Student Services :: Disability Services

Guide to Accommodating People with Disabilities


This guide on Section 504 and the Disabilities Act is designed to help faculty, administrators, and staff understand their role in reasonably accommodating the needs of qualified students with disabilities.

Although current legislation ensures equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in employment, education and training must also be accessible if they are to qualify for positions in business, industry, and the professions. Physical barriers can be removed with relative ease given the proper funding, but the removal of attitudinal barriers continues to be a challenge to all persons without disabilities.

Letter from the President

Section 504 Regulations

In September 1973, Congress passed Public Law 93-112, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which was amended in 1974 by Public Law 93-516.  Section 504 of the Act states:

"No otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States . . . shall solely by reason of his handicap, be excluded from the partici­pation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."

In May 1977, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare issued regulations implementing Section 504.  This nondiscrimination statute and the regulation issued under it (specifically sub-part E) guarantees a right of entrance for qualified handicapped students into our nation's colleges and universities.

The regulation, as written, extends coverage, as well to the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975.  In May 1980, the Regulation was reissued and codified as 34 Code of Federal Regulations 104 by the Department of Education.  Section 504 represents the first Federal Civil Rights Law protecting the rights of handicapped persons.  The language of the law is comparable with that of Title VI, Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which defined discrimination in education on the basis of sex.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (PL 101-336) further refines protection of disabled persons' rights and extends these protections to the private sector.

A qualified handicapped person is defined as one who meets the academic and technical standards requisite to admission or participation in an education program or activity.  A qualified handicapped student, in accordance with 34 CFR Section 104.3 (j) and (k)(3), includes any person who:

  1. Has a documented physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of life's major activities (e.g., walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, working, or learning);
  2. Has a record of such impairment, or;
  3. Is regarded as having such an impairment and who meets the academic and technical standards requisite to admission or participation in the College's education programs and activities.

Virginia Western Community College is committed to uphold the following conditions, among others, that are set forth in 34 CFR Part 104:

  • The College ensures that all qualified students with disabilities are eligible for modifications of the College's academic requirements as are necessary to ensure that the requirements do not have the effect of discriminating against them.
  • The College ensures that alternate testing and evaluation methods for measuring student achievement may be necessary for students with impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills (except where these are the skills being measured).
  • The College ensures that auxiliary aids and services will be provided to students when necessary to ensure that such students are not denied the benefits of, excluded from participation in, or otherwise subjected to discrimination under the College's programs and activities.
  • The College ensures that it will not limit the number of students with disabilities being admitted.
  • The College ensures that preadmission inquiries as to whether an applicant is disabled are prohibited.
  • The College ensures that no student may be excluded from any course of study solely on the basis of a disability.
  • The College ensures that prohibitive rules such as those barring tape recorders from the classroom must be waived for certain students with disabilities.
  • The College ensures that students with disabilities may have preferential classroom seating to accommodate specific disabilities.
  • The College ensures that special equipment or devices used in the classroom (and, in some cases, teaching techniques that rely upon sight, hearing, or mobility of students) may require adaptation by faculty in individual disability cases including the switching of classrooms.
  • The College recognizes that it is discriminatory to counsel students with disabilities toward more restrictive careers than non-disabled students unless such counsel is based on strict, defensible licensing or certification requirements in a profession.

The regulation also states that the College is not required to provide ramps, elevators, and other devices to remove physical barriers in every building or in every part of a single building, but is required to make every program, viewed as a whole, accessible.

It is the College's responsibility to provide parking for persons with disabilities near each of the College buildings that have been made accessible.  With the number of mobility impaired students increasing annually, it will be necessary to strictly enforce parking and transportation rules to ensure that space is available for their vehicles.


