Student Handbook - Disabilities 


  

Eligibility and Documentation Guidelines 

The Director will conduct the following analysis in determining whether a student is considered disabled, and if so, what accommodations to recommend to the faculty or administrators of the campus community. 

  • Does the student have a disability? The College defines “disability” as a mental or physical impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activity(ies) including learning; If NO, the student is ineligible and the office will not support the requested accommodation. If YES, then proceed.
  • Did the student submit supporting documentation? 
    • Supporting documentation of a Learning Disability (LD) typically consists of data that: 
      • measures student aptitude, achievement, and information processing;
      • has been conducted by an appropriate professional who is unrelated by birth or marriage; AND
      •  is current (typically defined as no more than 3 years old). 
    • Supporting documentation of physical disabilities typically consists of information that: 
      • is from a clinician qualified to make such a diagnosis who is unrelated by birth or marriage; AND
      • gives detailed information about the diagnosis, treatment, functional limitations posed by the conditions as expected to impact adult learning and living and expected duration of conditions. 

If NO, the student is ineligible until he or she supplements the documentation and the office will not support the requested accommodation. If YES, then proceed. 

  • Is the student qualified (which can only be determined in discussions with the faculty/department chair)? 
    • Can the student meet the prerequisite academic and technical standards of a course or program? 
    • Can the student perform the essential tasks of the course or program with accommodation? The effects (both positive and negative) of any mitigating measures the student has or is suing, including assistive technology devices, learned adaptive behaviors, reasonable accommodations, medications, etc., will be considered in the accommodation process. If NO, the accommodation need not be provided. If YES, then proceed. 
  • Is the accommodation reasonable? Reasonable accommodations: 
    • are based on documented individual needs; 
    • allow the most integrated experience appropriate; 
    • do not compromise the essential requirements of a course or program; 
    • do not pose a significant risk of substantial harm to the health or safety of the student or others; 
    • do not impose undue financial or administrative burden; 
    • are not of a personal nature; 
    • do not give the student an unfair advantage. 

If NO, the accommodation need not be provided.

If the four questions can be answered YES, then accommodation should be provided. This analysis in some cases will require interaction between the faculty or department and the Director of Student Support Services (and possibly the Dean of Studies) to determine whether a requested accommodation is reasonable. 


Verification of Physical Disabilities

  • A student with a physical disability must provide professional verification certified by a licensed physician, psychologist, audiologist, speech pathologist, rehabilitation counselor, physical therapist, occupational therapist, or other professional health care provider who is qualified in the diagnosis of the disability. The verification must reflect the student’s present level of functioning of the major life activity affected by the disability. The student shall provide the verification documentation to the Director of Student Support Services. The cost of obtaining the professional verification shall be borne by the student.  Union College reserves the right to require the documentation to be submitted directly from the evaluator to the College. 
  • If the initial verification is incomplete or inadequate to determine the present extent of the disability and appropriate accommodations, the College shall have the discretion to require supplemental assessment of a physical disability. The cost of the supplemental assessment shall be borne by the student. If the College requires an additional assessment for purposes of obtaining a second professional opinion then the College shall bear any cost not covered by any third party paying. 


Verification of Blind/Low Vision Disability

  • A student with vision impairment must provide professional verification certified by an Optometrist, Ophthalmologists, and or Vision Specialists whom are eligible to make the diagnosis. 
  • Documentation
    • A specific designation as Blind or low vision
    • Functional limitations on major life activities resulting from being blind or having low vision. These may include but are not limited to: 
      • Impact on ability to utilize standard educational materials
      • Orientation or mobility
      • Academic achievement
    • Evidence to support the functional limitations statements made in #3.2. This may include but is not limited to: 
      • Result of vision testing
      • Age of onset
      • Academic Achievement: Tests of reading, writing and math skills measured by standardized and comprehensive individual achievement tests such as the Woodcock-Johnson Revised, or Wechsler Individual Achievement Test-II. Specific achievement tests may also be used such as the Test of Written Language-3 or the Stanford Diagnostic Mathematics Test. 
      • Clinical Observation/interview
      • Teacher Observation
    • Recommended Accommodations. All accommodations should be directly related to functional limitations listed in #3.2. The rationale for each recommendation should be contained in #3 above. 
    • Recommendations for other supports, strategies or services that may benefit the individual in higher education environment including suggestions about how specific effects of the disability may be accommodated through the use of assistive technology 
    • Other pertinent diagnoses or recommendations for other evaluations that may be needed. 

