2.8 Students with Disabilities

2.8.1
Eligibility for Accommodations & Required Disability Documentation

This policy is intended to specify the disability documentation required that will qualify Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) students for reasonable and appropriate academic adjustments through each college’s Disability Resources and Services (DRS) office.

Only accommodations granted by the respective college DRS office and communicated to faculty through a Faculty Notification Letter (FNL) will be recognized by the District as approved accommodations for students with disabilities.

Faculty are not required to provide reasonable accommodations/academic adjustments to students with disabilities unless the student has registered with DRS and engages in the interactive process.

 I.  General Eligibility Requirements

  1. To receive services from the DRS, a student must be admitted and enrolled as an MCCCD student.
     
  2. The student must provide the DRS office with documentation of a qualifying disability that verifies the nature and extent of the disability prior to receiving any accommodation or academic adjustment.
     
    1. If a student does not have documentation, they are still required to follow the application and intake process, which includes meeting with a DRS representative and participating in the interactive process.
       
    2. Provisional accommodations may be granted to a student by DRS to assist students while they collect appropriate documentation to support their eligibility for accommodations/academic adjustments. Such provisional accommodations must not exceed thirty (30) days, unless such extensions are granted due to extenuating circumstances. In these cases, an additional thirty (30) days of provisional accommodations may be granted. Any extension request beyond the additional thirty (30) days must be reviewed by the District ADA/504 Coordinator. Such extension must be based on extenuating circumstances beyond the control of the requesting student, and is not guaranteed.

II.  Who is Eligible for Services

  1. To be eligible for DRS support services, a student must have a disability as defined by federal law (Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA).
     
  2. An individual with a disability is a person who has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities. These persons are protected by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Individuals with a record of such an impairment and individuals who are regarded as having such an impairment are also protected by these federal laws.
     
  3. The definition of “disability” in Section 504 and the ADA should be interpreted to allow for broad coverage.

 III.  Definitions

  1. Academic Adjustment means: a modification of a non-essential academic requirement, an examination, or an institutional rule that is necessary to provide access to the academic and educational environment. Academic adjustments may include changes in the length of time permitted for completion of degree requirements, substitution of specific courses required for the completion of degree requirements, and adaption of the manner in which specific courses are conducted. Academic adjustments may not substantially or materially alter the course modality, curriculum, competencies or degree requirements.
     
  2. Accommodation means: an alteration of environment, curriculum format, or equipment that allows a student with a disability to gain access to content and/or complete assigned tasks. Accommodations allow students with disabilities to pursue a regular course of study. Since accommodations do not alter what is being taught, instructors should be able to implement the same grading scale for students with disabilities as they do for students without disabilities.

    Examples of accommodations include, but are not limited to, sign language interpreters for students who are hearing impaired, computer text-to-speech, computer-based systems for students with visual impairments or dyslexia; extended time for students with fine motor limitations, visual impairments, or learning disabilities, and large-print books and worksheets for students with visual impairments.
     
  3. Current Documentation means: documentation of a diagnosed physical or mental impairment that is dated within 5-7 years. Adult norms must be used for all testing provided as documentation.
     
  4. Major Life Activities include, but are not limited to: functions such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating and working. Major life activities also include major bodily functions such as functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, and digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive function.
     
  5. Mental Impairment means: any mental or psychological disorder, including but not limited to, intellectual disabilities (intellectual developmental disorder), organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, specific learning disabilities, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and bipolar disorder. The phrase substantially limits must be interpreted without regard to the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures, other than ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses. Mitigating measures are things like medications, prosthetic devices, assistive devices, or learned behavioral or adaptive neurological modifications that an individual may use to eliminate or reduce the effects of an impairment. These measures cannot be considered when determining whether a person has a substantially limiting impairment. An impairment that is episodic or in remission is a disability if, when in an active phase, it would substantially limit a major life activity. For example, a student with bipolar disorder would be covered if, during manic or depressive episodes, the student is substantially limited in a major life activity (e.g., thinking, concentrating, neurological function, or brain function).
     
