Disability Support Services

St. Mary's University provides access to its programs, services and activities for all qualified individuals with documented disabilities.

Services

Access is accomplished through a variety of accommodations and services determined through an interactive process with the student and supported with documentation. Disability Support Services provides access. Services available to qualified students with disabilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Academic advising (disability-related issues)
  • Accommodations
  • Career counseling (disability-related issues)
  • College success skills training for students with disabilities
  • Assisting with the interactive process with faculty in implementing accommodations
  • Counseling (disability-related)
  • Disability Services Orientation for students and parents
  • Ensuring that print materials are accessible
  • Providing sign language or captioning interpreters
  • Relocating classes to accessible classrooms and/or buildings

Accommodations

Disability Support Services cannot alter the essential elements of the course.

Typical accommodations

  • Relocating classes to accessible classrooms and/or buildings
  • Extended test time
  • Testing in a quiet, reduced distraction environment
  • Being allowed to use a calculator
  • Preferential seating
  • Being allowed to record lectures
  • Consideration given to read out loud in class
  • Being allowed to use a computer for all written assignments (may include restrictions)
  • Quizzes and exams in an electronic format
  • Being allowed to use an electronic spellchecker (as essential elements of course define)
  • Being allowed to circle answers on a test instead of filling-in a Scantron or similar form
  • Advanced copies of syllabi, textbooks, course materials, assignments, etc.
  • Use of sign-language or captioning interpreter
  • Use of assistive technology

Note: Academic requirements that are essential to specific classes and/or programs of study (e.g., grade point averages, specific prerequisite courses, sequence of courses, deadlines, etc.) are not considered discriminatory and cannot be waived.

Rights and Responsibilities

Student Responsibilities

  • The student is responsible for initiating services for accommodations with the Disability Support Service Office as a student with a disability.
  • The student is responsible for providing documentation of his/her diagnosed disability and how this disability significantly effects accessing the educational opportunities, services and activities offered by the University.
  • The student is responsible for contacting the professor to discuss disability-related needs and provide the professor with the Letter of Accommodation.  The student is responsible for informing the professor of what accommodation he/she wants to use in the course.
  • The student is responsible for submitting his accommodation letter in a timely manner once registered.
  • The student is responsible to for notifying the Director of Disability Support Services if the student feels the accommodations are not implemented properly or do not appear to assist in accessing the educational opportunities.

Student Rights

  • Students have a right to privacy.  Disability Support Services follows FERPA standards for confidentiality.
  • Students have the right not to disclose diagnostic information to faculty or staff outside of the Disability Support Services office.
  • Students have the right to be evaluated based on his/her ability.
  • Students have the right to access the educational opportunities, services, and activities of the University. If location, delivery system, or instructional methodology limits his/her access, participation in, or ability to benefit, he/she has the right to appropriate accommodations in those aspects of the course or program.
  • Students have the right to access housing.
  • Students who believe that their accommodations have not been implemented fairly may seek resolution.  Students can seek resolution by working with Faculty and the Director of Disability Support Services.  In the event that a resolution cannot be reached, students may enter into a formal grievance process through the University’s ADA grievance policy.  Information about this policy can be obtained from the Director of Disability Support Services Office or at https://www.stmarytx.edu/about/ada-and-504-information/ . Students are provided a handbook with information about the grievance processes.
  • Students have the right to provide feedback specific to the quality of their accommodations.  Students will have the option to provide their feedback on a survey each semester.  Students may also contact Disability Support Services at any time to register comments or complaints.

Faculty Responsibilities

  • Faculty are responsible to make reasonable adjustments to the instructional and evaluation method(s) of a course when these have a negative impact on a disability.
  • Faculty are responsible for providing accommodations once a Letter of Accommodation-issued by DSS-has been delivered to them by the student. Accommodations cannot be applied retroactively.
  • Faculty are responsible for providing accommodations prescribed by St. Mary’s University Disability Support Services (DSS).
  • Faculty are responsible for delineating the academic requirements that are essential to their programs of study in the course.

Faculty Rights

  • Faculty have the right to establish the academic requirements that are essential to their programs of study. Academic requirements that are functionally essential to programs of study (e.g., required grade point averages, specific prerequisite courses, deadlines, etc.) are not considered discriminatory and may not be waived.
  • Faculty have the right to question a prescribed accommodation if it interferes with the academic requirements essential to their programs of study.
  • Faculty have the right to suggest accommodations that do not fundamentally alter the course’s academic requirements but still provide the access necessary for the student with a disability.

