The ADA/Disability Services office serves as the central point of contact for students with disabilities and evaluates all requests for academic adjustments and accommodations that are needed for equal access to coursework, facilities, programs, and extra-curricular activities.
Services are provided for students with all types of disabilities and temporary medical conditions, including pregnancy.
Students have the responsibility to self-identify as a person with a disability with a need for accommodation(s). Students should submit all requests for adjustments, including auxiliary aids, to the ADA / Disability Services Coordinator. It is recommended that students thoroughly review technical standards, course descriptions, and the applicable syllabus to determine if accommodations may be needed. While students may engage in discussion with faculty about the need for accommodations, conversations should be focused on barriers in the academic environment and how they might be reduced. Students do not have to disclose their disability, or provide any supporting documentation, to anyone other than the ADA Coordinator.
Students should review Academic Policy 2.2.5, Student Request for Academic Accommodations, for specific guidance related to the accommodation process. A request may be submitted online or in hard copy form. Upon receipt of the request and any associated documentation, the ADA Coordinator will contact the student to schedule an interview.
Accommodations should be requested in a timely manner as approved accommodations are not applied retroactively. Students have the responsibility to inform the ADA Coordinator if an approved adjustment is not being implemented or is not effectively reducing or eliminating the disability-related barrier. Students are strongly encouraged to alert the ADA Coordinator if new barriers or limitations emerge as a result of a disability in order to determine if further adjustments may be needed.
Enrolled and prospective students are welcome to contact the ADA Coordinator at any point in time if they have questions concerning how or when to disclose their disability and potential need for accommodations.
The rationale for seeking documentation about a student’s condition is to support the Coordinator in establishing that a disability or temporary condition exists, understanding how the disability or condition impacts the student, and making informed decisions about accommodations. The evidence of disability or temporary impairment and the need for a specific accommodation should be logically connected. Interim accommodations may be granted for apparent disabilities/conditions pending the receipt of formal documentation. Documentation should not be so dated that it no longer reflects the student’s current level of functioning.
Student records of disability and documentation are educational records and protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The ADA / Student Disability Services Office will hold confidential personally identifiable health information.
Discussions between the ADA Coordinator and Faculty are focused on identifying and removing barriers in the learning environment. The nature of the student’s disability and/or diagnosis is a private matter and not shared during the course of these conversations. In those instances where the Coordinator recognizes such a disclosure is essential to fostering an understanding of why an adjustment is necessary, only those Faculty with a legitimate educational interest will be informed of the student’s disability.
Faculty and staff members are subject to the requirements of FERPA and are prohibited from discussing or sharing information regarding students to any other person who does not have a legitimate educational interest in the information.
The Interactive Process
The purpose of the interactive process is to aid the Coordinator in making a determination regarding which accommodations, if any, will be provided to the student. During the interactive process, the Coordinator may ask the student relevant questions that will enable them, on behalf of the university, in making in informed decision about the request. It is preferable to meet in person with the student to discuss their accommodation request.The need to meet in person is most often dictated by the complexity of the request and the level of supporting documentation provided in support of the request. However, given that many students are distance learners and others may have demanding academic and clinical loads associated with their degree plan, the Coordinator will work with students to identify the most effective means of communication. For example, meetings can take place over the phone, using Skype, or via email if needed.
Typically, students should be prepared to describe the nature of the barrier which has prompted their request and how the proposed/requested adjustment will reduce or eliminate the barrier. While significant value is placed upon the student’s self-report and request, the university ultimately determines the approved adjustment taking into account factors such as technical standards and whether or not the requested accommodation might fundamentally alter the nature of any given program. Students have the right to refuse or accept any offered accommodation.
Participating in the inter-active process is a shared responsibility between the student and the university. Although the student is not required to identify the exact accommodation or adjustment that is necessary, they should be able to describe the difficulty they are experiencing in obtaining equal access and how this difficulty if related to their disability.
Your Rights and Responsibilities
Students have the right:
- To have an equal opportunity to access courses, programs, services, and activities at the university
- To request reasonable accommodations, academic adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids and services
- To expect their health and disability related information will be treated confidentiality, except as disclosures are required or permitted by law
Students have the responsibility:
- To identify themselves and their need for an accommodation to the university in a timely manner or as soon as the need for an accommodation is evident
- To submit appropriate documentation in support of their request to the ADA Coordinator
- To fully participate in an inter-active process in order to determine reasonable accommodations
- To immediately notify the ADA Coordinator if approved accommodations are not being implemented or are no longer needed
Your Rights and Responsibilities
Faculty has the right to:
- Establish essential requirements for courses, programs, services, or activities
- Assign grades based upon a student’s demonstrated mastery of the course content
- Expect a timely notification of any approved accommodations a student requires for equal access
- Engage in an interactive discussion with the ADA Coordinator concerning the reasonableness of any approved accommodation
Faculty has the responsibility to:
- Implement approved accommodations in order to provide equal access to students with disabilities
- Be informed and cognizant of laws and university policy pertaining to the rights of students with disabilities to equal access and the provision of reasonable accommodations, including auxiliary aids and services
- Comply with FERPA requirements regarding the confidentiality of student educational records
- Refrain from sharing disability related information, including accommodation plans, with those who do not have a legitimate educational need to know
FERPA and Confidentiality
All disability-related information, including accommodation letters, correspondence, and consultations, is considered confidential and must be managed in accordance with FERPA regulations. This includes electronic, paper, oral, and any other types of communication.
FERPA only permits sharing with individuals who have a legitimate educational interest: if they are not a faculty member/instructor responsible for teaching or assessing learning outcomes in a given semester, they probably do not have a legitimate educational interest in the student’s disability-related information. Please contact the ADA Coordinator for consultation and guidance if needed.
The ADA Coordinator will provide a formal notification in the form of a Letter of Accommodation to the responsible Associate Dean (AD). The AD is responsible for ensuring the appropriate faculty members are notified of the approved adjustments and ensuring the faculty members understand the accommodations must be implemented.
Faculty members questioning the reasonableness or appropriateness of an accommodation should immediately notify the ADA Coordinator and/or AD of their concern. Faculty must continue to implement the approved accommodation until such time as a re-review and possible redetermination is made by the ADA Coordinator and Associate Dean.
Approved accommodations are valid until the student completes their degree program or until the student notifies the ADA Coordinator that the accommodation is no longer necessary. Short-term, temporary accommodations will be valid for a specific duration as documented in the notification letter. Students may seek additional accommodations or request a modification to an existing accommodation at any point in time.
Recommended Syllabus Statement
A well designed access statement indicates the faculty member’s level of commitment to designing their course in a way that welcomes all students, including those with a disability, and provides guidance to those students who experience disability-related barriers.
As a minimum, the statement should include contact information for the ADA / Disability Services Office and be placed prominently (preferably within the first page) of the syllabus.
Sample Syllabus / Handbook Statement
UAMS is committed to providing equal access to learning opportunities to students with disabilities. To ensure access to any class or program, please contact the ADA Coordinator to engage in a confidential conversation about the process for requesting accommodations in the classroom and clinical settings.
Accommodations are not applied retroactively. Students are encouraged to register with the ADA Coordinator’s office as soon as they begin their program or as soon as the student recognizes their need for an adjustment.
UAMS encourages students to access all resources available through the ADA Office for consistent support and access to their programs. More information can be found online at http://students.uams.edu/ada-student-disability-services/ or by calling the office at (501) 526-5641.