Policies and Procedures
I. OFFICE OF DISABILITY SERVICES
A. Policy Statement
The mission of the office of Disability Services (DS) is to assist East Central University (ECU) students with disabilities by offering services to promote and ensure that no student with a disability is denied the benefits of, excluded from participation in, or otherwise subjected to discrimination under educational programs and activities in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (Section 504), and applicable state law. Student input is vital to this mission.
DS will work in collaboration with the student to determine what accommodations are needed through individualized discussion. While DS primarily serves the student population, the office will also serve as a resource for faculty members and departments charged with the responsibility of providing academic access to students with disabilities. The philosophy of DS is to promote independence and inclusion while pursuing innovation in services for students with disabilities at ECU.
DS is the designated campus office that verifies whether or not a student has a documented disability that significantly impacts the student’s ability to access educational programs. DS will determine the appropriateness of a requested accommodation on an individualized, case by case basis according to their disability documentation. Students with disabilities are encouraged to notify and collaborate with DS to identify, establish the need for, and obtain accommodations.
DS is committed to providing access for all students with disabilities to educational programs and activities in accordance with the ADA, Section 504, and applicable state law. The following policies and procedures have been developed to facilitate this access.
B. Function of Staff Members
The following is a brief summary of the functions of staff members in DS. In addition to the listed duties, DS staff also routinely performs a variety of other activities to provide services to students with disabilities and the ECU community as required by law and University policy.
The Coordinator of Disability Services coordinates the overall administrative operations of DS including, but not limited to, managing DS staff and promoting campus-wide efforts to provide access.
During an intake meeting, the student’s expressed needs are reviewed with the Coordinator. The submitted documentation of a disability will be evaluated, eligibility for services determined, and any requests for reasonable accommodations will be discussed. The appropriateness of an accommodation is determined by professional documentation on a case by case basis and involves the student, DS Coordinator, and, if necessary, representatives from other University departments.
With input from faculty and students, the Accommodation Specialist will coordinate and supervise the administration of adaptive course testing services. Students are responsible for informing the Accommodation Specialist of course materials they need in an alternate format in a timely manner. Students will also work with the Accommodation Specialist to receive note taking and use of assistive technology in order to receive reasonable accommodations for coursework.
DS employs student workers to support the office in providing necessary services.
II. PROCEDURES FOR STUDENT REQUESTS FOR REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS
A. Prior to Admission
If an applicant with a disability requires accommodations to facilitate the admission process, the applicant should make his/her needs known to the Office of Admissions and Records prior to their visit.
Admission to the University is based upon requirements established by the Office of Admissions and Records in accordance to University policy. Admission decisions are made without regard to disabilities. All prospective students are expected to present academic credentials that meet or exceed the minimum requirements for admissions. Information about the University’s admission requirements is available from the office of Admissions and Records, Administration, 1100 East 14th, Ada, OK 74820, 580.559.5000.
B. After Admission
It is the responsibility of the student to self-identify as an individual with a disability. Furthermore, a student or prospective student is not obligated to self-identify, unless he/she is requesting accommodations from the University.
A student with a disability may request accommodations by contacting DS to schedule an intake appointment. Students are requested to send their current documentation of disability to the Office of Disability Service, in advance of their intake appointment. The documentation will be evaluated according to established DS guidelines. These guidelines will be furnished by DS upon request.
Timely requests are crucial to the process of facilitating accommodations. Retroactive accommodations will not be provided. A student who is requesting accommodations that require significant lead time such as books in audiotape, e-text, or Braille format, should make those needs known as far in advance as possible.
C. Confidentiality and Disclosure of Information
Disability documentation is considered confidential information and does not become part of a student’s permanent record. Disability information is housed in the Office of Disability Services unless the student submits the documentation to another campus department. Copies of disability documentation are not provided to anyone. Students should obtain a copy of their disability documentation from the original source and retain a copy for their personal records.
D. Evaluating Requests for Reasonable Accommodations
In evaluating requests for accommodation, DS shall consider the following criteria, as they apply to each request.
- Whether the disability documentation meets established guidelines.
- Whether the disability documentation supports the request for a specific accommodation.
- Whether the accommodation is reasonable and effective as mandated by the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
- Whether the accommodation is of a personal nature (the University is not required to grant accommodations of a personal nature.)
- Whether the student will be assured of participation in the particular program without the accommodation.
- What alternative accommodations are available to provide the student with the same or similar content and/or level of instruction for the particular course.