Procedures for Establishing Services

Disability Support Services (DSS) supports students in pursuing their educational and career goals by providing access to the educational opportunities, programs, services and activities of the University.

Qualified students with documented disabilities are eligible for services and accommodations through the DSS Office. Disability-related services and accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis through an interactive process that includes input and participation by the student and a review of documentation that address the functional limitations of the disability. The DSS staff will assist in the process of obtaining support services.

Depending on the disability, documentation may need to be updated on a periodic basis. The DSS Office will let a student know if this requirement applies to him/her.

Applying for Services

To ensure receipt of access, students need to provide DSS with appropriate documentation of his/her disability.

After the appropriate documentation has been provided to DSS, the student with a disability needs to make an appointment with the DSS office to discuss the functional impact of his/her disability, services and/or accommodations.

During the session with the student, DSS will provide options, based on the documentation and information gained from the interactive process with the student and information from the professor on the essential elements of the student’s enrolled courses.

In addition, during this session, the student will need to register with DSS and provide his/her current class schedule. Once the student has registered and completed the forms, DSS will prepare Letters of Accommodation for the student; the student will be responsible for picking up or receiving the completed Letters and delivering them to his/her professors.

Note: Accommodations are not retroactive and begin only after the student has delivered his/her Letters of Accommodation to his/her professors.

Documentation

Appropriate sources of documentation for substantiating a student’s disability and need for accommodations are varied. However, for the prescription of appropriate accommodations and services, the documentation should address the following information, as applicable to the specific disability:

  • Use of assistive technology
  • Date of the evaluation
  • Method of evaluation/examination
  • Specific diagnosis
  • Medication – expectations of effects on functioning, and any side effects
  • Listing and discussion of specific functional limitations with respect to the disability’s current impact in academic and academic-related environments as it relates to the accommodations requested

Additional, in the format of a diagnostic report, that is also helpful (listed by disability) includes:


Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Date of the evaluation
  • A history focusing on functional limitations of major life activities resulting from the disorder which may include, but not be limited to the following information:
    • Communication or language skills
    • Social interactions
    • Restricted repetitive and/or stereotypical patterns of behavior and activities
    • Sensory functioning and sensitivity to environmental conditions and motor planning
  • Comprehensive testing results
  •  A  statement of current functional limitations
  •  A specific diagnosis based on the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) by a professionally licensed  psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, or medical doctor

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD/ADD)

  • Date of evaluation
  • Description of current functional limitations pertaining to an educational setting
  • Identification of current DSM criteria, specific diagnosis and interpretive summary
  • Documentation from a Neurologist is preferred.  However, documentation from a licensed psychologist, neuropsychologist, or psychiatrist is also acceptable

Blind or Low Vision

  • Date of the evaluation
  • An ophthalmological or optometric report indicating current visual acuity, near and distant vision (left/right, both eyes) with and  without corrective lenses
  • Documentation a specific diagnosis from a professionally licensed Ophthalmologist or Optometrist

Chronic Medical/Systemic Conditions

  • Current functional limitations imposed by the medical/systemic condition
  • History of the condition and whether or not the symptoms will improve or worsen over time
  • If applicable, a list medications and their possible effects
  • Any other pertinent information that may assist in determining appropriate accommodations
  • Documentation provided by a licensed Physician specializing in the area of the diagnosed condition

Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing

  • Audiological information indicating:
    • Current functional hearing levels
    • Speech reception levels (with or without) hearing aids and/or assistive listening devices
    • A specific diagnosis by a professionally licensed or certified Audiologist or certified Pathologist

Learning Disabilities

  • Date of the evaluation
  • An evaluation report including:
    • A diagnostic interview
    • Background information
    • Behavioral observations
    • A comprehensive cognitive (intellectual) assessment with resulting standardized test scores and related discussion of the scores
    • A complete achievement battery that measures current functioning with resulting standardized test scores and related discussion.
    • A specific diagnosis
  • Documentation based on the DSM from a licensed/certified Psychologist, Educational Diagnostician, Neuropsychologist, or other appropriate related profession specializing in the are of the disability.

