Office of Disability Services: Policy and Procedure Handbook Accommodations Process Summary

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Office of Disability Services: Policy and Procedure Handbook

  1. Accommodations Process Summary

  • In order to receive accommodations, students must:

    • Provide appropriate documentation of their disability to the Office of Disability Services,

    • Meet with an ODS representative each semester, PRIOR to the need for requested accommodations,

    • Identify in that meeting the courses for which accommodations are requested,

    • Deliver the accommodations letter provided by an ODS representative to each instructor and discuss classroom needs with the instructor, and;

    • Alert an ODS representative if accommodations are not working or do not meet their needs.

  1. Documentation Policy

Students with disabilities are responsible for providing documentation of their disability to the Office of Disability Services (ODS). This documentation must both establish a disability and provide adequate information on the functional impact of the disability so that accommodations can be identified and provided. This documentation will be kept confidential and maintained in a locked file in ODS. All documentation should:

  • All documentation must:

    1. Come from an appropriately licensed clinical professional familiar with the history and functional implications of the disability.

    2. Verify the nature and extent of the disability in accordance with current professional standards and techniques. This must include a description of the diagnostic criteria, evaluation methods, procedures, tests and dates of administration, as well as a clinical narrative, observation and specific results.

    3. Be dated, signed, and submitted on official letterhead including the name, title and professional credentials of the evaluator.

    4. Establish that the student has a disability that conforms to the federal disability definition. A clear diagnostic statement that describes how the condition was diagnosed, provides information on the functional impact, and details the progression or prognosis of the condition is required.

    5. Describe how the disability impacts on the student's participation in campus activities and programs.

    6. Reflect the student's current level of functioning in the postsecondary setting, demonstrating whether and how a major life activity is substantially limited by providing a clear sense of the severity, frequency and pervasiveness of the condition(s).

    7. Include a description of both current and past medications, auxiliary aids, assistive devices, support services, and accommodations, including their effectiveness in ameliorating functional impacts of the disability.

    1. Include recommendations for accommodations, adaptive devices, assistive services, compensatory strategies, and/or collateral support services.

  • Additionally;

    • If the original documentation is incomplete or inadequate to determine the extent of the disability or reasonable accommodation, the university has the discretion to require additional documentation. Any cost incurred in obtaining additional documentation when the original records are inadequate is the responsibility of the student.

    • If the documentation is complete but the university desires a second professional opinion, the university bears the cost.

    • It is not acceptable for documentation to include a diagnosis or testing battery performed by a member of the student's family.

    • Students requesting accommodations for the manifestations of multiple disabilities must provide evidence of all such conditions.

    • Guidelines for documentation for specific disabilities, such as learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD, psychiatric disabilities or others as identified are available through ODS.

  • Documentation forms for specific disabilities are available through the Office of Disability Services; please contact the office for more information.

  1. Confidentiality

  • The Office of Disability Services (ODS) is committed to ensuring that all information and communication pertaining to a student's disability is maintained as confidential as required or permitted by law.

  • The following guidelines about the treatment of such information have been adopted by ODS and will be shared with students. These guidelines incorporate relevant state and federal regulations.

    1. No one will have immediate access to student files in ODS except appropriate staff of ODS. Any information regarding a student's disability is protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and will only be disclosed as permitted or required by FERPA.

    2. Sensitive information in ODS student files will not be released except in accordance with federal and state laws.

    3. A student's file may be released pursuant to a court order or subpoena.

    4. If a student wishes to have information about his/her disability shared with others, the student must provide written authorization to a ODS representative to release the information. Before giving such authorization, the student should understand the purpose of the release and to whom the information is being released.

    5. A student has the right to review his/her own ODS file with reasonable notification.

  1. Definitions of Terms

  • A DISABILITY - Mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of an individual.

  • MAJOR LIFE ACTIVITIES - Activities that the average person can do with little or no difficulty, such as walking, seeing, hearing, talking, breathing, learning, caring for oneself and working.

  • A SUBSTANTIAL LIMITATION - Significant restriction in the condition, manner or duration in which a major life activity is performed compared to most people. The activity must be limited to a considerable extent by the impairment for that individual to be protected by federal statutes.

  • REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION - Any change in an educational environment that effectively and appropriately enables an individual with a disability to have equal educational opportunities to participate in programs and activities. Examples include:

    • Making existing facilities and programs used by students readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities,

    • Relocating classes,

    • Providing appropriate arrangements for exams, and

    • Providing educational auxiliary aids, readers or interpreters.

    • An accommodation is NOT reasonable if:

      • Poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, or

      • Requires a substantial change to an essential element of course curricula or a substantial alteration in the manner in which services are offered or provided for non-disables students, or

      • Poses an undue financial or administrative burden, or

      • Is requested for personal use, such as attendant care, personal coaches, aids for personal care of the student or equipment of a personal nature.

