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Disability Resources and Services

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Disability Resources Image
Disability Resources Image

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New Students

Are you new to college? Here’s how we can help.

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Continuing Students

All the resources you need to succeed are right here.

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Faculty Resources

For SMCC Faculty: we can help with disability issues.

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Forms

All the forms you need for Disability Services are here.

Fostering Self-Reliance

At South Mountain Community College, we work hard to ensure that all students are provided with equal access to learning.

Our Disability Resources and Services (DRS) Office is an important part of this effort.

The mission of our DRS Office is to:

  • Provide qualified, self-identifying students with disabilities equal access to a quality post-secondary educational experience by administering reasonable accommodations as needed;
  • Foster and establish linkages, disability awareness, and collaboration between students, faculty/staff, and other college and community resources/services; and
  • Develop potential campus and community resources that will provide opportunities to strengthen student academic and vocational success.

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires institutions of higher education to provide reasonable accommodation to qualified individuals with documented disabilities, provided that accommodation does not create an undue hardship. An undue hardship refers to any accommodation that would be unduly costly, expensive, substantial, disruptive or that would fundamentally alter the nature of the business or program.

Reasonable accommodation is provision of an auxiliary aid or modification to a course or program which will allow access to that educational program, material, activity or degree.

Some examples of reasonable accommodations are:

  • making existing facilities readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities;
  • acquisition or modification of equipment or devices;
  • appropriate adjustment or modification of examinations or policies;
  • adaptive computer software/equipment;
  • flexible time lines for program completion;
  • provision of qualified readers, note takers, and/or sign language interpreters; and
  • provision of alternative print formats.

PLEASE NOTE: It is your responsibility as the student to identify these needs and inform the college of your need for accommodation. It is also your responsibility to provide appropriate documentation for any stated disability. Personal care attendants are not considered reasonable accommodation.

Accommodation Time Frame

We will provide reasonable accommodation for qualified students with disabilities on a case-by-case basis.

To request accommodation, contact our DRS office as soon as possible, as some accommodations may take considerable time to establish.

Your preferences in regard to reasonable accommodations will be taken into account; however, in some instances it may be necessary to substitute alternative means of accommodation, depending upon circumstances.

All requests are considered on a case-by-case basis. Please refer to the following table when requesting services. Although these time lines are preferred, we will always try to provide services in a reasonable time frame according to circumstances.

Plan early, and contact our DRS Office as soon as possible!

Type of Service Time Needed
Enlarged Print Text/Special Formats Two Months
RFB&D Textbooks/Taped Textbooks Two Months
Computer Applications/Equipment Two Months
Sign Language/Interpreter One Month
Scribes Two Weeks
Note Taker (in class) Two Weeks
Note Taker (out of class) One Month
Classroom Accommodations Two Weeks
Extended Test Time (ASSET) Two Weeks
Equipment Check-Out for Classes Two Days
Other Services Contact DRS

Admission Standards

Do college/universities have special admission standards for people with disabilities?

No. College admissions offices must treat all applicants equally and cannot ask applicants if they have a disability prior to admission. Applicants with disabilities must be qualified, and, with or without reasonable accommodation, meet the same standards (including academic, professional, technical, and behavioral) as students without disabilities.

For example, if a student is unable to regularly attend a class in which attendance is a critical component of the essential nature of the curriculum, the student may be unqualified to take that class. In another example, if a student is unable to run, that could make a student unqualified to join the track team.

The law is clear that technical standards can be applied to individuals with disabilities, even if those standards involve requirements that may be impossible for people with certain disabilities to meet. It is also clear, however, that those standards must reflect the essential skills for a program graduate.

Students should try to meet the standards of any program they choose. Academic accommodations are provided to students with disabilities to ensure that they will have equal access to the information and the classroom setting. In the end, however, everyone must meet the same requirements for completion.

Reasonable Accommodation

What is a reasonable accommodation?

The Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act require institutions of higher education to provide reasonable accommodation to qualified individuals with documented disabilities, provided that accommodation does not create an undue hardship. An undue hardship refers to any accommodation that would be overly expensive, substantial, disruptive, or that would fundamentally alter the nature of the business or program. Reasonable accommodation is provision of an auxiliary aid or modification to the course or program that will allow access to the educational program, material, activity or degree.

Examples

What are some examples of reasonable accommodation?

Some examples of reasonable accommodation include:

  • making existing facilities readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities;
  • acquisition or modification of equipment or devices;
  • appropriate adjustment or modification of examinations or policies;
  • adaptive computer software/equipment;
  • flexible time lines for program completion;
  • provision of qualified readers, note takers, and/or sign language interpreters; and
  • provision of alternative print formats.

PLEASE NOTE: It is your responsibility as the student to self-identify and inform the college of your need for accommodation. It is also your responsibility to provide appropriate documentation for any stated disability. The list of examples above is intended for informational purposes only, and does not guarantee what accommodation a particular student may or may not receive. All accommodations are provided on a case-by-case basis. Personal Care attendants are not considered reasonable accommodation.

Eligibility

How is eligibility for reasonable accommodation determined?

Accommodation eligibility is based upon documented need.

First, you should contact the college or university that you plan to attend and request a copy of their disability documentation guidelines. Be aware that eligibility guidelines may differ from institution to institution, even though the same general principles of eligibility apply.

A student requesting reasonable accommodation must provide documentation of a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits his or her ability to perform one or more major life activities in comparison to most people.

Accommodation eligibility is not based upon the name or diagnosis of a disability, but rather upon the current impact of that disability on the life of the individual in the academic environment.