Physical/Mobility Impairment

  • Date of the evaluation
  • Current functional limitations (with or without apparatus)
  • A prognosis indicating if the condition is permanent and if it will worsen
  • Documentation of a specific diagnosis provided by a licensed Physician specializing in the area of the diagnosed condition

Psychological Disorders

  • Date of the evaluation
  • A specific diagnosis based on the current DSM
  • A description of current functional limitations in the academic environment as well as across other academic-related settings
  • Relevant information regarding medications and their possible effects
  • Any other pertinent information that may assist in determining the need for appropriate accommodations
  • Documentation provided by a licensed Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Neuropsychologist, Professional Counselor or Social Worker

Traumatic/Acquired Brain Impairment (TBI/ABI)

  • Date of the evaulation
  • Current functional limitations imposed by the impairment
  • If applicable, a list of medications and their possible effects
  • A prognosis indicating if the condition will improve or worsen
  • Any other pertinent information that may assist in determining the need for appropriate accommodations  
  • Documentation provided by a Neurologist, Neuropsychologist or other related Physician

Note: For other disabilities or chronic medical/systemic disorders not listed above, please contact Disability Support Services.

Service Animals

Service Animals assist people with disabilities in the activities of independent living.  St. Mary’s University follows the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended, in defining a Service Animal as:

“…any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability…” 28 C.F.R. § 35.104 and 28 C.F.R. § 36.104.

*Miniature Horses are the exception to a Service Animal being a dog.

Representative examples of work/tasks performed by Service Animals include, but are not limited to:

  • Assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks
  • Alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds
  • Pulling a wheelchair
  • Assisting before, during, and after a seizure
  • Alerting individuals to the presence of allergens
  • Retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone
  • Opening and closing doors.

Note: Animals that serve to provide a crime deterrent effect, or emotional support, comfort, or companionship are not considered services animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended (ADAAA, 2009).

If there are any questions as to whether an animal qualifies as a service animal, a determination will be made by Disability Support Services.

Eligibility

The individual with the ADA Service Animal may be asked about the service animal if the service or task the animal provides is not obvious.

The Director of Disability Support Services recommends students with disabilities register with the DSS and discuss all reasonable available accommodations.  Registration is not required for ADA Service animals.

Students with a service animal contacting the DSS office may receive a blue St. Mary’s University tag with the student’s ID number engraved.  This information will identify the dog as a service animal to staff and professors. This is a voluntary service for students.

Requirements of Service Animals and Their Partners/Handlers

  • Under Control of Partner/Handler: The partner/handler must be in full control of the service animal at all times. Typically, the service animal should be on a leash.
  • Care and Supervision: The care and supervision of a service animal is the sole responsibility of its partner/handler.

Conditions for Keeping a Service Animal

  • According to federal and state law, the animal may be excluded from campus, when:
    • the animal’s behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others.
    • the animal is disruptive or out of control.
    • the student owner does not take effective action to control the animal.
    • the animal is not housebroken.
    • the behavior of the animal fundamentally changes the nature of the programs, services, or facilities.
    • the animal causes any physical damage to property.
    • the animal interferes with enjoyment of the facilities by others.

    The student must follow state and local requirements. Bexar County requires the following:

    • Leash control requirement: All animals on the campus must be restrained by a leash and under the control of the owner at all times.
    • Vaccination requirements of rabies and DHPPC. All animals on campus must have all inoculations in accordance with Bexar County regulations. The animal is required to wear a vaccination tag. The university requires documentation.
    • Register pet with the City: All animals must be licensed and registered with the city of San Antonio. The university requires documentation.
    • Cleanup rules: The student owner is responsible for prompt pick up of feces deposited by the animal and disposal in appropriate waste containers.
    • Health, hygiene, and cleanliness of the animal is required. The animal must be deemed healthy. The animal’s odor is required to be kept unoffensive. Bathing is required.  Flea control is required. Flea problems are to be dealt with immediately and in an effective manner.

    If an animal is excluded from campus due to behavior, the student will be notified and given information of the behavior that needs to be corrected in order to return to campus.

Procedures

Disabled students requesting to live on campus with a service animal are required to contact the Residence Life office and provide information in advance of the desired service date.  The student is to schedule a meeting to discuss the request with the Director of Disability Support Services to verify the student’s request meets the criteria for the Service Animal as allowed by Fair Housing Act Amended, FHAA. Additional information may be requested as needed or if the disability is not apparent.