- Whether the accommodation will fundamentally alter the particular course, degree requirements, or other academic program as determined by the appropriate faculty member, department chair, Dean and University officials.*
- Whether a requested accommodation constitutes an undue burden to the University.
*Faculty, department chairs, Deans and other University officials determine what constitutes adequate curriculum requirements, what courses are necessary to the degree requirements, and whether the nature and objectives of individual courses have been met.
E. Accommodation Process
Students seeking accommodations have a responsibility to contact DS to schedule an initial intake appointment. During this initial appointment, the student and the Disability Services Coordinator will review disability related documentation (which should be submitted in advance), and discuss the student’s expressed needs and requests for accommodations. Students will be given the opportunity to have input regarding the type and extent of any accommodations provided.
After the intake process and a Request for Services form is completed by the student, the Disability Services Coordinator will make a determination regarding appropriate accommodations. If the request meets the criteria set forth in Section II. D, the Disability Services Coordinator will complete and sign an ADA Accommodation Notification of Faculty and Staff form. It is the student’s responsibility to take the completed form to the appropriate instructor for review and signature. After all signatures are complete the student will leave the instructor’s copy and return the top copy to the DS office to be placed in their file. The student is encouraged to keep their copy in their personal records.
Prior to or at the beginning of each semester, the student should make an appointment with the Disability Services Coordinator to complete a Request for Services form. Current accommodation needs will be discussed in order to complete the Faculty Notification process as discussed above. The student is responsible for obtaining and distributing the ADA Accommodation Notification of Faculty and Staff forms in a timely manner. Untimely requests for and/or distribution of these forms may result in a delay, substitution or denial of an accommodation.
F. Requests for Modification of Academic Requirements
A request for modification of academic requirements is an interactive process involving the student, Disability Services Coordinator, faculty, staff and administration to outline accommodations and define alterations, if any, to academic programs of the University. In providing accommodations, neither the University nor the teaching faculty is required to fundamentally alter its courses, curriculum, degree requirements or program objectives.
Modifications to academic courses and/or requirements are approved only where it is demonstrated that the accommodations will not alter the program objectives or affect academic integrity. Such requests by the student must be submitted in writing to the faculty member or academic departments. DS will discuss the matter with the student and appropriate University personnel (e.g. Dean, department chair, or faculty), who will issue a decision to the student.
G. Requests for Non-Academic Accommodations
Students or other individuals with disabilities seeking to obtain accommodations unrelated to academic access (and therefore outside the responsibility of DS) from programs departments or other University affiliated organizations, may request accommodations for an upcoming event, activity, or other University sanctioned function. These students or individuals with disabilities may or may not be registered with DS. Upon request, DS will serve as a resource for determining whether if and how the accommodation should be provided. Documentation of the individual’s disability may be required to support the request for accommodation.
In the case of non-academic accommodations, DS will not assume the costs. In these cases, it is the financial responsibility of the sponsoring program, department or other University affiliated organization.
Requests for non-academic accommodations must be made to the responsible office, department or other university affiliated organization in a timely manner in order to provide the University sufficient time to evaluate the request and implement accommodations. Untimely requests may result in a delay, substitution, or denial of an accommodation.
III. DISABILITY SERVICES AND REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS
Accommodations may include, but are not limited to:
A. Exam Accommodations
The provision of accommodations for exams is an interactive process involving the student, the Disability Services Coordinator and Accommodation Specialist, and faculty. Faculty determine who will provide the agreed upon accommodations—either the faculty member or the Office of Disability Services. If exam accommodations are to be provided through DS, the student should adhere to the following procedures:
- Return the completed and signed Accommodation Notification for Faculty and Staff form for the courses in which testing has been determined to be a reasonable accommodation to DS.
- Obtain an Exam Assistance Request (EAR) Form from DS.
- Submit the EAR form to faculty for their completion.
- Notify DS ten (10) business days in advance or as soon as they are informed of the exam date. In the case of late requests, DS cannot guarantee implementation of the accommodation.
If exam accommodations are to be provided through DS, the faculty should adhere to the following procedures:
- Complete EAR form and return it to DS before the scheduled exam.
- Deliver class exam to DS office in a timely manner.
- Indicate to DS whether they will pick up completed exam or DS should return the exam by interoffice mail.
