FACULTY GUIDE TO ACCOMMODATING STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES
UVU Accessibility Services Department
Utah Valley University is committed to providing an environment where all students have equal access to participate in the academic experience. The Accessibility Services Department (ASD) recognizes it is the University’s responsibility to provide auxiliary aids and services in a timely manner to ensure effective access and participation to qualified students with disabilities and we strive to accomplish that. The Accessibility Services Department is the only authorized office at Utah Valley University to evaluate disability documentation, determine eligibility, and implement reasonable accommodations for students enrolled at the University and in its associated academic programs.
Students are protected from discrimination under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), as amended. In order to qualify for services under these mandates, the Accessibility Services Department requires comprehensive and specific documentation to substantiate a disability and demonstrate functional limitations. The documentation, along with conversations with the student, establishes eligibility for services and is used for determining reasonable accommodations.
In most instances, responding to the needs of a student with a disability requires little adjustment to the environment or to a faculty member’s teaching style. With some flexibility and a genuine willingness to help, instructors, faculty members, and academic departments can often find ways to accommodate special needs.
The information contained in the Handbook is designed to help faculty members, administrators, and staff, understand their vital role in ensuring equal access and effective participation. Faculty members should use this Handbook to address common questions about working with students with disabilities. ASD counselors and the ASD Director have the responsibility to assist members of the University community in understanding and working within the federally mandated guidelines for accommodating students with disabilities. If your questions aren’t answered here, please contact our staff.
Section I: Rights and Responsibilities
Under the Law
Utah Valley University has the responsibility to:
- ensure recruitment information and activities are available in alternative formats;
- provide information about services and accommodations available to students with disabilities, and the procedures to request services. This is done through the Accessibility Services Department;
- ensure all its programs, activities and facilities are accessible and usable;
- adjust or substitute academic requirements that discriminate against the student with a disability, and that are NOT essential to the integrity of a student’s academic program; and to
- inform the student of their right to appeal a decision that denies a request for accommodation and the procedures to initiate such an appeal.
Utah Valley University has the right to:
- set and maintain standards for admittance and for evaluating student progress;
- identify and determine the abilities, skills, and knowledge that are fundamental to academic programs and to evaluate the student’s performance based on those standards. The fundamental standards of a program or course are not subject to modification;
- select and administer tests that evaluate the student’s aptitudes and competencies, but which do not discriminate against the student with a disability. If the methods used to evaluate discriminate against the student with a disability, other reasonable alternatives will be considered; and to
- deny a request for accommodation if the student’s documentation indicates no modification or accommodation is necessary, if the student fails to provide appropriate documentation, or if the request for accommodation is determined unreasonable or imposes an undue burden on the University.
Accessibility Services has the responsibility to:
- certify the eligibility of students with disabilities and recommend reasonable and appropriate accommodations considering the disability, its functional limitations, and the essential elements of the academic program;
- set criteria for documentation, standards for evaluating the documentation concerning a student’s disability, request any additional necessary documentation, assess the effect of the disability on the student’s participation in academic courses and/or programs, recommend reasonable accommodations, and advise the student with respect to appropriate compensatory strategies;
- serve as the liaison between the student and faculty, and secure accommodations and serves as a resource for the facilitation and/or modification of approved accommodations;
- inform the student, through print or alternative format, of the procedures to access services and to explain the scope of the services and accommodations available;
- work with the student to determine effective accommodations or auxiliary aids and to ensure the accommodations are implemented by interacting with the student and faculty;
- keep information about the student’s disability and relevant information confidential and to release the information about requested accommodations ONLY when the student makes such a request in writing or in person; and to
- raise awareness among Utah Valley University faculty and staff regarding the rights of students with disabilities and to define the scope of accommodations and services provided by the Accessibility Services Department;
Accessibility Services has the right to:
- set procedures to determine whether the student qualifies for services and how the services will be implemented through an interactive process;
- request and receive appropriate and complete documentation from the student requesting accommodations. The documentation must identify the disability and the limitations created that support the student’s request. This information must be received within a reasonable time to determine if the student qualifies for services and prior to implementing services or accommodations; and to
- require the student follow the Accessibility Services Department’s procedures to implement services and accommodations.