Students requesting academic adjustments are responsible for providing evaluations that clearly identify the disability.  (Please see General Documentation Guidelines, page XVIII.16.0.)  Documentation should provide sufficiently recent information regarding the disability to permit the College to determine whether the requested adjustments or accommodations are appropriate.  The burden for payment of evaluations rests with the student, not the College.  The College has the right to determine, based upon the evaluative data, what adjustments and/or accommodations are reasonable and necessary.  Once documentation is provided, the College agrees to provide academic adjustments and accommodations within a reasonable time.

Lastly, the regulation states that if the Director, Office of Civil Rights, finds that the institution has discriminated against a person on the basis of disability, termination of federal financial assistance could result.  Although administrative processing of complaints through the Office of Civil Rights are encouraged, disabled students who feel discriminated against, have the right to go to court to settle their claims.

Students with Disabilities

Disabling conditions covered by Section 504 include but are not limited to:

  • Cancer
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Deafness/Hearing impairment
  • Diabetes
  • Seizure Disorder
  • Heart Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Mental or Emotional Illness (including eating disorders)
  • Orthopedic (mobility/coordination) impairment
  • Speech impairment
  • Blind/Visual impairment
  • Perceptual Disabilities:
    • Specific Learning Disabilities such as Dyslexia and Dyscalculia
    • Attention Deficit with or without Hyperactivity Disorder
    • Developmental aphasia

Suggestions for Classroom Accommodations

General Suggestions

It is recommended that instructors include a statement in the course syllabus and/or make an announcement during the first class to the following effect:

"It is VWCC's policy to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified students with documented disabilities. If you have a documented physical, mental, or learning disability and you need a reasonable accommodation, please contact REACH/Disability Services in The Student Life Center, Room 207 – phone 857-7286. To best provide the accommodation you need, make this request as soon as possible."

Such an announcement will help protect the student's privacy, indicate willingness on the part of the instructor to provide assistance, and facilitate early accommodation.  Please appreciate the fact that some students with disabilities may not seek accommodations even though they are eligible either because they wish to remain independent or choose not to disclose a disability.

Students with disabilities have varying levels of ability and motivation, as do students without disabilities.  In spite of your sincere efforts, a student with a disability may not be successful; however, we must ensure that students with disabilities are afforded an equal opportunity to succeed in the most integrated setting possible.

Specific Accommodations

The following sections provide information about specific disabilities and list by impairment groupings typical accommodations that may be considered "reasonable" for each.  Lists are not all-inclusive.  A qualified professional in Student Support Services will determine eligibility for specific accommodations based on appropriate documentation.  Please contact REACH/Student Support Services (7-7286) with questions or concerns about accommodations for your students. Please do not accord accommodations to students unless they have come from our offices with an Classroom Access Plan.

Impairment groupings listed below appear with specific accommodations on subsequent pages of this document:

  •  Attention Deficit Disorder with/without Hyperactivity (ADD/ADHD)
  •  Blindness/Visual Impairments
  •  Head Injuries (Opened/Closed)
  •  Deafness/Hearing Impairments
  •  Psychological/Emotional Illnesses
  •  Mobility/Coordination Impairments
  •  Seizure Disorders
  •  Specific Learning Disabilities
  •  Chronic Health Impairments

Accommodations for Attention Deficit With/Without Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD)

ADD/ADHD is characterized by varying degrees of inattention, impulsivity, and/or hyperactivity.  Students may have difficulty understanding assignments and staying on task.

  • Allow the use of a tape recorder or note taker.
  • Allow the student to sit where least distracted and maintain the same seat throughout the semester.
  • The reading comprehension of some students with ADD/ADHD may be improved by listening to their textbooks on tape.  Student Support Services can assist these students in obtaining their books on tape through Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic.
  • Extended minutes for tests with no distractions may be appropriate.
  • Extended minutes to complete assignments may be needed.
  • Classroom behaviors such as fidgeting may be observed.
  • Allow frequent breaks, if needed, especially in classes lasting more that 50 minutes.
  • Social difficulties may be noted.

Please refer such students to REACH/Disability Services in S207 (857-7286).

