Community Standards

Students with Disabilities

Introduction

Union College is an educational community that values diversity and seeks to promote meaningful access to educational opportunities for all its students. Union College is committed to full compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

As an educational institution, Union College believes that students should understand their disabilities and learn ways to compensate for them. Professional documentation should include strategies for coping, when possible, so that students can find reliable ways to be successful. While Union College is committed to making reasonable accommodations, it is the students’ responsibility to learn about themselves and how they can negotiate in the world successfully. A part of that process is self-advocacy.

What is a Disability?

Union College is required by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act to provide effective auxiliary aids and accommodations for qualified students with documented disabilities if: such aids and accommodations are necessary to provide equitable access to Union College’s programs activities, and services, and, if the accommodation is reasonable (e.g., the accommodation does not fundamentally alter the nature of Union College’s academic or other programs, activities, and services). Federal law defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits the average person in the population from performing a major life activity such as walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, sitting, eating, sleeping, standing, lifting, bending, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating or the operation of a major bodily function. An impairment or diagnosis in itself does not necessarily constitute a disability. It must “substantially limit” one or more of these activities. In order to receive accommodations, specific documentation is required. If an impairment is in remission or intermittent, Union College will consider the impairment’s condition in its active state.

In making the disability determination, Union College will not consider the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures the student has been using, such as medication, reasonable accommodations, assistive technology, etc., except for typical eyeglasses or contact lenses. However, the College will consider mitigating measures when determining what accommodations, if any, are necessary in order for the student to enjoy equal access.

After reviewing relevant information and using its professional expertise, Union College will determine whether or not a diagnosis of an impairment does in fact constitute a disability under the ADA and whether or not the requested accommodations are necessary and reasonable or appropriate at Union.

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.

For more information on the Eligibility and Documentation Process, please consult the Accommodative Services Office.

  • 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 Accommodative Services (and possibly the Dean of Studies) to determine whether a requested accommodation is reasonable.

Verification of Disability

  • Physical Disability

    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 Accommodative 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.

  • Blind or Low Visibility

    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.
  • Deaf or 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.
  • 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.
  • Autism Spectrum

    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 Autism 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 Autism 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.
  • 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 Accommodative 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 Accommodative 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 Accommodative 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.
  • 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 Accommodative 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.
  • 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 Accommodative 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.

  • 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 Accommodative 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 Accommodative Services .

    Shelly Shinebarger

    Director of Accommodative Services

    Reamer Campus Center – Room 303

    Union College

    Schenectady NY 12308

    Phone: (518) 388-8785

    Fax: (518) 388-7175

    shinebas@union.edu

  • 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.

Self-Advocacy

In pursuit of self-advocacy, neither the use of similar services in high school or at another college nor the unreasoned recommendation for an accommodation guarantees provision of such services at Union College. Rather, documentation must be complete and support the suggested accommodation of the student who is otherwise qualified to attend Union. Please refer to the sections on Documentation Guidelines for specific documentation criteria.

A student with disabilities on a college campus is encouraged to take an active role in developing strategies for reasonable accommodation. (For example, students with documented learning disabilities are encouraged to talk with relevant faculty and staff about the disability in order to determine how a given accommodation will be provided). Students who understand the disability, through reviewing coping strategies with the evaluator who provided the original assessment documentation, have an easier time self-advocating.

Should any issues arise during the term, it is the student’s responsibility to make faculty and administration aware of them in a timely fashion in order to receive help. Students should meet with the Director of Accommodative Services who can assist in determining whether the problem can be addressed and what resources might be available. There are limitations on the accommodations that can be provided. The student can work with the Director of DisabilityServices and the administration to determine what is appropriate for the situation. The accommodation will allow equal access without altering the core requirements of the academic program.