UVU Faculty have the responsibility to:
- inform the student of the procedure to request accommodations;
- meet with the student privately to discuss disability related issues raised by the student and to maintain confidentiality about any information disclosed in discussions with the student or their ASD Counselor;
- provide accommodations in a timely manner once they have been verified by the Accessibility Services Department; and to
- inform students that all course material can be made available in alternative format with prior notification.
UVU Faculty have the right to:
- expect the student with a disability to meet the same academic standards as peers in the course;
- ask for verification from the Accessibility Services Department when the student requests an accommodation in their course or program;
- consult with the Accessibility Services Department to discuss requested accommodations; and to
- demonstrate how accommodations may fundamentally alter essential elements of their courses or programs.
UVU Students with a disability have the responsibility to:
- meet and maintain Utah Valley University academic and technical standards;
- identify as a person with a disability and request accommodations through the Accessibility Services Department;
- provide documentation that meet the standards of Utah Valley University and the Accessibility Services Department (please read the ASD website section on documentation requirements for details); and to
- follow procedures to obtain accommodations and to do so in a timely manner.
UVU Students with a disability have the right to:
- participate in and benefit from programs and activities at Utah Valley University without discrimination due to a disability;
- equal opportunity to obtain an education by requesting reasonable accommodations that will allow the student to participate in Utah Valley University programs, activities, services, and have access to campus and transportation;
- have all disability related information kept confidential and to choose when and to whom the disability information is disclosed;
- be informed of the procedures to initiate an appeal of a decision regarding a denial of a requested accommodation and the responsibility to follow the established procedures for filing an appeal.
Section II: Identification of Staff and Roles
The staff of the Accessibility Service Department is divided into four categories.
We have front office staff that meet and greet students, facilitate students’ requests to meet with their counselor or advisor, and handle the logistical processes of accommodation requests as well as the day-to-day functioning of the office. We have counselors who meet with students to determine eligibility for services, reasonable accommodations, and work as a liaison between students, faculty, and staff. We also have staff members who work with Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals through advising and service provision (ASL, TypeWell, etc.). Finally, we have an Assistive Technology Center where our employees create materials in alternate formats (Kurzweil, PDF, Daisy, etc.) to meet the needs created by the functional limitations of the disability and provide other assistance with the assistive technology available to all University participants. We also have dozens of student and hourly employees who provide interpretive services, assist with alternative text solutions, and work as peer note-takers.
Section III: Providing Accommodations: Questions, Policies, and Procedures
1. Are accommodations based simply on the type of disability?
Accommodations for each student will be determined on an individualized basis. Students with similar disabilities may not necessarily receive the same accommodations. There is no list of approved accommodations for any specific disability. In other words, every accommodation recommended bythe ASD counselor is on a case-by-case basis.
2. How does a student qualify for services?
Some disabilities automatically qualify for coverage under the ADA, and some require a more involved process. Typically, when the disability is not obvious, the student must provide documentation from a licensed professional that there is functional limitation in a major life activity. This could be in the form of an audiogram for someone who has difficulty hearing, a psychoeducational evaluation for someone with a learning disability, or a note from a health care professional indicating a medical or psychological condition.
3. How are accommodations determined?
Through our intake process and the receipt of sufficient documentation, as defined in the Documentation Guidelines on our website and as listed in the ASD Student Handbook, the ASD counselor determines the reasonable accommodations to provide access to University programs, courses, and facilities. They may need to confer with other office members or the appropriate professional. The determination to grant accommodations is typically based upon one or more of the following:
- documentation provided by the student;
- the intake interview with the student;
- academic policies of the student’s college or school;
- the policies and practices set forth in ASD Handbooks; and/or
- consultation with course faculty and departments regarding the essential course elements and the manner in which student mastery of course material is to be evaluated.
4. Once the Letter of Accommodation (LOA) is issued, can the list of approved accommodations be changed or adjusted by ASD?
The initial accommodation determination of the ASD counselor may be modified for any number of reasons. Some common reasons for changing the initial accommodation determination are:
- The faculty member teaching the course determines that providing the accommodation would fundamentally alter an essential element of the course, and, upon consultation with the ASD, comes to an agreement about the new arrangement;
- The student tries the accommodation and it is not effective;
- The student requests a different accommodation, provided it is reasonable and appropriate;
- The student does not accept the initial accommodation determination of the ASD counselor and successfully grieves the issue to the ASD Director, or the ADA Committee;
- The ASD Director substitutes an equally effective accommodation for reasons of administrative efficiency.
