Accommodating Students with Disabilities at BYU

Accommodating Students with
Disabilities at BYU
September 9, 2011
Presented by Derek Griner, Ph.D.
Activity Instructions
• Please use your non-dominant hand to trace
the letters on the page that you were given.
• Work quickly and make sure that you follow
the outline provided without going outside of
the lines.
• You will have a little over one minute to
complete this task.
• How was this experience?
How is Someone Classified as Having a
• Having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one
or more of the major life activities of an individual.
• Examples of major life activities listed in the Title I regulations
include caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking,
seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.
• Other examples of major life activities include sitting, standing,
lifting, and mental and emotional processes such as thinking,
concentrating, and interacting with others.
What Constitutes
“Substantially Limiting”
• An impairment is substantially limiting if it prohibits or
significantly restricts an individual's ability to perform a
major life activity as compared to the ability of the
average person in the general population to perform
the same activity.
• The determination of whether an impairment
substantially limits a major life activity depends on the
nature and severity of the impairment, the duration or
expected duration of the impairment, and the
permanent or long-term impact of the impairment.
What Constitutes a
“Mental Impairment?”
• A “mental impairment” is generally held to be
any recognized mental or psychological
disorder that substantially limits one or more
major life activities.
• “Mental impairments” include learning
disorders, ADHD, and emotional disorders
(e.g., depression, anxiety, obsessive
compulsive disorder, Aspergers Disorder,
Autism, etc.).
Once a Disability is Established…
• Establishing that one has a disability is only one aspect of the
analysis, as only a qualified individual with a disability is protected
from discrimination under federal law.
• A “qualified individual” is one who “with or without reasonable
accommodation can perform the essential functions of the
position” (whether it be as an employee or student).
• So, if you one were so impaired that they could not complete a
class or course of study even with reasonable accommodations,
they probably would not be “qualified” under the law.
The University Accessibility Center’s
• The University Accessibility Center seeks to
provide all students with disabilities equal
access to educational opportunities and to
eliminate barriers which might impede
participation in academic pursuits at BYU.
Why Does the UAC Have This Mission?
BYU is bound by three major federal disability laws:
1) The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (particularly Section
2) The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
3) The Americans with Disabilities Act – Amendments
BYU has to comply with these laws because we receive
federal funds.
These laws are civil rights laws and are enforced in part
by the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) under the Department
of Education.
Student Statistics
• Last academic year the UAC had around 928 student clients during
Fall/Winter semesters.
• These students fell into the following groups:
Emotional Disorders
Chronic Illness (fibromyalgia, Lyme's disease, etc.)
Learning Disorders
Physical Disabilities/Mobility
Deaf/Hard of Hearing
Receiving Accommodations Through
the UAC
• In order for students to receive accommodations through the UAC,
they must provide documentation of a disability.
• When a student provides documentation of their disability, they can
receive accommodations that are based on the functional
limitations of the disability.
• This documentation is also necessary to write letters supporting
various student petitions (e.g., withdrawal from classes, reduced
course load, etc.).
• Evaluations can be conducted to assess for learning disorders,
ADHD, psychological, and neuropsychological conditions.
Documentation of
Disability Form
This is the form that the
UAC provides students to
be completed by their
treating professional.
Michael Adams has this
form in an electronic
format that may be easier
for some.
What is a Reasonable
Generally defined as:
• Modification or adjustment to the academic
• A modification or adjustment that allows a
student with a disability to enjoy the same
benefits/privileges enjoyed by non-disabled
individuals, as long as the modification does not:
- pose an undue hardship on the institution or
- fundamentally alter the class or course of study or
- violate essential functions of the academic experience
Accommodations Commonly Offered
Through the UAC
Additional time for exams/quizzes (1.5 or 2x time limit)
Distraction reduced testing rooms (new at Testing Center)
Peer note takers
Copies of power-point presentations
Audio recorded lectures
Sign language interpreters
Scribes for tests
Computer-assisted exams (spelling and punctuation)
Alternative exam format (e.g., oral testing, writing directly on exam, etc.)
Exam and class breaks
Providing alternative formats of printed materials (Braille books, mp3s of books)
Course substitution
Students are provided with letters to professors on their behalf outlining what
accommodations are needed.
Accommodations the UAC Provides
• Leniency with absences
• Additional time for assignments
• Flexibility with exam dates.
• These accommodations are being provided with less
frequency than they have been provided in the past for
students struggling with emotional concerns.
• The UAC has moved away from them because they
tend to be iatrogenic in that students tend to fall
further behind in class when these are used.
Accommodations NOT Offered
• Excusing the student from having to attend any classes
• Videotaping classes or offering notes for time periods
when student is absent
• Excusing the student from exams
• Mandating “Incomplete” grades
• Substituting essential courses just because they are
Remember, accommodations are designed to offer equal
access, not guaranteed success
Things to Consider When
Documenting a Disability
• There must be a clear nexus between the
accommodation requested and the functional
limitation of the disability.
• We can recommend accommodations, but it is
important to remember that the UAC staff
determines what accommodations will be
• Accommodations are provided on a case by
case basis.
• Questions?

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