Accommodations for Blind/Visually Impaired Students

  • Provide seating in the front of the classroom.
  • Allow tape recorders in the classroom.  Although some blind students may take notes in Braille, the majority of blind/visually-impaired students will use a tape recorder.
  • Items written on the chalkboard and/or overhead transparencies should also be stated orally or duplicated in advance in enlarged print or Braille, as appropriate.
  • In most cases, tests will need to be administered in a different location with extended minutes and a reader or assistive technology.
  • Provide assistance interpreting materials that are represented visually such as photographs, diagrams, graphs, and charts.
  • Student Support Services will assist students in obtaining textbooks on tape through the Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic.  A minimum of two months advance notice is usually necessary to allow time for recording new textbooks.  Less time is needed for previously recorded textbooks.  You can help by making textbook selections early.
  • "Guide" dogs are permitted in the classrooms as well as in other college facilities.  Please see our "Stipulations for Assistance Animals", page XVIII.18.0.
  • Students may need your assistance in obtaining a volunteer note taker. (Notes can later be used in conjunction with a reader service and recordings of classroom discussion.) If a volunteer note taker cannot be secured for the students class, the student will be permitted to adio record lectures and discussions.
  • Encourage students to familiarize themselves with assistive technology available in Student Support Services:
    • Software converts text into Braille to be printed on Braille paper.
    • The Kurzweil Reader – scans and reads textbooks/handouts aloud.
    • JAWS for Windows (Job Access With Speech)– a software program that changes a personal computer and a speech synthesizer into a talking computer system for people who are visually impaired.  This tool allows the user to read the screen but also provides the software necessary to work, study, and be creative.
    • Dragon Naturally Speaking – voice recognition software converts speech dictated by user into text.
    • Pictures in a Flash (PIAF) – makes tactile representations of charts, graphs, formulas and equations on special thermal paper.
    • CCTV – magnifier enlarges and projects text on to television-like screen.  A second CCTV is located in the VWCC library.

Please refer such students to REACH/Disability Services in S207 (857-7286).

Accommodations for Students with Head Injuries

Students who have experienced trauma to the central nervous system as the result of a head injury may present a combination of problems associated with other disabilities.

  • Modify time expectations for both testing and completion of course requirements as needed. Tests may also need to be broken into smaller units.
  • Expect regressed social behavior in some students.
  • Allow the use of a note taker or audio recorder.
  • Allow the use of computers, and other aids such as spell checkers and calculators. 

Please refer such students to REACH/Disability Services in S207 (857-7286).

Accommodations for Students who are Deaf/Hearing Impaired

  • Allow front row seating.
  • Avoid turning your back to the student when speaking.
  • Avoid standing with your back to a window or other light source.
  • Avoid pacing.
  • Repeat questions or comments made by other students/persons in the classroom  before answering.
  • Provide a written list of "new" terms.
  • Use visual aids whenever possible.
  • Avoid oral testing.
  • If an interpreter or other auxiliary aids have not been pre-arranged, please advise the student in writing to contact REACH/Disability Services in S207 to request needed accommodations as soon a possible.
  • Not all hearing-impaired students read lips.  Those who do may discern only a fraction of what is said.
  • Do not assume that a student wearing a hearing aid can clearly understand what is being said.
  • American Sign Language is the primary language of the deaf.  Errors made in written English are frequently the result of grammatical differences in the structure of the two languages.
  • Most deaf/hearing-impaired people who do not speak choose not to because they believe their speech will not be readily understood.
  • It is nearly impossible for a person with a hearing impairment to take notes, read lips, or watch an interpreter simultaneously.  Please assist the student in finding a volunteer note taker.

Please refer such students to REACH/Disability Services in S207 (857-7286).

Accommodations for Students with Psychological/Emotional Illnesses

Whether transitory, genetic, or prolonged, students with psychological/emotional illnesses need special consideration.  Due to the nature of these illnesses, many choose not to disclose their disability.

