A disability is a medical or mental health condition that substantially limits one or more major life activities of an individual.
Major life activities are those activities that the average person can do with little or no difficulty, such as walking, seeing, hearing, talking, breathing, learning, concentrating, caring for oneself, working, etc.
A substantial limitation is a significant restriction in the condition, manner, or duration in which a major life activity is performed compared to most people. The activity must be limited to a considerable extent by the impairment for that individual to be protected by federal statutes.
An individual with a disability is any person who:
- Has a disability
- Has a record of a disability
- Is regarded as having a disability or has a relationship with someone who has a disability
Those in category (1) are entitled to reasonable accommodations to ensure equality of opportunity to participate in Mount Mary University’s programs and activities. Those in category (2) and (3) are protected from discrimination on the basis of disability only. Students in category (1) must be academically qualified to meet the university's academic and technical standards for admission or participation in its educational programs and activities.
According to the federal law these are adjustments or modifications made to school policy, or specific supports or services provided to a student with a disability, to enable the student to participate in school programs, including admissions, academics, housing, athletics, recreation, extracurricular activities, transportation, counseling, health insurance and financial aid.
An accommodation is unreasonable if it is an “undue burden”, would be considered a “fundamental alteration”, is for a personal service, or would be a direct threat to safety; evaluation of either reason must be done in consultation with The Office of Accessibility Services. The University has an obligation to respond to all accommodation requests from individuals with an appropriately documented disability.
Reasonable accommodations are intended only to provide students with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate. They do not guarantee success or prevent failure for the student's academic program. If students cannot meet the essential program requirements and achievement standards, with or without accommodations, they are not considered qualified individuals with disabilities. Standards do not have to be lowered nor do essential requirements need to be waived to allow students with disabilities to participate.
Only students who have completed the required process with the Director of Accessibility Services are able to use accommodations. All faculty should receive a confidential letter of accommodation (LOA) directly from the student sent from Accessibility Services. Students must meet with the Director of Accessibility Services and provide the required documentation. The accommodations are effective when the faculty receives the (LOA), even if the LOA is dated with a prior date. LOA are not retroactive.
Students are expected to self-advocate for their needs much more in the post-secondary setting, which is quite different then what their role was in high school. The Office of Accessibility Services works to inform students of this, and your reinforcement of that message would be helpful. The student must make the first move by contacting Accessibility Services and submitting the requested documentation.
In preparation for a semester-long working relationship with you, students are advised to introduce themselves during the first few weeks of the semester to request their accommodations and to inform you of any additional information that will help you to assist them throughout the semester.
It is also the student’s responsibility to notify their instructors of their need for accommodations in a timely manner. The Office of Accessibility Services reinforces this expectation during the students' accommodation meeting and explains that instructors are not obligated to arrange accommodations if they have not been given adequate time to make the necessary arrangements. Students must also make themselves available to you to discuss their availability (including when else they may have class or tests scheduled which would interfere with your preferred testing time). If the student does not feel that the identified accommodations are meeting their needs, they are expected to discuss their concerns with the Office of Accessibility Services.
Students must also regularly attend class, complete assignments, and meet the same academic requirements that other students must meet. A student’s right to accommodations is not retroactive. They are only guaranteed after the student provides documentation, eligibility is determined, and the student formally requests accommodations.
An instructor has the right to confirm a student’s request for accommodations and to ask for clarification about a specific accommodation with the Office of Accessibility Services. Instructors do not have the right to refuse to provide an accommodation or to review a student’s documentation which may include diagnostic data. Instructors have a responsibility to work with the Office of Accessibility Services in providing reasonable accommodations, keep all records and communications with students confidential, and to refer a student to the Office of Accessibility Services who requests accommodations but is not currently registered.
Instructors do not have to provide accommodations for students not registered with the Office of Accessibility Services, but may choose to make informal adjustments at their own discretion; this may be most salient when a student is experiencing a temporary impairment, such as an injury from which they are expected to fully recover, or as a student is going through the documentation process with Office of Accessibility Services.
