College of Staten Island
 The City University of New York
 
  
Center for Student Accessibility
 College of Staten Island Guide for Faculty

This section contains information about disability rights laws, and the rights and responsibilities of faculty and students. Please also view the CUNY Faculty Guide distributed to faculty throughout the university.

Disability Rights Laws

How Does Disability Law Impact Institutions of Higher Education?
What is a Disability?
Why Do I Have to Provide Accommodations?
Aren't Accommodations Just Special Privileges?


Rights and Responsibilities of Faculty and Students

What are My Responsibilities to a Student with a Disability?
What are the Responsibilities of a Student with a Disability?
Can I Ask a Student If He or She Has a Disability?
Can I Ask What Type of Disability a Student Has?
May I See a Student's Documentation File?
Should I Provide Accommodations to a Student Without Written Documentation?
What If I Disagree With a Requested Accommodation?


How Does Disability Law Impact Institutions of Higher Education?
There are two major pieces of legislation that impact the provision of services and accommodations to students with disabilities in the university setting. They are the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. Of direct importance is Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act that 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.

With the passage of the ADA, this mandate 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 ADA further reinforces these statutes. With relation to a post secondary 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 following requirements of the laws are of major importance in the college setting:

  • Institutions must ensure accessibility of programs and activities to students with disabilities. Architectural barriers must be removed where the program is not accessible by other means. Students with disabilities should have the same options available to others when selecting courses and majors.
  • Students with a disability must be provided with auxiliary aids and services in their academic activities (i.e., interpreters, taped texts and readers in libraries; adapted classroom equipment). Institutions need not provide personal attendants, individually prescribed devices, readers for personal use or study, or other devices or services of a personal nature.

(Section 504 of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 2009)

Useful Link: http://www.ds.psu.edu/StudentServices/30622.htm

What is a Disability?
To be considered a person with a disability, an individual must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Major life activities are functions including caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, breathing, learning, and working. An individual is considered a person with disability if he or she has a record of such an impairment or is regarded as having an impairment.

Why Do I Have to Provide Accommodations?
Reasonable accommodations are guaranteed under federal law. The ADA extended the protection given to individuals with disabilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Reasonable modifications are mandated for nonessential academic requirements to ensure full educational opportunity for students with disabilities.

Aren't Accommodations Just Special Privileges?
Accommodations are intended to allow a student with disabilities to have equal access to academic programs. Think of it as "leveling the playing field". Students with disabilities, like other students, should pass or fail courses according to whether or not they have mastered the learning objectives. Although you may modify your teaching and testing methods to accommodate students, you should not alter your grading standards.

What are My Responsibilities to a Student with a Disability?
You are not required to give passing grades to students with disabilities who have failed to demonstrate the required level of understanding or performance competency. Once accommodations have been provided, you should grade the work of the student with a disability as you would grade the work of any other student.
You also are responsible for protecting the privacy of students with disabilities. Finally, you should conduct class so that no more attention is focused on the student than is necessary to provide required accommodations.

What are the Responsibilities of a Student with a Disability?
Students with disabilities are responsible for ensuring that College personnel are aware of their disabilities and required accommodations. In order to access campus disability services, students must identify themselves with the Center for Student Accessibility and provide current documentation of their disability and verification of the need for accommodations.
Students with disabilities share the same responsibility for their education as students who are non-disabled. This includes meeting academic standards, attending class, maintaining appropriate behavior, and providing timely notification of individual needs.

Can I Ask a Student If He or She Has a Disability?
No, this is confidential information. However, you can facilitate connection with the Center for Student Accessibility by making available the name and contact information of the Center on each course syllabus.

The following statement (or some version of it) can be included at the bottom of each syllabus each semester:

"If you need an accommodation because of a documented disability, you are required to register with the Center for Student Accessibility located in the Center for the Arts, Room 101 (1P-101).”

The Americans with Disabilities Act literature recommends a 20 point font.

Can I Ask What Type of Disability a Student Has?
No, this is confidential information. The only information that you must receive about the student is required accommodations. However, most students will disclose information about their disabilities when discussing accommodations with you.

May I See a Student's Documentation File?
Sorry, this is confidential information. You may request information from the Center for Student Accessibility Coordinator regarding provision of accommodations to a student with a disability, but you may not view the student's file.
The privacy of student records is protected through the Family Educational Records Privacy Act, the ADA, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Thus, you must have written permission from the student to see his or her documentation file maintained by the Center for Student Accessibility.

Should I Provide Accommodations to a Student Without Written Documentation?
No, you do not have to provide accommodations to a student with a suspected disability. The student must self-identify with the Center for Student Accessibility to receive accommodations.

What If I Disagree With a Requested Accommodation?
Under federal law, reasonable accommodations must be provided to qualified students with disabilities. If you believe the requested accommodation is unreasonable, you should contact the Center for Student Accessibility immediately to discuss this matter. There is an appeal process in place for faculty members when they disagree with requested accommodations.