  • May need to use audio recorders and/or use note takers.
  • Social and classroom behaviors may differ from other students.  Contact REACH/Disability Services in S207 if concerned about inappropriate behavior.
  • Extended minutes without distractions may be needed for tests.
  • Reasonable allowance should be made for absences.  Consider extended time, if needed, for assignments.
  • Expect erratic performance.

Please refer students who disclose such a disability to REACH/Disability Services in S207 (857-7286). 

Accommodations for Students with Mobility/Coordination Impairments

  • On occasion students in wheelchairs or those who walk with difficulty will be late to class.  They should not be penalized.
  • Since not all College facilities are easily accessible to persons with mobility/coordination impairments, it may be necessary to accommodate a student by relocating the class.
  • An adjustable table and straight back chair, if needed, may be requested through REACH/Disability Services for users of wheelchairs and others with legitimate need for such an accommodation.  Please do not move tables or chairs from other classrooms as they may have been placed there at the request of another student.
  • A wheelchair user with a writing surface attached to his/her chair may prefer to sit with other members of the class.  If so, please provide a space among the desks, if possible.
  • If a scheduled class activity will be held at another location, please provide advance notice.  It too must be accessible to all students in the class.
  • Allow the use of audio recorders and/or note takers by students with impaired used of their hands.
  • A written list of new terms provided at the beginning of class allows a student who is unable to take notes to keep up with class discussion.
  • A student with poor dexterity or no use of the hands may require a scribe, computer, or other assistance in test taking and/or extended time limits.  Please ensure that appropriate arrangements have been made in advance.  Student Support Services will be happy to administer the test for you.
  • Encourage students with limited or no use of their hands to explore the use of Dragon Naturally Speaking, a voice command software program.  Dragon Naturally Speaking is available in Disability Services.

Please refer such students to REACH/Disability Services in S207 (857-7286).

Accommodations for Students with Seizure Disorders

To ensure their safety, students with active seizure disorders are advised to provide Student Support Services, Campus Police as first responders, and instructors with the following information:

  • Type, characteristics, and frequency of seizures
  • Name of physician, medications, and emergency contact numbers
  • Instructions regarding appropriate assistance during a seizure

Become familiar with the three most common seizure disorders: Generalized Tonic-Clonic (Grand Mal), The Absence (Petit Mal), and the Complex Partial (Psychomotor or Temporal Lobe).  Each type has different effects on different individuals.  Not all seizures are as evident as the Grand Mal.  Some are undetectable except to the trained observer.

Please observe current medical precautions for students who have active seizures to ensure their safety.  Faculty who observe a student experiencing a Tonic-Clonic (Grand Mal) seizure in their classrooms or other locations on campus should report the incident immediately to Campus Police before notifying Disability Services.  DS may assist in arranging transportation other than emergency vehicles or contacting family members.

The most common seizure disorder in adults is the Complex Partial.  During a complex partial, a student is either completely unaware of surroundings or consciousness is substantially impaired.  The student may feel fear or anger, or distortions may occur in taste, sound, or hearing.  When a seizure occurs, individuals may go through a series of motions called "automatisms" of which they have no conscious knowledge.  The automatic behavior may take many forms: smacking of the lips, chewing, fumbling with clothing or buttons, restlessness, walking, or pacing.  A period of confused consciousness may follow, lasting from a few moments to half an hour, depending on the individual. Seizure incidence and frequency vary dramatically among individuals.

Characteristics of most complex partial seizures are the following:

  • Sudden arrest of activity with staring
  • Blank, dazed facial expression; the person appears to be unaware of his environment
  • A clouding of consciousness; the person cannot accurately interpret his environment
  • Repetitive, automatic and purposeless behavior
  • Lip smacking, chewing movements with the mouth, playing with nearby objects
  • Incoherent or irrelevant speech
  • The student has no memory of his behavior or what has happened around him

Seizure disorders are perhaps the most difficult to deal with academically because of the time element lost (particularly during in-class assignments, tests, and other classroom activities) as well as the effects of the seizure on the student: disorientation, memory loss, loss of concentration, alterations in the student's behavior, fatigue, and headaches. 