Verification of Deaf/Hard of Hearing Disability

  • A student with hearing impairment must be evaluated by a licensed Audiologist and/or similarly trained medical professional that can determine the diagnosis. 
  • Documentation: 
    • A specific designation as deaf or hard of hearing. 
    • Functional limitations on major life activities resulting from being deaf or hard of hearing. These may include but are not limited to: 
      • Communication
      • Receptive and/or expressive language skills
      • Academic skill development
    • Evidence to support the functional limitations statements made in #4.2. This may include but is not limited to: 
      • Audiological results
      • Age of onset
      • Academic Achievement: Tests of reading, writing and math skills measured by standardized and comprehensive individual achievement tests such as the Woodcock-Johnson Revised, or Wechsler Individual Achievement Test-II.  Specific achievement tests may also be used such as the Test of Written Language-3 or the Stanford Diagnostic Mathematics Test. 
      • Clinical Observation/interview
      • Teacher Observation
    • Recommended Accommodations. All accommodations should be directly related to functional limitations listed in #4.2. The rationale for each recommendation should be clearly explained. 
    • Recommendations for other supports, strategies or services that may benefit the individual in higher education environment including suggestions about how specific effects of the disability may be accommodated through the use of assistive technology. 
    • Other pertinent diagnoses or recommendations for other evaluations that may be needed. 

Verification of Traumatic Brain Injury

  • Practitioners that can provide a diagnosis include a Neuropsychologist or medical doctor with expertise in the area of Traumatic Brain Injury. 
  • Documentation: 
    • A specific diagnosis of Traumatic Brain Injury.
    • Functional limitation of major life activities as result of brain injury. These may include, but are not limited to: 
      • Cognitive ability
      • Memory
      • Attention
      • Emotional/behavioral functioning
      • Motor ability
      • Sensory impairments
    • Evidence to support the functional limitations statements made in #5.2b. This may include but is not limited to: 
      • Academic Achievement: Tests of reading, writing and math skills measured by standardized and comprehensive individual achievement tests such as the Woodcock-Johnson Revised, or Wechsler Individual Achievement Test-II.  Specific achievement tests may also be used such as the Test of Written Language-3 or the Stanford Diagnostic Mathematics Test.
      •  Test of Information Processing including attention, memory, and executive functioning. 
      • Receptive and Expressive Language: Assessed using standardized measures of receptive and expressive language ability. 
      • Teacher observation» Clinical observation/interview
      • Standardized checklists or scales of emotional functioning
    • Recommended Accommodations. All accommodations should be directly related to functional limitations listed in #5.2. The rationale for each recommendation should be contained in #3 above. 
    • Recommendations for other supports, strategies or services that may benefit the individual in a higher education environment including suggestions about how specific effects of the disability may be accommodated through the use of assistive technology. Other pertinent diagnoses or recommendations for other evaluations that may be needed. 

Verification of Asperger’s /Pervasive Developmental Disorders

  • Documentation

Documentation verifying the disorder must be prepared by a neuropsychologist or psychologist with experience in the field of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Documentation must include:

  •  
    • History of impaired communication, social and academic functioning. Historical information   regarding the individual’s communication, social and academic history in elementary, secondary   education should be documented and provided.
    • Relevant academic data including past evaluations, academic history, approved academic accommodations, etc.
    • Detailed description of student’s current a) communication/language skills, b) ability to interact socially c) restricted, repetitive and or stereotyped patterns of behavior, activities and sensory functioning, d) sensitivity to environmental conditions, e) motor planning, etc. Evidence to support these statements might include results of aptitude and achievement testing, standardized tests of language skills and standardized scales of symptoms related to autism as well as clinical observations including level of severity. 
  • Relevant information regarding current treatment and prognosis such as
    • Relevant medical information relating to the student’s Asperger’s disorder including a description of the impact any prescribed medications or medication side effects have on the student’s ability to meet the demands of the postsecondary environment. 
    • A specific diagnosis based on the DSM IV-TR diagnostic criteria. The evaluator should use definitive language in the diagnosis of an Asperger’s Disorder or Other Pervasive Developmental Disorders. 
    • The evaluator must describe the current degree of impact of the diagnosed AS or PDD has on the specific major life activity as well as its impact in a postsecondary setting. 
    • Suggestions of reasonable accommodation(s) which might be appropriate at the post secondary level are encouraged. These recommendations should be supported by the diagnosis. 

Verification of Learning Disability

  •  A student with a learning disability must provide professional testing and evaluation results which reflect the student’s present level of processing information. The following are required to establish a claim of a learning disability. Hereafter reference to learning disabled students shall refer to those students who have so established the claim. 
  • Documentation verifying the learning disability must: 
    • be prepared by a professional qualified to diagnose a learning disability, including, but not limited to, a licensed physician or psychologist. The cost of obtaining the professional verification shall be borne by the student.  Union College reserves the right to require the documentation to be submitted directly from the evaluator to the College. 
    • be presented as a written statement signed by the attending professional attesting to the diagnosis of the specific learning disability as well as recommendations for academic interventions based on that diagnosis; 
      • the written statement concerning the diagnosis and recommendations must be dated after the     student’s sixteenth birthday, and 
      • in the case of an entering First-year student, a student must present the signed statement to the Director of Student Support Services as soon as possible after reserving a place in the First-year class; for returning students, the statement should be presented to the Director of Student Support Services in accordance with the Students with Learning Disabilities Policy. 
    • include the testing procedures followed, the instruments used to assess the disability, the test  results, and a written interpretation of the test results by the professional; 
    • reflect the student’s present level of functioning in the achievement areas of reading comprehension, reading rate, written expression, and writing mechanics and vocabulary, grammar, and spelling; 
    • reflect the student’s present level of functioning in the areas of intelligence and processing skills.

