Accommodations for Students with Disabilities
1.22.2 (printable version)
Policy/Operational Procedure Name:
Accommodations for Students with Disabilities
February 12, 2019
Next Review Date:
Durham Technical Community College provides reasonable and appropriate accommodations to qualifying individuals with a documented disability who are otherwise able to satisfy the requirements related to their status as students at the College.
Durham Technical Community College (Durham Tech) provides qualified individuals with disability accommodations and services designed to create equal access to the many aspects of the College experience. Students have the opportunity to voluntarily self-identify with the College as having a disability or medical condition that may impact their access to activities, programs, and services. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects any current or prospective student with a permanent, long-term, or chronic disability against discrimination because of the disability. This protection extends to all educational activities (e.g., placement testing) and includes learning conditions and support services.
Students with disabilities may request reasonable accommodations and achieve educational access through the effective use of accommodations or services such as interpreters, assistive technology, and priority assistance during registration. Through a process of individual planning, students are encouraged to use their diverse abilities to succeed.
This procedure guides students through the reasonable accommodations process and the important steps that must be taken to ensure accommodations are documented, communicated, and provided in a timely fashion. This procedure ensures equal opportunity for students with disabilities and ensures that the College meets its legal obligations.
Durham Tech is committed to processing requests and providing reasonable accommodations, when appropriate, in a prompt and efficient manner in accordance with the timeframes set forth in the following procedure.
The College will provide reasonable accommodations to any qualified student with a disability when the disability affects the performance of educational functions. The College will attempt to reasonably accommodate qualified individuals with a temporary or long-term disability so that they can perform essential functions. However, in providing reasonable accommodations, the College shall not fundamentally alter the nature of programs, services, or activities; require waiver of essential academic standards; violate accreditation requirements; unnecessarily intrude on academic freedom.
Any student who wishes to request a reasonable accommodation must submit necessary documentation and schedule an appointment with Accessibility Services (room 10-209, Wynn Student Services Center, Main Campus; 919-536-7208). Appointments may be held at the Durham Tech location of the student’s choosing. Virtual appointments via phone conference are available upon request. Each request for a reasonable accommodation will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Please Note: Students employed by Durham Tech are considered College employees. Students employed under the federal work study program are considered College employees if the work performed is for the College. For work performed for any public or private agency, students are also considered College employees unless the agreement between the College and the organization specifies that the organization is considered the employer. Students considered College employees who wish to request reasonable accommodations for work-related activities should consult the Accommodations for Employees with Disabilities policy.
Durham Tech provides services to students with disabilities including, but not limited to, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, learning disabilities, psychological disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorder and other pervasive developmental disorders, blindness or low vision, deafness or hardness of hearing, mobility impairment, and chronic health issues.
Although pregnancy itself is not a disability, pregnant students may have impairments related to their pregnancies (e.g., gestational diabetes, preeclampsia) that qualify as disabilities under the ADA and as covered under Title IX. An individual who requires pregnancy-related accommodations should contact Accessibility Services.
A student who has requested a reasonable accommodation must provide current documentation (within the past five (5) years) from a qualified health care professional. The student is responsible for any associated expenses, and the information provided must be sufficient to substantiate that he or she has a disability and requires the requested accommodation. The supporting documentation must accomplish the following:
- Establish that the student has a disability;
- Describe and document the functional impact of the disability; and
- Assist Accessibility Services in establishing the need for and design of accommodations.
Documentation should be as descriptive as possible and should include the following information:
- A diagnostic statement identifying the disability, date of the most current diagnostic evaluation, and the date of the original diagnosis;
- A description of the diagnostic tests, methods, and/or criteria used;
- A description of the current functional impact of the disability which includes specific test results and the examiner’s narrative interpretation;
- Treatment, medications, and/or assistive devices/services currently prescribed or in use;
- A description of the expected progression or stability of the impact of the disability over time, particularly during the student’s expected time at Durham Tech;
- Recommended accommodations/services (e.g., flexibility in attendance, extended testing time, note-taking assistance) for the academic environment; and
- The name, credentials, and license number of the diagnosing professional.