The following information and suggested accommodations will assure that the student with a seizure disorder is afforded every opportunity to succeed academically:

  • Avoid tense, anxiety-provoking interpersonal confrontations with the student as they may trigger the onset of a seizure.
  • Permit the student to tape classes and/or assist in securing a volunteer note taker to assure that s/he will have a record of lectures, assignments, class discussions, and announcements.
  • Please be patient if a student with a seizure disorder asks or repeats questions previously discussed or answered during class.
  • Allow the student additional minutes for tests and examinations in a separate location with reduced distractions.  Oral testing may be appropriate.
  • Allow students extra out-of-class time (within reason) to catch up or reorient themselves to class notes and/or assignments.

Please refer such students to REACH/Disability Services in S207 (857-7286).

Accommodations for Students with Learning Disabilities

Specific learning disability (LD) is the general term for a variety of neurological disorders that impair information processing.  Such disorders include reading (dyslexia), arithmetic (dyscalculia), and written expression (dysgraphia) as well as problems with memory, articulation, coordination, and directional confusion.  By definition, students with learning disabilities have average or above average intelligence, but typically have trouble taking information in through the senses and interpreting or inter-relating that information.  Because information does not always reach the brain accurately, the brain does not do an effective job of storing the information for ease of recall. For optimal learning, it is important that LD students receive and transmit information in a form, or modality (visual, auditory, kinesthetic) that works best for them.

  • An advance copy of the syllabus may be requested before the first class so that the student may begin reading assignments early.
  • Students with reading disorders can request textbooks on tape from Learning Alley.  Disability Services will certify their eligibility for L.A. services and order the tapes for them.  To ensure that students using L.A. services receive their books before classes begin, please select and order your textbook(s) early.
  • Students may request preferred seating near the front of the class in an effort to minimize distractions.
  • Some LD students are, for all practical purposes, "lecture deaf" (aural receptive dysphasia).  Such students typically compensate by using accommodations common to deaf students such as note takers and taped lectures
  • Students with learning disabilities frequently require extended minutes when testing to allow for slower processing speed and/or distractibility.
  • The use of a computer for word processing may be needed to help with organization and mechanics.
  • Students with reading disorders who have good auditory processing may need to have tests read to them.
  • Students with writing disorders (dysgraphia) are unable to communicate effectively through printing or cursive writing.  For these students, oral examinations and reports may provide a more accurate measure of their learning, or the use of scribe or a computer with a spell checker may be more appropriate, depending on the student.  Assistance with organization and proofing for grammar may also be needed.
  • Some students with learning disabilities have difficulty with sequential memory tasks involving letters (spelling), numbers (mathematics), and step-by-step instructions.  These students may need to use a spelling-ace, calculator, or have access to formulas.
  • Students with memory processing problems may need to have tests broken into smaller units and to use note cards for speeches and oral presentations.
  • The majority of students with learning disabilities spend inordinate amounts of time on their assignments, frequently depriving themselves of sufficient sleep.  Extended time to complete assignments may be needed.
  • Expect some students to exhibit regressed social behavior.

Please refer such students to REACH/Disability Services in S207 (857-7286).

Accomodations for Students with Chronic Health Impairments

Chronic health impairments include cystic fibrosis, diabetes, sickle cell anemia, cancer, AIDS, hemophilia, muscular dystrophy, rheumatoid arthritis and many others.  At times, such diseases may have acute phases requiring bed rest or hospitalization.

  • Grade penalties should not be imposed for unavoidable absences due to the impairment; however, excessive absences may limit understanding of the material, thereby lessening the probability for success.  Test/exam dates may need to be rescheduled and deadlines adjusted.
  • Scribes, note takers and/or taping lectures may be necessary to help the student catch up with the class.
  • Grades of "Incomplete" may be appropriate.
  • Transient use of wheelchairs may be necessary.
  • Medications may change and corresponding changes in behavior may be noted.

