The University Wellness Center: Student Accessibility Services

Policy & Procedures

 Mission Statement

The mission of Student Accessibility Services located within the University Wellness Center (UWC) is to ensure that students with disabilities are afforded an equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from the programs, services, and activities of The University of the South through the identification and enactment of reasonable modifications to institutional policies and procedures, the provision of auxiliary aids and services, and the establishment of innovative educational services.  The University is committed to a culture of inclusivity that embraces students of all means and backgrounds.

 

Student Accessibility Services is comprised of staff members from the University Wellness Center (psychologists and medical professionals).  The Associate Dean for Undergraduate Academic Affairs and the Assistant Director of Residential Life join UWC staff as members of the Accessibility Review Committee.  Student Accessibility Services seeks to create an environment wherein:

  • The nature and degree of access to programs, services, and facilities, and the level of self-determination afforded qualified persons with disabilities are indistinguishable from those which are available to their peers without disabilities;
  • Students with disabilities are afforded access as immediately and unobtrusively as possible at the point of institutional contact; and
  • Students with disabilities are recognized for their abilities, rather than their disabilities, or stereotypical attributes ascribed to their respective physical or mental impairments.

 

Statement of Compliance [ADA/504] 

In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504, no qualified person will be denied access to, participation in, or the benefits of, any program or activity operated by the University because of disability. The University will not discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities in employment practices and activities, including, but not limited to, application procedures, hiring, tenure, promotion, advancement, termination, training, compensation, and benefits. The University will not discriminate against a qualified individual because of the known disability of another individual with whom the qualified individual is known to have a relationship or association.

The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act, Section 504: Nancy Berner, Ph.D., Provost.

 

The Role of Student Accessibility Services

Student Accessibility Services is dedicated to the provision of services, resources, and programs to facilitate equal learning and working opportunities for students with disabilities at The University of the South.

Student Accessibility Services will, among other things:

  • Maintain records related to disability and requests for accommodation and ensure they are confidential and not shared except where disclosure is required by law or is necessary to facilitate legitimate University processes;
  • Review accommodation requests made by students and consult with appropriate departments, faculty, and staff when determining reasonable accommodations;
  • Determine whether students are eligible for accommodation; and, if so, the nature of the accommodation;
  • Provide or arrange and coordinate the provision of reasonable accommodations;
  • Document the process for the determination and provision of reasonable accommodations.

Major services and programs provided by Student Accessibility Services include information and referral, determination and provision and coordination of reasonable accommodations (e.g., sign language interpreters, test accommodations, alternate print formats, academic aides, assistive technology). Education and consultation are also provided to the campus community.

Rights & Responsibilities

Students with disabilities have the right to:

  • Full and equal participation in the services and activities of The University of the South;
  • Reasonable accommodations, academic/work adjustments and/or auxiliary aids and services;
  • Privacy–confidential information will not be freely disseminated throughout the campus.

Students with disabilities have the responsibility to:

  • Meet qualifications and maintain essential institutional standards for courses, programs, services, jobs, and activities;
  • Identify as an individual with a disability when an accommodation is needed and to seek information, counsel, and assistance as necessary;
  • Demonstrate and/or document how the disability limits their participation in courses, programs, services, jobs, and activities; and
  • Follow published procedures for obtaining reasonable accommodations, academic/work adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids and services; or when requesting barrier removal.

The University of the South has the right to:

  • Establish essential functions, abilities, skills, knowledge and standards for courses, programs, services, jobs, and activities or facilities and to evaluate individuals with disabilities on this basis;
  • Determine the appropriate standards in developing, constructing, remodeling, and maintaining facilities;
  • Confirm disability status and use an interactive process to determine whether requests for accommodations, academic/work adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids and services are reasonable;
  • Select among equally effective accommodations, academic/work adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids and services; and
  • Refuse unreasonable accommodations, academic/work adjustments or auxiliary aids and services, and/or facility-related barrier removal requests.

The University of the South has the responsibility to:

  • Provide information in accessible formats upon request (please refer to the section on Timeline for Requesting Accommodations for additional information);
  • Ensure that courses, programs, services, jobs, activities, and facilities, when considered in their entirety, are available and usable in the most integrated and appropriate settings;
  • Respond to requests on a timely basis;
  • Provide or arrange reasonable accommodations, academic/work adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids and services in courses, programs, services, jobs, activities, and facilities; and
  • Maintain appropriate confidentiality of records and communication except where permitted or required by law.

