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Disability Access for Students

Recommended By: Disabled Student Services Advisory Committee and Academic Senate
Ruben Armiñana, PresidentDate of Original Issue: February 21, 1994
Date of Issue: May 18, 2005 (Revises 6-1-99 policy)
Effective Date: May 18, 2005
Contact Office: Disabled Student Services

Policy #2005-2

  1. Policy Statement
    The California State University (CSU) Policy for Provisions of Accommodations and Support Services to Students with Disabilities prohibits unlawful discrimination against students on the basis of disability in CSU Programs, services, and activities in accordance with, but not limited to, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA); Sections 504 and 508 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended; and applicable California state laws. The CSU Policy is consistent with current applicable federal and state laws concerning the non-discrimination of students on the basis of disability.
    Sonoma State University is committed to providing an inclusive environment, which is responsive to the needs of all students. To ensure this inclusion, appropriate accommodations are provided to students and prospective students who have self-identified with verified disabilities and who require these accommodations in order to enjoy access to university programs, services, or activities for which the individuals are otherwise qualified. Accommodations will not be provided if they fundamentally alter or impact the nature of the program, inappropriately impede access for others or cause a direct threat to the health and safety of the student with a disability or others. The University’s goal is to provide an equivalent academic experience and learning opportunity, not to guarantee the success of the student’s education or career.
    These accommodations may include architectural access changes, close-in or adapted parking or seating, library assistance, interpreters, extended time and/or alternative format for exams, auxiliary aids, as well as academic adjustments, or other accommodations necessary for a particular individual’s needs.
  2. Specific Roles and Responsibilities
    While the Managing Director of Disability Student Services (DSS) maintains authority to review and verify disabilities and to determine accommodations, and the DSS serves as the office to authorize and dispense services and accommodations, the entire campus community is mandated to assure equal access to programs and activities of the University.
    In accordance with the law, SSU respects the rights of students to choose whether or not to self-identify. Campus personnel may have specific tasks or areas of concern but SSU understands that it is improper to inquire or probe regarding perceived disabilities.
    The University views the provision of reasonable accommodation for students with disabilities as a cooperative and interactive effort involving students, faculty, staff and administrators.
    1. Students with Disabilities:
      In order for students with disabilities (both permanent and temporary) to receive academic accommodations students must self-identify with the DSS office and provide medical/appropriate professional documentation of functional limitations of their disabling condition. Information acquired during this process is confidential and will be shared upon consent of the student. To obtain accommodations, students must:
      1. Self-identify as a student with a disability and in need of access or accommodation at SSU by initiating a meeting with a Disability Management (DM) Advisor in DSS.
      2. Provide appropriate verification of the disability (ies) and request specific academic accommodation(s) based upon the documented functional limitations associated with the individual’s disability, per SSU guidelines.
      3. Discuss disability and accommodation requests with a DM Advisor to obtain approval for specific accommodation(s) prior to and with sufficient advance notice to implement needed services. Some services may need to be coordinated with faculty and vendors well in advance of the start of the semester (e.g. Brailled materials, interpreters).
      4. Actively engage in the interactive process of determining reasonable and appropriate accommodations with faculty and DSS staff.
      5. Personally and directly contact faculty regarding the approved accommodation(s) and provide them with written authorization from DM Advisor within the first 2 weeks of classes, if possible.
      6. If a disagreement arises regarding the implementation of the “approved” accommodation, the student is expected to discuss the matter first with the faculty member, then with the DM Advisor, and if not resolved, confer with the DSS Managing Director. If still unresolved, the student may, when appropriate, initiate the “Conflict Resolution Options” section of this document.
    2. Disabled Student Services Office and Staff:
      The University has designated Disabled Student Services as the office responsible for receiving, reviewing, and verifying disability documentation for students, authorizing and providing specialized support services, and assisting faculty, staff, and managers in providing equal access with reasonable and appropriate accommodations, within a reasonable and timely manner. The role of DSS is to:
      1. Verify the existence of a disability (ies) and the need for academic accommodations based on documentation provided from an appropriately qualified professional, as specified by standards established by the California State University and relevant state and federal guidelines.
      2. Assess requests for accommodations by students and make recommendations and/or authorize reasonable access methods or services, based on the functional limitations associated with the student’s disability, which is clearly documented in the student’s psychoeducational assessments and/or medical records. Specific specialized assistive services, such as sign language interpreters, readers, scribes, note takers, extended examination times, separate rooms, and assistive technology will be provided as appropriate.
      3. Initiate contact with faculty regarding a student with a disability only when authorized by the student or if deemed professionally necessary to do so.
      4. Work cooperatively with departments in the interactive process of examining requests for accommodations to ensure that appropriate access for eligible students with disabilities is provided.
      5. Provide training for faculty, staff and managers in the provision of services, including teaching strategies, for working with students with disabilities.
      6. Provide outreach to the campus community regarding disability awareness, services available, procedures for acquiring and providing accommodations, and resolving disputes.