All documentation must be typed, signed by a qualified health care professional, submitted on the health care professional’s letterhead, and include the date the documentation was completed. Individualized Educational Plans (IEP) and 504 Plans are not sufficient documentation as they do not meet the documentation guidelines cited above. Consult the Documentation Guidelines section of Durham Tech’s Accessibility Services page for additional information. Refer to the bottom of the appropriate Documentation Guidelines form for information on appropriate disability documentation.
If the student provides incomplete or inadequate documentation to substantiate his or her disability and/or the need for the requested reasonable accommodation, the College may, at its discretion, require the student to provide additional information at his or her expense.
Documentation review may take as long as ten (10) working days to allow for evaluation and initial processing prior to the student’s meeting with Accessibility Services. Students should submit their documentation as early as possible and at least ten (10) working days prior to the start of the semester to avoid a delay in receiving accommodations. Students requiring placement test accommodations should notify Accessibility Services of their expected test date when they submit their documentation.
Students requiring major accommodations (e.g., interpreting, note-taking, digital accessibility, accessible classroom locations, access assistants, accessible furniture, etc.) must submit their request at least four (4) weeks in advance. Students who have concerns about meeting this deadline should contact Accessibility Services for guidance.
Students are required to request updated accommodation plans each semester and should do so at least ten (10) working days prior to the start of the semester. The need for a reasonable accommodation may, and often does, change. Supplementary documentation may be required if additional accommodations are needed and/or if existing documentation was submitted more than five (5) years prior. If a student needs to change his or her accommodation plan, the student must schedule an appointment with Accessibility Services as early as possible and at least ten (10) working days prior to the start of the semester.
Reasonable Accommodations Request Process
There are no deadlines for requesting an accommodation; however, students are responsible for submitting accommodation requests sufficiently in advance of the requested accommodation to allow reasonable time to implement the requested accommodation.
Step 1: To initiate the reasonable accommodation request process, a student must submit the following to Accessibility Services:
- Current documentation (within the past five (5) years) from a qualified health care professional demonstrating that he or she is eligible for reasonable accommodations (See “Establishing Eligibility” above.);
- A Consent to Release Disability Information form;
- The Accessibility Services form (“Documentation Guidelines”) specific to his or her disability; and
- The Impact Statement form (page 2 of each disability-specific form).
Step 2: The student must set up an appointment with Accessibility Services to discuss accommodations. If the student’s documentation supports the request, a Accessibility Services staff member will provide the student with copies of the accommodation plan. Accessibility Services will initiate interactive discussions with appropriate College departments and/or site coordinators to determine the feasibility of reasonable accommodations for on- and off-campus learning environments (e.g., work-based learning, clinical sites, internships/externships, simulated learning, laboratories, and field work).
Step 3: The student will initiate a meeting with instructors to discuss approved accommodations and will provide each instructor with a copy of the accommodation plan. Accommodation plans are not retroactive, but will be implemented within ten (10) working days of receipt. Major accommodations plans as described previously in the policy may take longer to implement.
Accommodations are made on an individualized basis. Instructors cannot approve or reject approved accommodations, but they do have the right to decide how approved accommodations will be executed within the learning environment to ensure access. Instructors will document how the accommodations are implemented, and the department will maintain a copy of the accommodation plan.
Step 4: The student will contact Accessibility Services with any concerns related to the implementation of the accommodation plan.
Service Animal Requests
The ADA defines a service animal as any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disabilities. Other species of animals, with the exception of miniature horses, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The College complies with all US Department of Justice regulations regarding miniature horses.
Generally, therapy animals, support animals, and companion animals, which provide comfort and/or companionship, are not service animals and are not afforded the same privileges in public places. The ADA and the state of North Carolina generally do not recognize therapy dogs, emotional support dogs, and companion dogs as service animals.
