The Office for Students with Disabilities


What is the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD)?


The Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD) ensures equal access for students with disabilities by determining what accommodations are reasonable and appropriate. The OSD also teaches students with disabilities about their rights and responsibilities, encourages self-advocacy, and promotes empowerment. Furthermore, the OSD teaches students strategies for academic success, including test taking strategies, study skills, notetaking strategies, anxiety reducing techniques, etc.



What is "504"?


The Rehabilitation Act (1973), Section 504, Subpart E - Post-secondary Education, states that qualified persons with disabilities may not be denied, on the basis of their disability, access to any program or activity offered by an institution of higher education that receives federal financial assistance.



How does 504 differ from ADA?


The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (1990) Title III extended this mandate to include private institutions. Under ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act an individual with a disability is a person who: (1) has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits a major life activity; (2) has a record or history of such an impairment; or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 1991).



What does 504 require at postsecondary institutions?


Section 504 and ADA require that colleges and universities make reasonable accommodations to provide equal access to programs and eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability. For example, it may be necessary to remove classroom prohibitions against animals for students who are blind. It may be necessary to allow a student with a learning disability to have extended time on an exam or to allow lectures to be tape recorded when a disability impairs a student's ability to keep up with the instructor. Classes enrolling students with mobility impairments may have to be rescheduled to buildings that are more accessible. Thus, the adaptation is specific to the individual student. The ADA and 504 are not designed to ensure success but are designed to ensure equal access.



Does 504 mean lower academic standards?


No. Section 504 does not inhibit or infringe on institutions of higher education to establish academic requirements and standards.



What constitutes a disability and how does the OSD know whether a student is disabled?


The law states that students are responsible to make their limitations known and provide the designated compliance officer or disability services department (OSD) with the necessary documentation from an appropriate expert that the disability exists before any classroom accommodation need be provided.



What are my responsibilities?


As a faculty member, you are responsible for providing the requested accommodations in the classroom.



What are the students' responsibilities?


The student is responsible for declaring his/her disability with the OSD; for providing you with the OSD Accommodation Form, which provides information regarding the necessary accommodations; for requesting that tests be scheduled at the Testing Center or with OSD; for making an appointment to take the test; and for attending class regularly (unless there is a disability that interferes with regular class attendance).



How will I know if there are students with disabilities needing accommodations in my classroom?


The student will give you an Accommodation Form from the OSD. This form will provide you with the necessary accommodation(s) for the student.



What do I do when I receive an Accommodation Form from OSD?


Discuss the student's needs with the student in a confidential setting and make the necessary academic adjustments.



How can I be sure I am doing what is necessary to provide academic access?


As long as you provide the accommodations listed on the Accommodation Form, you are doing what is necessary to provide academic access.



Suppose I don't agree the accommodation is necessary? Can I contact the OSD Coordinator to find out more about a student's disability?


You may contact the OSD Coordinator. The Coordinator will provide you with information concerning the student's disability as it relates to the student's academic needs.



Suppose my discipline requires some specific competencies and technical abilities, which cannot be altered?


If specific requirements cannot be modified or waived, please immediately speak with the OSD Coordinator. It may be useful to utilize a committee approach.



How should I handle a student's disability information?


Please handle requests for accommodations with the utmost confidentiality. Make every effort to preserve the student's privacy and treat the student with the same dignity and respect you would any student. If you are soliciting a class volunteer to take notes for a student, this should be done without identifying the student with the disability. Also, maintain a file on the student and take notes on your interactions with the student and the accommodations made for the student.



Where do I go for assistance in providing accommodations?


Feel free to come to the OSD if you have any questions or concerns regarding an accommodation. You may also wish to consult with your Department Chair.



What should I do if a student comes directly to me to discuss her/his disability and requests accommodations?


Before providing any accommodation, please direct the student to the OSD. The counselors will make the determination as to what accommodations are appropriate and reasonable based on the documentation provided by the student.