  6. Physical Impairment means: a physiological disorder or condition, a cosmetic disfigurement, or an anatomical loss, that affects one or more of the following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs (which would include speech organs that are not respiratory such as vocal cords, soft palate, tongue, etc.); respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; genitourinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine. Examples include, but are not limited to, orthopedic, visual, speech, and hearing impairments, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, Diabetes, HIV (symptomatic or asymptomatic), tuberculosis, drug addiction, and alcoholism.

IV.  Procedures

  1. General Procedures
    1. The DRS office alone is responsible for evaluating documentation and determining eligibility and reasonable academic adjustments/accommodations.
       
    2. Any instructor, academic staff member, or support staff (i.e., admissions of financial aid employees) who receives a request from a student for accommodations/academic adjustments due to a disability must refer the student to the college’s DRS office.
       
    3. All requests for academic adjustments/accommodations shall be considered on an individual, case-by-case basis and all reasonable and appropriate requests for academic adjustments/accommodations from eligible students shall be considered by DRS. DRS may exercise its right to require additional documentation in support of a request for academic adjustment/accommodation.
       
    4. Academic adjustments/accommodations are determined by the DRS Office through an interactive exchange (the interactive process) with the eligible student. The interactive  exchange may continue during the course of the year and may involve faculty members’ input regarding the terms and conditions of the course or program of study. Accommodations/  academic adjustments in the classroom environment shall require participation of course faculty.
       
    5. MCCCD is not required to provide “best” or “most desired” accommodations, but rather a reasonable accommodation sufficient to provide the eligible student equal access to the educational environment/activities. 
       
  2. Material Alteration of class or certification requirement
     
    1. If a faculty member believes the DRS approved academic adjustment/ accommodation would alter an essential academic course competencies, curriculum, or a licensing requirement, the instructor shall meet with the DRS office as part of the interactive process. Since the faculty member will have been part of the discussion regarding requested accommodations/academic adjustments involving a course or course curriculum, issues of material alteration should have already been addressed . In the event such was not addressed, a conversation with DRS should take place within five (5) days of the faculty member’s receipt of the Faculty Notification Letter outlining the approved academic adjustment/accommodation. The Parties will attempt to resolve the concern.
       
    2. If the faculty member’s concerns are not resolved after the meeting with the DRS Manager, the faculty member and the DRS Manager will meet with the Chief Academic Officer, or designee, and the District ADA/504 Coordinator to resolve the concern. This meeting should take place within three (3) days of the meeting between the DRS Manager and the faculty member. The Chief Academic Officer’s decision is final.
       
    3. Any change in the DRS Office’s initial recommendation resulting from the meeting with the Chief Academic Officer will be communicated to the student by the DRS Office and the interactive process will continue in an effort to provide reasonable and appropriate academic adjustments/accommodations.

V.  Rights and Responsibilities

  1. Students served by Disability Resources and Services have the right:
    1. to an equal opportunity to access course information and materials
       
    2. to an equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from the college community
       
    3. to choose whether or not to disclose the nature of their disability to their professor(s). The information the student provides to DRS is protected by FERPA.
       
    4. to file a grievance if the student believes they have been discriminated against.
       
  2.  Students served by Disability Resources and Services Responsibilities:
    1. Self-identify to DRS as having a disability and provide accurate, recent, and  timely documentation.
       
    2. Check MCCCD email and/or DRS Connect portal for updates and announcements.
       
    3. Request accommodations each semester in a timely manner and understand that a late request does not constitute retroactive adjustments.
       
    4. Notify DRS if classes are dropped or added.
       
    5. Ensure that instructors have received the Faculty Notification Letter once it has been issued through DRS Connect.
       
    6. Communicate directly with DRS regarding exam accommodations, such as taking exams in the testing center, and stay in communication about the time and place for such exams.
       
