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Rights and Responsibilities

Rights and Responsibilities


Educational access is the provision of classroom accommodations, auxiliary aids and services to ensure equal educational opportunities for all students regardless of disability. Creating equal educational opportunities is a collaborative effort between the student, the faculty member, and Disability Services (DS). Contact the DS Coordinator, Ginny DeWitt at 832-2281 for more information.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and the ADA Amendments Act (ADA-AA) of 2009 protect students with disabilities from discrimination that may occur as a result of misconceptions, attitudinal barriers, and/or failure of the institution to provide appropriate accommodations, auxiliary aids, or services. Examples of accommodations and auxiliary aids include, but are not limited to: qualified interpreters, note takers, extra time for exams, and educational materials in alternate format (i.e. Braille, audiotape, electronic format, enlarged print).


Who Benefits

Students with disabilities. A disability includes any physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity.

All Faculty. Instructors are assisted in their responsibility to teach all students in their classes and to provide equal access to education.

Disability Services. The office provides a system for service coordination in order to better meet student needs.

Westminster College. By providing educational access for all students, the university meets its mandated responsibilities and enhances campus diversity.


Principles of ACCESS

A – Accessibility: Faculty members play a major role in making course materials accessible to all students.

C – Communication: It is important that students with disabilities, faculty members, and DS communicate on a regular basis.

C – Confidentiality: All instructors and DS staff must respect a student’s right to confidentiality.

E – Eligibility for Accommodations: DS is the office designated to determine eligibility for federally mandated academic accommodations and services.

S – Student Responsibility: Students have the responsibility to follow DS policies and procedures.

S – Support: Both faculty and DS work together to support students in their legal right to access an education. 


Faculty Rights and Responsibilities

Faculty Have The Right To:


  • Request verification of a student’s eligibility for any requested accommodations. Such verification will be in the form of a letter written by the DS coordinator and delivered by the student or delivered directly to your office mailbox. DS is the only office designated to review disability documentation and determine eligibility for appropriate accommodations.


  • Expect the student to discuss accommodation requests.
  • If the student is taking tests at the START Center, expect DS to administer exams in a secure and monitored environment.

Faculty Have The Responsibility To:


  • Identify and establish essential functions, abilities, skills, and knowledge of their courses and evaluate students on this basis. Students with disabilities need to meet the same course expectations as their peers.
  • Provide accommodations only to students who are registered with DS. It is not your responsibility to provide accommodations to students who are not registered with DS.
  • Use a syllabus statement (see faculty manual for examples) and class announcements to invite students to disclose their needs.
  • If a student needs alternative forms of print materials or other media, please provide DS with syllabi, textbooks, course packets, etc, well before classes begin (8 weeks prior to the start of the quarter is recommended) in order for students with disabilities to use alternative media when all other students have access to course materials. Converting print materials is both labor and time intensive.
  • Work to ensure that all audio-visual materials used in class are accessible (e.g., that videos shown are captioned for students with hearing impairments and that the VCR equipment used has captioning capabilities, that videos shown will be made with auditory description in some way or that written transcripts will be provided, etc.)


  • Treat and protect all disability-related information as confidential information.


  • Clearly communicate your testing procedures with the student and with DS by completing a “Test Scheduling Request” form upon student request.
  • Consult with students with disabilities and DS in providing appropriate accommodations.

PLEASE NOTE: Faculty do not have the right to ask students if they have a disability or inquire about the nature/severity of the disability. However, if students choose to disclose their disability voluntarily, this information should be treated with confidentiality.


Student Rights and Responsibilities


Students Have The Right To:


  • Expect all disability-related information to be treated confidentially.


  • Receive appropriate accommodations in a timely manner from faculty and DS. Students need to take the opportunity to meet privately with faculty to discuss needed accommodations and any other concerns. Please keep in mind that DS is the only office designated to review disability documentation and determine eligibility for appropriate and reasonable accommodations.
  • Appeal decisions regarding accommodations and auxiliary aids. For more information, please read the Grievance Procedure in the current student handbook. Alternative forms of this material will be made available when necessary.

Students Have The Responsibility To:


  • Provide DS with appropriate documentation of the disability.


  • Go to the instructor’s office hours or make an appointment with the instructor to facilitate privacy when requesting accommodations.


  • Initiate requests for specific accommodations in a timely manner, preferably, as early in the semester as possible.
  • Follow DS and faculty policies and procedures in order to receive the appropriate accommodations. When arranging for exam accommodations at the START Center, first pick up a Test Request Sheet from DS. Then meet privately with the instructor. Once the form has been completed, return it to the START Center at least 5 – 7 days prior to the date of the exam.
  • Inform DS of the materials you need in alternate format as soon as possible.
  • Notify faculty and DS immediately when an accommodation is not being provided completely or correctly.
  • Notify faculty and DS immediately when a decision has been made to not use an accommodation or the accommodation is no longer needed.
  • Provide for your own personal independent living needs or other personal disability-related needs. For example, coordinating services of personal care attendants or acquiring homework assistance are student responsibilities and are not the responsibilities of DS.


  • Act as your own advocate. Work with counselors on developing advocacy skills and communicating your specific needs and accommodations to faculty.


DS Rights and Responsibilities


DS Rights


  • Receive appropriate documentation from the student prior to the services being initiated.


  • Expect students and faculty to work cooperatively with DS to facilitate academic accommodations.
  • Deny unreasonable academic accommodations, adjustments, and/or auxiliary services.
  • Accommodations are not meant to fundamentally alter a program or activity of the college.
  • Deny academic accommodations/services if appropriate documentation has not been provided.

DS Responsibilities


  • Collect, evaluate, securely house disability documentation and determine eligibility for services.


  • Treat and protect all disability-related information as confidential information.
  • Meet with the student privately in an accessible location to discuss disability-related needs.


  • Administer exams as directed in a secure and monitored environment.
  • Provide appropriate accommodations in collaboration with the instructor and student.
  • Provide print materials in accessible format once the faculty member and student identify them.


  • Communicate policies and procedures clearly to the student and the instructor.


  • Assist students in understanding their strengths and functional limitations. Teach self-advocacy skills.


Definitions of Terms

Alternative media – Print material that has been converted to a format that enables a print impaired person to read the materials. This includes but is not limited to: taped materials, Braille, electronic text, and enlarged print.

Auxiliary aids – Services, equipment, and procedures that allow students with disabilities access to learning and activities in and out of the classroom. They include but are not limited to: sign language interpreters, real time captioning services, adaptive technology, alternative media, exam accommodations, etc.

Exam accommodations – Legally mandated services that allow students with disabilities to exhibit their knowledge on exams by using auxiliary aids which include but are not limited to: extra time, a reader/scribe, computers, large print, a distraction reduced environment, etc.

Test Request Sheet – The form that aids in the facilitation of exam accommodations. It must be completed by both the student with a disability and the classroom instructor, usually together. Exam accommodations cannot be scheduled with DS without this completed and signed form.