Accommodations for Students with Documented Disabilities
Section 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act require the University to provide certain kinds of reasonable accommodation to qualified students, when necessary to provide an equal learning opportunity. Under the law, "reasonable" must be individually determined after a student requests accommodation.
To qualify for accommodation, a student must identify him/herself to the Director of Student Support Services, declare the disability or suspected disability in writing, and request accommodation. It is also the student's responsibility to obtain a thorough written evaluation from an appropriate professional, documenting the presence, extent, and ramifications of the disability. In addition, the documentation should explain what specific types of accommodation the evaluator believes might be most helpful in offsetting the effects of the disability to an acceptable extent in a medical school environment. Our goal is to provide equal opportunity without undermining the integrity of any course, clerkship, or program.
The student must obtain this evaluation at his/her own expense and arrange to have the evaluation form and all supporting documentation forwarded to the Director of Student Support Services. If an evaluation has been conducted in the past, the Director will determine if it is recent enough. An evaluation performed more than three years earlier may not be acceptable, and there are instances in which an evaluation must have been completed more recently.
The Director of Student Support Services can provide evaluation guidelines and forms before the student meets with an evaluator, or the student may refer to the documentation Guidelines. All documentation must conform to these guidelines.
Review of Request for Accommodation
After receiving acceptable documentation, the Director will discuss the findings and recommendations with the student, and together they will come to agreement about a proposed plan. The Director will then consult with appropriate campus resources (e.g. learning disabilities expert, legal counsel, representative course and clerkship directors) who will review the documentation to determine:
- Whether or not a student is to be considered "disabled" under the Americans with Disabilities Act
- Whether or not the student seems otherwise qualified based on the program's Technical Standards,
- Whether or not the student is entitled to accommodation, based on documentation
- What specific accommodations, if any, would be most reasonable. If appropriate, they will approve a plan for accommodating the student.
If the documentation provided does not meet established standards, additional information will be requested. If further evaluation is required, it remains the student's responsibility to arrange for that evaluation, at his or her expense.
When a disability has been acknowledged, and a specific accommodation plan is approved, the Director of Student Support Services will meet with the student again to help enact the plan. At that time, she will give the student a signed form outlining the approved accommodations. The student may then share a copy of this form with individual course and/or clerkship directors, or with other staff who have relevant responsibilities. Sharing this information is typically at the discretion of the student, and is his or her responsibility in order to arrange for accommodations. There may, however, be occasions on which the Director of Student Support Services speaks directly with faculty or other administrators, on a need-to-know basis, about a student's functional limitations.
A student is not entitled to accommodation in any course, clerkship, or activity if the form is not presented before specific accommodations are needed. Course/clerkship directors provide approved accommodations to all students who have shown their forms, provided the forms are presented in a timely fashion. (Presenting the form as early as possible is recommended, and individual courses or clerkships may have deadlines.)