OSDA | Services and Resources
In 1973, the federal government enacted a sweeping piece of legislation called the Rehabilitation Act that was viewed as a “civil rights” statute for individuals with disabilities. The Rehabilitation Act ensured individuals with disabilities protection from discrimination in federal agencies (Section 501); required the timely removal of pre-existing physical barriers in architecture and transportation, and imposed mandatory structural accessibility requirements for all future enterprises (Section 502); it provided for nondiscrimination in employment practices for all institutions or entities in receipt of federal funding (Section 503); and provided a ‘right of access’ statue (Section 504). This law provided persons with disabilities the right of access into, or to the benefits of, any program or activity in receipt of federal funding (Section 504, as amended in 1978).
Post-secondary institutions, (e.g. Colleges & Universities), were most impacted by sections 503 & 504; however section 504 had the most far-reaching implications.
Under 504, post-secondary schools were required to establish support programs that assisted persons with disabilities within their institutions. These support programs were not special education programs created solely for persons with disabilities, but were instead, mandated measures to assure ‘inclusion with support’ into pre-established programs.
This landmark decision guaranteed that persons with disabilities had the same opportunity to participate in the same programs for the same rewards and prevented the person with a disability from being viewed solely on the basis of disability.
What is the ADA?
In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed and continued the movement to ensure equal access for individuals with disabilities. It continued the 1973 legislation of nondiscrimination in employment practices, but now encompassed both public and private facilities, programs, activities and opportunities, mandating that opportunities be made available “when it can be shown that, with or without reasonable accommodation, the individual can perform the essential functions of the job” (Title I).
The ADA was changed to require the inclusion of all entities that served the public sector. This meant access to programs operated by state and local government agencies and the removal of physical access barriers by public transportation carriers (Title II); it required that private entrepreneurs make programs, goods and services available and accessible to persons with disabilities (Title III); it provided access to telecommunications services for persons with speech and hearing disabilities (Title IV); and included what can be considered an ‘elastic clause’ that covered all other miscellaneous situations within government and private facilities (Title V).
Today, the ADA, as amended in 2009, broadens the scope of who has, or what is, a disability.
What are Reasonable Accommodations?
According to federal law, no (otherwise) qualified person with disability shall be denied a benefit or opportunity or excluded from participation solely on the basis of that disability. An individual is considered qualified if with or without reasonable accommodation, they meet the same eligibility requirements and standards of behavior and performance demanded of anyone else.
This means that an accommodation or adjustment may be made on a case by case basis to enable an otherwise qualified person with a disability to have full access to the classes and programs at Medgar Evers College. Examples of such accommodations are not limited to but may include extended time for exams, the use of assistive technology (i.e. specialized software), or the use of a tape recorder in class.
It is important to note that an accommodation may be appropriate for one particular course but not for another. Accommodations are determined on an individualized basis for each student and each class. Requests for accommodations must be supported by appropriate documentation and must be submitted in a timely manner. Accommodations cannot be made on a retroactive basis.
Upon determination of accommodations, students will be provided with a complete form (Accommodation Form), which they will bring directly to each professor. This form communicates to the professor the accommodation under the ADA/504. This provides information that the student is covered under the ADA/504. However, it does not disclose the nature of the disability.
Final determination of accommodations will be made by the director in collaboration with the student. Students may request a review of recommendations and/or provide updated documentation as necessary.
There are no fees for accommodations provided for students, faculty, and staff with disabilities. Personal services such as personal aids and specialized transportation are not considered accommodations and are not provided by the college. Please discuss these needs with the Director of Services for the Differently-Abled if such arrangements are necessary.
Definition of Disability
According to the ADA, as amended in 2009, a disability is any mental or physical impairment that significantly limits a major life activity or bodily function. These activities may include learning, speaking, walking, seeing, hearing, breathing, working or the ability to care for oneself. A person must have a disability, a record of a disability or be regarded as having a disability that is not considered transitory or minor.
If you have a disability and will require accommodations, you must register with the Office of Services for the Differently-Abled.
How do I register for Services?
It is the responsibility of the student to self-identify as a student with a disability.
Students must contact the Office of Services for the Differently-Abled to schedule an appointment with the Director to register for services. It is the responsibility of the student to provide documentation (see documentation guidelines) to support the individual’s request for any accommodations.
Students will 1) complete the Intake form, 2) submit documentation of disability that supports request for accommodation and 3) meet with the director to discuss eligibility.
Students diagnosed with a disability that requires services or accommodations are required to provide appropriate and current documentation. In the case of multiple disabilities, students must provide documentation for each disability for which accommodations are requested. Prior documentation such as an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or a history of receiving accommodations from a former school does not necessarily validate the need for services or continuation of accommodations at the university level. However, this history can be attached to the current documentation as part of a comprehensive assessment battery. The determination of reasonable accommodations on campus is based on satisfying the documentation guidelines outlined below and a clear demonstration of the functional limitations on his or her performance in an academic setting. These guidelines apply for all disability types recognized by the ADA.