    7. Contact DRS in a timely manner if having any difficulty securing or arranging  accommodations.
       
    8. Promptly return any borrowed or assigned equipment (as an accommodation) to DRS when it is no longer needed.
       
    9. If approved for note taking or audio recording services, understand that these services are for personal use only and may not be shared. In addition, the student must understand that you must be present in class to receive these  services.
       
    10. Understand that requesting accommodations does not mean that the student’s request will be approved.
       
    11. Meet the same standards—academic, technical, performance, and  behavioral—expected of all Maricopa County Community College students.
       
    12. Accommodations may be granted on a provisional basis (30 days). This may be based on the need for additional documentation. In these cases, the student will need to update their documentation to receive accommodations beyond the 30 days. The student must understand that approval will be based on a review of the new documentation and there is no guarantee that the provisional (or any) accommodations will be approved.
       
    13. Understand that faculty are not required to provide any accommodation that fundamentally alters the nature of their course or lowers the academic standards.

VI.  Grievance Procedure

  1. If a student is not satisfied with either the academic adjustments/ accommodations granted by the DRS office or the denial of academic adjustments/accommodations, the student may file a complaint under the Discrimination Complaint Procedures for Students
     
  2. The determination generated from the Discrimination Complaint Procedure is final.

VII.  General Disability Documentation Guidelines

Physical Disabilities

Maricopa County Community College District, Disability Resources and Services will accept current diagnoses of physical disabilities that are based on appropriate diagnostic evaluations administered by trained and qualified (i.e., certified and/or licensed) professionals (e.g., medical doctors, ophthalmologists, psychologists, neuropsychologists, audiologists).

Learning Disabilities

Maricopa County Community College District, Disability Resources and Services will accept diagnoses of specific learning disabilities that are based on comprehensive, age-appropriate, psychoeducational evaluations that demonstrate current functional limitations of the disability.

The assessment must be administered by a trained and qualified (i.e., certified and/or licensed) professional (e.g., psychologist, school psychologist, neuropsychologist, educational diagnostician) who has had direct experience with adolescents and adults with learning disabilities, including all battery scores in addition to evaluative notes.

 Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)/Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

Maricopa County Community College District, Disability Resources and Services will accept current diagnoses of ADHD that are based on age-appropriate, diagnostic evaluations, administered by trained and qualified (i.e., certified or licensed) professionals (e.g., psychiatrists, psychologists, or neuropsychologists). Submitted documentation must demonstrate current functional limitations of the disability.

Psychiatric Disabilities

Maricopa County Community College District, Disability Resources and Services will accept current diagnoses of psychiatric disabilities that are based on comprehensive and appropriate diagnostic evaluations completed by trained and qualified (i.e., licensed or certified) professionals (e.g., psychologists, psychiatrists, neuropsychologists, school psychologists).

Submitted documentation must demonstrate current functional limitations of the disability.

VIII.  Additional Documentation Guidelines and Resources

The Maricopa County Community College District, Disability Resources and Services can provide a “Disability Verification Form” that can be completed by a trained and qualified professional, or the professional may choose to submit a letter. The letter must be on letterhead, with date and signature (including license number, if applicable), and must include the following:

  1. a diagnostic statement identifying the disability (including the date of the diagnosis)
     
  2. current severity/impact of the disability (mild/moderate/severe)
     
  3. an assessment of major life activities that are impacted by the disability (e.g., learning, concentration, class attendance, social interactions, reading, walking, etc.) and
     
  4. specific recommendations for accommodations.  The DRS office alone is responsible for evaluating documentation and determining eligibility and reasonable academic adjustments/accommodations.