Exams should be administered at the regular exam time. With advance notice to the Accommodation Specialist and the approval from the faculty member, the day, time, and location of the exam may be changed. No early or late exams will be allowed without prior approval from the faculty member. Faculty approval will be needed to administer exams if a student arrives more than 15 minutes later than the originally scheduled time.
If a student misses an exam scheduled through DS, he/she needs to immediately contact the faculty member and the DS Accommodation Specialist. If an exam is missed, it will be returned to the faculty member.
B. Note Taking Accommodations
If note taking accommodations are to be provided through DS, the student should adhere to the following procedures:
- Return the completed and signed Accommodation Notification for Faculty and Staff form for the courses in which note taking has been determined to be a reasonable accommodation to DS.
- Note takers are identified from the class. Once a note taker has been secured, the student will provide them with NCR paper from DS.
- The student will collect class notes from volunteer note takers and return to DS as soon after class as possible. Notes should be stapled together by class, labeled, dated, with the student’s name and placed in the appropriate tray in the DS office. If a student does not drop their notes off on a regular basis, DS cannot guarantee a timely return of notes in the requested format.
- The student should come to DS at least once a week to pick up notes. The Standard expectation for note taking services is that if an individual does not pick up notes for two (2) consecutive weeks, the service will be discontinued.
Students will work to identify note takers from the class. Students should use a tape recorder as a back-up until a note taker can be located. In cases where students are unable to immediately find a note taker, faculty will be asked to help locate a student in class. DS will do its best to assist in finding a note taker, but there may be instances in which one cannot be secured.
Students should notify DS when there is a problem with note taking services or in the event that services are no longer needed.
C. Accommodations for Alternative Format (Audiotape, E-Text, Braille, Etc)
Students with disabilities, like all University students, are expected to purchase their own textbooks and course materials. Students with disabilities, however, will not be required to pay for the cost of converting books and written materials into alternative format.
It is the student’s responsibility to initiate requests for alternate format prior to the beginning of each semester. To the extent possible, DS recommends eight (8) weeks advance notice to assure that the needed materials are converted.
When written materials (tests, handouts, etc.) from class require conversion to an alternate format, it is the instructor’s responsibility to provide DS with the material as far in advance as possible to ensure materials can be converted in the time needed. In cases where materials are provided at the last minute, DS cannot guarantee conversion at the time requested.
Students need to complete the following steps before the process of converting materials into alternate format can begin:
- Upon completion of class registration each semester, submit a class schedule along with a list of books required for each class to the Accommodation Specialist. At this time, alternate format options, procedures, and reasonable expectation for receiving materials will be discussed. A signed agreement is generated at this meeting as to what is requested by the student and the procedures for providing the materials in alternate format.
- Students are required to provide copies of classroom materials.
- Students are encouraged to contact faculty early to obtain a class syllabus or to create a reading list if the syllabus is not immediately available. Syllabi and dated reading lists may be submitted by e-mail.
- In the case of extenuating circumstances which prevent a student from following the aforementioned procedures, students should contact the DS Accommodation Specialist to discuss other arrangements.
Important Information Regarding Alternate Format
Students are encouraged to obtain an individual membership with Learning Ally or Bookshare These are national services for individuals with qualifying print disabilities. As an individual member, students have access to thousands of books and periodicals in either audio or e-text. Students should speak with the Accommodation Specialist to obtain information on establishing an individual membership.
Since requests are filled on a first come, first served basis, late requests may result in a delay or substitution of the requested alternate format. Disability Services reserves the right to deliver optional types of alternate format to students as necessary to provide access. In such cases, DS will ensure that the format is accessible to the student. Students will be notified and involved in the process of deciding the best types of optional services.
It is generally recommended that students make arrangements to pick up materials regularly. If alternate format is being provided in installments, DS will make every effort to notify the student that it is available for pickup.
Students should notify the Accommodation Specialist immediately if there are any changes in the status of a request or if there are any problems with the alternate format materials. The Accommodation Specialist should be notified immediately if some or all the readings for a course are no longer needed or if the course is dropped. In the event a student makes a formal request for texts in an alternate format and doesn’t pick up the materials requested by mid-term of the semester the request was made, future requests cannot be guaranteed.
Audio books and loaned equipment should be returned to DS at the end of the semester. DS will attempt to contact the student when audio books and loaned equipment are not returned. If a student is not cooperative in returning loaned equipment or other loaned items a hold may be placed on their enrollment through the Bursar’s Office.
