Disability Access and Education

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Disability Access and Education Mission Statement:

Fresno Pacific University values the diversity of students with disabilities and is committed to providing equal access and opportunity for all. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA, as amended 1990), the Disability Access and Education office serves as liaison between students, faculty, and other campus personnel to provide individualized on-campus accommodations.
 
What is a disability?
According to the ADA, a person with a disability is one who
  • Has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits a major life activity*
  • Has a record or history of an impairment
  • Is regarded as having an impairment

*Major life activities include, but are not limited to, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, caring for oneself and performing manual tasks. These impairments may exist in those with chronic health issues, learning disabilities, emotional disturbances, or physical disabilities.

When does an illness or temporary physical condition become a disability?
Each case is considered individually, but generally, a chronic or acute health condition that fits the above definition of “limiting a major life activity” can be considered a disability. If the condition lasts long enough to affect academic performance, you may be eligible for ADA or Title IX accommodations. Some examples of common temporary disabilities are
  • Recovery from surgery, injury, or other self-limiting health event, especially if the ability to focus, attend class, complete homework on time, take notes, or write an exam is affected for more than a week or two:
    • Concussion
    • Surgery or injury to dominant hand, arm, or shoulder
  • Illness or other physical condition that requires hospitalization, frequent medical appointments, or extended bedrest:
    • Valley fever
    • Mononucleosis
    • Cancer
    • High-risk pregnancy

Typically, situations that will resolve within a week, such as the flu or wisdom teeth extraction surgery, should fit within class syllabus allowances for missed classes and make-up exams. Professors are free to make whatever allowances they wish for life circumstances.

Does bereavement count as a disability?
In cases of death in the immediate family (parents, siblings, grandparents who lived in the same household, children), students are encouraged to contact the Vice-President of Student Life for help communicating with professors and requesting leniency with attendance and due dates during this time. If a mental health care professional diagnoses a mental illness brought to light by grief or as a result of complicated grief, you may be entitled to temporary or long-term accommodations.
Are pregnant and parenting students entitled to accommodations?
Cases of normal, healthy pregnancy and childbirth are not technically considered disabilities, but pregnant and parenting students are entitled to temporary accommodations under Title IX which is the law that prohibits discrimination based on sex or gender. Disability Access and Education works together with FPU’s Title IX Coordinator to make sure both mother and father receive reasonable accommodations during the pregnancy and immediate recovery. Cases of high-risk pregnancy, recovery from difficult childbirth, and things such as post-partum depression are considered temporary disabilities. In any case involving pregnancy and childbirth, students should follow the normal procedures to register for temporary accommodations. For more information on Title IX and pregnant/parenting students, please see the following websites: The Pregnant Scholar or Student Handbook Title IX information.
How do I get accommodations?
  1. Students must request accommodations and register for services with the office of Disability Access and Education.
    1. The request can come at any point during the semester.
    2. Some accommodations take time to arrange and provide, so timeliness of a request may influence how quickly accommodations will be in place.
  2. Complete an Application for Services, available online at Application for Services.
  3. Complete a Confidentiality Disclosure, available online at Confidentiality Disclosure to indicate your preferences regarding your confidential information.
  4. Submit a valid form of verification of your need for accommodations. A verification form is available online at Verification of Disability. Include the practitioner’s business card if the office name is not printed on the document.
    1. Verification must by from a licensed professional to treat or assess the relevant condition.
      1. A medical doctor should be a general practice physician or specialist related to your specific health concern who has provided treatment for the relevant condition.
      2. Learning disabilities should be verified by a psychologist or learning specialist.
      3. Mental health conditions should be verified by a therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, or general practice physician who has provided treatment for that condition.
    2. Verification may be in alternate forms:
      1. Note on letterhead from the professional's office
      2. Post-operative instruction
      3. Emergency Room or hospital discharge papers
      4. Other official paperwork including diagnostic, assessment, or test result information
    3. If a condition is obvious such as blindness, missing or injured limb, or needing only a self-report such as deafness or pregnancy, additional verification of the condition may not be needed except if required to support a request or need for specific type or duration of an accommodation.
  5. Arrange for a discussion (face-to-face, telephone, or email) of your accommodation needs with the director of DAE. The director will consider your history and experiences with your disability combined with information from your health care provider. Every individual has unique needs, so your accommodations may not be the same as someone else’s even with the same condition. Some accommodations may involve negotiation to find a balance of meeting your needs without causing substantial alteration of a course.
    1. If you had accommodations at a previous college or university, the accommodations that were useful to you will probably be continued at FPU.
What constitutes a reasonable accommodation?

A reasonable accommodation is one that provides the student with a different means of access and does not significantly alter the essential elements of an assignment, course, or program.

The director will help you find ways to understand your disability and needs. Sometimes strategies that you can implement yourself are more helpful than accommodations. The director will help you explore available resources and strategies that other students have used in similar situations.

See the lists of Common Accommodations and Resources below.

What if I have never had a disability formally diagnosed or verified?

The director will help you explore the struggles you have identified and suggest resources to get a possible disability identified.

The director will help you find ways to understand your needs. Sometimes strategies that you can implement yourself are more helpful than accommodations. The director will help you explore available resources and strategies that other students have used in similar situations.

How will my accommodations by communicated to professors?
Once your file is complete and your accommodation plan created, the DAE office will email your accommodation memo to each of your instructors along with links to policies on how the most common accommodations should be implemented. You will receive a copy of this email. If any professor says he/she has not seen this email (maybe lost in an inbox or the professor wasn’t assigned at the time the memo was sent), you will be able to show your copy of the memo for the semester. You or the professor may also request that we send the memo again.
Do I have to tell my professors anything about my disability?

