Information for Students
Excellence in Access: Removing barriers for students with disabilities
Policy and Guidelines for Students
Whitman College will not exclude otherwise qualified applicants or students with disabilities from participation in, or access to, its academic, housing, or extracurricular programs. "Otherwise qualified" refers to students who without consideration of disability are admissible to the College. 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.
Whitman College 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 Whitman College can make adjustments to meet the specific needs of an individual.
Whitman College expects all students to play an active role in their education. It is a student’s responsibility to familiarize him or herself with the College’s policies, and the specific course requirements. All students should take the initiative to seek the help, advice, and resources available to them. Students with disabilities who want academic adjustments in order to achieve access to college programs and activities must contact the Director of Academic Resources. The terms “accommodation” and “adjustment” are used interchangeably; they refer to the policy or program changes, and the auxiliary aids and services, arranged by the College 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.
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 the Director of Academic Resources for advice and information about the available resources, services, or 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 Director of Academic Resources
- Students are not required to divulge the nature of their disabilities or 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 Director of Academic Resources will not be treated as a request for accommodation.
- Once a staff member from the Academic Resource Center (ARC) has approved the accommodation, students are responsible for working directly with the faculty member, staff member, or outside agency to ensure that it is implemented.
- Requests for adjustments to specific classes should be made prior to the start of each semester or very early in the semester to allow enough time to review documentation and make proper arrangements.
- Students are encouraged to meet with the staff in the ARC to discuss the effectiveness of the accommodations. The staff in the ARC should be notified as soon as possible if the accommodation is not being provided.
- Requests for accommodations must be renewed each semester through the Academic Resource Center.
- In addition to academic accommodations, requests for adjustments in residence halls, dining halls, campus buildings, or college policies, must be submitted to the staff in the ARC.
- The documentation must be from an individual who is qualified by education and experience to diagnose the specific disability.
- It is not appropriate for professionals to evaluate members of their own families for the purpose of documentation of a disability; however, input from parents is welcome.
- All reports should be typed or legibly written on letterhead. They must be dated and signed.
- The documentation must include the instruments and standards used to evaluate the student, and should describe the manner in which the student is substantially limited in one or more major life activities.
- The documentation must be current, in most cases within three years.
- The report can list recommended accommodations; however the staff in the ARC, determine whether an accommodation is appropriate and reasonable.
Determining Reasonable Accommodation
- Accommodation requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. They must be requested before they are provided. Adjustments 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 College.
- Whitman College will not provide accommodations or adjustments that would substantially alter an essential element of the curriculum.
- Accommodations are determined by the staff in the ARC, 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 college 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 Whitman Students
- Allow 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, audio books, or other alternative formats
- Provision of a note taker, audio enhancement, or telecommunications device when appropriate
- Removal of architectural barriers or changing the 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.
Whitman College 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 College’s programs or activities because of a disability, he or she should express concern to Director of Academic Resources. If the problem is not resolved, the student should file a complaint with the Dean of Students or the Provost and Dean of the Faculty within 90 days of the alleged violation. The deans will convene an 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)
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 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 college officials who have a legitimate need to know. In other words, faculty members do not need to have access to information regarding the diagnosis of a student’s disability, only the accommodation that is necessary to provide access to their classes. The Academic Resource Center keeps all disability information in a secure file. It is not part of the student’s official transcript.