 

 

Appeal, Review, and Grievances

Any student who is dissatisfied with a determination by Student Accessibility Services or a department or unit within the University regarding disability accommodations may request a review of their case by contacting the ADA/504 Compliance Officer.  The ADA/504 Compliance Office, after reviewing the appeal, may elect to refer the appeal to the Standards Committee for academic concerns or to the Dean of Students office for campus life concerns.  Once a determination has been made by the ADA/504 Compliance Officer, decisions regarding that appeal will be final.

After an accommodation has been granted, faculty may not deny independently a request for accommodation, but first must consult the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Academic Affairs. If, after consultation, such individuals disagree on whether a proposed accommodation results in an undue hardship, a fundamental alteration of a program or activity, harms academic integrity, or creates a direct threat, the ADA/504 Compliance Officer makes a final determination about the request.

The University of the South’s policy against discrimination, harassment, sexual misconduct, and retaliation is consistent with Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 34 CFR Part 106, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and 34 CFR 104.7, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, and the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act of 2008. In addition to contacting the Vice Provost for Planning and Administration, who is the compliance coordinator, persons with inquiries regarding the application of Title IX and 34 CFR Part 106 may contact the Regional Civil Rights Director, U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, Region IV, 61 Forsyth Street S.W., Suite 19T70, Atlanta, Georgia 30303. 

  

 

Procedures & Protocols

Procedure for Requesting Accommodations

Disability Documentation and Confidentiality

Documentation

The University’s documentation guidelines are guided by the recommendations of the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD). AHEAD outlines acceptable sources of documentation for substantiating a student’s disability and request for particular accommodations:

  • Primary Documentation: the student’s self-report
  • Secondary Documentation: the disability staff member’s observations and interactions with the student during interviews and conversations about their disability and the effectiveness of previously provided accommodations
  • Tertiary Documentation: documentation from external or third parties, such as psychological records, medical records, reports and assessments from qualified professionals; included are documents that reflect education and accommodation history, such as Individual Education Program (IEP), Summary of Performance (SOP), and teacher observations

 

The required documentation may vary depending on the nature of a student’s disability. In the course of reviewing the application, a UWC staff member may request additional documentation.

Confidentiality

Student Accessibility Services in the UWC generally is the custodian of students’ medical and/or psychological records obtained for the purpose of providing accommodations. Disability and medical/psychological information is confidential and is not shared except where disclosure is required by law or is necessary to facilitate legitimate University processes, specifically, granting appropriate accommodations.

Process for Reviewing Accommodation Requests

New students, please contact the Student Accessibility Services in the UWC as early as possible to schedule an appointment to speak with one of our professionals.  You may schedule a phone appointment during the summer months, prior to classes beginning, or schedule an in-person appointment once you arrive on campus.  Please note that accommodations are not retroactive and the earlier you begin this process the better. 

Current students, please contact Student Accessibility Services as soon as you become aware of a need for accommodations.  Please note that the time frame necessary to complete a review does increase as the semester proceeds, and accommodations are not retroactive.

Once you have met with a UWC staff member to discuss your needs, they will submit your documentation to the Accessibility Review Committee.  The Accessibility Review Committee is made up of the Director of the UWC, the Director of Health Service, staff psychologists from the UWC, and the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Academic Affairs.  The committee members will meet to discuss your eligibility for disability services, and if qualified, the accommodations that will best meet your needs. 

Timeline for Requesting Accommodations

The time frame for the review and certification process varies depending upon when a student initiates the process.  For new students, aware of an existing disability, please submit your request for accommodations by  May 31st.  Once Student Accessibility Services receives a student’s request, it typically takes two weeks to initiate the accommodations review process.  For students who become aware of a disability later in the academic year, requests for accommodations will be accepted on a rolling basis, and the review process can take two to three weeks for initiation.

Accommodation Letter

Upon completion of the review process, a student who has been granted accommodations will be provided with an Accommodations Letter that describes the specific accommodations. A UWC staff member will review the letter with the student.  Upon receipt of the letter, the student should schedule a meeting with faculty to discuss the specific accommodations outlined in the letter and how they will be implemented.  It is in the best interest of the student to do this early in the semester, as accommodations are not retroactive.

