Information for Students
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The following sections provide information regarding Whitman's disability policy, relevant laws, Whitman College policies and guidelines, and student responsibilities, among other information. If you have any additional questions, please contact Antonia Keithahn, Assistant Director of Academic Resource: Disability Support Services.
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 Assistant Director of Academic Resources: Disability Support, Antonia Keithahn, for advice and information about the available resources, services, or programs.
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.
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. Students with disabilities who want academic adjustments in order to achieve access to college programs and activities must contact Antonia Keithahn, Assistant Director of Academic Resource: Disability Support.
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.
- 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 Assistant Director of Academic Resources: Disability Support.
- 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 Assistant 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 and/or appropriate Residence Life staff.
- 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, the official diagnosis (with appropriate DSM-IV or DSM-V code), and should describe the manner in which the student is substantially limited in one or more major life activities.
- The documentation must be current, within five years for learning disabilities, and within three years for most other disabilities. There is more leniency when it comes to permanent medical conditions or physical disabilities, but you may want to be aware of documentation guidelines for graduate exams and other assessments.
- The report can list recommended accommodations; however the staff in the ARC determine whether an accommodation is appropriate and reasonable.
The following documents list the specific documentation requirements for different disability categories.
That said, we recognize that full educational assessments can be prohibitively expensive and that the knowledge and availability of and access to those assessments are often tied to race, privilege, and socioeconomic status. If you do not have documentation that fits the stated guidelines, please come in to discuss what we can do to support you at Whitman. There are funds available to help pay for diagnostic testing, and we have a list of regional providers who offer reduced and sliding-scale rates in nearby cities to which we can refer you, if you suspect you have a disability or difference. We may be able to offer provisional accommodations as well based on any documentation you do have from your school district (such as an IEP or 504 Plan), information provided by a counselor or other individual, or the discussion that we have together as we await your full assessment. We do not want this step to feel like a barrier; please come talk to us if it is feeling that way to you.
Once a student has submitted documentation and it has been reviewed, they should schedule a meeting with Antonia Keithahn, to discuss which accommodations will most appropriately address the effects of that student's disability or disabilities. It is important to keep the following guidelines in mind, and students will review this information during their intake meeting:
- 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 that student explains that the failure was due to a previously undiagnosed disability.
- 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. The college is not required to provide services of a personal nature such as personal care attendants, or transportation to and from class. A student or their family may arrange for those services.
- Students are not required to accept accommodations. For example, an extended time accommodation may not be necessary for every course or assessment.
- 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.
- Extended time for timed assessments (exams/quizzes/etc.)
- 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, digital recorders, or permission to use a personal device to aid in note-taking
- Removal of architectural barriers or changing the location of a class or function to accommodate students with a disability or injury that effects mobility
- Other reasonable accommodations as necessary based on the effects of a student's disability or health status
For a list of adaptive technology solutions to which the Academic Resource Center provides access, please follow this link.
To the greatest extent possible, all campus services, classes, and programs will be offered in accessible locations. Students and others who wish to use the College’s facilities and services currently located in "inaccessible" areas should contact the office involved. The office personnel or service provider will arrange to meet in another alternative, accessible location. Students should also consult with the department head involved or with the Academic Resource Center if they have questions about access to campus facilities such as the fitness center, swimming pools or to nonacademic programs. The College will make every effort to ensure that qualified students will be able to participate in all of the College’s programs.
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 their accommodations, or feels that they have been denied access to the College’s programs or activities because of a disability, the student should contact Juli Dunn, in her role as 504 Coordinator for the College. 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 Department of Justice, or the Washington State Human Rights Commission.
Office of Civil Rights/ADA
U.S. Department of Justice
(800) 514-0301 (voice) / (800) 514-0383 (TTY)
Washington State Human Rights Commission
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.
Student may request copies of their own documentation during their time at Whitman or within 7 years of graduation. However, most documentation guidelines for higher education institutions and graduate exams require more recent documentation (3-5 years), so please be thoughtful about keeping records up to date.