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As part of the registration process, students with disabilities who are seeking accommodations at the University of Arkansas are required to submit documentation to the Center for Educational Access that supports their request for accommodations, in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and/or the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act (2008). The documentation provided must substantiate the impact of the disability on a major life activity of the student (such as walking, writing, eating or learning). We want to understand the relevant impacts of your disability on tasks like communication, reading, writing, housing, technology, dining, the physical environment, classroom and laboratory and online learning, etc. Information on the impacts of physical (mobility, dexterity, endurance, etc.), perceptual, cognitive (attention, distractibility, communication, etc.), and behavioral abilities may be helpful as well. Sources of information used for determining a disability and/or accommodations may include documentation from qualified evaluators or professionals, a student’s self-report, and/or direct observation and interaction with the student.
In general, documentation should be provided by an appropriately credentialed professional in reference to the condition in question. Documentation may include assessments, reports, and/or letters from qualified evaluators, professionals, or institutions. Common sources of documentation are health care providers, psychologists, and diagnosticians. Copies of accommodations approved from a previous school(s) such as accommodation agreements/letters, 504 plans, IEPs, ARD documents and/or standardized exams can also be included as additional supporting information. All documentation will be mined for pertinent information, in conjunction with all of the available information, to determine if the student’s accommodation request is reasonable and appropriate.
Suggested Documentation Elements:
- Typed on letterhead, dated, and signed by a qualified professional.
- State the disability or disabilities.
- Describe the impact or symptoms of the disability.
- If appropriate, discuss the severity and/or expected progression.
- If appropriate, list medication side-effects.
- Current and/or past accommodations.
- Any recommended accommodations.
The Center is responsible for determining the acceptability of documentation and reserves the right to require additional information as needed. The Center maintains the right to reject documentation that does not verify a student’s disability or justify the need for reasonable accommodations. Generally, documentation costs are borne by the student, as are costs of obtaining additional documentation requested by the Center. The Center also maintains the option of seeking a second, professional opinion regarding documentation submitted. If the Center desires a second professional opinion on documentation presented, the University bears the cost. Documentation accepted by the Center is valid as long as a student is continuously enrolled at the University. However, if there is a break in the student’s enrollment, updated documentation may be necessary. All documentation of disabilities is received and held solely by the Center and is treated as confidential. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, commonly known as FERPA, is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of student education records. With few exceptions, all student education records are considered confidential and may not be released without written consent of the student.
Identifying reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities is an INTERACTIVE PROCESS between the student, the Center for Educational Access, and campus officials charged with providing the University’s programs, services, and activities (Note: for Law students, this includes Law School officials).
The Center assists University officials to determine reasonable accommodations for students, taking into consideration the student’s self-report, professional observations, and recommendations, including those from the physician, psychologist or other clinician, that diagnosed the student’s disability. The Center also takes into account reasonable accommodations the student used in previous or similar educational settings and gives consideration to student preferences for reasonable accommodation. In addition, Center staff consults with appropriate University officials who have expertise in the areas the student is seeking reasonable accommodations. Center staff meets individually with students to discuss reasonable accommodations. Although some persons may have similar disabilities, each request for reasonable accommodation is considered on a case-by-case basis. It is important to note that accommodation requests which fundamentally alter the nature of the curriculum or a course learning objective are not considered reasonable under the applicable federal laws.
Students are required to initiate the process of receiving needed accommodations each semester. Specifically, the student's responsibilities are to:
- Request Faculty Notification Letters by logging into their student profile via the CEA Student Profile
- Meet with each instructor (preferably during office hours) to discuss how accommodations will be implemented with the instructor of the course, immediately after the Faculty Notification Letter has been emailed. The Center staff is available to offer suggestions to the student and faculty member. For online courses, students may communicate with the instructor via telephone and/or email if an in-person meeting is not feasible.
- Remind the instructor of test accommodations at least one week (7 days) before scheduled tests.
- Report any problems with accommodation implementation to Center IMMEDIATELY.
Changes to Accommodation
For a student who is registered with CEA and needing changes/additions to accommodations:
- Student must schedule an appointment to meet with a Center staff member to discuss changes
- CEA reviews request for changes in accommodation and makes changes (as applicable) in accommodations.
- CEA notifies student of request status.
- Student submits request for updated Faculty Notification Letters to be sent to instructors (if during a semester).
- CEA emails updated Faculty Notification Letters to instructors with copies to student.
IMPORTANT: Students registered with the Center may request accommodations at any point during the term, but accommodations are only provided from the date faculty are emailed with an official Faculty Notification Letter from the Center, and the student has met with faculty to discuss accommodation implementation, subject to other reasonable notification policies as detailed in Section 4 (e.g., such as in the case of tests, faculty are to be given 7-days notice to make necessary arrangements).
Note: If students receive certain accommodations or auxiliary aids (such as books in alternative media or text, American Sign Language Interpreters, Transliterators or Transcription services), they may be asked to provide additional information to the Center prior to beginning of the semester. These requirements are detailed in Section 4.