The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual´s disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks;
- Alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds;
- Alerting individuals of dangerous changes in blood glucose levels;
- Providing non-violent protection or rescue work;
- Pulling a wheelchair;
- Assisting an individual during a seizure;
- Alerting individuals to the presence of allergens;
- Retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone;
- Providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities; and
- Helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors.
The crime deterrent effects of an animal´s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.
North Carolina law also recognizes animals in training as service animals. Training organizations and people training a service animal have the same access rights as people with disabilities using a service animal. The animal must wear a collar and leash, harness, or cape that identifies it as a service animal in training. The trainer is liable for any damage caused by the animal while in a place of business or education.
A student seeking permission to use a service animal on campus should request a meeting with Accessibility Services. During the interactive discussion, the student must identify the animal as a service animal and describe what the animal is trained to do for the student requesting the accommodation. The student must also provide medical documentation from a qualified health care professional to support the need for a service animal.
Any student who brings a service animal onto campus is responsible for its care and behavior at all times and must ensure that the animal is housebroken. The student must carry supplies to properly and immediately clean up and dispose of any animal feces, urine, or vomit. If the student is unable to perform the clean-up, he or she must request assistance from an instructor or other College employee who will request housekeeping assistance. Failure to meet these requirements could result in the service animal’s barring from College property.
Members of the College community who come into contact with a service animal on campus and experience reactions to the animal (as a result of allergies or fear of dogs, for example) should contact Accessibility Services (students) or Human Resources (employees and visitors) to discuss possible remedies.
The College is responsible for the following:
- Eliminating barriers that prevent prospective and current students from accessing or being included in the instructional space;
- Minimizing the need for individual accommodations by regularly reviewing policies, procedures, processes, and rules to ensure that they are not discriminatory;
- Ensuring that all prospective and current students are advised of their right to be accommodated;
- Handling accommodation requests in a timely, confidential, and sensitive manner;
- Providing individual accommodations to the point of undue hardship on the College;
- Ensuring that this policy is effectively and equally implemented;
- Providing overall ADA training for all employees; and
- Fostering an inclusive educational environment by treating all students with respect and dignity.
Accessibility Services is responsible for the following:
- Handling accommodation requests in a timely, confidential, and sensitive manner;
- Informing individuals requiring accommodations of supporting documentation needed to substantiate the need for accommodations;
- Involving individuals requiring accommodations in the development and implementation of an accommodation plan; and
- Ensuring accommodation plans are implemented properly and in a timely manner.
Students requesting accommodations are responsible for the following:
- Making their accommodation needs known in a timely, complete, and specific manner;
- Submitting an official request as early as possible and at least two (2) weeks prior to the use of the accommodation; or for major accommodations, four (4) weeks prior to the start of the semester;
- Helping to identify potential accommodation options and communicating to Accessibility Services any questions or concerns related to the implementation of specific adjustments;
- Providing documentation in support of their accommodation request, including information about any restrictions or limitations; and
- Assisting in the development of an accommodation plan and requesting a new plan each semester by contacting Accessibility Services.
Students will have their needs accommodated so long as the accommodation can be reasonably implemented by the College. Students will be provided an explanation if their accommodation request is denied. Even if a student’s accommodation request is approved, he or she may decide at any time not to use the accommodation.
Facility Services Work Requests, Environmental Maintenance, and Construction Notifications
Facility Services work requests related to accommodations will be designated as high priority. Whenever possible, the College will provide notice (typically 24-48 hours prior) of environmental maintenance (lawn care, fertilization, etc.) and construction projects via the Facility Services page of the Durham Tech website and other forms of electronic communication. Students with special access needs or special sensitivity to noise, chemical odors, and other maintenance-related factors should check the Facility Services page of the website regularly.
