Mount Vernon Nazarene University: Life Changing

Disability Services Policies and Procedures

I. Introduction

A. It is the policy of Mount Vernon Nazarene University (MVNU) that no qualified persons with disabilities shall, on the basis of disability, be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination under any of its programs or activities. Any qualified student who has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of major life activities, such as walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and/or working, can receive assistance at MVNU as provided in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the applicable provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The Disability Services office serves as the campus contact for disability related needs that a student may have.

B. A qualified student is defined is one who, with or without reasonable accommodation, meets the requisite academic and technical standards required for admission or participation in educational programs and activities.

C. MVNU adheres to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the applicable provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 to provide requested auxiliary aids, services, and support for disabled students as specified by those legal mandates where necessary to afford such students an equal opportunity to participate in and enjoy the benefits of its programs and services. The university encourages disabled students or their parents to contact the Student Financial Planning office (extension 4520), if special arrangements are needed in regard to financial aid advising. If special housing arrangements are needed, the disabled students or their parents contact the Disability Services Coordinator, who collaborates with Residence Life to ensure housing arrangements are made appropriately.

D. The office of Academic Support makes available reasonable accommodations to students who submit appropriate documentation related to disabilities. This documentation is placed on file in the office of Academic Support and the professional standards of confidentiality are maintained. Academic Support attempts to ensure, through the implementation of accommodations, that discrimination on the basis of disability does not occur within any campus of MVNU.

E. It is the responsibility of all faculty, staff, administrators, Academic Support personnel, and students with disabilities to follow these stated policies and procedures in order to ensure that students are serviced in the most effective manner possible.

F. Inquiries concerning Disability Services for prospective students can be emailed, mailed, or called in to the office of Academic Support, in care of Dr. Brad Whitaker, Director of Academic Support (extension 4281, Written notification and/or documentation can accompany the health form after admission has occurred. Students must self identify for receipt of information or services from Academic Support.

II. Documentation of Disability

A. MVNU makes no preadmission inquiries as to whether a prospective student is disabled, and does not make admission decisions on the basis of disability or lack thereof. Accordingly, no documentation relating to disability should be submitted until after a student has been admitted. Following admission, in order to be eligible for Disability Services, a student must submit to the office of Academic Support qualifying documentation of disability, and come to Disability Services to complete the respective MVNU forms that apply to a student's particular accommodations.

B. A student's documentation that verifies the existence of a disability must be submitted from a qualified professional and should include the date(s) of the evaluation, the diagnosis, reference to the types of evaluation procedures utilized and the evaluation results/scores (as appropriate), and limitations of student functioning (especially as related to the higher education environment). Recommendations and rationale for accommodations are helpful in assisting institutional personnel in determining appropriate and necessary support.

C. The documentation must be current, giving an accurate picture of how the disability impacts the student at this point in time. In most cases, documentation should be less than five years old. For psychiatric disabilities the documentation should be current within the past year, with updates provided (as appropriate) during a student’s enrollment at MVNU.

D. The documentation must be written by a professional who is licensed or credentialed to make the particular diagnosis (such as a physician, psychiatrist, or psychologist) and this professional must provide the written information designated above.

E. Education Majors who desire to take the standardized Praxis Series tests with accommodations (1) must compete the appropriate request forms in the office of Academic Support, (2) complete the appropriate application forms provided by the Educational Testing Services (ETS), and (3) ensure that MVNU receives in a timely manner the required documentation that complies with ETS standards. (When the documentation does not meet all of the ETS criteria, the student will be responsible to submit a written request directly to the evaluator in order to release the documentation to MVNU.)

F. Confidentiality of documentation files is strictly maintained in the Academic Support office. Access to files is available only to personnel in the office of Academic Support who directly provide Disability Services. When the Admissions office, Health Services, or Graduate and Professional Studies offices receive any documentation of disability, the documentation is sent directly to the Academic Support office. All information regarding disability that is provided for purposes of triggering support/accommodation is to be held exclusively in the Academic Support office.

III. MVNU Assignment of Accommodation Form

A. Once Disability Services in the office of Academic Support has received the documentation, the Accommodations Review Committee completes the MVNU Assignment of Accommodation form, with consideration given to recommendations for reasonable accommodations made by the professional who evaluated the student.