The Accessibility Service professional will request that the student complete two release of information forms, for the Association Dean for Undergraduate Academic Affairs and for the University Health Service, at the time the Accommodation Letter is provided.  A copy of the accommodation letter is filed with both offices.  Students are not required to apply for annual renewal of accommodations as the Accommodations Letter is considered valid for the student's entire time at the University.  If a student wishes to request a revision or update to their Letter based on new information, they will be asked to repeat the application process; if the update or revision is granted, a new Accommodations Letter will be generated at that time.

Accommodations Available include:

Academic Accommodations, Temporary Condition Accommodations, Physical Disability Accommodations, and Chronic Health Accommodations

The assessment of what accommodations are appropriate for a student is made on a case-by-case basis, considering the student’s disability, the impairment caused by such disability, and other circumstances specific to the student, the student’s course of study, and the university setting. As a result, there is no specific set of accommodations automatically assigned to a particular condition or diagnosis. Two students with identical diagnoses may have very different strengths and challenges and, therefore, they may need different accommodations.

Examples of academic accommodations that may be available to a student include, but are not limited to: 

  • Relocating a class from an inaccessible to an accessible location
  • Permission to audiotape class lectures
  • Permission to use a laptop for note taking
  • Student note-takers
  • Permission to use a word processor for tests/exams
  • Permission to use a spelling dictionary for tests/exams
  • Allowing a student who uses a service dog to keep the guide dog on campus
  • Providing an accessible residence hall room
  • Providing printed materials/media in accessible formats (e.g., in Braille, on audiotape, or in large print)
  • Equipping computer labs with disability-accessible software and hardware (e.g., text-to-speech, speech-to-text, screen enlargers, screen reader software, adaptive keyboards)
  • Providing extended time for tests or a distraction-reduced environment for test taking
  • Providing a course substitution when doing so will not lower academic standards or substantially modify an essential element of an academic program

Please note: Accommodations are not retroactive; accommodation requests granted after the beginning of a term will not apply to previous work in courses for that term or previous terms.

Accommodation vs. Treatment: Note the distinction between an accommodation for a disability and treatment of the disability and/or related conditions.  A student thus may qualify for accommodations for a disability but not for all treatment modalities, and vice versa.  For example, a student who qualifies for extended test time to address an attention deficit disorder (e.g., ADHD) may need to provide additional documentation in order to be prescribed stimulant medication to treat the disorder.  Alternatively, a student being treated for a minor hand injury may receive medical care (e.g., wound care and medication) but may not qualify for accommodations in academic work.  Recall that accommodations are unique to person and situation.  If you are unclear or concerned about the distinctions between treatment and accommodation, please contact Student Accessibility Services. 


Course Substitution

If a specific course creates barriers to a student’s learning based on disability, a student may request a course substitution. Courses determined by an academic department to be non-essential to a student’s program of study may be substituted.  Students should meet with their major advisor (or the appropriate department chair if a major has not been declared) to understand the requirements prior to making any request for a course substitution.

Steps to request a course substitution:

  1. Students meet with Student Accessibility Services:
    1. Initiate and complete the review process (outlined above) to certify a disability.
    2. Accommodations which create an accessible course may be discussed and will thereby eliminate the need for course substitution.
  2. The request will be reviewed first by the Accessibility Review Committee to certify the disability and evaluate the reasonableness of the request.  If the course substitution requested is a general education requirement, the standards committee will then review the request.  If the course substitution is a requirement of a major, the department chair will then review the request.
  3. The Associate Dean for Undergraduate Academic Affairs will inform the student of the outcome of their request for a course substitution.

If you change majors, contact Student Accessibility Services because the substitution may no longer be appropriate.


Temporary Conditions

Student Accessibility Services recognizes that individuals with temporarily disabling conditions that are a result of injuries, surgery or short-term medical conditions may need access to services and resources similar to individuals with permanent disabilities. Examples of temporary disabilities may include, but are not limited to: broken limbs, hand injuries, or short-term impairments following surgery or medical treatments.

To receive accommodations for a temporary disability, the student should schedule an appointment with a UWC staff member, and provide documentation indicating the type of disability, severity, limitations, prognosis, and estimated duration of the disabling condition.  It is also helpful to know of any adverse side effects caused by medication and third-party (e.g., physician, physical therapist) recommendations for accommodations.  The documentation should be recent enough to identify current limitations. Additional documentation may be requested to verify the need for continued services after the estimated duration of the condition has expired.

