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Educational Support Services

Policy and Guidelines for Students Requesting Academic Accommodations

Disability Policy

Whitworth University will not exclude otherwise qualified applicants or students with disabilities from participation in, or access to, its academic, housing, or extracurricular programs. The phrase "Otherwise qualified" refers to students who, without consideration of disability, are admissible to the university. Program participation will not be denied to a student with a disability when that person, with a reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions required of that program.

Laws Affecting Students with Disabilities

Title V of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is regarded as the first civil rights legislation for people with disabilities. Section 504 of the Act prohibits discrimination based on disability in any program or activity offered by an institution receiving federal funds. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 is a federal civil rights statute designed to remove barriers that prevent qualified individuals with disabilities from enjoying the same opportunities available to others. Washington State Law (28B.10 RCW) outlines core services and reasonable accommodations that colleges and universities must provide to students with disabilities. It also requires that we provide a grievance procedure for students who believe discrimination has occurred.

Student Responsibilities

Whitworth University has a long history of supporting students with disabilities. We are committed to making our campus accessible to the whole community. However, it is only through voluntary disclosure of disability and request for accommodation that Whitworth University can make adjustments to meet the specific needs of an individual.

Whitworth University expects all students to play an active role in their education. It is a student's responsibility to familiarize him or herself with the university's policies and with specific course requirements. All students should take the initiative to seek the support, advice, and resources available to them. Students with disabilities who want academic adjustments in order to achieve access to programs and activities must contact educational support services. The terms "accommodation and "adjustment are used interchangeably; they refer to policy or program changes, and auxiliary aids and services, arranged by the University for providing access for students with disabilities.

Students should keep in mind that accommodations are intended to provide equal access; they do not always result in equal outcomes. Students with disabilities should design their class schedules and workloads with the understanding that, even with accommodations, they might spend more time and effort than other students spend in order to achieve the same level of success.

Disability Defined

Under the ADA, a person with a disability "is a person who: (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; OR (2) has a record of such an impairment; OR (3) is regarded as having such an impairment. Not all disabilities require accommodations. Even students who do not need auxiliary aids or academic adjustments should meet with educational support services for advice and information about available resources, services, and programs.

Things to Remember When Requesting Services:

  • Students with disabilities who wish to receive accommodations or services other than those offered to all students, must (1) disclose the disability, (2) provide documentation showing a need for an accommodation, and (3) make a personal request for accommodations to the department of educational support services.
  • Students are not required to divulge the nature of their disabilities or to provide copies of their documentation to faculty or staff.
    A disclosure of disability or a request for accommodation made to faculty or staff other than the ESS will not be treated as a request for accommodation.
  • Once a staff member from ESS has approved the accommodation, students are responsible for working directly with the designated faculty member, staff member, or outside agency to ensure that it is implemented.
  • Requests for adjustments to specific classes, housing or dining should be made prior to the start of each semester or very early in the semester to allow enough time for ESS to review documentation and make proper arrangements.
  • Students are encouraged to meet with the staff in ESS to discuss the effectiveness of the accommodations. The staff should be notified as soon as possible if the accommodation is not being provided.
  • Requests for accommodations must be renewed each semester through educational support services.
  • In addition to requests for academic accommodations, requests for adjustments in residence halls, dining halls, campus buildings or university policies must be submitted to the staff in the ESS.

Documentation Guidelines

Determining Reasonable Accommodation

  • Accommodation requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Those that are not requested in advance will not be made retroactively. For example, it would not be appropriate to change a student's grade because he or she explains that the failure was due to a previously undiagnosed disability.
  • Reasonable accommodations may include adaptations in the way courses are conducted, modifications in exams or other course requirements, and the use of auxiliary aids and services.
  • Students with disabilities may be provided with their first choice of accommodation or an alternate, effective accommodation determined by the university.
  • Whitworth University will not provide accommodations or adjustments that would substantially alter an essential element of the curriculum.
  • Accommodations are determined by the staff in ESS, in consultation with the student and with input from the faculty or staff as needed.
  • Students with disabilities are held to the same academic and behavioral standards as other students. Workload and academic expectations should not be lowered in the process of accommodation.
  • The university is not required to provide services of a personal nature such as typists, tutors, personal care attendants, or transportation to and from class.
  • Students are not required to accept accommodations.

Typical Adjustments or Accommodations for Whitworth Students

  • Extended time to complete examinations
  • Permission for examinations to be individually proctored, read orally, or printed in an alternate format
  • Permission for the use of computers, digital recorders, or other technology to assist in test-taking and study skills
  • Provision of Braille books, audiobooks, or other alternative formats
  • Provision of a note-taker, audio enhancement, or telecommunications device when appropriate
  • Removal of architectural barriers or change in location of a class or function to accommodate students using wheelchairs
  • Allow proxies to act on behalf of a student who is unable to carry out transactions that require him or her to be present.
  • A single residence hall room.
  • A modified meal plan.

Grievance Procedures

Whitworth University strives to provide prompt and equitable resolution of complaints alleging action prohibited by the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. If a student disagrees with the decisions made about his or her accommodations or feels that he or she has been denied access to the university's programs or activities because of a disability, he or she should express concern to the director of educational support services. If the problem is not resolved, the student should file a complaint with the dean of students or the associate provost for instruction within 90 days of the alleged violation. The university will convene the ADA Grievance Committee for the purpose of an informal but thorough investigation of the complaint of discrimination based on disability. If differences cannot be resolved through informal procedures at the institutional level, the student may contact the Office of Civil Rights, the Department of Justice, or the Washington State Human Rights Commission.

Washington State Human Rights Commission

Office of the ADA
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
800.514.0301 (voice)
800.514.0383 (TTY)

Privacy Information for Students

Any information regarding a student's disability obtained for documentation purposes shall be considered part of the student's education record and will be subject to protection under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Without written consent from the student, these records shall not be disclosed to anyone other than university officials who have a legitimate need to know. In other words, faculty members need not have access to information regarding the diagnosis of a student's disability; they need to know only about the accommodation that is necessary to provide access to their classes. The educational support services office keeps all disability information in a secure file. It is not part of the student's official transcript.