In order to ensure the full translation of this Policy for Access of Individuals with Disabilities into procedures, two important areas of rights and responsibilities have to be considered:
• the right of the individual with a disability to be included on the basis of criteria that do not unfairly discriminate because of the disability and.
• the right of the University to set and maintain standards for admitting and evaluating the progress of students.
To assure full consideration of both areas, this document outlines the rights and responsibilities of the University and the rights and responsibilities of students who have disabilities. The procedures that follow create a mechanism for dispute resolution for those instances in which the usual channels have not resulted in decisions that are acceptable to both the individual and the University's decision-making authorities.
James Madison University recognizes that its basic responsibility is to identify and maintain the academic and technical standards that are fundamental to providing quality academic programs while ensuring the rights of individuals with disabilities. To meet this obligation, James Madison University has the:
1. right to identify and establish the abilities, skills, and knowledge necessary for success in its programs and to evaluate applicants and students on this basis;
2. responsibility to ensure that its recruitment information and activities are available in accessible formats and facilities;
3. responsibility to evaluate applicants based solely on their abilities. If an evaluation method or criterion unfairly discriminates against an applicant with a disability, the University will seek reasonable alternatives;
4. responsibility to select and administer tests used to evaluate students so as to best ensure that test results accurately reflect aptitudes or competencies and do not discriminate against an individual with a disability. Tests designed to measure specific skills related to fundamental/essential course goals are allowable even when those skills are impacted by the disability;
5. responsibility to ensure that all of its programs, viewed in their entirety, including but not limited to academic offerings, housing, transportation, student organizations, counseling, and placement, are accessible and usable;
6. right to identify and establish the abilities, skills, and knowledge that are fundamental to academic programs/courses and to evaluate each student's performance against these standards. Fundamental program and course standards are not subject to accommodations;
7. responsibility to adjust, substitute or waive any academic requirements that unfairly discriminate against a student with a disability and that are not essential to the integrity of the student's academic program;
8. responsibility to make reasonable accommodations for a student with a disability in the delivery, instructional method, and evaluation system of a course;
9. right to request and receive documentation that supports requests for accommodations. The University has a right to deny a request if the documentation demonstrates that no accommodations are necessary, or if the individual fails to provide such documentation;
10. right to select among equally effective accommodations for individuals with a disability;
11. right to refuse an unreasonable accommodation or one that imposes an undue hardship on the University;
12. responsibility to inform its applicants, employees, and students about the availability of auxiliary aids and the range of possible accommodations, as well as the procedures for requesting them.
If a request for an accommodation is denied, James Madison has the responsibility to inform the individual of his or her right to appeal the decision and the procedures for initiating an appeal.
An individual with a disability has a right to an equal opportunity to participate in, and benefit from, programs offered at James Madison University. To ensure this right, individuals with disabilities at James Madison University:
1. have the same obligation as any other student to meet and maintain the institution's academic and technical standards;
2. have the right to an equal opportunity to learn. They have a right to reasonable accommodations in aspects of their educational experiences such as location, delivery system, or instructional methodologies that limit access, participation, or ability to benefit;
3. have the right to an equal opportunity to participate in, and benefit from, the academic community. This includes access to services, benefits, co-curricular activities, housing, and transportation, when viewed in their entirety, that are comparable to those provided to any student;
4. have the responsibility to advocate for their own individual needs and to seek information, counsel, and assistance as necessary to be effective self advocates;
5. have the right to confidentiality of all information and have the right to choose to whom information about their disabilities will be disclosed;
6. have the responsibility to demonstrate or document how their disabilities limit their ability to benefit from a particular delivery system, instructional method, or evaluation criteria when they make a request for a accommodation. If the disability is not obvious, the individual must provide documentation from an appropriate professional;
7. have the right to information regarding the availability of auxiliary aids and possible accommodations, as well as procedures for making the requests for either;
8. have the responsibility to follow published procedures for making such requests and to do so in a timely fashion;
9. have the right to be informed of procedures for initiating an appeal of a decision by the institution regarding auxiliary aids or accommodations;
10. have the responsibility to follow published procedures for filing an appeal;
11. have the right to be informed of procedures for initiating further complaint or appeal of an institutional decision through external channels. This typically would be done through filing a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights or filing a case through the civil court system.
