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Am I obligated to comply with a student’s request for accommodations?
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, its amendments (2008), and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, you are required to provide requested reasonable accommodations to a qualified student with a disability. Most students with a disability are registered with the office of Student Accessibility Services (SAS). However, there may be students who will ask for accommodations who are not registered with the office of SAS. If their disability is clearly visible, and the accommodation request is reasonable, providing the accommodation is appropriate. We ask that you encourage students to register with our office so that we can provide a more consistent institutional response to student requests, and so the student can take advantage of other campus services.
What does qualified mean?
A “qualified individual” is an individual with a disability who meets the academic and technical standards requisite to admission or participation in the University’s education program or activities.
What does disability mean?
An individual has a disability if the individual has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; a record of such an impairment; or being regarded as having such an impairment.
What does major life activity mean?
It means functions including, but not limited to, caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working; and/or major bodily functions including, but not limited to immune system, normal cell growth, endocrine system, etc.
What does accommodation mean?
In the post-secondary educational setting, an accommodation is any modification to the University’s academic requirements as are necessary to ensure that such requirements do not discriminate or have the effect of discriminating against a qualified individual with a disability. An accommodation also means any auxiliary aids that the University must provide to ensure that a qualified individual with a disability is not denied the benefits of the University’s program, excluded from participation in the University’s program, or subjected to discrimination in the University’s program because of the absence of the auxiliary aids.
When do I refer a student to the office of Student Accessibility Services (SAS)?
In general, if a student discusses a disability and its impact academically, and if the student has not already registered with SAS, refer him or her to us. If, for example, a student requests accommodations but does not provide you with an accommodation letter from our office and the disability is not clearly visible, you should refer the student to SAS. Please contact an Accessibility Specialist in SAS with any questions or concerns.
How does a student with a disability register with Student Accessibility Services (SAS)?
The student must contact the SAS office to schedule an intake appointment with an Accessibility Specialist. The Accessibility Specialist and the student will engage in an interactive process to determine if the student is eligible for accommodations and, if so, the accommodations SAS will provide to address the student's individual disability-related needs. The interactive process may require the SAS staff to consult with appropriate facility and other program personnel. During the interactive process, the student typically provides the SAS office with supporting documentation as to the existence of a disability and the need for accommodations. The SAS office uses the documentation submitted by the student to establish that the student has a current disability and needs accommodations. Students are responsible for obtaining the necessary documentation and evaluations at their own expense. Accommodations may not be able to be provided until SAS has received the appropriate documentation and the interactive process has been completed.
How will I know what accommodations to provide to a student?
Once the student has completed their registration with Student Accessibility Services (SAS), the student will receive access to SAS Online Services. SAS Online Services is a web-based tool that allows students to electronically e-mail accommodation letters to their professors. Accommodation letters serve as notification of the student's SAS registration and also detail the student's approved accommodations. SAS also recommends that students meet with their professors as close to the beginning of the semester as possible to discuss their accommodation needs for the class.
While it is typically both policy and practice for students to receive accommodations through the registration and approval process at SAS, some students may approach you directly and request certain accommodations. Students may give you copies of their documentation or request accommodations without providing an accommodation letter. We strongly suggest that you refer these students to SAS. It helps the University in meeting its legal obligations if our approach is consistent; and when one instructor provides an accommodation that another instructor does not, it often sets the student up for unattainable expectations.
The exception to this, however, is when you can clearly see that a student needs an accommodation even in the absence of an accommodation letter or a request from the student. For example, if a student clearly takes longer to write because of a visible physical disability, it might be helpful to approach the student before the day of the exam and ask if he or she will need extra time, and then make those exam arrangements if necessary. If a student is clearly blind but doesn’t ask for exams in a format other than print, consider asking the student ahead of time whether he or she needs a Braille copy of the exam and a way to record the answers, or if an oral exam might be appropriate. Again, we ask you to refer these students to SAS, but when the disability and need for a specific accommodation is very obvious, don’t withhold the accommodation in the meantime.
Is it fair to other students to provide accommodations to students with disabilities?
It would be unfair and discriminatory not to provide the reasonable accommodation to a student with a disability. In the post-secondary educational setting, an accommodation is any modification to the University’s academic requirements as are necessary to ensure that such requirements do not discriminate or have the effect of discriminating against a qualified individual with a disability. An accommodation also means any auxiliary aids that the University must provide to ensure that a qualified individual with a disability is not denied the benefits of the University’s program, excluded from participation in the University’s program, or subjected to discrimination in the University’s program because of the absence of the auxiliary aids.
What should I do if I believe that an accommodation will impinge upon the intrinsic nature of my course?
If you believe that an SAS-approved accommodation may impinge upon and/or alter the intrinsic nature of your course or course requirements, please contact SAS as soon as possible so we can discuss the potential impact of the accommodation.