Options for Students with Disabilities
The Learning Enrichment Center (LEC) coordinates a number of direct services for undergraduate and graduate students with specific disabilities. Upon documented verification of the disability, academic accommodations are individualized based on the learning needs of each student. Accommodation examples include: advocacy, academic and technical support, registration assistance, testing accommodations, assessment referral, liaison with university academic service areas, and liaison with community agencies.
Student Procedure for Requesting Academic Accommodations:
- Complete a Disability Academic Accommodations Application (PDF)
- Provide documentation of the disability
- Schedule an interview with an LEC staff member by calling (626) 815-3849
For more information about academic accommodations or to obtain guidelines for learning disability documentation, stop by the LEC, call (626) 815-3849, or call Telephone Device for the Deaf (TDD) at (626) 815-3873.
The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title III mandated equal opportunity for students to participate in or benefit from the services offered by a place of public accommodation. This mandate is now inclusive of private universities. A qualified individual under ADA must have a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities. Major life activities involve caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working. Moreover, a qualified disabled student must the meet academic and technical standards requisite for admission or participation in an education program or activity.
The Learning Enrichment Center (LEC) facilitates academic accommodations for students with disabilities.
When a student notifies APU faculty or staff that he or she is a student with a disability that individual should be directed to contact the LEC. Once an application for disability services is completed, documentation of the disability must be forwarded by the student to the LEC associate director or designee. If previous records do not exist then the student is required to obtain an assessment or other documentation to verify his/her status as a disabled student. LEC staff will then request any related educational records, assess the effects of the disability on standard classroom procedures, and discuss appropriate accommodations with the student. A memo summarizing the results of the discussion is sent to the faculty member(s) who are affected by the request for accommodations. At that point the student is asked to advocate for him- or herself by meeting with each faculty member to discuss the accommodations and finalize mutually agreeable plans.
The LEC is an office designated to maintain the confidential documentation of students with disabilities. Documentation of a student’s disability is considered equivalent to medical records and is required to be kept separate from academic records.
For students who require special considerations, faculty sensitivity in recognizing individual needs and subsequent responsiveness in working with them are critical. It is also important to note that every student with a disability may not need or want consideration beyond what might be granted any other student in class. To determine if there is a student in a class who has a disability that may affect his or her academic performance and who wants the support, faculty are requested to use the following statement in their syllabus and in an announcement during the first or second class meeting:
Students in this course who have a disability that might prevent them from fully demonstrating their abilities should meet with an advisor in the Learning Enrichment Center as soon as possible to initiate disability verification and discuss accommodations that may be necessary to ensure full participation in the successful completion of course requirements.
Note: The LEC does not provide assessment for students who have a suspected learning disability. Students are required to obtain this information from an outside source such as a licensed psychologist or qualified educational therapist. University requirements for learning disability documentation are available in the LEC.
Use of this statement accomplishes three things:
- It gives students the responsibility for contacting the LEC for disability verification and making arrangements for any special needs.
Note: Faculty should not be involved further in the process and should not require that students keep them informed of the process. In addition, faculty have no legal right to demand access to the actual documentation, including testing scores, dates, or names of professionals providing such documentation.
- It encourages timely communication and mutual understanding of the APU process to facilitate academic accommodations.
- It indicates that you are willing to consider appropriate accommodations to promote their success.
Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not guarantee that an individual with a disability must achieve an identical result or level of achievement as persons without disabilities. Consequently, reasonable accommodations should not decrease or alter course requirements/course objectives or reduce academic standards. Instead, they may slightly alter teaching or testing methods. Examples of accommodations include oral exams or readers for students with visual disabilities, a sign-language interpreter in classes for a student who is deaf, or permitting a lab assistant to perform an assignment at the direction of the student with poor physical dexterity. It is difficult to generalize accommodations because disability needs are highly individual.
The documentation and accommodation process is designed to identify students with legitimate needs as defined by the ADA while protecting the student, faculty, and university from claims of discrimination by non-disabled students. If academic accommodations are provided to a student without written verification from an LEC advisor as to the validity of the disability and “appropriateness” of the accommodations, a compromised position in the event of dispute or litigation regarding “fairness” to other students may result.
Questions regarding disability verification and reasonable accommodations should be forwarded to the associate director of the Learning Enrichment Center. In addition, the LEC maintains information on referral sources for obtaining a learning disability assessment, the nature of a student’s disability, individual student needs, kinds of accommodations commonly made on this and other college campuses, and the ADA.