Disability Resource Center and Access to College Instruction
The State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota's procedure for the provision of reasonable academic accommodations was purposefully designed to ensure the inclusive and total access of disabled individuals to credit and non-credit courses at the college while at the same time maintaining the integrity and quality of the college's academic programs.The procedures are dynamic and interactive in that they need to respond to the unique limitations of the disabled individual and at the same time insure the highest academic standards and program integrity. Following, is a brief overview of academic accommodations provided by Disability Resource Center (DRC), and the four steps for obtaining them.
To documented disabled students the Disability Resource Center (DRC) provides academic accommodations consisting of adaptive devices and equipment such as enlargers, tape recorders, Franklin Spellers, computers, etc., and/or auxiliary staff such as interpreters, readers, and amanuensis (volunteer note-takers). These aids are not arbitrarily provided but rather dependent on the nature of the student's disability and the nature or mode of the college activity.
The aids are selected for the purpose of overcoming functional limitations of the students with regards to accessing, processing, recording and / or retrieving information. For example, a sign language interpreter would provide a deaf individual with access to oral presentations (lectures). Similarly, a reader would provide a blind student with access to printed material. Mobility-impaired students may need an amanuensis (volunteer note-taker) to record their class notes or a piece of equipment, such as a tape recorder. Academic accommodations that do not fundamentally alter the nature of the course or program of study are available to qualified students with documented disabilities.
1. Disability Documentation: All students requesting academic accommodations (credit or non-credit) must have written disability documentation on file in the DRC before any services can be recommended or provided. In addition to documentation of their disability the following documents need to be on file with the DRC before an Academic Accommodation Request can be processed:
Essentially, appropriate documentation must contain two components: a diagnosis by a qualified professional, and a statement regarding the impact of the disability on a major life function as denoted in the ADA/504 regulation. Please note the documentation of the disability needs to provide sufficient information on the student's functional limitations within the academic environment so that appropriate and effective academic accommodations can be recommended.
The cost of obtaining documentation is borne by the student.
2. Request for Academic Services: Once the above documents are provided, the student may complete a Request for Services/Accommodations form. The DRC office will recommend appropriate accommodations via an Accommodation notification to the Department Chairperson/Program Director. The Department Chairperson/Program Director forwards and discusses the recommended accommodation with the instructor. It is the student's responsibility to check with the DRC to determine the status of the request, to finalize logistics regarding accommodations and to actively participate in the receipt of services (i.e. assist in procuring appropriate aids and to report problems to DRC). A Request for Academic Accommodations may be submitted at any time, however, students are encouraged to submit requests when they register as a minimum of 10 business days are needed to process the requests.
3. Determining the Reasonableness of an Accommodation: As stated above, a reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a course, program, service, job, or activity that enables a qualified student with a disability to have an equal opportunity (not an advantage).
DRC Student Checklist for Request of Services
An individual assessment of disabled students' functional limitations and their effect in the educational environment is the first consideration. DRC staff then solicit information from appropriate college personnel regarding essential standards for courses, programs, services, jobs, and activities. An initial recommendation of reasonable accommodations is made by DRC staff and forwarded to the department chairperson or program director. This recommendation is based on an examination of:
the barriers resulting from the interaction between the documented disability and the campus/classroom environment.
the possible accommodations that might remove the barriers, and an assessment of whether or not the recommended accommodation alters a fundamental or essential requirement of the course or program.
An accommodation is not reasonable if making the accommodation:
- poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others.
- requires making a substantial change in an essential element of the curriculum.
- would require a substantial alteration in the manner in which services (educational opportunities) are provided.
- would impose an undue financial or administrative burden on the college.
Resolving accommodation disputes: If a requested accommodation is denied by the DRC or if the department/instructor feels the recommended accommodation does impact an essential program or course element and the conference does not lead to a mutually satisfactory resolution the issue will be referred to the Reasonable Substitution/Modification Committee. The committee is comprised of both disability and subject area experts. The decision of the committee is final.
The college does not provide nor is it required to provide personal attendants or assistance with personal needs of the individual (personal care, feeding, medical needs, getting to class, etc.).
4. Delivery of Accommodations Instructor's Role: All faculty receiving Request for Services/Accommodations forms may decide if they wish to provide the recommended accommodations or if they desire DRC to provide the service. Faculty is encouraged to take an active role in the accommodation process. Any concerns, problems or informational needs faculty may have regarding their disabled students should be directed to the DRC.
It is the department chairperson/program manager and instructor's responsibility to safe-guard the program or course integrity. If he or she feels that the recommended accommodation interferes with an essential element of the course or program he or she needs to request a conference with the DRC to discuss the issues of concern. At a minimum, faculty members need to recruit potential service providers for their disabled students by making announcements of such needs. Faculty need to promptly return the notification form to the department chairperson who will in turn return it to the DRC.