 

 

Assistance Animals/Emotional Support Animals

Assistance Animals/Emotional Support Animals (ESAs), as defined by the Fair Housing Act, provide support, assistance, or service that includes emotional support.

An Emotional Support Animal/Assistance Animal is prescribed by a professional in the area of the individual’s disability to provide needed emotional support.  The ESA may be an animal other than a dog.  The ESA may accompany individuals in the area in which they live and are recognized by the Fair Housing Act Amended.  An ESA provides a service without being taught a specific task.

An Emotional Support Animal/Assistance Animals is not recognized or protected under the ADA as a Service Animal.  Therefore, the ESA/Assistance Animal has different criteria for establishing services and where the animal may be on campus. The ESA/Assistance Animal may be on campus, under the Fair Housing Act, in the residential designated areas of campus.  The FHAA acknowledges ESAs as service animals.

Eligibility

The individual with the ESA/Assistance Animal must have a documented disability as defined in the Fair Housing Act or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. In addition, the animal must be needed to assist with the disability, and there must be a relationship between the disability and the assistance the animal provides.

In order to qualify for an ESA/Assistance Animal under the Fair Housing Act Amended disability exception, the student must show:

The student has a disability, defined as:

  • A physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activity,
  • a documented history of having such an impairment, or
  • being regarded as having such an impairment; but such term does not include current, illegal use of or addiction to a controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substance Act (21 U.S.C. 802). (FHA Sec. 802 (h) Definitions).

The documentation must indicate that the animal is necessary to afford the person with the disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling and there is an identifiable relationship or nexus between the disability and the assistance the animal provides.

  • Documentation must be from a physician, psychiatrist or other licensed mental health professional that the animal provides support that alleviates at least one of the student’s recognized and identifiable symptoms.

St. Mary’s University offers students with service animals to voluntarily register with the Director of Disability Support Services and received a blue tag with the student’s SID# on the tag.  This will identify this animal on campus as a service animal. This is a voluntary service offered.

Requirements of Assistance Animals and Their Partners/Handlers

Under Control of Partner/Handler: The partner/handler must be in control of the service animal at all times. Typically, the service animal should be on a leash.

Care and Supervision: The care and supervision of a service animal is the sole responsibility of its partner/handler.

ESA/Assistance Animals only have access to housing and indoor and outdoor public and common use areas associated with housing; ESA/Assistance Animals are not allowed in the University Center, athletic facilities or in any other University building/facility other than the residence halls.

Conditions for Keeping an Assistance Animal

  • According to federal and state law, the animal may be excluded from campus, when:
    • the animal’s behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others.
    • the animal is disruptive or out of control.
    • the student owner does not take effective action to control the animal.
    • the animal is not housebroken.
    • the behavior of the animal fundamentally changes the nature of the programs.  services, or facilities.
    • the animal causes any physical damage to property.
    • the animal interferes with enjoyment of the facilities by others.

    The student must follow state and local requirements.  Bexar County requires the following:

    • Leash control requirement: All animals on the campus must be restrained by a leash and under the control of the owner at all times.
    • Vaccination requirements of rabies and DHPPC. All animals on campus must have all inoculations in accordance with Bexar County regulations. The animal is required to wear a vaccination tag. The university requires documentation.
    • Register pet with the City: All animals must be licensed and registered with the city of San Antonio. The university requires documentation.
    • Cleanup rules: The student owner is responsible for prompt pick up of feces deposited by the animal and disposal in appropriate waste containers.
    • Health, hygiene, and cleanliness of the animal is required. The animal must be deemed healthy. The animal’s odor is required to be kept unoffensive. Bathing is required.  Flea control is required. Flea problems are to be dealt with immediately and in an effective manner.

    If an animal is excluded from campus due to behavior, the student will be notified and given information of the behavior that needs to be corrected in order to return to campus.

    Disabled students requesting to live on campus with a service animal are required to contact the Residence Life office and provide information in advance of the desired service date. The student is to schedule a meeting to discuss the request with the Director of Disability Support Services to verify the student’s request meets the criteria for the Service Animal as allowed by Fair Housing Act Amended, FHAA. Additional information may be requested as needed, and if the disability is not apparent.

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