Disability Services


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.

Classroom Accommodations

Please note that this is not an all-inclusive list. Accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis in order to determine what is appropriate for each student. If you have particular questions, please contact the ADA office.

  • Access to teacher handouts, slides, overheads: Having access to handouts is needed either because a student needs to have the extra time to read them, they may need to be put in electronic format or they may be beneficial to a student who has trouble focusing while listening to the lecture or has trouble with organization.
  • Additional time on in-class writing assignments: Some students due to their disability may require additional time on any in-class writing. It is recommended that the faculty member and the student work out how to best handle this situation directly. If there are any questions, please feel free to contact the ADA coordinator.
  • Assistive listening device (ALD): Some students who are hard of hearing may require an assistive listening device. Each device is different. In most cases the instructor will be required to wear a small device with a microphone so that the student can hear. It will be important for the instructor to repeat any comments from other members of the class.
  • Assistive Technology (laptop, note-taking device): There is a variety of assistive technology available to students with disabilities. Some students may need to type their tests on a computer. In some cases, students may use their own computer and in other cases, they may need to use a computer on campus.
  • Closed Captioned Videos: Students who are Deaf or hard of hearing will need to have all videos shown in class to have captioning. If the copy being shown is not captioned, please contact the ADA office to look for alternative solutions prior to the time of the class.
  • Information on board read aloud for students with visual disabilities: Students who are either Blind or have limited vision, may not be able to see information that is written on the board. Therefore, it is important for the instructor to read aloud all information that is written on the board in order to provide the student equal access to the information.
  • Interpreting/Transcribing: An interpreter/transcriber is simply one who bridges the gap between the spoken and Deaf world. When the teacher or a classmate speaks, the interpreter/transcriber translates the spoken words into the language preferred by the Deaf or hard of hearing student. The student likewise participates in the classroom by signing or typing the information and the interpreter voices it (talks) for the class. The interpreter is not meant to be a participant in the classroom, but a communication facilitator, making sure that communication is easily accessible for the deaf and hearing populations equally.
  • Note-taker: At times some students have difficulty taking notes due to their disability. Some student would benefit from copies of course notes from another student in the class. With the student's consent, the professor, instructor or teaching assistant can make a general announcement that there are students in the class who have disabilities which preclude them from taking comprehensive notes and that it would be appreciated if other students could give the student with a disability copies of their notes. If a student agrees to be a note-taker, please have them email the ADA office. It is requested that you conduct this process in the most confidential manner. We do not want other class members to be made aware of which student is requesting the service.
  • Occasional exceptions to the absentee/tardiness policy: The Americans with Disabilities Act, 1990, specifies that case-by-case exceptions should be made to established policy in order to avoid discrimination on the basis of a disability. To address this, the following disability related absence protocol has been developed: The student is required to notify the faculty member as soon as possible. They are also encouraged to let the ADA coordinator know as well. Each faculty member makes the determination as to how many absences in general are acceptable in order to pass the class. For a student with a disability, we must also look at: What are the essential elements of the course? How many absences would fundamentally alter the student's ability to experience; or ability to participate in; or to contribute to and demonstrate learning? More information is available about this accommodation by clicking here: Occasional Exceptions.
  • Personal Care Attendant: Some students with significant physical disabilities may require a personal care attendant to travel with them. Depending on the needs of the student, the attendant may or may not sit with the person in class.
  • Preferential Seating: Students who have limited hearing, vision or difficulty with attention, distraction or an ability to focus will need to sit as close to the instructor as possible.
  • Record Lectures: Some students may need to be able to record their lectures due to the nature of their disability. If the material you are presenting should not be indiscriminately distributed due to publishing concerns, copyright concerns or matters of confidentiality, please allow this student to record the class. A separate agreement ensuring the materials are not circulated beyond the class will be provided to the faculty member with the accommodation letter.

Testing Accommodations

  • Additional Time: It is recommended giving some students additional time for in-class tests. The amount of time appropriate is determined based on the student's documentation. Students do have the option to take their tests in The Learning Center. However, in the event that the student might have questions which would be best answered by someone with knowledge of the subject matter, it is more beneficial for the student if the instructor or a teaching assistant proctors the tests.
  • Alternate exam dates during periods of heavy scheduling: Some students with a variety of disabilities may need to space their exams out in order to allow for their disability to not significantly impact their ability to take their exams. Each case is different. The ADA office recommends talking about the issues with the student to determine the best way to address this. The ADA office is also happy to be a part of the discussion.
  • Alternative testing environment: The ADA office encourages all students who require testing accommodations to try as best they can to make those arrangements directly with their instructors. However, if this is not possible, students may elect to take their test in The Learning Center. In order to do this, the student and the faculty member must complete the testing form which is available in The Learning Center.
  • Assistive Technology: Some students, because of their disability, will require assistive technology to be able to complete their test. They may be able to use a laptop of their own. However, if that is not an option, then they can use a computer in The Learning Center. This accommodation may be needed due to a physical or learning disability which requires the use of specialized software, hardware or because the student's disability makes handwriting extremely messy and organization tends to be disjointed. Using a word processor such as a laptop allows the student to concentrate on organization and producing a legible piece of work. Students who use assistive technology may also use this accommodation so that they can take their tests with the class. Headphones may be used by the student if a speech output program is needed.
  • Calculator: The use of a calculator helps this student avoid mistakes such as reversing or skipping numbers. If a test or assignment is designed to measure the student's ability to perform functions a calculator would perform then this accommodation is inappropriate.
  • No Scantron: Some students due to visual processing issues or visual disabilities may not be able to transfer their answers to a scantron. In this case, students should be able to answer directly on the test. If this is not possible, please contact the ADA office to determine what other options might be available.
  • Scribe: Students who are unable to write their exam independently due to either a physical or visual disability, may require assistance writing (i.e. scribe). However, students are encouraged to use assistive technology for this purpose as a better way to ensure that their work is completed independently. If assistive technology is not an available or appropriate option given the circumstances, the ADA office can assist with locating a scribe.
  • Spell-check or points not taken off for spelling: The use of a spellchecker will help this student and may help the grader by making tests easier to read. If the function of the test or assignment includes measuring spelling ability, this accommodation may not be appropriate.

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.