      7. Work with campus administration to analyze trends, identify problems with campus-wide provision of access, and advise corrective actions to optimize access to campus programs.
    3. Faculty:
      The academic departments are responsible for developing educational practices that provide equal educational access to qualified students with disabilities and to utilize teaching and evaluation methods that measure knowledge of course content and skills during tests or examinations, rather than measuring the presence of a disability. Responsibilities include:
      1. Faculty should determine learning goals and objectives for each course and academic program, the essential elements of the course and curriculum, and determine how learning outcomes will be assessed for all students. Different modalities may be determined appropriate for diverse disabilities. Faculty are neither required nor expected to lower academic standards nor fundamentally alter the essential elements of the course or program to accommodate students.
      2. Faculty are encouraged to include a statement on the course outline that advises students with disabilities to register with the DSS if they think they may require academic accommodations. Students should be advised to self-identify during the first few weeks of the semester in order to benefit from all appropriate services and accommodations.
      3. Faculty should refer a student who self-discloses as an individual with a disability to the DSS office and must maintain the student’s confidentiality.
      4. Once the student has self-identified to the DSS, faculty must maintain confidentiality, and work with the student and the DM Advisor to review alternative formats for educational materials in advance of the need for such materials.
      5. Faculty are required to respond to the DSS-approved requests for accommodation promptly. If unable to provide the authorized accommodation, faculty must consult with the student and the DM Advisor to determine an alternative reasonable accommodation in order to provide the student equal access to learning materials and the learning environment.
      6. If the recommended and approved accommodation is not deemed appropriate or reasonable for access to programs or course objectives, faculty must participate in an interactive process of examination in an attempt to find a successful resolution. Faculty should bring such requests to the attention of the department chair, and include the school dean and the DSS as appropriate to seek assistance in providing access.
      7. Faculty should participate in training sessions and educational activities such as those provided by the campus to learn and maintain awareness of access/accommodation issues in order to include them when designing new or redesigning existing curriculum and programs.
      8. Faculty should work with appropriate campus personnel to ensure that electronic and all other instructional information for their courses is in an accessible and suitable format for students with disabilities.
      9. Faculty should work with appropriate managers and campus personnel to maintain access features on equipment or services used as part of their curricula. This may include working with department chairs and deans to ensure that features which
        provide access are properly serviced or repaired in a timely manner.
    4. Other Campus Staff:
      1. Promptly facilitate requests made by students or faculty regarding accommodations as appropriate.
      2. Treat all matters related to those students with disabilities as confidential in accordance with law and policy.
      3. If concerned about a student, consult with the student with disability and maintain student’s right to confidentiality. Confer with the designated appropriate administrator with respect to confidentiality to assess best referrals and procedures. All campus personnel may consult with the DSS as needed.
      4. Managers are to:
        1. Ensure that the faculty and staff of their programs adhere to the guidelines set forth in this Policy.
        2. Ensure that employees respond to requests in a timely, effective and appropriate manner.
        3. Work with appropriate campus personnel to provide access/accommodation to new or redesigned programs or facilities, accessible communications/information, and maintenance of accessible/adaptive features on equipment.
        4. Work cooperatively with the DSS in the interactive process of examining requests for accommodation within their units.
      5. Advisory Committee:
        A campus Disabled Student Advisory Committee is mandated by the CSU and the president of the university (or designee) appoints committee members. This committee assists in the evaluation of current campus policies and procedures relating to campus accessibility, architectural access priorities, and academic accommodation of students with disabilities. The committee advises on programs, strategies, and timelines for providing access to the university. See separate document re: committee Charge and membership.
    5. Conflict Resolution Options
      1. Students are required to actively engage in an interactive process of examining the dispute to attempt to find a successful resolution. Faculty, staff, managers, and students are expected to participate in a good faith effort in this process. Appropriate documentation shall be kept by all parties during this review and decisions made regarding the resolution shall be maintained.
      2. The DSS has the primary responsibility for processing accommodation requests under appropriate guidelines, procedures and laws.
      3. Consideration will be given to a student’s request for a preferred method of accommodation within the guidelines and procedures established, but other reasonable accommodations may be authorized if appropriate.
      4. If a student disagrees with the determination of a faculty member or other service provider, informal methods of conflict resolution will be attempted by conferring with the student, faculty, staff, DSS and the designated appropriate administrators. The SSU Non Discrimination Policy describes the appropriate procedures for mediation and conflict resolution, both informal and formal.
      5. The student may use appeal procedures as appropriate, including departmental appeal procedures, the Student Grievance Procedures or Grade Appeal Procedures. This should include discussion and mediation, as warranted, with the faculty member, the department chair, and the dean of the school. Students may also elect to use the Discrimination Complaint Procedures by consulting with the Compliance Office in Human Services.
      6. The student has the right to file a complaint directly with the Office for Civil Rights, United States Department of Education, or other appropriate agencies, in lieu of or in addition to using university procedures to resolve the conflict.

Updated May 18, 2005 by