Just as with all students, instructors carry the ultimate responsibility for conveying the course content and assessing the learning of students with disabilities. If a student needs to be accommodated, the student will provide you with a copy of their accommodation letter, typically within the first few weeks of the semester. Included in the notice will be the student’s name and a description of the approved accommodations that you need to provide. If complex or time-consuming accommodations are involved (e.g., converting your instructional materials to a tactile form, enlarging handouts, etc.) the Office of Accessibility Services will try to notify you well in advance of the start of the semester. Accessibility Services will assist you in converting materials if needed.
Note: there may be limitations to best practices outlined above. Examples would include actions of students who may delay qualifying for disability services or alter their class schedules at the last minute, and when teaching assignments occur relatively late.
If accommodations are going to be adjusted please immediately contact the Accessibility Coordinator, and speak with the student to discuss an equally effective academic accommodation, adjustment and/or auxiliary aids to meet the documented needs.
Faculty need to assist in the implementation of accommodations as appropriate (e.g. confidentially recruit a volunteer student note taker in class, enlarge class materials, work with interpreters, use of wireless audio transmitters).
Students’ accommodations are legally mandated. No accommodations can be discontinued or refused unilaterally without a formal administrative consultation and legal review. Doing so will likely put MMU in non-compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act Amended (ADAAA) 2008, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
If you have a concern, start by discussing this with the Office of Accessibility Services. With further explanation, you may agree that the accommodations are both reasonable and doable.
If unique aspects of your course were not fully considered, then alterations to previously approved accommodations may be needed. If you feel the accommodations are inappropriate, please review your course objectives and forward information to the Director of Accessibility Services explaining why the identified accommodation would compromise your course objective(s). The matter will be reviewed with the appropriate University administration.
NOTE: Be aware that delays in the negotiations or implementation of accommodations can be construed as a form of discrimination against the student.
The student should be referred to Accessibility Services, and the faculty should return the letter to the student with no discussion of modifications, or class accommodations. If the letter discussed need for class absences that should be referred to the Coordinator of Academic Services, or Accessibility Services. Please do not negotiate accommodations with the student without involving academic or student support services. Please do not provide any type of accommodations to students who do not have a letter of accommodation.
The disability status of students must be kept confidential and discretion is key! Simply sharing that the student has an accommodation letter and will test in the Student Success Center is disclosure that they have a disability. Please make every possible effort to discuss testing and other accommodations with students in privacy to ensure confidentiality. Also make sure that the LOA is kept in a confidential place. A student may choose to disclose her/his disability, however students are not required to disclose any information about their disability, except to provide the letter of accommodation.
A student with a LOA has already disclosed the specifics required to the appropriate office. The Director of Accessibility Services will work with faculty to optimize your teaching environment, assisting with maintaining academic integrity for all students. Students receiving LOA are given the strong message that accommodations will provide access, and remove barriers to learning, assisting with academic achievement. However, accommodations are not a tool for special privileges, students with disabilities have the same academic expectations as other students.
Students with disabilities should generally be expected to meet stated attendance requirements, but there are instances for exceptions. A class attendance rule should be modified to accommodate a student if recommended in the student’s accommodation letter, and if attendance is not essential to the meet class requirements. However, if the class involves weekly labs, involves interaction between students, or students and the instructor, participation in the class is a grade requirement or is an essential element for learning the class material, then a student who cannot attend all essential class meetings may not be otherwise qualified to participate and complete the class.
Students are expected to communicate with faculty when they will be missing class, and to develop a plan to make up work that was missed. For extended or multiple absences, it may no longer be academically practicable for a student to be able to learn the course objectives. In this circumstance, a student may need to take a medical withdrawal.
For additional information, please see the “Consideration Of” Accommodation Policy.
Instructors can set deadlines in their syllabi that are distributed at the start of each semester. Students with disabilities should be expected to meet these deadlines, particularly when the deadlines are explicitly stated and students are given a number of weeks to complete the assignment. However, occasionally, a student's disability may require a reasonable extension. The need for that type of adjustment will be outlined on a student’s accommodation letter and should be explored between the student and instructor to determine whether or not some amount of deadline flexibility could be appropriate on specific assignments, as well as an agreed upon system for letting the instructor know on the rare occasions when this flexibility is necessary. Any deadline flexibility is meant to address acute need, and is not designed to extend all due-dates in a class.