Students' Responsibilities

Students seeking reasonable accommodations should be aware that it is their responsibility to:

  • Supply supporting clinical documentation (see Documentation Guidelines) to the Director in advance of the term to determine ADA eligibility and appropriate services and accommodations. Submission of documentation after the Term begins may result in a delay in the receipt of accommodations.
  • Request accommodations from the Director in person with at least two (2) weeks’ notice of the accommodation needed. If less than two (2) weeks’ notice is given, reasonable efforts will be made to provide reasonable accommodations, but accommodations are not guaranteed.
  • Confirm the adequacy of accommodations as soon as possible and notify the Director whenever they encounter unsatisfactory conditions.
  • Within one week of obtaining the ID card verifying a testing accommodation from the Director, approach faculty and staff in a confidential setting to discuss accommodations provided and deliver, in person, the letter from the Director to the faculty or staff. Reasonable accommodation for testing may include, but is not limited to, extended testing time, reduced distraction area, or a reader.
  • Obtain syllabi and lists of course materials for reproduction in alternate formats.
  • Adhere to deadlines established by the Director, Residential Life, faculty, Registrar, etc., for submission of documentation and requests for accommodations.
  • Notify the Director of pre-registered classes for the following Term so accessible space can be arranged if necessary.
  • Students are encouraged to also pursue financial aid and/or state vocational rehabilitation support for accommodations and personal equipment needs.

Discrimination Grievance Procedures

  • Introduction

    Union College, in compliance with state and federal laws and regulations, including the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA, as amended in 2008) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), does not discriminate on the basis of disability in administration of its education-related programs and activities and has an institutional commitment to provide equal educational opportunities for disabled students who are otherwise qualified.

    Students, who believe they have been subjected to unlawful discrimination on the basis of disability or have been denied access to services or accommodations required by law, have the right to use this grievance procedures.

  • Applicability

    The grievance procedure set forth below is applicable to students of Union College. In general, it is designed to address disputes concerning the following:

    • Disagreements regarding a requested service, accommodation, or modification of a College practice or requirement.
    • Inaccessibility of a program or activity.
    • Harassment or discrimination on the basis of disability.
    • Violation of privacy in the context of disability.
  • Compliance Officers

    The Dean of Diversity and Inclusion / Chief Diversity Officer / ADA Compliance Officer is the designated ADA Compliance Officer.

  • Informal Resolution

    Prior to initiating the formal complaint procedure set forth below, the student should, in general, first discuss the matter orally or in writing with the individual(s) most directly responsible. If no resolution results or if direct contact in inappropriate under the circumstances, the student should then consult with the ADA Compliance Officer at the Campus Diversity and Inclusion Office in Feigenbaum Hall (518) 388-8327 who will attempt to facilitate a resolution. The Informal Resolution process may involve consultation with the Dean of Studies.

    If the ADA Compliance Officer is not successful in quickly achieving a satisfactory resolution (that is, generally with seven calendar days), the ADA Compliance Officer will inform the student of his/her efforts and the student’s right to file a Formal Complaint.

  • Formal Complaint

    If the procedure set forth above for Informal Resolution does not yield a successful resolution, then the student may file a Formal Complaint in the following manner:

    When to File a Complaint

    Complaints must be filed as soon as possible but in no event later than ten (10) days after the end of the term in which the concern arose.

    What to File

    The complaint must be in writing and include the following:

    • The complainant’s name, address, email address, and telephone number.
    • A full description of the problem.
    • A description of what efforts have been made to resolve the issue informally.
    • A statement of the remedy requested.

    Where to File a Complaint

    File a complaint with the ADA Compliance Officer at the Campus Diversity and Inclusion Office, Armand V. & Donald S. Feigenbaum Hall, Union College, 807 Union Street, Schenectady, New York 12308, phone (518) 388-8327, fax (518) 388-6006, hathawag@union.edu.

    Notice of Receipt

    Upon receipt of the complaint, the ADA Compliance Officer will review the complaint for timeliness and appropriateness with respect to this grievance procedure and will provide the complainant with written notice acknowledging receipt of the complaint.

    Investigation

    The ADA Compliance Officer, as may be appropriate, will promptly initiate an investigation. In undertaking the investigation, the ADA Compliance Officer may interview, consult with, and/or request a written response to the issues raised in the complaint from any individual the ADA Compliance Officer believes to have relevant information, including faculty, staff, and student.

    Representation

    The complainant and the party against whom the grievance is directed each have the right to have an Advisor, who is a member of the Union College campus community. The party shall indicate whether he or she is to be assisted by an Advisor and, if so, the name of the Advisor. For purposes of this Formal Complaint procedure, an attorney is not an appropriate Advisor.

    Findings and Notification

    Upon completion of the investigation, the ADA / Section 504 Compliance Officer will prepare and transmit to the complainant, and to the party against whom the grievance is directed, a final report containing a summary of the investigation, written findings, and a proposed disposition. This transmission will be expected within forty-five (45) calendar days of the filing of the Formal Complaint. The deadline may be extended by the ADA / Section 504 Compliance Officer for good cause (including for reasons relating to breaks in the academic calendar) and will nearly always be extended during summers and closure after the Fall Term. The final report may be provided, when appropriate, to any Union College officer whose authority will be needed to carry out the proposed disposition or to determine whether any personnel action is appropriate. The decision is final.

