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Disability Support Services

Welcome to Disability Support Services! Our staff is committed to helping you succeed at Oakwood University. We Provide services for students with learning, emotional, medical, or physical disabilities. Our goal is assist students in developtig the necessary skills to succeed at this institution.

 

Students seeking accommodations or support services from Disability Support Services are required to register with the office.

Mission:

Disability Support Services (DSS) is committed to serving and supporting students with disabilities at Oakwood University by providing equal access to all facilities, programs and services under the guidelines of the American with Disabities Act (ADA)-Amendments Act of 2008 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. We empower students to realize their academic and personal potential by facilitating equal access and coordinating accommodations and support services for eligible students with a focus on the development of strong self-advocacy skills. We also help students to appreciate their distinctive ways of learning and help the Oakwood University community develop positive modes of interacting with students with disabilities.

Who We Serve

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), the definition of disability includes any person who, “…has a physical, emotional or mental impairment, which substantially limits one or more of life’s major activities, has a record of disability, or is regarded as having a disability.” As per this law, Oakwood University is committed to providing Reasonable Accommodations for students with disabilities through the Disability Support Services Office. Disabilities can include but are not limited to the following:

● Acquired or Traumatic Brain Injury
● Attention Deficit Disorder
● Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
● Autism Spectrum Disorder
● Chronic Health Condition
● Deaf / Hard of Hearing
● Learning Disability
● Mobility Impairment
● Neurological Condition
● Psychological Condition
● Visual Disability

What are Reasonable Accommodations?

A reasonable accommodation in the university setting is a modification or adjustment to a class or program that will enable a qualified person with a disability to have equal access in participating in that class or program. Reasonable accommodations allow students with known, documented, and validated disabilities to enjoy the rights and privileges offered by the university. Additionally, the university is not required to provide any aid or service, or make any accommodation or modification that would result in a fundamental alteration to the nature or rigor of a specific course of study.

Accommodation Process

The accommodation process begins with the student. It is the student’s right and responsibility to contact the Office of Disability Support Services and disclose their disability either via our website or in person in Cunningham Hall Rooms 246 & 247. The following is the process that leads to receiving accommodations:

1. Submit an application form online or in person.
2. Submit documentation online or in person of the disability that is from a qualified licensed professional such as a doctor, therapist, psychologist, or psychometrist that is dated within the last three years.
3. Schedule an in person interview. This structured interview between the student and the Disability & Testing Specialist will explore previous experiences and accommodations and discuss what has been effective or ineffective in the past.
4. Once ALL documentation is received and an interview has taken place, it will be evaluated by Disability Support Services.
5. If approved, accommodation letters will be generated by the Disability and Testing Specialist.
6. The student is responsible for delivery of the letters to professors during the first week of each semester. Students are expected to schedule a meeting with professors where specific information such as the location of testing accommodations and use of recordingdevices are discussed.

Accommodation cannot be provided without this letter and meeting with professor.

Confidentiality Policy

Oakwood University respects students’ privacy and strives to keep information related to students’ disability documentation confidential. Student disability files are kept separate from academic files and are stored in a secure location within the Disability Support Services office. The Family Educational Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) regulates disclosure of disability documentation and records maintained by Oakwood University Disability Support Services. According to this act, prior written consent by the student is required before our DSS office may release disability documentation or records to anyone. Students registering with the Office of Disability Support Services must sign a Consent Form (Appendix A). The Disability Specialist does not disclose information about a student’s specific diagnosis. An exception is only made in unusual circumstances, such as the case of health and safety emergencies.

Documentation Policy

Documentation is essential in determining whether a student is eligible to receive accommodations at Oakwood University under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and ADA Amendments Act of 2008. Any documentation provided will assist in the determination of appropriate accommodations.

A diagnosis of a disorder/condition/syndrome does not automatically qualify an individual for accommodations under the ADA. Students are required to provide current and comprehensive documentation of their disability justifying a need for accommodation.

The DSS office reserves the right to request additional documentation in order to determine appropriateness of reasonable accommodations. Documentation relating to disabilities will be regarded with the highest confidentiality and is maintained by the office of Disability Support Services.

Qualifications of the Evaluator

Any documentation submitted must be from a qualified licensed professional such as a doctor, psychiatrist, counselor, therapist, psychologist, or psychometrist that is dated within the last three years. The credentials of the licensed professional should be included in the documentation and the professional should be an impartial individual who is not a family member of the student. Below are specific documentation guidelines.

