Frequently Asked Questions

The Americans with Disabilities Act gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, State and local government services, and telecommunications.  Fair, swift, and effective enforcement of this landmark civil rights legislation is a high priority of the Federal Government.

What constitutes a disability?

A disability is defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as a mental or physical impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities.  If you have a mental or physical condition, a history of such a condition, or a condition which may be considered by others as substantially limiting, you may have a legally defined disability.

What does substantially limiting mean?

According to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, substantially limiting is defined as being unable to perform a major life activity, or significantly restricted as to the condition, manner, or duration under which a major life activity can be performed, in comparison to the average person or to most people.

What is a major life activity?

According to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a major life activity is defined as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.

What are academic adjustments?

Appropriate academic adjustments create an equal access to education, as long as it doesn’t require a substantial change in an essential element of the curriculum. Such modifications may include an adjustment in the amount of time allowed to complete a degree, substitution of degree requirements, and adaptation of the manner in which specific courses are conducted Extra-time, etc.

 

Frequently Asked Instructor Questions

 

What if a student claims to have a physical or mental disability and request classroom and testing accommodations, but does not have an accommodations letter from the Office of Disability Services?  

Refer the student to the Office of Disability Services (ODS), located in Room 319, Evans Hall where the individual will complete an application for services, present documentation indicating the type of disability, severity, limitations, medications, and discuss possible accommodation needs.

What if a student is receiving accommodations and is not doing well in class? 

Treat the student as you would any other student. Enter into interactive processes with the student to try to identify the problem and appropriate alternative format, support service and/or referral.

What if a student feels he or she has been discriminated against because of their disability? 

Communicate effectively both orally and in writing.  Try to resolve the complaint at the lowest level by meeting with the key people involved.  You may contact the University EEO Officer and/or the Director of Disability Services for if further assistance is warranted.

 

Frequently Asked Parent/Prospective Student/Staff Questions

 

Are students with impairments treated differently?

Reasonable accommodations may change the manner in which a person gains access to course information or is tested however, the essential requirements in a course and rules within the campus community is the same for everyone.  For example, you may need accessible parking, a tape recorder, interpreter, or extra time on tests and assignments – these accommodations aim to level the playing field without giving unfair advantage. Persons with a disability are not different – they are simply differently-abled.

How do the responsibilities of working with students with disabilities at Higher Education institutions differ from those of high schools?

The responsibilities towards students with disabilities in Higher Education institutions are very different from those of high schools.  High schools are required under IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) to identify the educational needs of students with a disability and provide a free and appropriate education.

This responsibility is not required of higher education institutions.  Higher Education institutions are required to provide appropriate academic accommodations to ensure that a student with a disability is not discriminated against.  The student is responsible for disclosing his or her disability to the institution and making specific accommodation requests.

What are the responsibilities of a student with a disability if he or she would like to receive accommodations?

A student with a disability is responsible for requesting accommodations through Office of Disability Services (ODS).  ODS will not seek students out.  A student with a disability is also responsible for providing acceptable documentation of his or her disability that supports the accommodation requests.

Can I request accommodations for my child?

All requests for accommodations must come directly from the student.

Can I speak with my child’s ODS Specialist in regards to his or her situation?

As a young adult, the student may choose to have information about his or her case discussed with his or her parent(s) through signing a release.  The release cannot be a blanket release for the student’s entire college career.

Since the student is now in charge of his or her educational planning, what are some self-advocacy skills he or she should develop?

Disability Services strongly encourages students to develop these self-advocacy skills:

  • Understand Your Disability: A student should be able to articulate what his or her disability is.
  • Communicate Disability: A student should also be able to describe how the disability limits his or her functioning (functional limitations).  A student should also be able to express some ways that he or she could be accommodated.
  • Be Proactive:  A student should provide acceptable documentation to DS and request accommodations.  A student should learn to work collaboratively with instructors to ensure his or her success with the accommodations.  A student should also be able to identify if his or her accommodations are not being met.

What is the impact of the Americans with Disabilities Act on Higher Education of 1990?

The Americans with Disabilities Act on Higher Education of 1990 impacts the whole institution including activities, facilities, programs, employment, and housing.  For more information please go to http://www.ada.gov.

Does a student have to inform Prairie View A&M that he or she has a disability?

A student with a disability does not have to disclose his or her disability to PVAMU.  Disclosure of a disability is on a voluntary basis.  However, a student will not receive accommodations unless he or she discloses this information. Moreover, accommodations are not granted retroactively.