Copyrighted materials reproduced in an accessible format by DS for a individual with a disability may not be copied, shared, distributed, or sold, except in accordance with the provisions of the copyright laws.
IV. PERSONAL AIDS AND EQUIPMENT
Students with disabilities are permitted to use personal aids and specialized equipment, as long as the aid or equipment does not interfere with other students or the faculty member. Faculty members may work with students on alternative aids and equipment that might assist students in accessing academic materials. Problems related to the use of aids or equipment in the classroom should be referred to DS for resolution.
Students are responsible for providing their own personal devices or services, including, but not limited to the following: wheelchairs or wheelchair repair, personal transportation; computers and software for use at home; individually prescribed devices; prescription eyeglasses; hearing aids; readers for personal use; alternate format materials unrelated to academic courses; or services of a personal nature including assistance in eating, using the toilet, bathing, or dressing. As appropriate, DS will make referrals to agencies or organizations that may be available to assist students in fulfilling needs outside of the jurisdiction of DS.
A. Personal Care Attendants
Attendants are authorized to accompany students with disabilities and to perform both personal and academic tasks for them, such as taking notes, scribing, and turning pages. These attendants should not, however, interfere with other students or the teaching faculty member. Problems that relate to personal attendant services should be referred to the Disability Services office.
B. Service Animals
A certified service animal can be any guide dog, signal-dog, protective-dog, task-dog or other animal (not necessarily a dog) used to perform tasks for the benefit of a student with a disability. Unless an animal poses a hazard to the safety or physical well being of others, students with disabilities are automatically authorized to use guide dogs in all classes, labs or other environments on the University campus. The necessity for other animals in specialized situations, however, must be reviewed by DS. In such cases, DS will render a decision related to the necessity of the service animal. A student must submit documentation to verify the need for a service animal other than a guide dog to DS. In all cases of a service animal, the student is to submit documentation of the certification of the service animal. The University reserves the right to review the guidelines for the use of the service animal as provided by the certifying agency. Faculty members should not authorize the use of a service animal (other than a guide dog) and should not allow unauthorized animals to enter classrooms. All issues related to service animals should be referred to DS.
V. RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITES
A. Student Rights
Students with disabilities cannot be denied the benefits of, excluded from participation in, or otherwise subjected to discrimination under educational programs and activities in accordance with the ADA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended, and any applicable state laws. Students have a right to an individualized assessment of documentation; timely delivery of services consistent with the notice provided by the student; confidentiality; and prompt equitable investigation and resolution of complaints.
B. Student Responsibilities
Students with disabilities have a responsibility to self-identify; self-advocate for individual needs; provide early notice of an accommodation request; adhere to the policy and procedures for accessing accommodations; and fully participate in the accommodation process.
VI. GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES
A. Resolution of Grievances through the University Judicial System
Claims of discrimination on the basis of disability, such as claims of differential treatment or harassment, are directed to and resolved by University grievance process (See ECU Student Handbook).
B. Resolution of Grievances through Formal Process
Formal grievances related to the failure to provide reasonable accommodations may be initiated through the ADA/504 Compliance Officer who will attempt to achieve an informal resolution of the grievance. If an informal resolution cannot be achieved, the ADA/504 Compliance Officer will appoint an ad hoc Disability Grievance Committee to hear the case. Then the ADA/504 Compliance Officer will issue a formal ruling. If the grievance is against the Office of Disability Services, the ADA/504 Compliance Officer will issue a formal ruling unless it reverses the recommendation of the ad hoc Disability Grievance Committee. In this case, the grievance and recommendation of the ad hoc Disability Grievance Committee will be reviewed by the ______________ who will issue a formal ruling.
All written grievances should contain (1) a description of the nature of the complaint; (2) previous efforts at resolution; and (3) proposed remedy.
VII. ADAPTIVE TECHNOLOGY
Disability Services provides the following adaptive technology to ensure reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities:
- Dragon Naturally Speaking for Window (Speech recognition software)
- Jaws for Windows (Screen reading software)
- Scanners with Optical Character Recognition
- ZoomText for Windows and DOS (Screen magnification software)
- MegaDots Braille Translation Software
- VersaPoint Braille Embosser
- TextAloud (Text to voice software)
- Merlin Enhanced Vision CCTV
- MP3 Players (For books in audio format)
- 22” Widescreen Monitor
- Tactile Image Enhancer
- Perkins Brailler and Braille Paper
- Claroread software for Learning Disabilities
- Braille Label Maker