AMENDED, November 15, 2021 (Office of Public Stewardship housekeeping update)
AMENDED through
the Administrative Regulation Process, June 24, 2021
AMENDED through Direct Approval by the Chancellor, January 4, 2017 
AMENDED through Direct Approval by the Chancellor, April 1, 2013
AMENDED through the Administrative Regulation Process, March 13, 2012
AMENDED through the Administrative Regulation approval process, February 24, 2004
ADOPTED through the Administrative Regulation approval process, April 14, 2003

2.8.2
Eligibility of Students Taking Reduced Course Loads

Although any student may register for fewer than twelve credit hours, a student with a disability may request a reduced academic load as a reasonable and appropriate accommodation. A college Disability Resource Services (DRS) professional may certify that a student who is afforded a reduced academic load as an accommodation for a disability shall nevertheless be deemed a full-time student. Such certification shall be solely to enable the student to seek eligibility for health insurance benefits and to seek eligibility to comply with mandates of the National Junior College Athletic Association. The college DRS professional will certify that a student may be deemed a full-time student as provided under this regulation only on a semester-by-semester basis.

The appropriate college offices will receive documentation of the DRS professional’s certification from the professional or the student. An incoming student may apply for such certification upon acceptance to the college. Requests for certification must be made prior to the beginning of each semester. Every attempt will be made to accommodate these requests.

The following criteria also apply:

  1. Students taking a reduced course load must register for at least 6 credit hours (based on DRS approval) during the regular fall and spring semesters. It is recommended that students register for at least three (3) credit hours during the summer to offset the impact of academic eligibility.
  2. Students taking a reduced course load must maintain satisfactory academic progress standards as defined by the College catalog.
  3. The reduced credit load may result in an adjusted financial aid package. There may be additional ramifications including, but not limited to, extra time to complete college, insurance coverage, Vocational Rehabilitation funding, etc.
  4. Eligibility for Federal Stafford Loans may be reduced according to the total number of credit hours taken in the full academic year. A student, taking a reduced course load, must be at least half time in a semester (6 credits) in order to receive a Stafford Loan.
  5. The amount of Federal Financial Aid (Title IV) awarded is based on the actual number of cerdit hours taken.
  6. Requirements for continuation of funding through Vocational Rehabilitation may differ. The student must contact his/her VR counselor to determine how a reduced course load will impact their funding.
  7. The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) has published standards in regard to the designation of Certified Disabled Student-Athlete in Article V Section J of the NJCAA bylaws. This procedure addresses the NJCAA criteria for reduced course loads.

Application Process

  1. Applications for reduced course loads must be submitted to the Disability & Services professional with supporting documentation. Requests must be made prior to the beginning of each semester.
  2. Supporting documentation must include a diagnostic evaluation from an appropriate professional. The documentation must meet the guidelines set forth by the Maricopa Community College District’s Documentation Policy in order to evaluate the current impact of the disability in regards to the request. Students are required to complete an application form for this status every semester, but do not need to re-submit their documentation. Continuation of this status is not automatic. Each case will be re-evaluated at the end of the semester to determine if this accommodation is still appropriate.
  3. Students requesting a reduced course load should consult with their academic advisor regarding the consequences of this status for making progress toward graduation requirements and eligibility for various academic distinctions and designations.
  4. Students registered in occupational and/or academic programs that have specific block formats will not be considered for reduced course loads.
  5. Students who are approved for a reduced course load will be required to sign the Reduced Course Load Approval Form (see Appendix S-10), which includes a statement acknowledging that he or she has reviewed the consequences that go with reduced load status and accepts them.
  6. When a reduced course load status is granted by the Disability Resources & Services professional, a copy of the Reduced Course Load Approval Form will be sent to the appropriate individuals.

AMENDED through the Administrative Regulation Process, March 13, 2012
AMENDED through the Administrative Regulation approval process on August 18, 2008
AMENDED through the Administrative Regulation approval process on November 16, 2007
ADOPTED through the Administrative Regulation approval process on April 26, 2006

2.8.3
Technology Accessibility

The Maricopa Community College District is committed to ensuring equal access to information, programs, services and activities through its technologies, Web pages, and resources both in the academic and work environments. This regulation establishes that Electronic and Information Technology (EIT) that are used to conduct the business of the Maricopa Community Colleges shall adhere to established accessibility standards and guidelines.

ADOPTED by Direct Chancellor Approval, April 1, 2015