B. The reasonable accommodations that are provided to the student by MVNU will be listed on this form. The office personnel work together with the student to make arrangements for accommodations to be implemented in each course for each semester in a manner that enables the student to satisfactorily complete the course objectives.

C. Institutional commitment for services provided by MVNU will be outlined in the MVNU Assignment of Accommodation form. The ADA Coordinator collaborates with the Disability Services Coordinator, when requested to do so, to ensure that each disabled student receives the appropriate accommodations in the academic setting as well in the other facets of campus life. Any department or office at MVNU who interacts with a disabled student concerning disabilities must consult with the Disability Services Coordinator on issues related to institutional commitment for accommodations, prior to making institutional commitments to the student or parents.

D. Students are notified when the documentation arrives. Current students whose documentation arrives during a semester are encouraged to come to Academic Support to fill out applicable forms subsequent to the arrival. Incoming students and returning clients are encouraged to fill out the respective forms the day before classes begin each semester.

IV. Types of Reasonable Accommodations Provided

A. Textbooks on Tape - Students who have documented needs for auditory access of textbook material may have textbooks recorded. After the documentation arrives, students are encouraged to complete the appropriate forms at least three weeks before the semester begins in order to assure access of this service in a timely fashion. The Textbooks on Tape forms describe the process and policies for effective access to this accommodation in detail. Priority will be established based upon the earliest receipt of documentation and returned forms.

B. Student Note Taker in Class - Students who have documented needs for assistance with hand written notes in class may receive notes that are taken by another student in class. There are forms that a disabled student completes, preferably the day before classes begin, in order to access this service. These forms inform the professor of the service that is being provided, and specifies the process for the reproduction of the notes. Enlarged notes can be provided. For Graduate and Professional Studies courses, the notes may be keyboarded.

C. Alternative Testing - Students who have documented needs for extended time on tests, rest breaks, oral testing, or testing in a non-distracting environment may have tests administered in an alternate location selected by the professor or in the Academic Support office. There are forms that are used to access this service, which specify the process and policies in detail. One of the forms is designed to inform professors of the process as well. Students are encouraged to start the process of completing the forms the day before classes begin in order to coordinate the process in a timely fashion with professors' schedules.

D. Peer Instruction (PI) - Peer Instruction is a service that is available to all students on the main campus in traditional undergraduate programs who desire assistance with study skills, time management, or general education core courses. Peer Instructors are student employees hired by the office of Academic Support who are trained to assist peers academically. Students make appointments with Peer Instructors by phone or in person. Disabled students are encouraged to make use of this resource. Disabled students may be provided up to three hours of Peer Instruction per week, depending upon availability of hours and personnel. Students in the nontraditional and graduate programs follow the procedures for this type of assistance as outlined by those programs.

E. Supplemental Instruction (SI) - SI is provided for all students enrolled in the courses with SI attached in the traditional undergraduate programs. An SI Leader is a student employee hired by the office of Academic Support who has excelled in the designated course previously. The SI Leader attends the course regularly, models effective student study behaviors, and holds three to five study sessions per week. Disabled students are encouraged to attend any SI sessions available.

F. Other Accommodations - The list above represents the typical types of academic accommodations that are available to students at MVNU. The reasonable accommodations that are not listed above are addressed on an individualized basis. MVNU cannot provide attendants, individually prescribed devises, readers for personal use or study, or other devices or servers of a personal nature.

V. Self-Advocacy and Accessing Services

A. Self-Advocacy is an important aspect of Disability Services in higher education. In grade school and high school, services are typically provided with minimal student self-advocacy. In higher education, students must request the reasonable accommodations provided in the MVNU Assignment of Accommodation form.

B. It is the student's responsibility to provide the Academic Support office with appropriate documentation, to identify the services that he/she desires that are provided in the MVNU Assignment of Accommodation form, and to request these services personally each semester. A student makes an official request when the designated forms are filled out for standard accommodations, or a written request is approved for individualized accommodations that are not standardized.

C. When new documentation is submitted to Disability Services in the office of Academic Support, the student is informed of its arrival. The student is encouraged to come to Academic Support to discuss the contents of the documentation, the arrangements to be made for each course, and the processes for accessing the reasonable accommodations that are recommended.

D. It is the student's responsibility to communicate with each of his/her professors concerning disability related issues in the respective courses, preferably prior to the beginning of each semester. Forms are provided by Academic Support that verify a disability and that assist in this communication process with professors for the designated accommodations. Academic Support employees are available to assist professors and disabled students with unusual situations that may arise.