The federal definition of a disability, under the Rehabilitation Act Section 504, includes a person who (1) has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities; (2) has a record of such impairment, or (3) is regarded as having such impairment.

Documentation

What kind of disability documentation will I need?

The Maricopa Community College District guidelines for disability documentation can be found on the web at: My.maricopa.edu. You may also contact the SMCC DRS office for a copy of these guidelines.

Typically, you must sign a written release of information stating that you have given the college your permission to review your disability documentation prior to the college reviewing such documentation. Contact the office or individual that handles accommodation requests at the college you plan to attend for more information.

Types of Accommodations

What types of accommodations will I receive?

The type of accommodation(s) you receive will vary depending on your request, your documentation, the kind of disability you have and course standards.

Some colleges will be well prepared to help you decide what accommodations might work for you…others may not. It is best if you know for yourself what kind of accommodations you need. The college’s primary responsibility is to evaluate requests for reasonable accommodations, determine eligibility based on supporting documentation of disability, and correspondingly provide reasonable accommodations to qualified students with disabilities.

Accommodation Request

How often must I request accommodations?

Since different classes may require different accommodations, students may need to request accommodations on a semester-by-semester, course-by-course basis.

Some accommodations require more time to coordinate, and must be requested well ahead of time. Work closely with the DRS office at the college or university you select to make sure you understand the policies and deadlines. This will help ensure the availability of accommodations beginning on the first day of class.

Why is a diagnosis not enough?

Why do students with the same diagnosis sometimes get different accommodations?

Reasonable accommodations at post-secondary institutions are only partially based on a diagnosis of a disability.

There also must be a significant impact on a major life activity. This is why documentation for a post-secondary institution has to provide more information than just a diagnosis and must address the severity of impact. Another student with the same disability may be impacted differently by his/her disability. All accommodations are viewed on a case-by-case basis.

Transportation or Attendant Care

Are colleges or universities required to provide transportation or attendant care?

No. Colleges and universities are not legally required to provide these services. Students are responsible for their own transportation to and from campus and between classes and buildings once on campus.

They are similarly responsible for self-care or for arranging attendant care for activities such as eating, medical treatment, toileting, and showering.

Laws

Are the laws for meeting the needs of students with disabilities in college the same as they are in high school?

No. In fact, some of the laws that are applicable to K-12 institutions are very different from those that apply to colleges and universities.

K-12 schools are legally required to identify students with disabilities and provide a free and appropriate education for these students. Because of this, many students with disabilities and their families think high school disability records automatically transfer to college along with academic records, and that the college then continues services and accommodations provided in high school. However, this is not the case.

In college, the responsibility to identify a disability lies with the student, if in fact he or she desires to request services and accommodations on the basis of disability.

In addition, records regarding disability do not automatically transfer from high school to college. Such records can only be released or transferred to a college or university with written permission of the adult student. If the student is under the age of 18, parent or guardian permission is also required.

Special Education

Is “special education” available for students with disabilities in college?

No. Keep in mind, a college’s responsibility is to provide equal access, not special education.

To ensure equal access, usually a designated person or office (such as “Disabled Student Services” or “Disability Resource Center”) handles requests for reasonable accommodation.

Reasonable accommodation is the provision of an auxiliary aid, or modification to the course or program that will allow access to the educational process, program and degree, or activity. Requests for reasonable accommodations must be supported by disability documentation and should be made with adequate advance notice to the institution. Colleges are required to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities provided such accommodations do not create an undue hardship.

Individualized Education Programs

Do colleges and universities provide Individualized Education Programs (IEP’s)?

No. In college, students are responsible for self-identifying themselves as individuals with disabilities, providing disability documentation, and requesting accommodations.

The college is responsible for providing reasonable accommodations for qualified students with disabilities. Colleges and universities do not provide special education versions of courses, IEP plans, or specialized progress reports.

NOTE: Under federal law, family members are not provided with access to student information regarding disabilities, accommodations or academic progress. See important information at the end of this section on “Student’s Right to Privacy and Confidentiality” for more information.

Tutoring Services

Are colleges required to provide tutoring services?

Yes and No. If a college does provide tutoring services, then those services must be reasonably accessible to all students.

If the college or university does not provide tutoring services, then they are not required to provide such services to any students, including students with disabilities. Check in advance what tutoring options are available at the college you plan to attend.

Testing/Evaluations

Does SMCC provide testing or evaluations for the presence of a learning disability?

No. It is the student’s responsibility to provide documentation of disability to the college.

However, our DRS Office has information about community resources that may be of assistance in obtaining documentation. Call the SMCC DRS Office at 602.243.8027 for more information.

Student's Right to Privacy and Confidentiality

Disability related information and documentation is treated as medical information, and is handled under strict rules of confidentiality.

Such information is shared only on a limited basis within the college community, and then only when there is a compelling reason for the individual seeking the information to have such knowledge.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) provides Faculty with free access to educational information in institutional files regarding students with whom they are working. Disability related records are excluded from free access under FERPA.

Also excluded from free access under FERPA are inquiries from outside the college related to a student’s disability or academic progress.

This can be a significant adjustment for students who are accustomed to strong parental advocacy and intervention on their behalf. It is important for the student to begin the development of strong self-advocacy skills and to seek the support of the DRS Office when needed. Under FERPA, family members are not automatically provided with access to student information regarding disabilities, accommodations or academic progress.

Special thanks to Mesa Community College (Phoenix, AZ) and Oklahoma Community College (OKC, OK) for sharing information to help develop the above FAQs.