Admission to James Madison University is based on the requirements outlined in the University Catalog. Admission decisions are made without regard to disabilities. All prospective students are expected to present academic credentials at or above the minimum standards for admissions as established annually by the Admissions Committee. Any student eligible to take a nonstandard SAT/ACT may submit those scores. Such scores will be accepted as valid and equivalent alternatives.
All applicants to the University are reviewed according to the same procedures for admission regardless of disabilities.
A prospective student who needs an accommodation in the admissions process should document such need when the application is requested or submitted. For those individuals who choose to identify their disabilities in the Admissions process, the Admissions Committee will review alternative measures for admissions/hiring criteria under the following conditions:
1. If the applicant believes that a standard for admission has a disproportionately adverse effect based on his or her diagnosed and documented disability, then he or she may submit a request for a substitution of that criterion.
2. If comparable alternative measures of the same skills, aptitudes, or areas of achievement of the admissions standards are available, they may be accepted as valid substitutes.
Accommodations provided during the admissions process do not automatically guarantee acceptance or any specific course or program accommodations for students who are accepted.
After acceptance to JMU, students with disabilities who will be requesting reasonable accommodations should contact Disability Services to begin the process of establishing eligibility for services.
Any applicant with a disability who needs information about James Madison University, about the admission process in general, or an application for admissions, should direct their request to the:
Office of Admissions at 540-568-6147.
Requests for information in an alternative format should be made through :
Disability Services at 540-568-6705 (V/TDD).
James Madison University seeks to ensure that an individual with a disability who can meet the academic and technical standards for admission is not excluded from full participation in the programs the University operates because of the absence of necessary auxiliary aids or reasonable accommodations.
James Madison University believes that its responsibilities can best be met by assisting students with disabilities in obtaining auxiliary aids of a long-term or permanent nature from governmental units (such as state vocational rehabilitation agencies) or from private charitable organizations (March of Dimes, etc.) Students with disabilities are expected to exercise initiative in identifying and obtaining auxiliary aids and assistance through every reasonable channel available to them. The primary role of the University in this effort should be informative/supportive of active self advocacy on the part of the student. The Coordinator of Disability Services will serve as a resource in this process. If outside agencies cannot provide the auxiliary aids that the student needs, the University has a responsibility to:
(1) to determine the necessity of that aid and
(2) ensure that the student is not denied the right to participate in a program, benefit, class, or a service because of the absence of an auxiliary aid that would make participation possible.
The following procedure will facilitate this process:
1. Students who believe they will need an auxiliary aid to participate fully in the activities inherent in their programs at James Madison should make those needs known as early as possible, preferably as soon as they have been admitted. Prior to requests, students should insure that current and comprehensive documentation of their disability is on file with Disability Services.
These requests may be made to the appropriate area on campus (for example, a volume control for a telephone would be made to Telecommunications, while a request for an accessible residence hall room would be made to the Office of Residence Life). Requests for special materials or equipment of a more individual nature (for example, pressure sensitive paper for note takers or the provision of an interpreter) should be made directly through the Coordinator of Disability Services. If a student is unsure how to make a more direct request, the Coordinator of Disability Services should be contacted for information and direction.
2. The student with a disability is encouraged to explore any and all avenues for assistance outside the University. Anyone who is unsure how to contact other agencies should discuss this with the Coordinator of Disability Services or directly contact the Department for Rights of Individuals with Disabilities in Richmond at (800) 552-3962 or (804) 225-2042.
3. If the necessary auxiliary aids are not available through outside resources, the student must request assistance through the Coordinator of Disability Services. When a request is made, the Coordinator will evaluate the request on the basis of the following criteria:
a. the disability is documented (usually through an evaluation by a qualified professional),
b. the requested auxiliary aid is appropriate to the needs of a person with that type of disability,
c. the aid cannot be provided by other agencies, and
d. the person will not be able to participate fully as a student without the aid.
It is the responsibility of the University to provide the auxiliary aid or find a reasonable alternative that will allow the student full participation unless the request is determined to be unreasonable or will impose an undue hardship on the University.
