What is a Disability?
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a person with a disability is one who:
has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits a major life activity;
has a record or history of such an impairment; or
is regarded as having such an impairment.
Major life activities include, but are not limited to, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, caring for oneself, and performing manual tasks. These impairments may be present among people with learning disabilities, emotional disturbances, chronic health impairments, attention deficit disorder, diabetes, asthma, physical disabilities, vision, speech, or hearing impairments, or other conditions.
When does an illness or temporary physical problem become a disability?
Each case is considered individually, but generally, a chronic health condition that fits the above definition would be considered for disability status. Physical problems expected to last more than five weeks may be considered disabilities. Regardless, it must create a substantial limitation in ability to function as a student to qualify as a disability.
How Can I Teach To Meet the Needs of a Student With a Disability?
Suggested Statement for Syllabi:
Geneva College welcomes students with disabilities to participate in all of its courses, programs, services and activities. If you have a documented disability and are requesting accommodations, please:
What is my Responsibility to Make Academic Accommodations?
The Americans with Disabilities Act, combined with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination against an individual with a qualifying disability. It assures equal access. Students who require accommodation have been certified as eligible for ADA accommodation and will have a letter from ACCESS detailing the academic accommodations for which the student is eligible.
The purpose of the accommodation letter is to verify ADA eligibility, suggest possible accommodations that may be appropriate, and offer opportunity for dialogue with the student to determine how the accommodations can best be provided. You are under no obligation to offer accommodations to students who do not present a letter from ACCESS. Accommodations are not retroactive, and thus you are not obligated to modify grades or points earned prior to a student’s request for accommodation. We expect students to provide sufficient time for faculty to make needed adjustments. Students are encouraged to meet with faculty within the first two weeks of classes, but there is no time-limit on these requests.
To refuse a student’s request for a reasonable accommodation is a violation of the student’s civil rights and could subject the College to investigation by the Office for Civil Rights and/or lawsuit. Discussion is critical. Unless the requested accommodation can be shown to substantially alter the nature of a course, or does not match up well with the style of instruction, or somehow violates performance expectations in the class, you are obligated to comply with the request. In some cases, an alternative accommodation may be appropriate. When there are issues that cannot be resolved through discussion, instructors are encouraged to call ACCESS for clarification and/or intervention.
If you are planning a cross-cultural that might include a student with a disability, check out Mobility International USA (link to http://www.miusa.org/) for information about accommodating students with disabilities in international exchange programs. ACCESS works with the Crossroads Office to identify any potential problems a student with a disability who is studying abroad may encounter. They will meet with and advise the student prior to departure to be sure that any necessary supports are in place.
How Do I Interact with a Student with a Disability?
A great majority of Geneva students – 70% – complete internships during the course of their study.