Susquehanna Policies Regarding Students with Disabilities
Initiating a Request for Accommodations
Students with disabilities must request accommodations by submitting a request form to the coordinator of disability services, Phillip Gehman, in a timely manner. Before they can be considered eligible for accommodations as a person with a disability they must also provide adequate documentation from a qualified professional.
Documentation is required for two purposes: to establish that the student is a person with a disability, and to establish that the student has a need for accommodations in order to have equal access. Specifically, documentation should demonstrate that the physical or mental disability(ies) currently create(s) a substantial functional limitation to a major life activity. How to Obtain Accommodations.
Adequate documentation will include the following elements:
- The documentation must be provided by a qualified and credentialed professional.
- The documentation must establish a current need for accommodations. An IEP or a 504 Plan used in high school does not qualify as adequate documentation. If necessary, additional information may be requested before accommodations can be determined.
- Documentation must also be comprehensive. This typically will include, at a minimum, a diagnosis, history, proof of conditional impact on major life activities and recommendations for accommodations. These should be specific to an adult residential educational setting.
Our efforts will always be governed by the best interests of our students; this implies maintaining standards that ensure fairness for all students. Thus in situations where documentation is insufficient, the coordinator maintains discretion to grant "provisional" accommodations (e.g., until more adequate documentation can be provided) or to, provide minimal accommodations. This coordinator can also defer accommodations until adequate and appropriate documentation is submitted.
Student Responsibilities Regarding Accommodations
Students must meet with the coordinator of disability services or designee each semester to secure adequate classroom accommodations. Students are responsible for discussing classroom accommodations with their professors. These discussions must take place in a timely and appropriate manner (e.g. not the day before an exam).
The university will not change students' grades if arrangements were not made to obtain accommodations. Housing and/or dining accommodations must be requested annually prior to housing assignments for the coming year. Requests for additional accommodations (e.g. an interpreter at a university event, accessible transportation to a university program off-campus) must be made in a timely fashion. We cannot guarantee that we can meet requests made with advance notice of less than five working days, although a reasonable effort will be made.
The coordinator of disability services and designees at Susquehanna University are committed to protecting the confidentiality of students with disabilities as required or permitted by law. Any information obtained by Susquehanna University related to a student's disability is maintained confidentially and is shared with designated faculty and administrative personnel on a "need-to-know" basis or after the student's signed permission has been obtained. Ensuring effective provisions of accommodations and services may necessitate the coordinator of disability services to disclose and discuss the student's academic and disability information with the aforementioned administrative constituents. The coordinator of disability services will disclose and/or discuss disability related information in compliance with requirements and regulations of law.
When confidential information (e.g. copies of an IEP or other psychological reports) is provided to staff members of admissions, residence life, financial aid or another office, that information will be forwarded to the coordinator of disability services.
Substituting courses for core requirements is possible but is reserved for extreme situations that are thoroughly documented. In these cases, recommendations for a substitution of a major-field course may be made. Such recommendations require review and discussion with the relevant academic department.
Taking Less than the Traditional Full-Time Load
A typical course load is 16 credits; students taking 12 credits are considered full time. Recommendations that an incoming freshman or transfer student take 12 credits will be given to the registrar, academic dean and the student’s academic advisor. The student is responsible for ensuring that he/she is registered for the appropriate number of full-time credits.
A student who requests to be designated as a full-time student while enrolled for fewer than 12 credits must submit documentation to the coordinator of disability services from a qualified professional that specifically addresses how this accommodation addresses an exact functional limitation. If, after reviewing such documentation, the request is determined to be reasonable, the coordinator of disability services will notify the registrar, academic dean, vice president for Student Life and the student’s Academic Advisor. They will have the responsibility to ensure that the student has access to all the rights and privileges of any full-time student.
Students who disagree with an accommodation decision may appeal the decision by submitting a written statement of appeal to the coordinator of disability services and the Provost (for academic matters) or the Vice President of Student Life/Dean of Students (for non-academic matters), who will make a final decision. An appeal must be submitted within ten working days of the initial accommodation decision. The appeal will be reviewed within five working days, and the student will be notified in writing of the decision by either the Provost or the Vice President of Student Life/Dean of Students. The initial accommodation decision will remain in effect until the appeal has been reviewed and a decision made.
Faculty or staff should direct questions or concerns regarding accommodation to the coordinator of disability services.