Policy on Student and Applicant Accommodations

Title

Policy on Student and Applicant Accommodations

Introduction

Students with disabilities are an essential part of the campus community and contribute significantly to The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ("the University" or "UNC-Chapel Hill") through their talents, abilities, and skills. The University is therefore committed to assuring that students with disabilities can fully participate in University life and that its programs, activities, and services are accessible consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") of 1991, as amended by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The University facilitates accessibility by providing reasonable and appropriate accommodations and services to students and applicants for admission who have a documented disability.

The University's Accessibility Resources & Service ("ARS") is the office on campus that is responsible for addressing the needs of students and applicants with disabilities. This Policy describes the process for registering a disability with ARS and for requesting accommodations and services.

Because ARS exclusively addresses the disability needs of students and applicants for admission to an academic program, ARS is unable to assist faculty members, staff members, and postdoctoral scholars. Employees with questions about disability accommodations should contact the University's Equal Opportunity and Compliance ("EOC") Office by email at eoc@unc.edu or by calling 919-966-3576 (711 NC Relay).

Students and applicants who have questions regarding the process for requesting accommodations or about the documentation necessary to support their requests are encouraged to contact ARS by email at accessibility@unc.edu or by calling 919-962-8300 (711 NC Relay).

Registration and Documentation

In order to receive disability accommodations, students and applicants must timely register with ARS. Accommodations and modifications received in high school or at another post-secondary institution will not automatically transfer to UNC-Chapel Hill. Instead, it is necessary for students and applicants for admission to register with the University by submitting the following documentation:

  • Self-Identification Form, which must be completed personally by the student or applicant and is available online at Connect with ARS;
  • Current documentation prepared by a medical professional or health care provider that describes the student's or applicant's diagnosis, the functional limitations this diagnosis causes, and the accommodations or services necessary to address the diagnosis; and
  • Historical documentation, if applicable, regarding accommodations the student or applicant has previously received to address the disability, including but not limited to an Individualized Education Plan ("IEP"), a Summary of Performance ("SOP") or a 504 Plan.

Following receipt of this information, ARS may request the opportunity to speak personally with the student or applicant to obtain additional information or may recommend that the student or applicant submit further documentation or information to support the accommodations request.

Students may use the Self-Identification Form and submit documentation at any time to initiate the registration process and to request accommodations, but accommodations cannot be provided retroactively. For example, ARS generally cannot provide accommodations for an examination if a student requests accommodations only after the student takes the examination (e.g., via a determination of grade change or other retroactive change). In order for ARS to consider requests for reasonable accommodations, students must submit the documentation discussed within this section of the Policy to ARS at least 14 calendar days prior to the start of the course or the exam for which the student seeks accommodations. Similarly, applicants must submit the documentation discussed within this section of the Policy to ARS at least 14 calendar days prior to submitting an application for admission to an academic program at the University. The determination regarding applicant accommodations will be made separately from the admissions determination.

Documentation must clearly articulate how the student's or applicant's disability or chronic medical condition substantially limits one or more major life activity and how the accommodations requested will help mitigate this effect. ARS utilizes flexibility and discretion in determining how recent documentation must be, especially for conditions that are permanent or non-varying. Changing conditions or changes in how a condition affects the individual may warrant more frequent updates. Documentation from the student's or applicant's current or most recent level of education (e.g., undergraduate, graduate, secondary) is most helpful. Older documentation may be acceptable for conditions that are stable over time or where the documentation contains a sufficient description of the student's or applicant's limitations and mitigating effects of accommodations.

Please also note that ARS will not interpret a diagnosis or infer the current impact or functional limitations described in documentation. Because they typically include only information about a student's or applicant's prior accommodations rather than specific information about the student's limitations, the following materials, standing alone without explicit reference to the effect of a diagnosis upon current functioning, are generally insufficient for determining a student's or applicant's eligibility for disability accommodations:

  • Medical records, medical chart notes, or prescription pad notations.
  • High school IEPs, SOPs, or 504 Plans.
  • Disability-related documents prepared for other agencies (e.g., Social Security Administration documentation, Department of Veterans Affairs records).

Adequate and sufficient documentation generally includes a psychological/psycho-educational evaluation or a letter from a medical/mental health provider which addresses the areas described below.