Please refer such students to REACH/Disability Services in S207 (857-7286).

Policy on Hearing-Impaired Students

On October 15, 1989, Virginia Western Community College adopted a policy consistent with the requirements of 34 C.F.R. Section 104.44(d) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) on auxiliary aids that assures that no student with a hearing impairment is denied the benefits of, excluded from participation in, or otherwise subjected to discrimination under any program which the College operates or sponsors and for which the student is eligible, because of the absence of auxiliary aids.

This policy acknowledges the College's responsibility to reasonably provide auxiliary aids to the College's students who are hearing-impaired, and will provide such aids, including sign language interpreters, to hearing impaired-students, consistent with the requirements of 34 C. F. R. Section 104.44(d), regardless of whether the student is or may be eligible to receive such aids from outside sources.  Nothing in this policy prohibits the College from pursuing or assisting the student to pursue the acquisition of such aids from other sources.  Unless and until the auxiliary aids are provided by other sources, however, the College will reasonably provide such aids as are necessary to assure that hearing-impaired students can fully participate in the College's programs.

Grievance Procedure

Students with disabilities who believe they are the subject of discrimination should review the following college policies before pursuing a formal grievance.  If, after reading the assurances listed below, the student believes that discrimination has occurred, the student is entitled to pursue a formal written grievance.

A grievance is a formal written allegation by a student charging unlawful or unfair treatment with respect to the application of laws, rules, policies, procedures, or regulations under which the College operates; particularly, those laws, rules, policies, procedures, or regulations which may be discriminatory to students with disabilities.  In accordance with the Section 504 regulation, at C.F.R. Section 104.7(b), Virginia Western will provide for the resolution of complaints alleging any action prohibited by ADA Amendments Act or 504 Regulation.  Consequently, students who assert violations of the college's policies regarding ADA Amendments Act or 504 are not limited by those listed below.

  1. The College assures that all qualified students with disabilities are eligible for modifications of the College's academic requirements as are necessary to ensure that requirements do not have the effect of discriminating against them.
  2. The College assures that alternate testing and evaluation methods for measuring student achievement may be necessary for students with impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills (except where these are the skills being measured).
  3. The College assures that auxiliary aids and services will be provided to students when necessary to assure that such students are not denied the benefits of, excluded from participation in, or otherwise subjected to discrimination under the College's programs and activities.  All accommodations will be made in the most integrated setting possible.
  4. The College assures that they will not limit the number of students with disabilities being admitted.
  5. The College assures that preadmission inquiries as to whether an applicant is disabled are prohibited.
  6. The College assures that no student may be excluded from any curriculum of study solely on the basis of a disability.
  7. The College assures that prohibitive rules such as those barring tape recorders from the classroom must be waived for certain students with disabilities.
  8. The College assures that no student may be excluded from any courses or curriculum of study solely on the basis of a disability, provided the student can perform the essential functions of the course or curriculum with reasonable accommodations.
  9. The College recognizes that it is discriminatory to counsel students with disabilities toward more restrictive careers than non-disabled students; nevertheless, the College shall provide factual information about licensing and certification requirements that may present obstacles to persons with disabilities in their pursuit of particular careers.
  10. The College has provided parking facilities for persons with disabilities that are located on the shortest possible accessible circulation route to an accessible entrance of each building. Standards for parking for individuals with disabilities at Virginia Western Community College comply with the standards of the American National Standards Institute, Inc. and 34 C.F.R. Section 104.23. In addition, the College acknowledges its compliance with, C.F.R. Sections 104.22 and 104.23 for facilities constructed before June 1977 and after June 1977. For facilities constructed after June 1977, the College acknowledges its compliance that each facility and each part of the facility is readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities.