 

  • Criteria to Establish a Claim of a Learning Disability: 

The following criteria, along with the professional judgment of the Director of Student Support Services, will be used to determine whether a student qualifies as having a learning disability:

  • average or above average intelligence as measured by a standardized intelligence test which includes assessment of verbal and non-verbal abilities; 
  • the presence of a cognitive-achievement discrepancy or an intra-cognitive discrepancy indicated  by a score on a standardized test of achievement which is 2.0 standard deviations or more below the level corresponding to a student’s sub-scale or full-scale IQ; 
  • the presence of disorders in cognitive or sensory processing such as those related to memory, language, or attention; 
  • an absence of other primary causal factors leading to achievement below expectations such as visual or auditory disabilities, emotional or behavioral disorders, a lack of opportunity to learn due to cultural or socio-economic circumstances, or deficiencies in intellectual ability; and 
  • the assessment must provide data that support the requests for any academic adjustment. In the event that a student requests an academic adjustment or accommodation that is not supported by the data in the assessment or if the initial verification is incomplete or inadequate to determine the extent of the disability, then it is incumbent on the student to obtain supplemental testing or assessment at the student’s expense. 

Verification of ADD/ADHD 

  • In order to file a claim of disability based on a diagnosis of ADD/ADHD, the student must submit complete documentation in support of that diagnosis to the Director of Student Support Services. The documentation must be submitted by a qualified professional specializing in the assessment of psychological disorders and ADD/ADHD. The name and credentials of the professional must appear in the documentation as well as the date the student was assessed and the date of the last contact between the professional and the student. The evaluator may not be related to the student by blood or marriage. Union College reserves the right to require the documentation to be submitted directly from the evaluator to the College. 
  • Recent documentation better informs the student and the College of appropriate accommodations.  For that reason, submit documentation from assessments performed after the student’s sixteenth birthday or within the past three years. 
  • Documentation Criteria to Establish a Claim of ADD/ADHD as a Disability: 
    • interview with parents and student
    • behavior ratings from parents, teachers, and the student
    • psychological evaluations 
    • description of symptoms
    • a list of assessment instruments and procedures in diagnosing ADD/ADHD and its impact on educational activity
    • date of initial diagnosis
    • identification of one or more major life activities affected by ADD/ADHD. Assessment of the severity of the student’s condition and its impact on the identified major life activity (ies) in comparison to the average person in the general population with and without the use of prescribed medication
    • evidence that the condition interferes with the performance of a major life activity, including the professional’s observations as well as any reports from school officials or medical reports
    • a list of any medications prescribed, patient’s use of same and effect on the impairment
    • an identification of what accommodations have been received and when
    • recommendations for accommodation. 

Verification of Psychiatric Disabilities 

In order to file a claim of disability based on a diagnosis of a psychiatric disorder, the student must submit complete documentation in support of that diagnosis to the Director of Student Support Services. The documentation must be submitted by a qualified professional specializing in the assessment of psychiatric disorders. The name and credentials of the professional must appear in the documentation, as well as the date the student was assessed and the date of the last contact between the professional and the student.  The evaluator may not be related to the student by blood or marriage.  Union College reserves the right to require the documentation to be submitted directly from the evaluator to the College. The document should list the current status of the disability and show how it affects the student in a postsecondary setting. Information regarding medication and specifically its impact on the student’s ability to study is required. The documentation should include a statement indicating the current status of the disorder and its impact in an institutional setting. Documentation should be no more than six months old. Documentation should include and support recommendations for academic accommodations. 

Verification of Temporary Impairment 

  • It is not uncommon for a student to experience a temporary or short-term illness or injury while attending college. Union College naturally wants to provide reasonable supports to the student to help avoid unnecessary absenteeism or breaks in the student’s education. Some supports may be made available through the Disability Services Office on a temporary basis. 
  • Students seeking support on the basis of a temporary impairment (illness or injury) must provide documentation verifying the nature of the condition, stating the expected duration of the condition, and describing the supports that may be necessary. Such verification must be provided by a professional health care provider who is qualified in the diagnosis of such conditions.  The evaluator may not be related to the student by blood or marriage.  Union College reserves the right to require the documentation to be submitted directly from the evaluator to the College. The assessment or verification of the illness must reflect the student’s current condition and shall be no older than sixty (60) days. The cost of obtaining the professional verification shall be borne by the student. 
  • If the initial verification is incomplete or inadequate to determine the extent of the impairment and appropriate interventions, the College shall have the discretion to require supplemental assessment of a temporary impairment. The cost of the supplemental assessment shall be borne by the student. If the College requires an additional assessment for purposes of obtaining a second professional opinion, then the College shall bear the cost not covered by any third party paying. 
  • The College recognizes that students’ needs may change as they move through the College’s programs. Reasonable accommodations may be made to help them as they continue to develop. It may be necessary for the student to provide appropriate documentation to support the need for new or additional accommodation(s). 
  • Documentation can be sent to the address below. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Director of Student Support Services. 

 

Other Conditions

If a student has some other type of condition, such as a health condition, please contact the Director who will review your existing documentation with you and determine what, if anything, may be further required.