    • Reasonable accommodations are intended only to provide students with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate and benefit. Reasonable accommodations do not guarantee success or prevent failure for the student’s academic program. Standards do not have to be lowered nor do essential requirements need to be waived to allow students with disabilities to participate.

  • AN UNDUE HARDSHIP OR BURDEN – An action that (I) requires significant difficulty or expense, or (2) would fundamentally alter the nature of a program. Factors to be considered include:

      • The nature and cost of the accommodation needed, and

      • The overall financial resources of Marquette University.

      • Specific Disability Definitions (For more detailed information regarding specific disabilities, please refer the Types of Disabilities document located on the Office of Disability Services website.)

    • Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ ADHD) – A neurobiological condition that is manifested in a persistent pattern of distractibility, impulsivity or hyperactivity. It arises during childhood, persists throughout a person's lifetime and is attributed neither to gross sensory, language or motor impairment nor to mental retardation or severe emotional disturbance. The exact nature and severity of symptoms vary from person to person.

    • Blind/ Partially Sighted Disabilities - Disorders in the function of the eye as manifested by at least one of the following: 1) visual acuity of 20-200-the legally blind person can see at 20 feet what the average-sighted person can see at 200; 2) low vision-limited or diminished vision that cannot be corrected with standard lenses; and 3) field restriction -- the field of vision is impaired because of illness, a degenerative syndrome, or trauma.

    • Deaf/ Hard of Hearing Students - Hearing loss attributed to two causes: 1) Sensorineural, nerve deafness which involves impairment of the auditory nerve and affects the inner ear; 2) Conductive loss, a dysfunction of part of the ear mechanism affecting the outer and middle ear. Some students may have both types of hearing loss.

    • Head Injury - Head injuries are not visible and are very complex. They result from either external or internal trauma. They can result in seizures, loss of balance or coordination, difficulty with speech, limited concentration, memory loss, loss of organizational and reasoning skills, loss of ability to quickly process information, loss of language functions, and changes in behavior.

    • Learning Disabilities - Learning disabilities is a general term that refers to a heterogeneous group of disorders manifested by significant difficulties in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or mathematical abilities. These disorders are intrinsic to the individual, presumed to be due to central nervous system dysfunction, and may occur across the life span. Problems in self-regulatory behaviors, social perception, and social interaction may exist with learning disabilities but do not by themselves constitute a learning disability. Although learning disabilities may occur concomitantly with other disabling conditions, (for example, sensory impairment, mental retardation, serious emotional disturbance), or with extrinsic influences (such as cultural differences, insufficient or inappropriate instruction), they are not the result of those conditions or influences.

    • Physical Impairments - Impairments ranging in severity from limitations on stamina to paralysis impacting on physical mobility and movement. These include quadriplegia, paraplegia, amputation, arthritis, back disorders, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, etc.

    • Psychiatric/ Psychological Disabilities - Chronic conditions affecting emotions that have documented medical and psychological intervention. Includes depression, bipolar (manic-depressive) disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety disorders, and schizophrenia.

    • Systematic Disabilities/ Chronic Illness - Disabilities stemming from conditions affecting one or more of the body's systems-respiratory, immunological, neurological or circulatory. Examples include: cancer, chemical dependency, diabetes, seizure disorders, HIV, Lyme disease, lupus, multiple chemical sensitivity, severe asthma and allergies, kidney disease. Documentation from medical treating professionals must specifically state that the condition meets disability criteria.

    • Illegal Drug Use / Alcoholism - Disabilities stemming from addiction to alcohol or illegal drugs.

  1. Professional Schools (Law and Dental Students)

Students seeking accommodations within the Law and Dental graduate schools should contact the Office of Disability Services regarding specific processes for each school. The Office of Disability Services will accept disability documentation from these students and will refer students to designated representatives of each program for the determination of appropriate accommodations.

  1. Grievance Procedure

Marquette University prohibits discrimination on the basis of a disability. The university is fully committed to complying with all requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Acts of 1990 (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and to providing equal educational opportunities to all students. The Grievance Policy is designed to address disagreements or denials regarding requested services, accommodations, or modification to university academic practices or requirement. Students with disabilities who believe they have been discriminated against on the basis of their disability may receive a review of their complaint as follows:

    1. Optional Pre-Grievance Meeting:

      • Prior to the filing a written grievance, students may elect to consult with the Director of Disability Services to discuss alleged violation and the process for preparing and submitting a complaint.

