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Dean of Students - Academic Policies - Disabilities

Student Handbook - Disabilities


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.