Physical Disabilities & Chronic Health Impairments

The following elements must be included in the evaluator’s report in order for a student to be considered for appropriate accommodations:

1. A clear statement of diagnosis
2. A history of presenting symptoms, date of onset, duration and severity of the disorder, relevant developmental and historical data, and prognosis.
3. A description of the diagnostic criteria and/or diagnostic test used. This description should include the specific results of diagnostic procedures and diagnostic tests utilized.
4. A description of the functional impact of the disability. The current functional impact on physical, perceptual, and cognitive abilities should be described, including medical information describing the degree to which the current functional limitations restrict the condition, manner, or duration under which the student can perform a major life activity as compared to the average person in the general population.
5. Recommendations for academic accommodations
6. Statement of current impacts and limitations of the disorder on one or more of the student’s major life activities.
7. Description of any past disability services or accommodations received.
8. Statement of current impact and limitations on student’s academic performance with description of how these limitations were assessed.

Documentation must include a diagnosis and reflect the student’s present level of functioning in regard to the major life activity that is impaired. Additionally, the documenting professional’s recommendations for reasonable and/or recommended accommodations should be included.

Learning Disabilities

An Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 plan is sufficient in most cases, but we reserve the right to ask for more documentation such as a physician’s notes or psychological evaluation, etc. Documentation verifying the learning disability must include:

1. A clear statement of disability according to the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders diagnosis and description of severity
2. An assessment of the individual’s present level of functioning in relevant achievement areas, areas of intelligence, and processing skills
3. Statement of current impacts and limitations of the disorder on one or more of the student’s major life activities.
4. A description of any past disability services or accommodations received
5. Recommendations for accommodations.

Psychological Disabilities

The following elements must be included in the evaluator’s report in order for a student to be considered for appropriate accommodations:

1. A clear statement of disability according to the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders diagnosis and description of severity.
2. Past and present symptoms that meet criteria for diagnosis.
3. Prognosis of the disorder.
4. A summary of evaluation results, including standardized or percentile scores.
5. Statement of current impacts and limitations of the disorder on one or more of the student’s major life activities.
6. Statement of current impact and limitations of the disorder on the student’s academic performance with a description of how these limitations were assessed.
7. Recommendations for academic accommodations

Frequently Asked Questions

I have a documented disability. How do I receive academic adjustments? What will I need in order to receive academic accommodations?
In order to receive academic accommodations, you must present appropriate documentation to the Disability Support Services (DSS) office. You will also need to complete a registration form. The DSS team will determine what services you may be eligible to receive. Services will be determined based on documentation, discussions with faculty, if necessary, and the course in question.

What if I require academic adjustments during a test?
If appropriate documentation has been presented that demonstrates a need for academic testing adjustments, there are a couple of options. They include: possible testing accommodations, extended time and/or a distraction-reduced environment in which to take the test. Before the test, the student will need to consult with either their professor or the DSS office to find out where the test will take place. If tests are to be taken in the Disability Support Services, the student is responsible for setting up the test time. We require two days’ notice to schedule an exam. A class syllabus can be used to schedule the entire semester’s test dates with the DSS office. It is the student’s responsibility to make sure they are ontime for the test and cancel if needed. We are an extension of the classroom and their rules do apply. The professor is responsible for making sure the test arrives at the testing place before the appointed time.

I think I may have a learning disability or Attention Deficit Disorder. Where can I go to get tested?
There are several private psychologists and psychiatrists who can do this type of testing. Ask your doctor if they can recommend one, or look for a local doctor who will suit your needs. If, however, you are unable to locate professionals in your area, there are a number of psychiatrists/psychologists in the Huntsville area that will be able to assist you. Please note that testing will be at your expense.

If I have a disability or temporary injury that makes it difficult for me to take notes, can you provide a note taker?
It will be your responsibility to discuss with your professors possible accommodations to address your limitations and also to make arrangements to get notes from a classmate. In the event that this is not possible, DSS will communicate with the appropriate professors to make accommodations that will be in your best interest. It is also your responsibility to make sure that documentation addressing your injury or disability is received in our office no later than 48 hours so that the necessary steps can be put in place in a timely manner.

What if I have broken my leg and just need accessible parking on a temporary basis?
In this case, a letter from a doctor may be sufficient to get a temporary accessible parking permit. If a permit is needed for more than one semester, you will need to get a placard or license plate from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

Self-Identification Policy

According to the National Association of American with Disability Act (ADA) Coordinators, “To be eligible for services, students with disabilities must identify themselves and present professional documentation to the Disability Support Services”.

Unlike in high school, where it is the responsibility of the administrators and educators to identify students with disabilities, in higher education it is the student’s responsibility to self-identify.

Contact Us

Center for Student Success
Linelle Johnson, M.S.
Phone: (256) 726-7668 or
(256) 726-7149
lejohnson@oakwood.edu
studentsuccess@oakwood.edu

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