a meeting with my Finite Math professor on Thursday of this week and my
>> disability coordinator was at the meeting. It was to discuss what would
>> work
>> and what wouldn't work for my spring semester Finite Math class. After
>> this
>> meeting was over I mentioned to my disability coordinator about not
>> receiving the final exam in electronic format from my Sociology professor.
>> Between me and the disability coordinator we came up with an another email
>> describing the ramficiations of ADA and for me to receive the final exam
>> in
>> electronic format. Neither the disability coordinator or I got a response.
>> So my roommate was taking the same exact class and I scanned a copy of the
>> exam questions.
>> It was recoomended by my disability coordinator to write a letter to this
>> professor after I received my final grade from the professor. My question
>> to
>> everybody is should I proceed with my case?
>> If this information helps anybody I attend Southern New Hampshire
>> University located in Manchester, New Hampshire
>> Any thoughts and opinions are welcome
>> Thanks,
>> Eric Gaudes
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