Created by: Stephanie Ferguson on 10/11/2000
Category: 1 - Academic Affairs; 00 - General

Originator: President
Current File: 107.4
Adoption Date: 4/14/2009
Reviewed for Currency: 4/14/2009

Replaces File: 107.4
Date of Origin: 2/10/1982

Classification: Faculty

In Archive? No


A. Background

Furman University desires to make its programs and facilities accessible to all students, employees, spectators, participants, and visitors. To aid in ensuring accessibility and compliance with the law, a task force on students with disabilities was established in 1998 to review and update the existing policy on accessibility and to make recommendations for implementation guidelines.

B. Policy

In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2009 (ADAAA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Furman University will not discriminate against any person on the basis of a disability. Furthermore Furman University is committed to providing equal access to university programs and facilities to all qualified students regardless of disability, as well as providing equal opportunity for all employees and applicants for employment regardless of disability. The guidelines relating to employees and applicants are found in File 832.1.

In providing equal access for students, the University will not discriminate in admissions on the basis of disability. The university will provide reasonable and appropriate accommodations to enrolled students with disabilities to ensure equal access to the academic program and to university-administered activities.

C. Guidelines

  1. The legal definition of a person with a disability is a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual; has a record of such an impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment.
    • Physical or mental impairments may include, but are not limited to, mobility/orthopedic impairments, visual impairments, hearing impairments, speech impairments, specific learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, psychological disabilities, neurological impairments, traumatic brain injury, or chronic medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, or AIDS.
    • Major life activities include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.
  2. Generally, if a student with a disability desires an accommodation, it is the student's responsibility to identify himself or herself as having a disability and to make a formal request for appropriate accommodations.
    • To do this, the student contacts the University's Disability Services Coordinator, submits the required documentation that verifies the disability, and identifies the student's functional limitations and provides a rationale for requested accommodations. Guidelines for documentation specific to the area of disability may be obtained from the University's Office of Disability Services or on the department's website at www.furman.edu/disability Since the process of providing accommodations involves assessing the student's needs, determining a reasonable accommodation, and coordinating implementation of the accommodation, accommodation requests must be submitted by the student in a timely manner. Suggested timeframes are available from the Disability Services Coordinator.
  3. The Disability Services Coordinator will submit the student's documentation to a university-designated professional with appropriate expertise who will determine whether it provides all required information and whether it supports the student's request for accommodation under ADAAA. If this review indicates that the student has a disability and an accommodation is appropriate under ADAAA, then the designated professional will determine the nature of the accommodations that would provide equal access to the academic program and university-administered activities. Recommendations for accommodations in the student's documentation will be considered, but the designated professional is not obligated to include any or all of these recommendations in the list of accommodations that the University will provide.
    • When requests involve academic accommodations within a course or within a student's degree program, the designated professional will determine the nature of the accommodations that would be appropriate for providing equal access, and faculty will determine on behalf of the University whether or not the proposed academic accommodations would constitute a substantial alteration to an essential element of the educational program (see C3a, C3b, and C3c below). Students who feel they have a right to an accommodation and this has not been granted from the university-designated professional should notify the Disability Services Coordinator as soon as possible (see C.7. Grievance Process).

    a. Adjustment to a Requirement Within a Course
    When it is determined that an accommodation is appropriate, the Disability Services Coordinator provides a Notice of Academic Accommodation letter to the student. Once the student has obtained the letter, the Office of Disability Services notifies the professor(s) by email of the proposed accommodation. If the proposed accommodation involves an adjustment to a requirement within a course, the professor(s) of the course will indicate to the Disability Services Coordinator whether the proposed accommodation would substantially alter an essential element of the course. If the accommodation does not alter an essential element of the course, the accommodation becomes active when the student discusses the letter with the professor, both parties sign it, and a signed copy of the letter is returned to the Office of Disability Services . If a proposed accommodation is considered by the professor(s) teaching the course to be a substantial alteration of an essential element of the course, appropriate professionals and faculty members will confer in order to clarify what accommodations might be offered that are considered reasonable and appropriate. A student who requests an accommodation that is denied because it would substantially alter an essential element of the course may appeal that decision in writing to the Faculty Appeals Committee. (See File 190.3.) The student may appeal the decision of the Appeals Committee to the Provost.