  • Remedies

    Possible remedies under this grievance procedure include corrective steps, actions to reverse the effects of discrimination or to end harassment, and measures to provide a reasonable accommodation or proper ongoing treatment. As stated above, a copy of the report may, where appropriate, be sent to College administrators to determine whether any personnel action should be pursued.

Reduced Course Load Accommodation

A student may be granted a reduced course load (two courses) as a reasonable accommodation, along with a reduced tuition charge, upon providing evidence that such an adjustment is necessary in order for the student to access his/her education. Requests for reduced course load, and the accompanying reduction in tuition, must be received no later than the third day of the term. Other requests for reduced course load will be entertained but will not result in a reduced tuition. The College is not obligated to offer a reduced tuition as an accommodation. Accordingly, if a student wishes the benefit of this type of support, his/her request for reduced tuition must be submitted by the third day of the term.

Students seeking a reduced course load must formally petition the Director of Accommodative Services and submit appropriate documentation to establish that such an accommodation is necessary based on the student’s current medical/disability related limitations. The Director may also consult with the Director of the Counseling or Health Center, as appropriate. The College will also consider the student’s history of success at the College while taking a full course load.

The Director, in consultation with the Dean of Studies and other staff members, as appropriate, will determine the duration of the accommodation. The Dean of Studies will advise the Registrar and Finance Office of the final decision and will work with the Director of Accommodative Services to determine appropriate course selections each term. Students with an approved reduced course load will be treated as full-time students in all appropriate respects by the College. Students who have already completed 12 terms of study as a full-time student at Union will be charged based on the number of courses in which they are enrolled.

A student who disagrees with the College’s resolution of the student’s reduced course load petition may grieve that decision as provided in the Student Handbook, except for the decision regarding a reduced tuition, which is not grievable.

Students are cautioned that there may be a financial and or educational consequence to taking a reduced load and are encouraged to:

  • Consult with Financial Aid Office with regard to any aid they are receiving and how that aid may be impacted by a reduced course load.
  • Consult with Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, if applicable, in so far as how a reduced load might affect that agency’s support of the student.
  • Consult with their academic advisor or the Dean of Studies with regard to the effect a reduced course load may have on their academic progress in their course of study, their general education requirements, and prospective graduation date.

Policy on Service Animals

It is the user/handler’s responsibility to ensure the safety of a service animal. A service animal is defined as a dog or small horse that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability. While legal access rights are afforded to users of service animals, the access comes with the responsibility of ensuring that the animal behaves and responds appropriately at all times, in public and that the user/handler, as a team must adhere to the same socially accepted standards as any individual in the college community.

Types Of Service Animals

  • Guide Dog: A dog that is trained that serves as a travel tool for individuals who are blind or have low vision.
  • Hearing Dog: A that has been trained to alert a person with a significant hearing loss or who is deaf when a sound occurs (e.g. a knock on the door, a fire alarm, the phone ringing).
  • Service Dog (Assistance Dog): A dog that has been trained to assist a person who has a mobility or health impairment. Types of duties may include carrying, fetching, ringing doorbells. Activating elevator buttons, steadying a person while walking, assisting a person to get up after a fall, etc.
  • Sig (Signal) Dog: A dog trained to assist a person with autism. The dog alerts the partner to distracting repetitive movements, such as hand flapping, which are common among those with autism. This intervention allows the person to stop the movement. A person with autism may also have deficits in sensory input, and may need the same support services from that one might provide for a person who is blind or deaf.
  • Seizure Response Dog: A dog trained to assist a person with a seizure disorder. The methods by which the dog serves the person depends on the individual's needs. Some dogs have learned to predict a seizure and warn the person in advance.
  • Miniature Horse: The college shall make reasonable accommodations, taking into consideration: (1) the type, size and weight of the miniature horse and whether the facility can accommodate its features; (2) whether the handler has sufficient control of the miniature horse; (3) whether the miniature horse is housebroken; and (4) whether the miniature horse's presence in the facility compromises legitimate safety requirements necessary for operation.

