Educational Access for Students with Disabilities

Rights and Responsibilities To Assure Educational Access for Students with Disabilities

Educational access is the provision of classroom accommodations, auxiliary aids and services to ensure equal educational opportunities for all students regardless of disability. Creating equal educational opportunities is a collaborative effort between the student, the faculty member, and the Office of Accessibility & Accommodations (OAA).

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act of 2008 protect students with disabilities from discrimination that may occur as a result of misconceptions, attitudinal barriers, and/or failure of the institution to provide appropriate accommodations, auxiliary aids, or services. Examples of accommodations and auxiliary aids include, but are not limited to: qualified interpreters, note takers, extra time for exams, and educational materials in alternate format (i.e. Braille, audiotape, electronic format, enlarged print, etc.).

Who Benefits?

  • Students with Disabilities— A disability includes any physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity.
  • All Faculty and Teaching Associates— Instructors are assisted in their responsibility to teach all students in their classes and to provide equal access to education.
  • The Office of Accessibility & Accommodations—The office provides a system for service coordination to better meet student needs.
  • Pacific University— By providing educational access for all students, the university meets its mandated responsibilities and enhances campus diversity.

Principles of ACCESS

A - Accessibility: Faculty members play a major role in making their classrooms accessible to all students.

C - Communication: It is imperative that students with disabilities, faculty members, and OAA communicate on a regular basis.

C - Confidentiality: All instructors and OAA staff must respect a student's right to confidentiality.

E - Eligibility for Accommodations: OAA is the office designated to determine eligibility for federally mandated academic accommodations and services.

S - Student Responsibility: Students have a responsibility to ensure they get the necessary services.

S - Support: Both faculty and OAA work together to support students in their legal right to access an education.

Definition of Terms:

Alternative media— Print material that has been converted to a format that enables a print impaired person to read the materials. This includes but is not limited to: Braille, electronic text, and enlarged print.

Auxiliary aids— Services, equipment, and procedures that allow students with disabilities access to learning and activities in and out of the classroom. They include, but are not limited to: sign language interpreters, real time captioning services, adaptive technology, alternative media, exam accommodations, etc.

Exam accommodations— Legally mandated services that allow students with disabilities to exhibit their knowledge on exams by using auxiliary aids which include but are not limited to: extra time, a reader/scribe, computers, large print, distraction reduced environment, etc.

Universal design— An approach to designing course instruction, materials, and content to benefit people of all learning styles without adaptation or retrofitting. Universal design provides equal access to learning, not simply equal access to information. Universal design allows the student to control the method of accessing information while the teacher monitors the learning process and initiates any beneficial methods.

This document is cited from The Ohio State University Partnership Grant, Improving the Quality of Education for Students with Disabilities