    b. Adjustment to a Requirement Within a Major
    If the proposed accommodation involves an adjustment to a requirement of the student's major, the chairs of the major departments will indicate whether the proposed accommodation would substantially alter an essential element of the curriculum. If the proposed accommodation does not substantially alter an essential element of the curriculum, the Disability Services Coordinator notifies the student that the accommodation may be activated by taking the chairs a notification letter and working with the chairs to finalize the arrangements for implementation. If a proposed accommodation is considered by the department chairs to be a substantial alteration of an essential element of the curriculum, appropriate professionals, faculty members, and department chairs, will confer in order to clarify what accommodations might be offered that are considered reasonable and appropriate. A student who requests an accommodation that is denied because it would substantially alter an essential element of the curriculum may appeal that decision in writing to the Faculty Appeals Committee. The student may appeal the decision of the Appeals Committee to the Provost.

    c. Adjustment to a Requirement Outside the Major
    If the proposed accommodation involves an adjustment to a graduation requirement outside the student's major, the student must submit a written appeal directly to the Faculty Appeals Committee. After considering the student's statement and information provided by the appropriate designated professionals, the Appeals Committee will allow the adjustment if it does not, in its judgment, substantially alter an essential element of the curriculum for that student. The student may appeal the decision of the Appeals Committee to the Provost.

    d. Adjustment to Course Load
    When a granted accommodation involves a student's taking a reduced cours eload, the University still classifies the student as full time for the purposes of residence, university insurance coverage, participation in extracurricular activities and intercollegiate athletics, academic honors such as Dean's List designation, and scholarship/financial aid as allowed by federal and state guidelines. Students who are taking a reduced course load as part of an ADAAA accommodation are eligible for an exception to the comprehensive tuition fee so that they may be charged on a per-course basis. To make these arrangements, students should contact the office of the Associate Academic Dean prior to the beginning of the term in question.

    All accommodations provided by the University are individualized and flexible, based on the nature of the disability and the nature of the campus' academic and physical environment.

  4. The Disability Services Coordinator is committed to ensuring that all information regarding the student's disability and accommodations remains confidential as required or permitted by law.
    • Any information regarding a disability gained from medical or psychological evaluations shall be considered confidential as required or permitted by law. The Disability Services Coordinator may discuss the disability with faculty, staff, parents, advisors, and/or coaches if the student signs a written consent form giving permission to do so. Information about the disability will be released only with consent and will be shared with others in the institution on a need-to-know basis only.
    • A student who chooses to activate any or all of the accommodations provided by the University will present a letter from the Disability Services Coordinator to appropriate faculty or staff, who will then implement the accommodations with the support of the Office of the Disability Services. Accommodations become effective once the letters are signed by all parties and a signed copy of the letter is returned to the Office of Disability Services. A faculty or staff member who has any question or concern regarding the appropriateness of the accommodations cited by the Disability Services Coordinator will express it to the Disability Services Coordinator rather than to the student.
  5. Students who are dissatisfied with the determination or implementation of the accommodations provided by the University may utilize the grievance process described in C.7. When the accommodation in question involves an adjustment to an academic requirement, see Guideline C.3. (a) through (c), paragraph 4, for the procedure to follow.
  6. Any questions concerning accommodations for students with disabilities from enrolled or prospective students or their parents, or from University faculty or staff, should be directed to the Disability Services Coordinator.
    • The process for obtaining accommodations for a disability, along with guidelines for documenting specific disabilities, is available in the Office of Disability Services and on the Office's website at www.furman.edu/disability.
  7. Grievance Process Students who feel they have been discriminated against due to their disability, or students, faculty or staff who are dissatisfied with the determination or implementation of the accommodations, should notify the Disability Services Coordinator as soon as possible, and no later than ninety (90) days after the determination or implementation of the accommodation in question has been made. When the accommodation in question involves an adjustment to an academic requirement, see Guideline C.3 (a) through (c), paragraph 4 for the procedure to follow. This grievance process does not preclude the use of any other review, grievance, or appeals processes outlined in University publications. The University reserves the right to prohibit attorneys from this process.