Control Requirements

  • The animal must be on a leash at all times. It should never be permitted to wander around off leash except if the animal is working.
  • The handler/partner must be in full control of the animal at all times.
  • The animal must be as unobtrusive as possible.
  • The animal must be well groomed and measures should be at all times to maintain flea and odor control.
  • Consideration of others must be taken into account when providing maintenance and hygiene of assistance animals.

A service animal must be well-behaved and its partner must ensure that the animal does not engage in behaviors that would be a direct threat to the health and safety of others. Service animals shall be permitted to accompany that student at all school functions, whether in or outside the classroom. Consider the service animal as a necessary accessory such as a wheelchair would be considered and allowed at all times. When a service animal is determined to be out of control, the infraction will be treated on an individual basis through Accommodative Services and the Dean of Students. If the animal poses a threat to the safety of others, Campus Safety will be part of the collaborative team to determine the outcome of the behavior. Consequences may include, but are not limited to, muzzling a barking dog, refresher training for the animal and its partner or exclusion from college facilities.

Should the animal be excluded due to being out of control, the College will give the individual who uses the service animal the option of continuing to attend the College without having that service animal on the premises.

Public Etiquette by Students/Staff/Faculty/Administrators on Campus

Individuals should not:

  • Pet a service animal while it working. Service animals are trained to be protective of their partners and petting distracts them from their responsibilities.

  • Feed a working service animal.

  • Deliberately tease or taunt a service animal.

  • Separate or attempt to separate a partner from his/her handler.

  • Hesitate to ask a student if he/she would like assistance if the team seems confused about a direction in which to turn, an accessible entrance, the location of an elevator, etc.

  • Feed a service animal alcohol on or off campus. To do such will result in disciplinary action.

Relief Areas

Relief areas will be designated on an individual basis with the collaboration of the Accommodative Services Office and the facilities ground personnel. It is the user/handler's responsibility to be aware of the dog's need to relieve itself and act accordingly.

Areas of Safety

There are certain instances when it may be considered unsafe for animals in such places as medical facilities, laboratories, mechanical rooms or any other place where the safety of the animal or its partner may be threatened. Each place will be considered as to its safety potential by a team of individuals, including Accommodative Services, the laboratory director or professor, and the College risk management team. When it is determined unsafe for the team to be in one of these areas, reasonable accommodations will be provided to assure the individual equal access to the activity.

Conflicting Disabilities

It is common for persons to have a disability that precipitates an allergic reaction to animals. Persons who have asthma/allergy/medical issues with the animal are to be directed to make the complaint to the Accommodative Services. The person making the complaint must provide verifiable medical documentation to support their claim. Action will be taken to consider the needs of both persons to resolve the problem as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Residence Halls

The guidelines for conflicting disabilities apply in the residence halls, as well. If there is an allergy/animal conflict within residence hall that cannot be resolved agreeably, then the Department of Residential Life and the Accommodative Services will collaborate on a solution. It should be noted that if the first person that has been permitted into the residence hall uses a service animal and another person with severe allergies then arrives, the first person cannot be removed to accommodate the second person (Disability Compliance for Higher Education, July 1996. Vol. 1, No. 12, p 4 and 5).

Procedures

Students in need of a service animal are asked to complete a brief Registration Form at Accommodative Services located in Reamer Campus Center 303. Union College wants to make sure appropriate departments are notified such as Residential Life, Academics, and Campus Safety.

The animal’s waste must be removed into a proper receptacle. Individuals unable to clean up after their animals or who need assistance should notify Accommodative Services so that alternative arrangements may be agreed upon. If an animal urinates or defecates inside of a building, or in another area that requires cleaning or maintenance, the owner must notify the Facilities Services and will be responsible for the cost of such cleaning.

Policy on Therapy Animals

Definition of a Therapy Animal

A Therapy Animal is defined as an animal that is necessary for the individual to have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling. There must be a relationship, or nexus, between the individual’s disability and the assistance the animal provides.

A healthcare or mental health professional prescribes a therapy animal to an individual with a disability. Therapy Animals are an integral part of a person’s treatment process to assist in alleviating the symptoms of an individual’s disability. They are not service animals and do not accompany the individual at all times. Therapy animals are only permitted in the assigned residential room and outdoor spaces and under the proper handling. Therapy animals are not permitted in other campus buildings. When transported outside the private residence the anima must be on a leash or harness or in a carrier.

