Access & Disability Resources - Frequently Asked Questions
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Access & Disability Resources - Frequently Asked Questions

What is a disability?

An individual with a disability is any person who:

  1. Has a physical, mental or emotional impairment, that substantially or materially limits one or more of their major life activities;
  2. Has a record of such an impairment; or
  3. Is regarded as having impairment.

What does Disability Law say?

There are several laws that address the college's responsibilities regarding individuals with disabilities. These include the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA of 1990 and ADAAA of 2008), the Rehabilitation Act, and the Minnesota Human Rights Act.

The College has two basic duties under the law regarding individuals with disabilities:

  1. Saint Paul College must not discriminate against individuals on the basis of disability. A qualified individual with a documented disability is someone who, with or without reasonable accommodation, meets the essential eligibility requirements for the receipt of services or the participation in programs, services, or activities provided by this college. Saint Paul College may not treat qualified individuals with disabilities differently from individuals without disabilities or have a policy that disparately impacts individuals with disabilities."
  2. Saint Paul College must provide access to its programs and services, and reasonably accommodate qualified individuals with documented disabilities who seek accommodations to allow them to effectively participate in those programs and services.

The laws apply only if an individual establishes that he or she meets the legal definition of "disabled." Sometimes meeting this standard is difficult and requires information from appropriate professionals.

What are reasonable accommodations?

Accommodations are modifications to the ways in which things are usually done. The purpose of effective accommodations is to provide students with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate and benefit from college. The Office of Access and Disability Resources at each campus works with students with disabilities and other campus officials to resolve questions of reasonable accommodation and other issues related to the institution's compliance with disability laws.

Reasonable accommodations can be provided in various ways. The following are brief descriptions and examples of the most common categories of accommodations that permit a qualified student with a disability to effectively participate in the educational process.

  1. Changes to a classroom environment or task; examples might include: extended time for an exam, the use of a dictionary or spell checker, materials in alternative formats such as large print, audio tape or computer disk.
  2. Removal of architectural barriers; examples might include: adapting a classroom to meet the needs of a student who uses a wheelchair.
  3. Exceptions to policies, practices or procedures; examples might include: priority registration or accessing assignments early.
  4. Provision of auxiliary aids and services; examples might include: providing a sign language interpreter, or providing a notetaker or scribe.

In accordance with the law, there are some modifications that the college or university does not provide as a reasonable accommodation. Examples include:

  • personal devices such as wheelchairs, or glasses,
  • personal services, such as private tutoring or personal attendants (Note. Tutoring services may be available elsewhere at the campus),
  • modifications that lower or change course standards or program standards,
  • modifications that would change the essence of a program, such as allowing a student in an auto mechanics program to take a written test on repairing an engine instead of actually repairing an engine or allowing a student in a public speaking class to substitute a written paper for an oral presentation,
  • services that are unduly burdensome, administratively or financially.

What disabilities does Saint Paul College accommodate?

The disabilities accommodated include but are not limited to: learning disabilities, hearing and vision losses, physical and psychological disabilities, attention deficit disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorders, cognitive, and other health related disabilities.

How do I register with the Office of Access & Disability Resources?

  • Step 1 Submit appropriate documentation to the Office of Access & Disability Resources.
  • Step 2 Make an appointment to meet with the Office of Access & Disability Resources to discuss what reasonable accommodations I am eligible for are.
  • Step 3 Deliver accommodation forms to my instructors.
  • Step 4 Discuss with my instructors how my accommodations will work.
  • Step 5 Contact the Office of Access & Disability Resources if there are any problems with my accommodations or if I no longer need accommodations.
  • Step 6 Update my accommodations prior to every semester.

What services or accommodations does the Office of Access & Disability Resources offer?

  • Alternative testing (i.e. extended time, alternate format and/or location)
  • Note taking
  • Organization or time management assistance
  • Assistance with course selection and registration
  • Support for coping with a disability in college
  • Assistance with faculty contacts
  • Alternative format of textbooks and course materials
  • ASL interpreting/transliterating
  • Additional accommodations for placement testing
  • Other reasonable accommodations

What kinds of services or accommodations are not provided?

In accordance with the law, there are some modifications that the college does not provide as a reasonable accommodation. Examples include:

  • personal devices such as wheelchairs or glasses
  • personal services such as private tutoring or personal attendants (tutoring services are available elsewhere on campus)
  • modifications that lower or change course standards or program standards
  • modifications that would change the essence of a program, such as allowing a student in a public speaking class to substitute a written paper for an oral presentation
  • services that are unduly burdensome, administratively or financially.

How do I request a reasonable accommodation?

To receive a reasonable accommodation, students must first request the accommodation and provide documentation of the disability. The Office of Access & Disability Resources is designated to certify eligibility for Access & Disability Resources, determine accommodations and maintain documentation separate from other college records. In general, the college or university will not act on its own to provide an accommodation to a student unless or until one is requested.

The Office of Access & Disability Resources will generally require documentation of the disability by the appropriate licensed professional in order to evaluate a request for a reasonable accommodation. Documentation should reflect the nature of the disability and how it affects you in an academic setting. The law allows the college or university to request recent documentation. If the disability has changed or fluctuates in intensity, then an up-to-date evaluation of the condition may be requested to determine reasonable accommodations.

Accommodations are arranged each term and students need to communicate with the Director of Access & Disability Resources  prior to, or at the beginning of, each term to arrange for academic accommodations.

When should I request reasonable accommodations?

Students should contact the Office of Disability Services as soon as they register for classes. Many reasonable accommodations require several weeks to orchestrate (i.e. alternate format textbooks, interpreters, etc.). Students who fail to request reasonable accommodations in advance run the risk of limited immediate assistance. Additionally, reasonable accommodations are not retroactive; waiting until you are already struggling is often times too late. To receive sign language interpreting, students should contact the Office of Access & Disability Resources to arrange interpreting before registering for classes.

What if I have a concern about my accommodations or access to programs, services or activities?

You are responsible for notifying the Office of Access & Disability Resources if the accommodations that have been provided do not meet your needs. If you have attempted to resolve issues related to your accommodations, but you are unsatisfied with the result, you may file a complaint. Complaints generally are about issues such as:

  • accommodations provided,
  • timely implementation of accommodations,
  • access to buildings, or
  • access to information.

Complaints are treated seriously. There is a process in place to investigate and help resolve them. Complaints should be filed in a timely manner and are usually, but do not need to be, submitted in written form. Ask the disability coordinator at the campus for information on the institution's complaint procedure.

How is a college or university different from high school?

See High School vs. College

How can I help my child prepare for higher education?

See Information for Parents

How can I help my child have a successful college or university experience?

See Information for Parents

As a parent, what information is available to me from my child's educational records?

See Information for Parents