Potential accommodations for temporary disabilities

Academic accommodations are approved on a case-by-case basis. Examples of accommodations that may be available for a temporary arm, hand, or upper extremity injury may include:

  • Scribe for exams
  • Notetaking assistance
  • Audio recorder for lectures
  • Extended testing time
  • Use of a computer for exams


Requesting accommodations for GRE, GMAT, LSAT, or another standardized exam

Please contact the Testing Service Site for your specific exam to determine what is necessary for you to do in order to receive accommodations. Some exams require the completion of specific paperwork and/or supporting documentation. Due to the amount of time necessary for Student Accessibility Services professionals to complete this paperwork, we request that you contact us AT LEAST six weeks before your exam date.  It is important to note that the accommodation determination is made by the Testing Service NOT Student Accessibility Services; because you qualified for testing accommodations at Sewanee does not mean you will necessarily qualify for accommodations for standardized exams.


Housing Accommodations

Residential Life collaborates with Student Accessibility Services to coordinate housing accommodations for students with disabilities that impact one's living situation. Students must schedule a meeting or phone conversation with Student Accessibility Services to initiate this process. Students should contact Student Accessibility Services about a need for housing accommodations by May 31st (new students) or by April 1 (returning students). Students must request housing accommodations on an annual basis.  A student given a room assignment through normal assignment processes before notifying the Student Accessibility Services of a request for housing accommodations will forfeit the opportunity to receive accommodation consideration.

Student Accessibility Services meets with the student, assesses the situation, and consults with Residential Life regarding reasonable accommodations when appropriate.

Reasonable and appropriate accommodations depend upon the disability, the housing environment, and the steps necessary to create equal access for one's living situation. Requested accommodations need not be granted if it is deemed unreasonable, if alternative accommodations are available, and/or if the student has already received desired placement through the normal room assignment processes. Please be advised that single rooms are reserved for individuals with specific living needs. The housing accommodation process considers access for living purposes only and not for other aspects of the college experience, such as studying. There are many options on campus where a student can study in an environment suitable for one's situation.

Requests for on-campus living accommodations should be made to Student Accessibility Services as soon as possible. As more and more housing spaces are assigned to all students, fewer reasonable accommodation options may be available. Students should schedule an appointment with Student Accessibility Services or initiate an email or phone conversation to discuss further.


Service Animals

Disabled individuals may be accompanied by their service animals on the Sewanee campus where members of the public or participants in services, programs, or activities are allowed to go.  In addition, disabled individuals and trainers may take service animals in training to public places on campus for training purposes.  The Department of Justice (2010) has defined a “service animal” according to the ADA as: “any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.”

The Department of Justice is clear that the following animals are not considered service animals under the ADA and ADAAA:

  • Any animals besides dogs (though there is a special provision permitting miniature horses in some cases)
  • Animals that serve solely to provide a crime deterrent effect
  • Emotional support, comfort, or companionship animals

The Department of Justice has made a clear distinction between service animals that are trained to respond to an individual’s needs, and untrained “emotional support” animals whose mere presence may positively affect a person’s disability.  The former, with their recognition and response training, are covered under the ADA, while the latter–therapeutic though they may be–are not covered.

Examples of tasks performed by service dogs include, but are not limited to:

  • Assisting an individual with low vision with navigation
  • Alerting individuals who are hard of hearing to the presence of people or objects
  • Pulling a wheelchair
  • Retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone
  • Providing assistance with stability or balance
  • Detecting a seizure
  • For individuals with psychiatric or neurological disabilities, the dog’s tasks could include preventing or interrupting impulsive destructive behavior

If a dog is not trained to do work or perform tasks, and only provides comfort or emotional support, the dog is not a service dog and may be excluded from public areas.

To respect the rights and privacy of disabled individuals, the Department of Justice only permits the University to ask if a dog is required because of a disability, as well as what work or task the dog has been trained to perform. Individuals do not have to provide documentation of their disabilities, proof that service dogs have been trained, or place special vests on their service dogs.

Service dogs may be excluded from campus under the following circumstances:

  • The dog is disruptive and not effectively controlled.
  • The presence of the service dog would fundamentally change the nature of the job, service, or activity.
  • The service dog's presence, behavior, or actions pose an unreasonable or direct threat to property and/or the health or safety of others.
  • The dog is not housebroken.
  • The animal is not provided appropriate care to maintain health and well-being, and/or the animal is mistreated or abused. 