E. Students who suspect that they have an undiagnosed disability may consult with the Disability Services Coordinator for referral of qualified professional evaluators.

F. Professors are not obligated to provide accommodations for a student if the student does not follow the appropriate steps for receiving accommodations.

VI. Course Substitution Requests

A. A qualified student for admission to an MVNU major, minor, or program of study is defined as one who, with or without reasonable accommodation, meets the requisite academic and technical standards required for admission or participation in a post secondary institution program and activities.

B. If a disabled student (1) encounters a course that has objectives that he/she is unable to meet due to disability, even with reasonable accommodations, and (2) has substantial evidence that the same objectives of a major, minor, or program of study can be satisfied by an alternate course, then the student can make a course substitution request to Academic Support.

C. A student may make a course substitution request by submitting the following information in writing: (1) the documentation relevant to the request, demonstrating the disability-related need for the substitution, (2) justification for regarding the request as reasonable, and (3) supporting evidence that the same objective of a major, minor, or program of study can be satisfied by an alternate course.

D. The Disability Services Coordinator coordinates a collaborative process with the student, Academic Support, the chair of the department of the student, and the chair of the department that offers the course (if different from the student's departmental chair) to determine if the course substitution substantially alters the program of study. After a deliberation process, the departmental chair(s) will make the final decision concerning course substitution requests.

E. Course substitutions are made only after every other option has been explored thoroughly, and the course substitution appears to be the most effective means for achieving the objectives of a major, minor, or program of study for that particular individual.

VII. Alteration of Course Load

A. One type of accommodation that is available to qualified students is alteration of course load. This is when (1) a qualified evaluator provides justification for a particular disabled student that merits the student to take a reduced course load of 9, 10, or 11 hours, and this would be considered a full-time load for the student; and (2) the Disability Services Coordinator determines that this accommodation is reasonable and appropriate for the student's academic situation. MVNU grants to the student all university rights and privileges that are ordinarily available to any full-time student.

B. Even though the recommendation for alteration of course load may be recommended in the documentation, and the Accommodations Review Committee may approve of the accommodation, the student must request the accommodation in writing. The financial aid eligibility may or may not be impacted by this accommodation. A petition to live on campus will need to be completed and sent to Residence Life.

C. To implement this accommodation, the Disability Services Coordinator sends two letters to Student Financial Planning. The first letter outlines the essentials of this accommodation and is designated for the files of the Student Financial Planning office. The second letter is designated for the insurance company and it verifies the accommodation of full time status with reduced course load. The Disability Services Coordinator also notifies the Registrar's office and the Director of Residence Life (in order to remain in the campus housing).

VIII. Appropriate Use of Disability Services or Institutional Policy

A. Students who request accommodations for the CLEP exam at MVNU must have the documentation of the disability approved by the Accommodations Review Committee of Disability Services. The documentation must meet the standards described above.

B. The student who requests accommodations on a CLEP exam should make the request to the testing office at least six weeks prior to the scheduled date of the exam.

C. To make the request, the student fills out the Request for CLEP Accommodations form available in the Academic Support and Testing Office. Once the student has made the request, Disability Services will inform the student in a timely manner if the request is granted.

IX. Service Animals and Therapy Pet Policy

A. MVNU policy in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA will permit service animals (such as guide dogs for blind or helper dogs for persons in wheelchairs) with proper documentation. MVNU however will not permit therapy pets on campus in consideration of the health and safety of other students. In unusual circumstances, MVNU may waive this requirement and permit a student who needs a therapy pet to live off campus in a home or apartment that does allow animals, but the animal is not allowed in the classroom or at official functions of the university (such as Chapel). All Graduate and Professional Studies locations of MVNU will permit service animals in the same manner as the main campus.

B. An MVNU student must provide a written request prior to bringing a service animal on campus, and the Accommodations Review Committee has several factors to consider before making a decision:

  • Does this student have a disability as defined by law?
  • What are this person’s functional limitations?
  • How is the institution going to provide equal educational opportunities?
  • What is the intuition doing to provide the student equal access?

