The ARC Accessibility Services Office has been designated with the responsibility of processing requests for accommodations and ensuring that appropriate accommodations are provided. However, it is the responsibility of the university to accommodate students with disabilities. The ARC serves as a resource for faculty and staff who work with students with disabilities. The ARC director and ARC staff are available to answer questions, consult on problem situations, provide information, and support for accommodating students. By working together, we can ensure that students with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate in all aspects during their time here at Concordia.

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Disability Laws, Rights and Confidentiality

Three important pieces of legislation related to the provision of academic accommodations, adjustments and services for students with disabilities at the university setting are: The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) of 2008.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 1973 states:

No otherwise qualified person with a disability in the United States…shall, solely on the basis of a disability, be denied access to, or the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity provided by any institution receiving federal financial assistance. For a more detailed description of Subpart E of the Rehabilitation Act, 1973, refer to the U.S. Department of Education’s website.

The ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) of 2008 clarified the definition of “disability” for purposes of the ADA. A person is considered to have a disability if the person:

  • Has a physical or mental impairment, which substantially limits one or more major life activities. Major life activities include, but are not limited to self-care, manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working.
  • Has a record of a substantially limiting condition.
  • Is regarded as substantially limited.

For a more detailed description of Title II of the ADAAA, refer to the following U.S. Department of Education’s website.

With the passage of the ADA in 1990, Section 504 from the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was expanded to include any public or private institution. Subpart E of the Rehabilitation Act requires an institution to be prepared to make reasonable academic adjustments and accommodations to allow students with disabilities full participation in the same programs and activities available to students without disabilities. The ADAAA further clarifies and reinforces these statutes. With relation to a university setting, a qualified person with a disability is one who meets the academic and technical standards required for admission or participation in the institution’s educational programs or activities.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education. FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children's education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level. For students with disabilities who attend a post-secondary institution, FERPA ensures the confidentiality of the student’s documentation and limits access to appropriate University personnel.

Faculty and the Accommodation Process

Students may not be aware of the accessibility services available through the ARC, or some students may not even realize they have a disability. Faculty and staff can use this as an opportunity to refer and inform the student about the ARC and the services available for students.

Faculty should highlight ARC Services & Supports when reviewing their disability course syllabus. This helps to inform students of the process for requesting accommodations and those accommodations are coordinated through the ARC. It can also be helpful to read the disability statement aloud or reference the services available through the ARC for students with disabilities at the beginning of each semester.

Example statement that can be read:

“Any student who feels he/she may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the ARC Accessibility Services Office to self-disclose and officially request accommodations. Although students may register for services at any time, please attempt to make arrangements within the first two weeks of the semester as it does take time to process the request and notify faculty of approved accommodations.”

After a student has been approved for a reasonable accommodation(s), the ARC Accessibility Services Office communicates the information to each faculty member of that student. The ARC provides the name of the student and the specific accommodation(s) only. Information related to a student’s disability, documentation, etc. is confidential.

Once approved for reasonable accommodations, students are responsible for requesting the specific course accommodations they wish to utilize each term. Accommodations can vary for course to course and from term to term, depending on the barrier their disability creates.

It is the responsibility of faculty to ensure that a Testing Agreement is completed for each course exam taken in the ARC. This form allows the ARC Test Center Coordinator to know specific information related to the proctoring of the test, such as password information, the time the exam is to start, the length of time the class gets for the exam, special instructions, etc.

Reasonable Accommodations

A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a condition that would otherwise cause a student, because of a disability, to be at a disadvantage relative to non-disabled students in their access to the university’s programs for students. Reasonable accommodations provide equitable access to programs or facilities and do not fundamentally alter the essential nature of a course or academic program. For an accommodation to be reasonable it also must not cause an undue financial or endanger the safety of self, or others.

Accommodations are never designed to substantially alter the curriculum or eliminate the student from meeting the academic or technical standards.

How Reasonable Accommodations Are Determined

Documentation of the student’s disability and recommendations made by the diagnosing professional are reviewed during an interactive process by the ARC Accessibility Services Office.

The Interactive Intake Process follows a set of guided questions. The ARC Accessibility Services Office does not diagnose or suggest that a student has a disability. The conversation is started by asking the student to identify and explain their disability. The conversation (interactive intake process) involves a series of questions led by the ARC Director of Accessibility Services, that:

  1. helps determine how the student’s disability creates a barrier to access their education
  2. how they have struggled with learning in the past
  3. what accommodations that they have had in the past have been the most helpful

Accommodations are determined on an individual, case-by-case basis, never by disability label. In some rare instances, the program director/dept chair may be asked if an accommodation is reasonable given the technical standards of the academic program.

Needs vary among individuals with the same disability, therefore, suggestions represent only general guidelines for classroom adaptations. It is important to remember that a student may have multiple disabilities that have to be taken into consideration. Some students may have disabilities that are not obvious when speaking with the student. Therefore, please do not assume that because you are not able to observe obvious signs of a person having a disability, that the student is not disabled. When a student has been determined eligible to receive accommodations means that they have submitted documentation or information and are officially registered with the University as having a disability.

With certain accommodations, such as flexible attendance, arranging suitable adjustments involves a shared responsibility between the professor and the student. In this instance the student with the disability is responsible for bringing their individual needs to the attention of the instructor once the faculty notification has been sent out; however, students may be hesitant to make special requests. It is suggested that early in the semester instructors make a general announcement or direct students to information on accessibility services located in the course syllabus.

Testing policies

Students must abide by the Academic Policies and Code of Conduct outlined in the Concordia Catalogs and Student Handbook. Any suspected cheating or use of unauthorized resources will be documented by the Testing Center staff and reported to the appropriate faculty member. Non-audio security cameras and a proctor monitor the Testing Center in order to ensure test security and fairness. Click here to view our Testing Center Policies.

Arranging make-up tests

Arranging disability related make-up tests

Students with a documented disability and approved testing accommodations would use the same process to request any make-up test. This initiates a faculty notification stating that the student will be using their testing accommodations for the make-up test in the ARC Testing Center.

Arranging non-disability related make-up tests

Students must adhere to the professor’s policy regarding notification of an absence from a test. Faculty can find information regarding the non-disability related make-up testing procedure as well a testing agreement to complete here.