Student with disabilities should have the opportunity to participate in lab work the same as their non-disabled peers. Instructors should contact Accessibility Services if they have questions or concerns about appropriate lab accommodations or modifications to ensure that all students can perform labs tasks safely.
Instructors are assured of their right to teach course content that they deem to appropriate to their classes. Steps must be taken to ensure that those chosen materials are accessible to students with disabilities to ensure compliance with disability-access laws. Instructors are ultimately responsible for providing accessible class materials, but may request assistance from Accessibility Services in converting clean source materials.
Accommodations do not guarantee success, nor do they prevent failure. Yes, instructors can fail students with disabilities the same as they can fail any student who has not met the essential requirements of the class. Grading decisions based on disability status or the use of accommodations are discriminatory, and illegal.
It is important for instructors to remember that providing reasonable accommodations to a student with a disability does not guarantee success in the course. Students with disabilities may not master the course material, just like any other student. Students with disabilities have the same right as other students to fail as part of their educational experience.
The required accessibility statement included on every course syllabus helps to open doors for the student seeking assistance. In the first week of classes please refer students to your syllabus statement and remind students where to find services in the Accessibility Office (HL, room 124, Sara Sharpe Krenke, Director of Accessibility Services, (414) 930 – 3173).
If feasible, you can offer the student a confidential meeting to discuss the best way to obtain services. Many students do not self-identify or recognize that Attention Deficit Disorder, depression, anxiety, mental health diagnoses, and medical conditions may be considered qualifying disabilities under the ADA.
A student with a disability who is disruptive in class and impeding others ability to learn, should be treated as any other student who is displaying inappropriate behavior. If an instructor feels that there is a disability-related reason for the student’s behavior, the instructor can discuss this with Accessibility Services to determine if there is a solution to the problem or strategies for addressing the behavior.
Campus safety is a significant concern of all colleges and universities. All campus employees must be aware of the University’s safety practices, procedures, and emergency plans before an incident occurs and to follow those plans should an emergency occur. If anyone on campus displays violent behavior, contact the Public Safety Office at 414-930-3333 or 414-807-9560.
Please refer the student to Accessibility Services first. Even though responding immediately may seem more efficient (or friendlier), acting on a student’s self-report is outside of established policy and problems can result (e.g., unwarranted or uneven treatment of students, unnecessary work for you, etc.)
If a student feels that discrimination based on disability has occurred, the student should follow the grievance procedure as stated in the university's policy document, “Policy for Accessibility Services.”
Otherwise qualified students who request accommodation, according to the Universities’ published procedures for a documented disability, and who believe that reasonable accommodation(s) has been denied, may submit a written appeal of the denial to the Dean for Student Affairs. The written appeal must be submitted within ten (10) school days of the alleged denial and identify the following:
- the date the accommodation(s) request in question was made
- identification of the student’s disability
- the accommodation(s) sought
- copies of the Accommodation Request and Accommodation Plan forms verifying the current accommodation plan.
The student also must attach any additional documentation regarding the disability that the Dean for Student Affairs should review. Within ten (10) school days of his/her review, the Director will inform the student as to whether the proper accommodation procedures have been followed. During the course of the appeal process, and if all preliminary procedures to request accommodations have been followed by the student, the University will continue to provide the reasonable accommodation(s) offered at the accommodation conference with the student and outlined in the Accommodation Plan form. The decision of the Dean for Student Affairs will be considered final. The student’s filing of an appeal according to this procedure does not mean that the student gives up his/her right to pursue other appeal processes through outside regulatory agencies.
Students with disabilities are subject to the policy on academic dishonesty the same as their non-disabled peers. The matter should be discussed between the instructor and the student, and the appropriate college office administrator if appropriate. However, accommodations are entitlement-based, not rewards for good or bad behavior, and if the student remains in the class, accommodations must be maintained.