To initiate a formal grievance, students should follow the procedures outlined below:

  1. After an alleged violation, the student will report in writing the nature of the grievance and the details of the alleged violation(s) to the ADA AMENDMENTS ACT/504 Coordinator located in S207.
  2. The ADA AMENDMENTS ACT/504 Coordinator will review the student’s grievance and will acknowledge in writing the receipt of the student grievance.  The Coordinator will arrange for a meeting with the student to discuss the alleged violation(s) within one calendar week of receipt of the student’s written grievance.
  3.  The meeting between the student and the ADA AMENDMENTS ACT/504 Coordinator will consist of a review of the alleged violation(s) and any other pertinent information relative to the grievance.  After the meeting, a determination will be made by the Coordinator as to the validity of the alleged violation(s).  Appropriate actions will be advised in writing to the student and other college officials involved.  This written determination will be provided to the student and College Dean no later than ten days after the initial meeting with the student.
  4. The institution will have ten days to respond to the alleged violation(s) recommended by the ADA AMENDMENTS ACT/504 Coordinator.
  5. The ADA AMENDMENTS ACT/504 Coordinator will then arrange a meeting with the student to review the measures and actions implemented. 

In the event that the student grievance cannot be satisfactorily resolved following the procedures outlined above, an ad hoc grievance committee will be convened by the President of the College to review the case and make recommendations to the President.  The President’s decision shall be final.  The ad hoc committee shall consist of at least one administrator, two teachers, and two students.  Members shall not be from the division or department involved.  One student and one teacher may be selected by the student filing the grievance.  The appointed administrator shall be the chairman of the committee and will be responsible for calling the meeting and keeping a record of the proceedings.

How a Student With a Disability Accesses Service

Students with disabilities should make an appointment to speak with a counselor or advisor in REACH/Disability Services (DS), located in the Student Life Center S207.  Phone: 857-7286 – Voice  857-6351 -TTY

Students requesting accommodations must provide documentation of their disability.  Guidelines for documentation are listed below.

  • Students may bring their documentation directly to REACH/Disability Services.
  • They may sign a release form provided by DS requesting that their service provider send documentation to us.
  • They may contact their service provider directly requesting that necessary documentation be sent to DS.

All accommodation requests are processed through Disability Services.  Accommodations may include, but are not limited to:

  • Early Registration
  • Alternate testing procedures
  • Extended minutes for tests
  • Note taker
  • Textbooks on Audio
  • Course modifications
  • Interpreter services
  • Reduced course load
  • Screen magnifier
  • Talking calculator
  • FM transmitters/receivers
  • Assistive listening devices
  • Track ball mouse
  • Word processor
  • Kurzweil Reader
  • Dragon Naturally Speaking (voice diction)
  • JAWS (Job Access with Speech)

Disability Services will determine appropriate accommodations based on psychological/ psychiatric, medical, and/or other professional documentation.

Some accommodations are provided directly by the instructor.  Disability Services assists in facilitating this process by preparing an Accommodation Plan for students to hand deliver to their instructors.

The official AccommodationPlan processed by DS legitimizes the student’s request, verifying that appropriate documentation supporting the need for requested accommodations is on file in DS.  Please take time to discuss arrangements for the requested accommodations with the student and contact Student Support Services if you have questions or concerns.  Students requesting accommodations without the appropriate AP should be referred to DS. 

At any point in the process, students may contact Hillary Holland, Disability Counselor/ADA Coordinator, to discuss concerns regarding access to and delivery of accommodations.  The Grievance Procedure is outlined in the Faculty Handbook.

While Disability Services is here to assist students in the accommodation process, the provision of accommodation alone does not guarantee academic success.  Students are ultimately responsible for their own success.

