Rock Valley College

Chapter 22: Laboratory Assistants

Students whose disability limits their participation in labs may be eligible for a Lab Assistant (LA). LAs do not do the work for the student, but they may manipulate materials, write or complete other course-related tasks as directed by the student with a disability.   LAs will only help carry out course-related procedures that the student is unable to complete due to their disability. All information about actual class and lab processes and procedures are the student’s responsibility.

Lab Assistants may:
 

  • Act as a scribe (filling out required lab worksheets or other written materials)
  • Carry and/or manipulate lab materials
  • Gather supplies
  • Pour/Mix liquids
  • Use tools and/or cut
  • Provide verbal description for students who are blind or low vision
     

Expectations of DSS Students
 

  • DSS encourages students to make their request for accommodations as soon after registering for classes as possible.  In some situations, up to six weeks may be required for DSS to find and hire a LA.
     
  • Meet with the LA and DSS staff to discuss the course, expectations and exchange of contact information (phone numbers, email addresses etc.).
     
  • The student is responsible for full participation in the course.
     
  • If the student is running late or will miss class, they should contact their LA directly.  LAs do not stay in the classroom when the student is not present (unless the LA is also enrolled in the course).  If the student does not arrive within 15 minutes of the start of class, the LA is free to leave.
     
  • If the LA is functioning as a reader or a scribe, they will write legibly, read at a pace that fits the student’s needs and will not contribute information or assistance regarding the course topic. (See expectations of LAs below)
     
  • If the student drops the course, they should cancel the request for a LA in the DSS Accommodations Portal.
     
  • The student should let DSS know if they have any questions or concerns about the LA.
     

Clarification of LA Role
 

  • LAs will not complete a lab for the student or the lab partner(s) without the student giving the LA explicit instructions on how to participate in the lab with the student and your partner(s).
     
  • LAs are not responsible for non-academic related tasks (i.e. bathroom access, feeding, bathing, assisting with transfers, etc.).
     
  • LAs will not tutor the student or assist the student with out-of-class projects, assignments or homework.
     
  • LAs will not censor the material, add or omit pertinent details unless directed to do so by the student.
     
  • LAs will not correct errors in the students’ work, including spelling or grammar.
     

Expectations of Lab Assistant
 

  • Meet with the student and DSS staff to discuss the course, expectations and exchange of contact information (phone numbers, email addresses, etc.).
     
  • The LA should introduce themselves to the faculty member on the first day they attend.  DSS will notify faculty that a LA will be attending the class.
     
  • The LA is not a student in the class.  Do not participate in class discussions or engage in the class as though you are a student in the class.
     
  • Do not work on homework or any other personal tasks when working as a LA.
     
  • If the LA is functioning as a reader or a scribe, write legibly and read at a pace that fits the student’s needs, and do not contribute information or assistance regarding the course topic.
     
  • Perform only those tasks directed by the student specific to the course.
     
  • Do not prompt or guide the student in performing a lab or course related tasks.
     
  • Adhere to proper classroom/lab procedures (including wearing protective gear if required).
     
  • Do not act as a tutor.
     
  • If the LA cannot attend class, they should contact DSS as soon as possible to allow time for DSS to find a substitute. They should also communicate with the student that they are not able to attend and have requested a substitute.
     
  • If the student does not arrive in class after 15 minutes, the LA is free to leave.  Report absences to the DSS office.
     
  • The LA should ask the DSS office if they have questions about being a LA for a specific student in a specific class.