  8. a. Step 1: Informal Review
    The Disability Services Coordinator will review the concerns, obtain information from the appropriate individuals, and prepare a response to the complainant. If the concerns cannot be resolved through this informal review, then the complainant will notify the Disability Services Coordinator of the request for a formal review. This notification must occur within five (5) working days of the informal review.

    If the participation of the Disability Services Coordinator in this process represents a potential conflict of interest, the Dean of the Faculty or other appropriate University officials will designate an appropriate substitute to oversee the informal review.

    b. Step 2: Formal Review
    The complainant will provide to the Associate Academic Dean a written statement of the concerns, including a list of persons requested to be present at the review, and the Associate Academic Dean will facilitate the remainder of the grievance process. A formal review with the complainant and the appropriate persons must be scheduled within five (5) working days.

    The complainant shall receive an answer within five (5) working days of the review session or be advised within five (5) working days of the conditions that prevent an answer and when an answer may be expected. The Associate Academic Dean is responsible for preparing and maintaining a written record of all pertinent events leading up to and including the formal review session.

    If the decision reached by the formal review does not resolve the complaint or if the decision is not properly implemented, a written appeal must be filed with the Chair of the ADAAA Committee within five (5) working days after the receipt of the formal review decision.

    If the participation of the Associate Academic Dean in this process represents a potential conflict of interest, the Dean of the Faculty or other appropriate university official will designate an appropriate substitute to oversee the formal review.

    c. Step 3: ADAAA Review Committee
    The members and Chair of the ADAAA Review Committee are appointed by the President. The President will include faculty members from each academic division, the Affirmative Action Officer, the Chief Information Officer or his or her designate, the Assistant Vice President of Facilities Services or his or her designate, the Director of Academic Assistance, the Retention Coordinator, and the Assistant Director of Counseling as a resource. The ADAAA Review Committee members will not include the person(s) against whom the complaint is filed or anyone whose participation would create a conflict of interest. The Committee will review the written complaint and conduct whatever hearings, investigations, and fact-findings it may consider necessary, but in no case shall the investigation period exceed ten (10) working days. The Chair of the Committee will inform the complainant of the Committee's decision in writing.

    If the decision from the ADAAA Review Committee does not resolve the complaint or if a response is not received within the specified period, the complainant may make a written appeal to the appropriate adjudicator within five (5) working days of the receipt of the ADAAA Committee's decision.

    Adjudicators:

    • Academic/Classroom accommodations: Provost
    • Student Activities or Housing accommodations: Vice President for Student Life
    • Building Access accommodations: Vice President for Business Affairs
    • Intercollegiate Athletics accommodations: Athletic Director

    d. Step 4: Adjudicator
    The complainant, the Disability Services Coordinator, and the Chair of the ADAAA Review Committee will provide all pertinent information to the adjudicator who will review the facts and hold whatever discussions are deemed desirable or as the complainant, Disability Services Coordinator, or ADAAA Review Committee Chair may request. The adjudicator will advise the complainant, the Chair of the ADAAA Review Committee, and the Disability Services Coordinator of the recommended course of action within five (5) working days after the receipt of the appeal. The decision of the adjudicator will be the final decision for the University.

    If the participation of the relevant adjudicator in this process represents a potential conflict of interest, the President will designate an appropriate substitute to oversee the final adjudication of the grievance.

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