- A qualified professional should conduct the evaluation and provide name, title, professional credentials, including information about state licensure or certification number.
- The evaluation should include the diagnosis (ICD-10 or DSM-IV) and be dated. The document will include the original signature of the professional responsible for the assessment of functioning.
- The evaluation must be current. Disabilities may change in severity over time and documentation should support current accommodation needs.
- Recommendations and rationale for accommodations and/or assistive technology should be based on the analysis of the functional impact of the diagnosis.
- Services, accommodations, and/or assistive technology will be determined on an individual basis upon documentation review and consultation with the disability service director at each campus.
- Students must provide SSD consent to speak with your doctor and/or evaluator in order to verify submitted documentation before approving requests for reasonable accommodation(s).
- Insufficient documentation may result in the delay of services and accommodations.
- Key Points: Qualified evaluator, current evaluation, evaluation signed and dated by evaluator, recommendations for accommodations. (Note: the term evaluation and documentation are used accordingly to that which is more appropriate for disability type). Both constitute acceptable reports or material for supporting services and accommodations
Depending upon the individual need, supported by appropriate documentation, the following services may be provided:
- Academic, vocational, and rehabilitation counseling
- Early advisement
- Early registration
- Coordination and facilitation of reasonable accommodations on an individualized basis
- Administration of exams with accommodations (i.e. extra time, reader, writer)
- One on one or group tutoring
- Use of a tape recorder, calculator in class
- Note taking services
- Textbooks in alternate format
- Coordination of ASL interpreting services as needed
- Alternate format print material: i.e. enlarged print
- Classroom relocation as needed for differently-abled students, faculty and staff
- Assistive technology resources
- Referral to outside resources upon request
- Liaison with college and community
- On campus parking (case by case basis, some restrictions may apply)
- Referral to employment
- Voter Registration Assistance
Assistive Technology (AT) is any item, piece of equipment, or product system used to increase, maintain, or improve access for individuals with disabilities. The Office of Services for the Differently-Abled is continuously working to bring state of the art assistive technology solutions to the campus.The office currently has the technology below available for use:
Voice Recognition Software (Dragon Naturally Speaking Professional) – enables students to write and/or navigate the computer screen by simply dictating commands to a computer system that is trained to recognize their voices. Recommended for: motor disabilities and/or students with learning disabilities.
Screen Readers (Jaws) – Provides access to software applications and the Internet to students who are unable to see a traditional computer monitor. Accessibility is created via voice output system that literally reads the contents to users. Recommended for: blind and low-vision students.
Screen Enlargers (Zoom Text) – Enables students who have difficulty viewing the screen on a standard computer monitor to enlarge the content from as little as 1.2 times incrementally up to 16 times. Magnification can be used in conjunction with available speech output features. Recommended for: low-vision students.
Kurzweil 1000 Reading & Writing System—Enables students who are unable to see a computer monitor to read/write and edit material by having it read aloud by the computer and then using keystrokes to manipulate all the formatting commands. Material is opened from a file, scanned in, or created within the program, then saved as a document for output. Recommended for: blind and low-vision students.
Kurzweil 3000 Reading & Writing System – Assists students whose disabilities affect their reading comprehension and/or writing skills by simultaneously reading text aloud and highlighting each spoken word on a computer display. Students can pause on any word, and have instant access to dictionary, thesaurus, grammar check, and note-taking features. Students can also use the system’s scanner, voice-output and recording capabilities to create books-on-tape. Recommended for: learning disabilities and/or low-vision students.
CCTV (Optelec) – Video magnifiers magnify material up to 44-times their original size. By placing viewing material under a built in camera, the image is magnified while the individual user focuses to the desired enlargement; output is displayed on the attached monitor. Recommended for: low-vision students.
Ipads, laptops, tape recorders, calculators, magnifiers
Reasonable Accommodations – a Faculty Guide to Teaching Students with Disabilities
- www.vesid.nysed.gov VESID – Provides counseling, vocational guidance, training and placement assistance to eligible individuals with disabilities.
- www.ofcs.state.ny.us/main/cbvh Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped – Provides counseling, vocational guidance, training and placement assistant to eligible individuals who are blind and legally blind.
- www.nyc.gov/html/mopd/home.html Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities – provides information of services, agencies and resources for persons with disabilities in New York City.
- www.nyc.gov/html/permits/nyc-pppd.html/ – Information on NYS and NYC parking permits for persons with disabilities.
- www.mta.nyc.ny.us/nyct/paratran/guide.htm – Access-A-Ride