The University is not responsible for the care or supervision of a service dog.  Individuals are responsible for the following:

  • The well-being of a service dog as well as the cost of any damages as a result of the service dog.
  • The immediate clean-up and proper disposal of all animal waste.
  • The control of the dog at all times.
  • Harnessing, leashing, or tethering the service dog, unless an individual’s disability precludes the use of a restraint or if the restraint would interfere with the service dog's safe, effective performance of work or tasks. 
  • Following all requirements for the presence of animals in public places mandated by state or local ordinances (vaccination, license, animal health, leash).

Service and emotional support animals in University housing and employment

Disabled individuals may utilize a broader range of animals, commonly referred to as emotional support animals (ESA), in University housing, in accordance with federal law. The Fair Housing Act requires that covered entities accommodate a broader range of animals, which includes both service animals (defined in the previous section) and untrained emotional support of therapy animals (not limited to dogs).  Under the Fair Housing Act, a student may keep an assistance animal in his or her residence hall as a reasonable accommodation if:

  • The person has a disability, and has been certified as having such by the UWC.
  • The animal is necessary to afford the student with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.
  • There is an identifiable relationship or nexus between the disability and the assistance the animal provides.

Student Accessibility Services will, in partnership with Residential Life and other units, determine, on a case by case basis, whether an animal is a reasonable accommodation in University housing.

As with service animals, individuals are responsible for the control, care, and supervision of their animals at all times, and the University may exclude an ESA under the circumstances described in the Service Animals at the University section above.  Allegations of neglect and/or mistreatment of a service or companion animal should be reported to the Accessibility Services Division and/or the ADA/504 Compliance Officer.  Substantiated allegations of neglect or mistreatment of an animal will result in immediate exclusion and relocation of the animal. 


Dining Service

The University of the South is a residential campus with a required meal plan.  We recognize that certain food related conditions, such as an autoimmune disease like celiac disease or allergies to foods like shellfish, wheat, milk, peanuts, or eggs, constitute a disability for some students. The University encourages students to socialize over meals as part of their campus experience.  To this end, Sewanee dining makes reasonable, but substantial, accommodations for students who have food-related disabilities that limit their opportunities to fully participate in meal-plan offerings.  Students are expected to take an active role in managing their dietary concerns and to work with Student Accessibility Services and Sewanee Dining to realize the benefit of the meal plan to the fullest extent possible.  Special service accommodations will be the result of an interactive process among the student, the Director of Dining Services or their designee, and Student Accessibility Services.

When visiting dining facilities students are to inquire ONLY with Sewanee Dining management regarding menus, recipe ingredients, service accommodations, or any other aspect of their dietary disability.  Depending on the severity of the disability, a student may be directed by dining management to menu items planned for service that meal period that address their restrictions. As necessary, food will be prepared separately of other food preparation in the dining hall to avoid problem food ingredients and to reduce the risk of food cross contamination.  Other possible accommodations, depending on specific circumstances, might include certain meal plan revisions.

Dining accommodation request procedure:

  • The student will contact Student Accessibility Services and request a meeting with a staff member. 
  • During this meeting, the student and the Accessibility Service professional will discuss Sewanee Dining service accommodations based upon the submitted request and supporting information from the student.  The Accessibility Service professional may request additional supporting documentation.
  • The student will make an appointment with the Director of Dining Services to review the service accommodations requested to the meal plan and to determine suitable meal options.  The student and the Director of Dining Services will discuss specific details pertaining to the student’s options and responsibilities as stated above.  The Director of Dining Services will communicate to the Student Accessibility Services Review Committee the outcome of that meeting and their ability to reasonably accommodate the student’s request.
  • The Student Accessibility Services Review Committee will meet to determine and finalize reasonable accommodations.  If granted, the student will be given a meal plan accommodation letter detailing the specific service plan tailored to the student’s dietary requirements.  It is the student’s responsibility to take the accommodation letter to the Director of Dining Services.
  • It is the student’s responsibility to notify Accessibility Service of any changes in the requested accommodations during their enrollment in the college.

  

Notification

Students are made aware of Student Accessibility Services’ policies and procedures through several means:

  • The University Website
  • The University Catalog
  • An annual mailing to all incoming students describing disability and academic support

 

 

Student Accessibility Services can be contacted via telephone at (931)598-1270, menu option 4.  Any documentation may be submitted via regular mail or fax (931-598-1746).