General Documentation Guidelines

In order to determine eligibility for Student Support Services on the basis of a self-disclosed disability and to evaluate specific needs for requested accommodations or auxiliary aids, Student Support Services will need documentation of the disability.  Such documentation must include an evaluation by an appropriate professional, as well as a description of the current impact of the disability as it relates to the accommodation request.  As appropriate to the disability, the documentation should include the following seven elements:

  1.  A diagnostic statement identifying the disability, date of the most current diagnostic evaluation, and the date of the diagnosis if known.
  2.  A description of the diagnostic tests, methods, and/or criteria used.
  3.  A description of the current functional impact of the disability which includes specific test results and the examiner's narrative interpretation.
  4.  Treatments, medications, or assistive devices/services currently prescribed or in use, including a description of the mediating effects and potential side effects from such treatments.
  5. If known, a history of previous accommodations and their impact as well as accommodations recommended at this time.
  6. The credentials of the diagnosing professional if not clear from the letterhead or other forms.
    •  The diagnosing professional cannot be a family member.
    • The diagnosis must be on official letterhead or agency forms.
    • Prescription pad diagnoses will NOT be accepted.

Virginia Western Community College and REACH/Disability Services assumes no responsibility for the cost of medical or educational testing for the purposes of diagnosing a disability.  While REACH/Disability Services will be happy to refer clients to area agencies and other professionals, it is the responsibility of the student to arrange for professional services and to pursue necessary steps in securing all documentation of his/her disability.

Appropriate and reasonable accommodations will be determined by a qualified professional of the Student Support Services staff based upon the requests made by the student, documentation of the disability, and what is allowable under the law:  Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.  Accommodations ensure equal access to educational opportunities, but do not guarantee academic success.

Policy Regarding Personal Aids and Services for Students with Disabilities

The following is an excerpt from the web page of the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights ( concerning Auxiliary Aids and Services for Postsecondary Students with Disabilities.  Please note as stated below:  "Personal attendants and individually prescribed devices are the responsibility of the student who has a disability and not of the institution."  It is the policy of Virginia Western Community College that students with disabilities must be able to get to and from their classes and other offices on campus on their own or make their own arrangements for a personal attendant at their own expense to accompany them on campus.  Wheelchairs or scooters are aids to mobility and, therefore, must be supplied by the student.

Personal Aids and Services

An issue that is often misunderstood by postsecondary officials and students is the provision of personal aids and services.  Personal aids and services, including help in bathing, dressing, or other personal care, are not required to be provided by postsecondary institutions. The Section 504 regulation states:

Recipients need not provide attendants, individually prescribed devices, readers for personal use or study, or other devices or services of a personal nature.

Title II of the ADA AMENDMENTS ACT similarly states that personal services are not required.

In order to ensure that students with disabilities are given a free appropriate public education, local education agencies are required to provide many services and aids of a personal nature to students with disabilities when they are enrolled in elementary and secondary schools. However, once students with disabilities graduate from a high school program or its equivalent, education institutions are no longer required to provide aids, devices, or services of a personal nature.

Postsecondary schools do not have to provide personal services relating to certain individual academic activities. Personal attendants and individually prescribed devices are the responsibility of the student who has a disability and not of the institution. For example, readers may be provided for classroom use but institutions are not required to provide readers for personal use or for help during individual study time.

Stipulations for Assistance Animals

Assistance animals trained to provide the appropriate accommodation(s) related to the functional limitation(s) of the person with the disability are allowed on the Virginia Western Community College campus.  The following stipulations apply:

  1. The assistance animal must be under the handler’s control at all times. 
  2. Guide dogs for the visually impaired must be harnessed and trained as guides for the visually impaired.  Guide dogs for the hearing impaired must be trained as hearing guide dogs and wear blaze orange leashes.  Guide dogs for mobility impaired persons must be harnessed or wearing backpacks, and be trained as service dogs. 
  3. Where applicable, assistance animals must be licensed and inoculated for rabies in accordance with the Code of Virginia.
  4. The assistance animal may not fundamentally alter the services provided by the college, interfere with the safe operation of the college, or pose a direct threat to others.
  5. The disabled person is liable for any damages to himself or herself, the premises, or the facility caused by his or her assistance animal.

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