Information about your health and learning differences are private information that you only need to share with the DAE in order to determine appropriate accommodations. After that it is your choice with whom you share information. If a professor asks for information about why you need an accommodation, you may politely reply that you would rather not answer that question. Or you may choose to describe how your disability affects you without naming the condition. Anytime that you feel uncomfortable or don’t know what information you need to share, contact the DAE staff for advice and assistance.

You do need to keep your professors informed that you will be using your accommodations and when. But you can often do that by saying that your “disability symptoms” are affecting you and you need to use your accommodation of X at that time. Phrases such as this give your professors information they need without compromising your right to privacy.

Is there a different process for on-campus housing accommodations?
The office of Disability Access and Education processes all housing and meal-plan accommodations. More specific verification may be required for some requested accommodations if your specific needs are not evident based on a diagnosis alone.
  • The need for an emotional support animal (ESA) in on-campus housing must be verified with specific details of how the ESA reduces symptoms of your disability.
    • The verifying professional must be someone with whom you have an ongoing therapeutic relationship—which means a note from a doctor you see just one time will not be considered.
    • Verification must document that the presence of an ESA actually reduces your symptoms — which means you need to have had the animal long enough for the verifying professional to see proof that having an ESA makes a positive difference in your health.
    • The complete policy regarding Service and Emotional Support Animals may be found here: Service and Emotional Support Animals on Campus.
  • Requests for meal plan reductions or exemptions must be very specific about what types of food negatively affect your health.
    • Requests will be evaluated by the Director of Housing in consultation with the food service provider.
  • Housing accommodations will be granted only as long as the specific type of room requested is available. It is best to request housing accommodations prior to the general housing lottery in April for returning students and as early in the summer as possible for new students for Fall term.
    • Mid-semester or mid-year requests for accommodations will be granted only if room is available.
    • Mid-semester changes required due to serious allergies or any situation in which a student’s health is significantly compromised will be fulfilled immediately with any room available.
  • Housing accommodation requests must be renewed annually. Additional or updated verification may be required in order to continue accommodations from one academic year to the next.
What are my responsibilites to ensure I can use my accommodations?

You need to read the Rights and Responsibilities document, available online at Rights-and-Responsibilities. You also need to read and follow the policies relevant to your accommodations available online at DAE Policies.

Some accommodations require timely communication with the DAE office:

  • Alternate format text—the process of acquiring your textbooks in electronic format can be lengthy. We cannot promise your texts will be ready in time if you give us less than two-weeks’ notice.
  • Use of assistive technology—if you don’t know how to download or use software, it is your responsibility to ask for help either from DAE, IT Helpdesk, a regional campus operations manager, or the Center for Online Learning.
  • Sign language interpreters—making arrangements can take some time. Please give us as much notice as possible.
  • Closed captioning—often older course material has not gone through the process of being closed captioned. Give us as much notice as possible to request that an instructor checks course material and requests a “retrofit” of closed captioning as needed.
How do I renew my accommodations each semester?
At the end of every semester, we send each student who has had accommodations an email, requesting that you review your accommodations and let us know if you will be returning to FPU and needing accommodations next semester.
  • If we don't hear from you, we don't renew your accommodations.
  • Unless there has been a substantial change in your academic needs, we usually don’t ask for more paperwork. We just need to hear from you, so please reply promptly!
  • On occasion, housing accommodations may require additional verification that a need is ongoing.
  • A response to this email is also a good time to let us know if your needs have changed or if you have realized there is another accommodation that might meet your needs more effectively.
What do I do if my professor and I disagree about my accommodations?
The DAE serves as a mediator, negotiator, communicator between faculty and students. The director may communicate with your professor directly or may give you advice on how to advocate for yourself. If you do not feel confident in talking with a professor or administrator face to face on your own, the director may be available to join you to provide moral support or to facilitate communication.
What are some common accommodations?
Just to give you an idea of what is possible, here is a list of commonly used accommodations:
  • Permission to record lectures
  • Distraction-reduced setting for exam
  • Electronic text (to be read aloud by text-to-speech software)
  • Emotional support animal (housing only)
  • Extended time on exams (1.5X or 2X)
  • Extended due dates
  • Modified attendance
  • Closed captioning
  • Permission to stand/move/leave during class
  • Quiet room (housing only)
  • Single room (housing only)
  • Sign language interpreter
  • Use of text-to-speech software for exams
  • Use of speech-to-text software for exams
What other resources does Fresno Pacific University have to support students with disabilities?
  • Assistive technology:
    • Read & Write provides text-to-speech and many other literacy support functions
      • Available as a site license to all students
      • Download via the FPU portal
    • Microsoft Word Dictate is a speech-to-text function, enabling the computer to type from the sound of your voice
    • Livescribe pen (for demonstration only) records audio and captures handwriting simultaneously; the audio can be searched through the handwriting
  • On-Site Counseling:
    • OSCP.admin@fresno.edu 559-453-8050
    • Provides low-cost counseling services for FPU students
    • Assessment and referral services
  • Academic Success Center:
    • academic.support@fresno.edu 559-453-5585
    • Provides tutoring on the main campus for traditional undergraduate students in general education subjects, writing across the curriculum, and academic coaching
    • Net Tutor—online tutoring in a variety of subjects, including writing
    • Regional campus tutors for writing
    • Exam proctoring on the main campus
  • FPU Health Center:
    • health.center@fresno.edu 559-453-2097
    • R.N. available on the main campus provides guidance, resources, and referrals to manage health concerns

Resources

  • Resources for Students
  • Read & Write is used by Fresno Pacific and is available for download via the My FPU portal with appropriate credentials.
Forms

Contact Information

Melinda Gunning
Director of Disability Access and Education

559-453-2247
Email: melinda.gunning@fresno.edu