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Disability Accommodations

Preamble
To ensure the intellectual richness of research and education, the University of Kansas seeks to be an inclusive community, providing an environment conducive to learning, teaching, working, and conducting research that values the diversity of its community. The University strives to be supportive of the academic, personal and work related needs of each individual and is committed to facilitating the full participation of students with a disability in the life of the University.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibit colleges and universities that receive federal funding from discriminating against qualified students with disabilities in educational programs and activities. A "qualified student with a disability" is a disabled student who, with or without reasonable accommodation (e.g., architectural access, communication aids/services, or modifications to policies and practices) meets the University's academic and technical standards required for admission or participation in the University's educational programs or activities. The University is committed to complying with Section 504 and the ADA.

Requesting Reasonable Accommodation
At the beginning of the semester, a student in the Law School who wishes to request an academic modification or adjustment should contact the KU Office of Disability Resources and may also contact the Director of Student Affairs in the KU Law School to initiate the disability determination process. The process of determining eligibility and considering what is a reasonable modification or adjustment is an interactive process done in collaboration with the KU Office of Disability Resources. Reasonable efforts are to be made both by the student requesting reasonable accommodation and the representative of Disability Resources to complete the disability determination process and the consideration of any reasonable academic modification or adjustment expeditiously. The disability determination process can take time and accommodations may not be able to be implemented if requests are made late in the semester.

In order to protect the anonymity of the student to the greatest extent possible, students should not contact faculty members regarding disability accommodations.

The Disability Determination
The first step of the process is a determination of whether the student is disabled within the meaning of the ADA and Section 504. To be disabled under those laws, a person must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity. To be "substantially limited" by an impairment means a) that the student cannot perform a major life activity that the average person in the general population can perform or b) that the student is significantly restricted in performing that major life activity compared to the average person in the general population. In making the disability determination, the representative of Disability Resources considers the following questions:

  1. Is there a physical or mental impairment?
  2. Does the impairment limit a major life activity that an average person can perform with little or no difficulty, e.g. learning, reading, writing, walking, hearing?
  3. Does the impairment substantially limit the major life activity compared to the average person?

Disability determinations normally are based on information that the student provides to the University, including detailed and current medical documentation - within the last 3 years - from an appropriate professional regarding the nature and severity of the impairment and a description of the student's functional limitations. For students with learning disabilities and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders, the Office of Disability Resources will provide a listing of required tests and contact information of possible testers in the area if needed. Once complete documentation is received, the University may consult with an external medical professional to review the assessment and any recommended accommodations.

Determining Reasonable Accommodation
The second step of the process is to determine any appropriate academic modification or adjustment, for which the student with a disability qualifies. To determine the appropriateness of a particular academic modification or adjustment, the representative of Disability Resources considers:

  1. the functional limitations caused by the disability;
  2. the essential requirements/elements of the academic program, course and/or University sponsored student life activity;
  3. the student's past performance with and without reasonable accommodation;
  4. the student's history of disability-related difficulties in participating in academic and/or University sponsored student life programs;
  5. previous modification(s) or adjustment(s) received by the student in an educational setting;
  6. a review of the recommended reasonable accommodation(s).

Reasonable accommodations are modifications or adjustments that enable the student with a disability to have equal access to the student's educational program or to the student life activities for which the student is eligible. Academic modifications or adjustments are not predetermined but, instead, are individualized based on the functional limitations caused by the student's disability, academic program and student life activities. If necessary, the representative of Disability Resources will consult with course instructors to understand the essential requirements/elements of a particular course. The academic modification or adjustment must be effective and provide equal access to classroom activities.

Implementation of Approved Reasonable Accommodation
After a disability determination has been made and a tentative accommodation designed for the student, a representative of Disability Resources will notify the Law School's Director of Student Affairs. The Director of Student Affairs will share the tentative accommodation with each of the student's instructors, without disclosing the student's identity. A faculty member who has concerns that the tentative accommodation would interfere or be inconsistent with the essential requirements or elements of his or her course will be asked to communicate those concerns, within five business days, to the Office of Disability Resources. The Office of Disability Resources will take account of the faculty member's statement of the essential elements of the course in designing the final accommodation for the student. After the accommodation has been finalized by the office of Disability Resources, the student will be informed in writing of the accommodation for each class.

Request for Review
A student concerned with the reasonable accommodation determination is advised to meet and discuss the concerns with the representative of Disability Resources or the Director of Student Affairs in the KU School of Law within five business days of receiving the written notice of accommodation. If further discussion does not resolve the matter, the student may make a request for review to the Director of the Academic Achievement and Access Center (AAAC). The request for review must be made in writing within five business days of the student being informed of the accommodation. The AAAC Director will review the appropriate records and documentation and may ask the student for a meeting to clarify the request. The AAAC Director may discuss the request with the representative of Disability Resources and other appropriate professionals. He or she will communicate a final decision in writing as soon as practicable. The disability eligibility and reasonable accommodation determination remain in effect during the period in which the AAAC Director considers the student's request.

Notes
Reasonable Accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a course, program, service, job, activity, or facility that enables a qualified student with a disability to have an equal opportunity to participate. Auxiliary aids and services are those items and services with which, if provided, a student with a disability would have equal access to the student's educational program or to the student life activities for which the student is eligible. They include such considerations as, but not limited to, adjustable lighting; sound amplification; note-takers; ASL interpretation; speech to text interpretation; use of a computer for in-class exams and in-class writing assignments; a distraction-free environment, whenever possible, for in-class exams; extra time for in-class examinations and in-class writing assignments; alternative book and test formats.

Adapted from the Protocol at The University of Chicago Law School and Office of Disability Accommodation.

Questions?

Melanie Wilson
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Professor of Law
785-864-0359
mdwilson@ku.edu

Vicki Palmer
Registrar
785-864-9211
vpalmer@ku.edu

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