What can a student with a disability expect in regards to admissions procedures?

In regards to admissions procedures, a student with a disability:

  • Must apply through normal channels
  • May not be asked about disability status during application by Admissions
  • May choose to disclose the disability in his or her personal statement.  As a general rule of thumb, if your application is marginal, then disclosing your disability and special circumstances in the essay portion of the application may help you.
  • May take a standardized test with accommodations. For standardized tests:
    • Be prepared to submit documentation
    • Admissions may not take any review action based upon submission of standardized test score

Will a student’s admission to Prairie View A&M University be denied because he or she has a disability?

A student meeting the essential requirements for admission to PVAM University will not be denied admission solely on the basis of disability.

Does Disability Services provide tutoring services?

DS does not provide tutorial services.  Tutorial services may be obtained and funded privately.  Free tutoring services are available on campus to all students.

Is there a charge for receiving accommodations from Disability Services?

There is no charge for receiving accommodations from Disability Services.

What are some examples of accommodations offered at the University?

In the University’s commitment to accessibility, we provide a dedicated assistive technology laboratory and attendant.  For individuals with print disabilities such as dyslexia and blindness or low vision, technology is available to read materials (coursework, emails, and campus announcements) from a computer screen, using MAC Voice Over, Victor Reader for access to e-courses, JAWS, and Kurzweil 3000.  Reasonable accommodations may also include proctored testing in a small, quiet, yet secure room, digital recorders, note-taking assistance, extended time for testing, scribes, interpreters, accessible parking, flexible diet meal plans, visual alerts in housing units, roll-in showers, accessible lavatories, accessible swimming pool lifts, football stadium seating, accessible entry and seating for basketball games, commencement and other events held in Nicks Field House, fully accessible Bowling and Retail center on campus,  and a plethora of reasonable services.  Referrals are easily made to secure books on tape, ASL interpreters, Documentation and advance notice helps the University to arrange services for your success.

Frequently asked Instructor Questions

How does a faculty member give students information about accommodations?

Teachers will include a disability statement on their syllabi with information about how to receive classroom accommodations for a disability.

 

Suggested Faculty Syllabus Statement

 

Approved by the Prairie View A&M University Faculty Senate, each class syllabus should include the following statement:

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact Disability Services, in Evans Hall, Room 317, or call 936-261-3585/3. For additional information visit http://disability.pvamu.edu.

What are the rights and responsibilities of an instructor when working with students with disabilities?

An instructor has the right to confirm a student’s request for accommodations and to ask for clarification about a specific accommodation with DS. Instructors do not have the right to refuse to provide an accommodation or to review a student’s documentation including diagnostic data. Instructors have a responsibility to work with DS in providing reasonable accommodations, keep all records and communications with students confidential, and to refer a student to DS who requests accommodations but is not currently registered. Instructors do not have to provide accommodations for students not registered with DS.

How are appropriate accommodations for a student determined?

To determine appropriate accommodations for a student, the student must submit acceptable documentation to DS. The educational diagnostician and staff  members review the information and determines appropriate accommodations based upon the substantial limitations of the student and the recommended modifications of the physician of ARD/IEP committee.

If an instructor feels that a particular student may have a substantially limiting disability, where should he or she refer the student?

If an instructor feels that a particular student may have a substantially limiting disability, he or she should refer the student to ODS.

What if a student with a disability is disruptive in class?

A student with a disability who is disruptive in class should be treated as an instructor would treat any student who is disruptive in class.  If an instructor feels that there is a disability-related reason for the student’s behavior, the instructor can discuss this with the Disability Services Specialist in DS to determine if there is a solution to the problem or strategies for addressing the behavior.  The Specialist can be reached at bblewis@pvamu.edu

What if a student with a disability is failing?

It is important for instructors to remember that providing reasonable accommodations to a student with a disability does not guarantee success in the course. Students with disabilities may not master the course material, just like any other student. Students with disabilities have the same right as other students to fail as part of their educational experience.

 

Section complies with information from the National Association of College and University Attorneys, HUD/Fair Housing Section 504 regulations.

Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in State and Local Government Services, Final Rule, 75 Fed. Reg. 56164 (Sept. 15, 2010) (to be codified at 24 C.F.R. part 35); Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in State and Local Government Services, Final Rule, 75 Fed. Reg. 56236 (Sept. 15, 2010) (to be codified at 24 C.R.R. part 36).

 

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