Legislation Governing Accommodations
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and state law mandate that institutions of higher education not discriminate against "otherwise qualified" individuals with disabilities. The federal regulations implementing Section 504 and the ADA establish that reasonable and appropriate academic accommodations must be provided to students with disabilities to allow equal access to educational opportunities. While providing accommodations, however, institutions of higher education are not required to lower academic standards or compromise the integrity of the school or program. The Student Engagement & Academic Success Center (SEAS) recommends accommodations for disabled students in compliance with these federal mandates.
Role of Disability Services
SEAS is the campus unit designated to ensure that the institution meets its obligations to provide services to students who are eligible for reasonable accommodation under state and federal law. Disability Services within SEAS is staffed by a Disability Specialist, who has expertise in the education of students with disabilities. Each of the CSU campuses has a similar program for students with disabilities.
Diagnosis and Documentation
The student is responsible for providing the SEAS with documentation of his or her impairment. The diagnosis and documentation of the impairment are typically provided by an off-campus diagnostician. In instances of a student with a medical condition, the diagnosis and documentation may be provided or verified by medical staff at the Student Health Center. The Disability Specialist determines whether the student's impairment is a disability under state law.
Evaluation of Students with Disabilities in Undergraduate Admissions
Student applicants with disabilities are evaluated in the same manner as non-disabled applicants. Applicants with disabilities are required to meet the institution's academic standards for admission.
Typical Reasonable Accommodations and How They Are Determined
Although specific accommodations vary from individual to individual, there are broad categories of accommodations for students with disabilities. These categories include, but are not limited to, academic support services (i.e., readers, taped materials, notetakers), exam accommodations, and access to adaptive equipment. Accommodations are recommended by SEAS for disabled students on a case by case basis. The Disability Specialist's determination of what accommodations are reasonable is based on the nature of the disability and the student's current functional limitations, requirements of the specific courses in which the student is enrolled, and the University's obligation to provide equal access to educational opportunities.
Faculty Responsibilities for Providing Accommodations
Faculty must provide accommodations for a student with a disability if the student presents a letter enumerating identified accommodations from SEAS. Students who do not provide SEAS verification should be asked to do so before accommodations are provided. If the faculty member disagrees with the SEAS accommodation, or is aware of course-specific factors that have bearing on the accommodation, s/he should consult with either the SEAS Disability Specialist who authored the accommodation letter or the SEAS Director.
If a faculty member disagrees with an accommodation for a given student and is unable to resolve the disagreement in consultation with SEAS staff, s/he may file an appeal, in writing, with the Vice President of Student Affairs. While the matter is in dispute, the accommodation must be provided.
Frequently Asked Questions from Faculty
I have a student with a disability in my class, what should I do?
Protect the student's confidentiality by discussing accommodations in a private setting. Review the individualized accommodations letter. If you have any questions about the accommodations or about forms the student asks you to complete, contact DSO.
There is a student in my class that is having difficulty or I suspect may have a disability. What should I do?
If you think a student may have an unreported or undiagnosed disability and could benefit from our services, use your judgment in referring the student to disability services or the SEAS center for assistance. If a student is concerned that the information is not confidential, please reinforce that all medical/disability related documentation is confidential and remains only with the DSO office. The student can meet to discuss the possible presence of a disability, the need for extra support, accommodations, or additional referrals. Occasionally a student will end up gaining disability verification and registering with our office to receive appropriate disability services. Other times, students are referred to health, counseling, tutoring, or other services that may be more applicable to their situation.
Do I have the right to give a student needing testing accommodations another version of the class exam?
Yes. If the exam is not scheduled in the same time frame as the class exam, then you can provide another version of the exam. However, the exam version to be used would still need to cover the same information as the class exam.
How do I deal with a student who is missing too much class time due to a disability and attendance is required?
Refer the student to DSO if they have a medical reason for missing classes, assignments, and/or exams. The medical documentation can be verified by DSO, then we can work with faculty on a reasonable time schedule for completing work and exams.
Can I alter a student's accommodation?
No. Accommodations can only be altered if it is agreed upon by the student, faculty and DSO.
A student disclosed that they have a disability, can I just offer accommodations?
No. The student must report to DSO to ensure that all documentation is reviewed, and that appropriate accommodations are recommended.
Best Practices for Faculty
SEAS encourages faculty members to consider the following best practices in supporting students with disabilities:
California Maritime Academy is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to students with documented disabilities. Students who believe they may need class accommodations are encouraged to contact the Disability Services Office (DSO) by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or in person in the Student Engagement & Academic Success Center (Laboratory Building, First Floor) within the first two weeks of class. For more information, visit: http://www.csum.edu/web/seas/disability-services.