Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (Title II) and its 2008 amendments, and the Vocational Rehabilitation Act - Section 504, individuals with disabilities have definite protections against discrimination and assured access to programs, services and activities.
To determine disability status, after being accepted to UH Hilo, proper documentation is required that indicates the existence of a disability, as well as its substantial impact limiting one or more major life activities of the individual, including learning.
The following are sections from the University of Hawaii at Hilo Policies and Procedural Guidelines for Non Discrimination on the Basis of Disability (revised March 2013) that will guide you through the process that is required at our campus in order to meet the eligibility requirements as a person with a disability accessing auxiliary aids and services at our campus. All disability related services are provided through the Disability Services Office located in the Student Services Center.
The Disability Services (DS) Office shall:
- Provide a confidential form by which a student may disclose the existence of a disability and may request the accommodations or auxiliary aids he/she believes are required for obtaining equal access to, participation in, or benefit from University programs and activities.
Request documentation which confirms the student's disability. In order to fully evaluate requests for accommodations or auxiliary aids, the DS Office will need documentation from an appropriate professional that there is a physical or mental impairment, that is current in impact, and substantially limits one or more major life activities. The following professionals would generally be considered qualified to evaluate and diagnosis disabilities, provided they have comprehensive training in the diagnosis and have direct experience with persons having such disabilities:
Psychologists, neuropsychologists, psychiatrists, psychometricians, other relevantly trained medical doctors, or clinically trained and certified professionals.
Generally an IEP, 504 Plan, or other types of educational/vocational plans will not contain sufficient data to determine eligibility for disability services. However, such documentation may help in the discussion process to determine the accommodation needs of the student requesting disability accommodations.
Students with disabilities are not entitled to accommodations by virtue of being a person with a disability. In order to receive accommodations, students with disabilities need to provide documentation that indicates that without the accommodation(s), they would not have equal access and thus would be subject to discrimination. It is the responsibility of the student to pay for any costs associated with an evaluation of a disability (e.g., medical tests, testing for learning disability).
As appropriate to the disability, documentation should include:
- A diagnostic statement identifying the disability, date of the current diagnostic evaluation, and the date of the original diagnosis.
- A description of the diagnostic criteria and/or diagnostic test used.
- A description of the current functional impact of the disability as it relates to the accommodation requested.
- Treatments, medications, assistive devices/services currently prescribed or in use.
- A description of the expected progression or stability of the impact of the disability over time.
- The credentials of the diagnosing professional(s).
Flexibility in accepting documentation is important, however. Documentation may not be required of students with obvious disabilities.
Temporary mental or physical impairments are covered by the ADA if the impairment substantially limits a major life activity over a substantial period of time. The issue of whether a temporary impairment is significant enough to be a disability will be resolved on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration both the duration (or expected duration) of the impairment and the extent to which it actually limits a major life activity of the effected individual.
Request additional documentation if the documentation provided is insufficient. The DS Office may deny a request for an accommodation if the student fails to provide such documentation.
Keep information regarding a student's disability confidential. Disability-related information shall be kept in separate files with access limited to appropriate personnel. This information shall be shared with others within the institution on a need-to-know basis only, or with the student's written consent. Faculty members do not have a right to access diagnostic or other information regarding a student's disability; they only need to know the accommodations that are necessary/appropriate to meet a student's disability-related needs. The student must give permission to the Disability Service Office to inform faculty of the need for specific accommodations.
- Determine appropriate and reasonable accommodations and auxiliary aids. Specific services available to the student are determined based on the impact of the student's disability and the academic courses and activities in which the student is participating.
The University has the right to deny a request if the documentation demonstrates that no accommodation is necessary. An accommodation is not reasonable if:
- Making the accommodation or having the individual involved in the activity poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others;
- Making the accommodation means making a substantial change in an essential element of the curriculum;
- Making the accommodation would require a substantial alteration in the manner in which services (educational opportunities) are provided;
- Making the accommodation would impose an undue financial or administrative burden.
The University has the right to select among equally affective accommodations and auxiliary aids. The preferences of the student with a disability shall receive primary consideration in determining appropriate accommodations.