Procedures

  • Register with Accommodative Services which includes submitting adequate and current documentation (within six months) of the disability and the need for a Therapy Animal.
  • Documentation should include verification of disability from medical specialist or mental health professional.
  • Information on how the animal serves as an accommodation and how it relates to the ability of the student to use and enjoy the living arrangements provided through College housing. Connecting the need for a Therapy Animal to a diagnosis and how it relates to treatment.

Review and Approval

The Special Accommodations Housing Committee will review the documentation and the student will be notified of the decision. Should approval be granted, the student should meet with the Office of Residential Life and Accommodative Services to review the Owner/Handlers’ Responsibilities. At this time the student will need to provide a Veterinarian’s verification that the animal has all the recommended vaccinations to maintain the animal’s health and prevent contagious disease, as well as, a copy of the animal’s registration from the town/state in which it was registered. The student must also provide contact information of an individual who will be responsible for the animal in the event that the student is absent or unavailable. This cannot be another student residing on-campus.

A Therapy animal should not be brought to campus until approved and the student has had the meeting with Residential Life and Accommodative Services.

Please note the student must petition for this approval each academic year.

Upon approval, the roommate(s) will be notified and an acknowledgement of their acceptance will be requested. Residential Life will notify residents of the house where the approved animal will be residing.

Conflicting Disabilities

Students with medical conditions that are affected by animals are asked to contact the Accommodative Services Office if they have a health or safety concern about exposure to the animal. The College will make arrangements to accommodate individuals with such medical conditions.

(UCONN Disabilities Policy --2013)

Owner/Handler's Responsibilities and Guidelines for Having a Service or Therapy Animal on Campus

  • The owner/handler, not the College or another student, is responsible for the care and conduct of their animal.
  • The owner/ handler must abide by all state and local laws regarding animals.
  • Animals must be kept clean, healthy and under control of the owner/handler at all times.
  • Animals and their accoutrements (e.g. heat lamp) must not pose a direct threat to the safety of others.
  • The owner/handler is responsible for removal and proper disposal of the animal’s waste. Removal must be immediate. The animal’s waste must be removed into a proper receptacle. Individuals unable to clean up after their animals or who need assistance should notify Accommodative Services so that alternative arrangements may be agreed upon. If an animal urinates or defecates inside of a building, or in another area that requires cleaning or maintenance, the owner must notify Facilities Office and will be responsible for the cost of such cleaning.
  • Animals must sleep in the owner/handler's room.
  • Animals must not make excessive noise or display behavior that will disrupt other community members.
  • The College is not responsible for an animal during a fire alarm, fire drill, or natural disaster.
  • An animal cannot be left alone for more than 24 hours.
  • The owner/handler is subject to charge for damage caused by the animal in the same manner as community members are charged for damage that is caused by an individual.
  • The owner/handler is responsible for any financial charges for bodily injury caused by the animal to any individual, including the owner/handler.
  • The owner/handler must notify Accommodative Services in writing if the animal is no longer needed in residence. To replace a Service Animal the student must file a new Registration form. To replace a Therapy Animal the student must file a new petition to the Committee on Special Housing.
  • An approval for a Therapy Animal is good only for the academic year in which it has been approved. A petition for a Therapy Animal must be submitted for each academic year.
  • Service Animals, not Therapy Animals, are generally allowed on campus anywhere it is safe for them to be. After consultation with the owner/handler, the College may determine if there are any parameters necessary regarding where a service animal is allowed on campus. Service animals must be harnessed, leashed or tethered.

Special Housing Accommodations or Meal Plan Waiver

Special housing requests are subject to recommendation by the Special Accommodations Committee (SAC) based on medical documentation and availability of the accommodation. In order to be considered for a special accommodation you must complete the Special Housing Accommodation Request Form and submit it to Residential Life.

Students with special requests due to a medical condition are strongly encouraged to make the College aware of these needs as early as possible in the housing assignment process. Union College’s SAC will review all requests for special accommodation as outlined below.

Students should provide all required documentation by the following deadlines:

New Incoming Students for Fall

June 20

Returning Students for Fall

February 20

Summer Term

May 1

Please be aware that after these dates, certain types of accommodations may no longer be available for the coming trimester.

Documentation

The College requires medical documentation from a licensed physician that describes the student’s medical condition and supports the request for a special housing accommodation. This documentation will be reviewed by the SAC to determine if the request necessitates a special accommodation. These materials can be found at this website.