Confidential information obtained, reviewed, and/or prepared relating to a request for reasonable accommodations will be maintained separately from students’ other College records. Information about matters such as a student’s impairment, disability, medical condition and status, request for a reasonable accommodation, and the College’s response to the request shall be maintained and marked as confidential information. Electronic messages must be marked as confidential, state within the body that the email is confidential/privileged, and include a public records disclosure statement alerting all parties that the information contained within is subject to North Carolina’s Public Records Law. Confidential information shall not be disclosed to any individual except on a need-to-know basis or as required by law.
Retaliation and Discrimination
No student will be retaliated against because he or she requests a reasonable accommodation due to a protected disability. Retaliatory actions will be considered violations of the College’s standards of conduct and may result in disciplinary action as outlined in the Student Code of Conduct or the employee Disciplinary Actions, Suspension, and Termination of Employment policy.
Any student who has questions about this policy, believes he or she has been discriminated against based on a disability, or wishes to appeal a denied accommodation request should notify the ADA Coordinator (Educational Resources Center (Building 5), room 5-213, 919-536-7200, ext. 6002).
Visitors accompanying prospective or current students should direct questions and concerns to Accessibility Services.
Grievances and Appeals
If a student believes that a determination under this policy has been reached improperly; unfairly; or otherwise in violation of conditions of employment, regulations, policies, or procedures, the student may file a grievance through the established procedures outlined in Student Grievance policy.
If a student believes that exceptional circumstances justify reconsideration of a decision related to a reasonable accommodations request, the student may request an appeal. The appeal must be requested in writing to the ADA Coordinator within seven (7) calendar days of notification of the request denial. The written request must state the grounds for the appeal and must include supporting evidence.
504 Plan – A plan developed to ensure that a child who has a disability identified under the law and is attending an elementary or secondary educational institution receives accommodations that will ensure his or her academic success and access to the learning environment.
Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) – A document showing how a K-12 school complied with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Individual with a Disability – Under the ADA, an individual with a disability is a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity (such as seeing, hearing, learning, reading, concentrating, or thinking) or a major bodily function (such as the neurological, endocrine, or digestive system).
Interactive Discussion – For the purposes of this policy, an exchange between College officials, individuals requesting accommodations, and health care professionals (if necessary). The purpose of this discussion is to “identify the precise limitations resulting from the disability and potential reasonable accommodations that could overcome those limitations.” Interactive communication should include the following:
- Dialogue and a meeting of the minds
- Constructive engagement
- Logic seeking
- Full trust and openness
- Understanding between participants
- Common language
- Openness to different perspectives
Major Accommodations – Reasonable accommodations that require significant time and/or resources to implement. Examples of major accommodations include note-taking, interpreting, accessible classroom locations, access assistants, accessible furniture, alternative media, and captioning.
Qualified Health Care Professional – An individual who is qualified by education, training, licensure/regulation (when applicable), and facility privileging (when applicable) who performs a professional service within his or her scope of practice and independently reports that professional service.
Qualified Individuals – At the postsecondary educational level, qualified individuals are students with disabilities who meet the academic and technical standards requisite for admission or participation in the institution's educational program or activity.
Reasonable Accommodations – A shared responsibility between the College and students to eliminate barriers that prevent students from accessing or being included in the learning environment. Includes any changes in physical locations or the way functions are customarily performed that provide an equal opportunity to individuals with a disability. Accommodations may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Acquisition or modification of equipment;
- Changes in the physical layout of the learning environment to eliminate or reduce barriers;
- Modification of class schedules while continuing to meet educational requirements;
- Modifications to College facilities;
- Relocation of classes; and
- Testing accommodations.
Work-Based Learning (WBL) – An educational strategy that provides students with real-life work experiences where they can apply academic and technical skills and develop their employability. WBL may include the following on- and off-campus experiences: clinical rotations, internships/externships, field work, simulated learning, laboratory activities, and skills/competency based testing.
Working Days – Days the College is open and operating under a normal schedule. This excludes weekends, closings due to adverse conditions, and holidays.