In addition, the student may choose not to utilize all the accommodations allowed in the Letter of Accommodation. If this occurs, ask the student to state this intention in writing, so that they cannot later claim that the accommodation was refused. If the student chooses not to state his/her intention in writing, the faculty member should notify the ASD counselor, and the ASD counselor will document this refusal.
5. If a student obtains the Letter of Accommodation (LOA) after the beginning of classes, do I have to go back to the beginning and retest or reevaluate assignments completed before receipt of the LOA?
A student who completes the intake process with the ASD counselor is entitled to services and accommodations in the course from the date that the student provides the LOA to the faculty member until the end of the course. Utah Valley University is not required to provide retroactive accommodations or expunge or reexamine course work completed before documentation of a disability, even if the student can establish that they had a disability at the time of the course work in question. (The faculty member does have the discretion to allow students to revise completed work or retake tests, but this is at the sole discretion of the faculty member.)
6. The LOA does not say what disability the student has. Can I ask the student about the specific nature of her/his disability?
Due to privacy laws and related concerns, faculty members should NOT ask students or disability personnel for details regarding the specific disability for which the student is being accommodated. We are happy to discuss the functional limitations of the disability. While you may think you can guess the disability from the accommodations provided, please understand that there are many conditions that cause similar functional limitations for students. If the student chooses to disclose to you the nature of their disability, you should keep this information confidential and not share it with other students or faculty.
7. If the student is determined eligible to receive accommodations, does Utah Valley University give them every accommodation they ask for?
Simply stated, not all accommodation requests are granted. Each request is evaluated on its own merits. Utah Valley University will provide reasonable and appropriate accommodations based upon a review of the functional limitations and documentation the student provides. This means that students may not necessarily be provided with all the accommodations recommended in their documentation. Some common reasons that UVU might not provide a requested accommodation include:
- providing the accommodation would fundamentally alter the program, course, or activity;
- the accommodation being requested is not supported by the documentation;
- an “unreasonable” accommodation request (e.g., unlimited time on tests);
- providing the accommodation would pose a direct threat to the student or to others;
- providing the accommodation would constitute an undue administrative or financial burden pursuant to criteria established under the ADA and/or Section 504.
If you have other questions or concerns about the accommodative process, or how the accommodations are to be implemented, please don’t hesitate to call, or set up an appointment with, the student’s counselor listed at the bottom of the LOA by calling our front desk at x8747, or by visiting our offices in LC 312.
8. What kind of statement should I put in my syllabus?
We recommend the following statement be placed in your syllabus for each of the courses you teach:
"Students who need accommodations because of a disability should contact the UVU Accessibility Services Department (ASD), located on the Orem Campus, in LC 312. To schedule an appointment, or speak with a counselor, call the ASD office at 801-863-8747, or for Deaf/Hard of Hearing individuals, use the video phone number, 886-760-1819."
This statement is also found on the ASD website, under the Faculty & Staff tab.
Section IV: Grievance Procedure
Students have the right to due process regarding issues related to their disability and their accommodations. If the student feels that their rights have been violated, they will typically contact the ASD and discuss the issue with their counselor or the ASD Director. When there is an issue that appears to warrant further attention, the ASD office will contact the professor to understand their perspective. Following the discussion with both parties, there are typically four possible outcomes:
- Difficulties are worked out with both parties to an agreement, whereupon the agreed on process, accommodation, or arrangement is implemented;
- Behavior of one party or another is guided to something more consistent with our understanding of best practices and Federal or State law;
- The individual (professor or student) is unsatisfied with the determination of the ASD office and chooses to appeal that decision to an ADA Committee comprised of individuals from the University, the State Office of Risk Management, and/or others with a perspective helpful to the determination;
- Following the determination of the ASD Director, or the ADA Committee, either party can appeal to the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Education in Denver, Colorado.
UVU Accessibility Services Department
800 West University Parkway, MS-190
Orem, UT 84058-5999
Telephone (801) 863-8747, Fax (801) 863-8377
Video Phone 1-886-760-1819