C. There are additional steps to determine if a request for an animal is merited, using the same criteria for other types of accommodations:

  • The student must present up-to-date documentation of the disability, as described above.
  • The documentation should have a diagnosis from an appropriate medical provider, the credentials of the medical provider doing the diagnosis, and criteria used to assess the impact of the disability.
  • The Accommodations Review Committee will determine what accommodations can be provided to meet he student’s educational goals without the animal.
  • The Accommodations Review Committee will generate input from those who will be affected by the committee’s decision, such as Residence Life.
  • The Accommodations Review Committee will clarify with faculty members and Residence Life the guidelines and boundaries of the service animal.
  • The Accommodations Review Committee will determine if the service animal must meet a specific need of the disabled student and the service animal must be a necessary accommodation for completing the education.

D. Students are expected to provide appropriate care of the service animal, and appropriate action will be taken if the student does not provide appropriate care. Students are expected to consult with Student Development for assisting with daily needs of the service animal, so as not to disrupt institutional policies and procedures. Students are expected to ensure that service animals’ behavior is under control and do not disrupt the classroom environment, the living environment, or other students on campus.

X. Appropriate Use of Disability Services or Institutional Policy

A. Students with disabilities have the responsibility to adhere to the same academic standards, behavioral expectations, and ethical conduct as all other students on campus. Students who use Disability Services must follow the Disability Services Policies and Procedures of the Academic Support office so that services can be provided in the most effective manner possible.

B. All course requirements, as stated in course syllabi, are required by students with disabilities, subject to reasonable accommodations which do not substantially alter the course requirements or expectations.

C. Reasonable accommodations cannot substantively change a course. The boundaries of substantive change are at the discretion of the professor. Arrangements for accommodations must be made in a timely manner so that professors have adequate preparation time for reasonable adjustments.

XI. Resolution of Grievances

A. If a student has reason to believe that he/she has been denied equal access to any MVNU program, service, or activity due to disability, first he/she is encouraged to attempt a resolution of the concerns independently by initiating a meeting with the staff member, faculty member, administrator, or student with whom there is a concern or disagreement. Many times when both parties have the advantage of directly sharing their concerns, the matter can be resolved without further assistance.

B. If independent resolution is not satisfactory, and the student believes that his/her rights as defined under Section 504 of the Rehabilitations Act of 1973 or the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 have been denied, the student should submit a written account of the situation to the Disability Services Coordinator. The report should be submitted immediately after the independent resolution process has been attempted, but in no case more than 30 days. (The student should submit this written account of the situation to the ADA Coordinator if the grievance concerns the Academic Support office.)

C. After thoroughly reviewing the complaint with the reporting individual, the Disability Services Coordinator, in collaboration with the Director of Academic Support, (or the ADA Coordinator, when applicable) will meet with the other party. If necessary a meeting will occur jointly with both parties to attempt a resolution.

D. If resolution is not met at this point, then the unresolved complaint shall be forwarded to the Disability Appeals Committee. Complaints must be forwarded in a timely manner and in writing. The written document submitted by the student must include the name and campus address of the student initiating the complaint, the names(s) and address(es) of the individual(s) who allegedly denied the student rights, a descriptive statement of the problem, and a statement indicating the potential impact on the complainant.

E. The Disability Appeals Committee formally hears and resolves disability related complaints that have not been resolved independently or through informal measures. The hearing will take place within fifteen (15) days of the date that the written complaint and necessary documentation are received. The burden of proof that an accommodation was wrongly denied must be sustained by the student. Membership on the committee includes (1) the ADA Coordinator, who chairs the committee, (2) an Education Department faculty member with expertise in disability issues, appointed by the Provost (if requested by the committee chair), (3) the Assistant Vice President of Student Development (or Director of Judicial Processes), (4) the Dean of the School of the student, and (5) the Assistant Vice President for Academic Administration.

F. All complainants shall have the right to present evidence and witnesses at the panel hearing. Any member of the review panel who is subject to or included in the complaint shall be disqualified from hearing the complaint. Attorneys are not permitted to attend the hearing.

G. The Disability Appeals Committee shall keep records that accurately reflect the proceedings. After the hearings are completed the review panel shall deliberate in unrecorded executive session. A written decision of the committee shall be presented to the complainant within ten (10) days of the hearing.

H. If a faculty member has questions, concerns, or objections to any accommodation of any student with a disability, the faculty member should discuss the issues with the Disability Services Coordinator. The Disability Services Coordinator will assist the faculty member in resolving the issue in a satisfactory manner so that course requirements or expectations are not substantially altered.

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