    1. Submission of complaint to the Director of Disability Services

      • Should the student decide to pursue the formal grievance procedure after their pre-grievance meeting with the Director of Disability Services, they must submit a letter to the Director set forth clearly and specifically the nature of the complaint and the remedy sought. The letter should include;

  1. Name, address and telephone number of the student(s)

  2. The nature, date and description of the alleged violation (s)

  3. Any pertinent supporting documentation, including possible witnesses

  4. The name(s) of the person or persons responsible for the alleged violation(s)

  5. The requested relief of corrective action; and

  6. Any background information the student believes to be relevant

  • The Director shall investigate the circumstances of the complaint and shall attempt to resolve it, using whatever procedures or calling upon any individuals that may be helpful toward resolution. The Director will issue his/ her decision in writing within fifteen (15) working days of receipt of the complaint. The university reserves the right to extend this investigation period if conditions are so warranted. The student will be informed if an extension is necessary on or before the 15th day of the complaint resolution period.

  • The university also reserves the right to appoint an appropriate investigator should the Director be unavailable or if there is a potential for any other conflicts of interest that could possibly infringe upon the fairness of the investigation.

  • If the complainant wishes to appeal the Director's decision, the complainant may request that the complaint be appealed to a Disability Grievance Panel for a hearing. This appeal must be submitted in writing to the Director of the Office of Disability Services within ten (10) working days of the date of the letter informing the student of the Director's decision. The panel will be convened as soon as possible upon receipt of the request. Three members shall be appointed by the Provost's Office to the Disability Grievance Panel representing Academic Affairs and Student Affairs with a third at-large member.

    1. Grievance Panel Procedures

  • The panel shall determine all matters of procedure, evidence, relevance and admissibility it deems helpful and fair in the total decision process, without regard to judicial rules that could be applicable to such issues in a court of law. The Director of Disability Services will serve only as a resource to the panel at the panel's request. If the panel determines the need for a formal hearing, the Director will contact the individuals to be interviewed by the panel.

  • Any formal hearings before the Disability Grievance Panel shall be open only to the student, witnesses and advisors, except as the panel may otherwise direct. The student will be notified in writing by the Director of Disability Services at least five (5) working days prior to any hearing requiring the student's presence. The student has the right to bring one advisor to the hearing. If that advisor is an attorney, the Director must be notified two (2) working days prior to the hearing in order to ensure Marquette University General Counsel can be in attendance. If General Counsel is not available, the panel reserves the right to reschedule the hearing. All advisors, including attorneys, will serve only in an advisory capacity for the student during the hearings.

  • After concluding its investigation, the panel shall meet in executive session attended only by panel members to decide upon the complaint and make its decision. The decision shall be communicated to the Director of Disability Services in writing within two (2) working days of the executive session. A summary of the decision making process and evidence considered will be included in this response. The Director of Disability Services will inform the student in writing within five (5) working days of receipt of the panel's decision.

    1. Appealing the Disability Grievance Panel Decision – Review by the Office of the Provost

  • If the student wishes to appeal the panel's decision, the student may request that the Office of the Provost review the panel's decision. The request must be made in writing to the Director of Disability Services within seven (7) working days of receipt of the panel decision. The Director will provide all materials relevant to the case to the Provost's Office for review upon receipt of the request. The Provost's Office will not conduct additional hearings, but will only review the complaint in light of the materials presented and its adherence to policies and procedures. The written decision from the Provost's Office on the case shall be final.

  1. Common Accommodations

  • Academic Accommodations

    • Appropriate accommodations are individualized and flexible, based on the nature of the disability and the academic environment. Below is a partial list of common academic accommodations that may be coordinated through the Office of Disability Services in collaboration with faculty and other pertinent offices on campus. They appear in this list due to the frequency with which they may be offered or requested, and will not be automatically provided to all students with disabilities.

  • Priority registration.

  • Note takers, readers, sign language interpreters, captioners.

  • Exam modifications:

  • Additional time to complete exams

  • Separate room to complete exams

  • Readers, Scribes

  • Use of computer/calculator

  • Document conversion to alternate formats -- electronic, CD, Braille, large print, tape

  • Access to university libraries and their collections

  • Course substitutions

  • Non-Academic Accommodations

    • Below is a partial list of common accommodations for university-sponsored activities and programs outside of the classroom for students with documented disabilities. The Office of Disability Services in collaboration with pertinent offices on campus coordinates these accommodations on a case-by-case basis according to the nature of the disability. They appear in this list due to the frequency with which they may be offered or requested, and will not be automatically provided to all students with disabilities.

  • Access to campus transportation

  • Advanced registration for events or co-curricular activities on or off campus to allow preparation for access needs of students with disabilities.

  • Appropriate safety and security measures.

  • Captioners or interpreters for university-sponsored events.

Office of Disability Services: Marquette University P.O. Box 1881 Milwaukee, WI 53201

Phone: 414-288-1645 Fax: 414-288-5799 Email:


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