Every attempt will be made to ensure availability of necessary aids at the time the student begins classes. A minimum of four weeks' notice should be given to ensure this. In any event, the University must have sufficient time to evaluate the request, determine the aid to be provided, and identify sources for obtaining it (purchasing, leasing, hiring, etc.). Late requests cannot be guaranteed but will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and provided as possible under the circumstances.
4. Requests for auxiliary aids and all supporting documentation are confidential information and will not be released without the individual's written consent.
5. It is the student's responsibility to keep Disability Services informed about the need for auxiliary aids, such as timely semester-to-semester schedules for the use of an interpreter, ordering large print books and materials, or any other specific need. If the student does not keep Disability Services informed, the program cannot be expected to provide the auxiliary aid. To ensure accountability, requests should be made in writing and the student should keep a copy for his or her records.
If a student needs an accommodation in a specific course, he/she should discuss the need with the instructor of the course. He/she should have the necessary documentation and supporting evidence on file in Disability Services. At the student's request, Disability Services will prepare an "Access Plan Letter" to the instructor outlining appropriate accommodations for the student.
The student has the responsibility to request this letter, pick it up from Disability Services, and present it to the instructor.
If a student is unclear about what accommodation might be necessary in order to make the course requirements accessible due to the circumstances of the student's disability, he or she may request an appointment with a staff member in Disability Services to discuss options.
It is the student's responsibility to inform individual instructors if he/she will need accommodations or use any auxiliary aids in the class. This is both a courtesy, as well as an opportunity for the student and the instructor to discuss potential situations before they become barriers to the student's ability to perform the tasks required in the course.
The student may request a joint meeting between the instructor, himself/herself, and a professional in Disability Services at any time to discuss accommodations, aids, or other issues related to the interaction between the disability and the course. In this role, the Disability Services professional will serve as a liaison between the student and the instructor, providing information to both, and facilitating a workable agreement between the two.
Instructors are expected to make all reasonable accommodations to enable the student with a disability to benefit from the course and all of the activities and requirements in the course. Instructors are not expected to sacrifice course expectations or quality of student work. Waivers of assignments are expected to occur only if the assignment is not essential to the course and an acceptable substitute assignment cannot be identified.
The authority to review and approve documentation for Disability Services has been delegated by the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs to the Coordinator of Disability Services.
To initiate the accommodation process for persons with disabilities, a student should contact a staff member in Disability Services to set up a meeting. In this meeting the student must register with Disability Services if they have not already done so. The student has the burden of proving, through the provision of appropriate documentation, that the substitution/waiver is a reasonable accommodation.
If after reviewing the student's documentation and academic history the Director deems it appropriate to request a substitution or waiver, he/she will provide the student with a Request for Waiver/Substitution form. Once the student has filled out the form with all pertinent information, the Director will endorse it with his/her signature indicating support of the request.
The next step for the student who has this approval is as follows:
1. Regarding BA/BS requirements, the student must obtain signatures of endorsement from his/her academic advisor, the Department Head where the course is taught, the Dean where the course is taught and the Dean of the student's major (if different from the Dean where the course is taught).
2. Regarding General Education requirements, the student must obtain all the signatures listed in #1 as well as the signature of the General Education Area Coordinator.
3. Regarding Major/Minor requirements, the student must obtain signatures of endorsement from his/her academic advisor, the major or minor Department Head, the major or minor college Dean and the Dean of the College of Education and Psychology (if the course is required for teacher licensure).
The following issues are considered:
1. The degree to which the student's ability to meet the requirement in question in adversely affected by the disability.
2. What equally effective courses can be substituted?
3. Whether the accommodation in question will fundamentally alter the academic integrity of the program.
James Madison University recognizes both the wide variation in the needs of students with disabilities and the variation in course contexts as students progress through their programs.
When needs arise, the Coordinator of Disability Services will, at the request of students, faculty, or staff, review the process by which the current accommodations were determined and seek to revise the accommodation as appropriate.
If this process fails to establish mutually acceptable accommodations, the dissatisfied party may file a complaint as described in the following University policy: