Disability Services

Definitions

A. An Individual with a disability is someone with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more “major life activities.” Physical or mental impairments include, for example, specific learning disabilities, emotional or mental illness, blindness and visual impairments, deafness and hearing impairments, mobility impairments and some chronic illnesses. A person is considered to be an individual with a disability and protect by the law if he/she has the disability, has a record of having the disability or (for certain purposes) is regarded as having the disability. An impairment that is episodic or in remission is a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active.

B. Major life activities include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating and working. A major life activity also include the operation of a major bodily function, including but not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respirator, circulator, endocrine, and reproductive functions.

C. A qualified student with a disability means an individual who, with reasonable modifications or “accommodations” (if necessary) to rules, policies or practice, the removal of barriers or the provision of auxiliary aids and services, meets the eligibility requirements for the receipt of services and the participation in programs or activities.

D. Accommodation refers to an adjustment or modification in the academic environment that enables an individual to enjoy equal access to the college’s programs, services or activities. An example of an accommodation would be one that allows a student to complete the same assignment or test as other students, but with a change in the timing, formatting, setting, scheduling, response and/or presentation. The accommodation does not alter in any significant way what the test or assignment measures.

E. Reasonable accommodation in the student setting is a modification or adjustment to a course, program, or activity or facility that allows the person with a disability to participate as fully as possible in the programs and activities offered by the college. Accommodation may be necessary where the student has, or has a record of having a disability.

F. Fundamental Alteration While the college makes every effort to provide reasonable accommodations, a college is not required to provide any aid or service or make any modification that would result in a fundamental alternation in the nature of the program. For example, where a course requirement is essential to the program of instruction taken by the student, the college is not required to waive the requirement. In evaluating whether the requested program modifications would require substantial program alteration or would fundamentally alter academic standards or programs, the program administrator should consider the underlying academic reasons for the program components, the academic standards institutionalized in the program, how the challenged components are consistent with the program standards, and how the requested accommodations would be inconsistent with the academic goals and standards of the program.

G. Essential Element in the academic context, an accommodation is not reasonable if it means making a substantial change in an essential element of a course or a given student’s curriculum. It is the institution’s responsibility to demonstrate both that the change requested is substantial and that the element targeted for change is essential to the conduct of the course or curriculum. Whether or not the change requested is substantial/essential may be based on pedagogical precepts and/or documented in the class syllabus. It may be a judgment call made by administrators and service providers with knowledge of the class and the student’s disability. Sometimes the question hinges not on the course of study but the manner in which a specific course is conducted.

H. Substantially limits means a material restriction of the duration, manner or condition under which an individual can perform a major life activity exists when compared to the average person’s ability to perform that same major life activity. Temporary impairments that take significantly longer than normal to heal, long-term impairments, or potentially long-term impairments of indefinite duration may be disabilities if they are severe. Evaluate whether the impairment substantially limits any of the major life activities of the person in question, not whether the impairment is substantially limiting in general. The determination of whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity shall b made without regard to effects of mitigating measures such as medication, medical supplies, hearing aids, etc. For example a person with diabetes will still qualify as an individual with a disability, even thou the individual may have minimal impairment while on insulin. The one exception is eyeglasses or contact lenses. The effects of corrective lenses on one’s vision shall be considered in determining substantially limits. Thus, a person with good vision with corrective lens will not be considered disabled.

I. Direct Threat to Health or safety means a significant risk to health or safety that cannot be eliminated by modification of policies, practices, or procedures, or by the provision of auxiliary aids or services. In determining whether an individual poses a direct threat to health or safety, the college must make an individualized assessment based on reasonable judgment that relies on current medical knowledge or the best available objective evidence, to ascertain:

  • The nature, duration, and severity of the risk;
    the probability that the potential injury will actually occur; and
    whether reasonable modification of policies, practices, or procedures will mitigate the risk.

J. Undue Burden: A college need not make modifications or provide auxiliary aids or services if it constitutes an undue burden. In determining whether or not an undue burden exists, the factors to be considered are the nature and cost of the action needed in the context of the overall financial resources of the college.