  1. Qualifications of Provider. Documentation must be provided on the clinician's office or practice letterhead and must be dated and signed by a professional who is licensed or certified in the area for which the diagnosis is made. The letter must include the provider's name, title, and license/certification credentials. The provider may not be a member of the student's or applicant's family or otherwise have a close personal relationship to the student or applicant.
  2. Diagnosis and History. Documentation must include a diagnostic statement identifying the disability and ideally the ICD or DSM classification along with any relevant personal, psychosocial, medical, developmental, and educational history.
  3. Description of Diagnostic Methodology. Documentation must include a full description of the diagnostic methodology used, including data and measurements from appropriate evaluation instruments. The results obtained should draw a direct link from the diagnosis to the functional limitations of the disability. For cognitive disorders, evaluations should use adult norms.
  4. Current Impact and Functional Limitations. Documentation must include a clear description of the current impact and functional limitations of the condition pertaining to the academic, workplace, or residential settings. The provider should describe whether symptoms are constant or episodic, as well as the frequency and/or duration of those symptoms. The provider should also specify any treatments, medications, services, or assistive technology that has been prescribed or that is in use and also describe their mediating effects and potential side effects.
  5. Recommendations. Documentation may include the provider's accommodation recommendations, which if given should be directly linked to the impact or functional limitations associated with the disability or to medications or treatments prescribed to control symptoms. Please note that ARS welcomes and considers accommodation recommendations from medical professionals but that ARS will make the ultimate determination regarding reasonable and appropriate accommodations.

Review and Decision Process

Upon receiving a student's or applicant's request for accommodations, ARS will determine whether the student or applicant is eligible to receive such an accommodation based upon the documentation timely submitted to ARS, as described in section II., above.

If ARS determines that the student or applicant is eligible to receive an accommodation, ARS will engage the student or applicant and the relevant University officials (e.g., course instructors, admissions staff) in a detailed discussion to determine whether the accommodation is reasonable based on the documentation provided or whether the accommodation would constitute a fundamental alteration of the academic program or admissions process. Should ARS find that the particular accommodations requested by the student or applicant would constitute a fundamental alteration, ARS will facilitate a meaningful and informed process with respect to the provision of accommodations (i.e., through an interactive and collaborative process between the University and the student or applicant) which will be completed in a timely manner. Specifically, ARS will clearly communicate the reasons for its decision to the student or applicant and provide the student or applicant with a reasonable opportunity to respond and provide additional documentation that would address the concerns identified. If ARS continues to believe the requested accommodation is a fundamental alteration, ARS will engage the student or applicant in an interactive and collaborative process to determine if alternate accommodations are appropriate.

ARS determines accommodations on a case-by-case basis following a careful and thorough review of the information and documentation submitted by the student or applicant. This review is conducted by ARS's Accommodations and Modifications Committee, a multi-disciplinary team of University officials with expertise in relevant areas (e.g., medical professionals, mental health professionals) who are specially trained to assess disability-related information and documentation and to consider appropriate and reasonable accommodations to assure accessibility.

Please be advised that ARS provides reasonable accommodations that are intended to promote equal access to University programs, services, and activities. These accommodations are not instituted for the purpose of guaranteeing academic success.

ARS will not provide accommodations that fundamentally alter academic or admissions standards or that fundamentally alter requirements essential to an academic program, activity, technical standard, or professional or licensing requirement. ARS will also not provide accommodations that would result in undue hardship based upon the nature, cost, or effect of the accommodation or that would jeopardize the health or safety of others. Finally, ARS does not provide personal aids or devices or specialized transportation as reasonable accommodations for a disability.

Once ARS has determined appropriate and reasonable accommodations for a student, the student may then access the ARS web portal and send notices to the student's instructors regarding the accommodations the student has been granted. For applicants, appropriate and reasonable accommodations are directly communicated by ARS to the relevant admissions staff members describing the accommodations that have been approved by ARS.

Information for Current Students

ARS can assist with accommodations and services that assure equal access to academic programs, residence halls, University facilities, and co- and extra-curricular activities.

Graduate and professional students with disabilities may face new and challenging experiences they have not previously encountered during their undergraduate career, such as:

  • Licensure or certification requirements;
  • Technical or occupational standards;
  • Clinical, shelf, or comprehensive exams;
  • Placement, clinical, practicum, internship, externship, or rotation experiences; or
  • Research requiring extensive written work product (e.g., thesis, dissertation) which, additionally, must be defended before an academic panel.

These unique requirements and academic components may necessitate an evaluation of whether the student's existing accommodations are sufficient to assist the student. Students can initiate this evaluation by completing the Self-Identification Form available online at Connect with ARS.

Information for Applicants for Admissions

Applicants to an academic program may voluntarily disclose information in their application materials about a disability or medical condition that has affected their prior academic performance, but they are never required to do so. Providing this information in admissions application materials is not sufficient to register a disability with the University or to request accommodations. Instead, applicants must specifically register with ARS as discussed above.

Additionally, admissions staff members will not forward information or documentation about an applicant's disability to ARS. Consequently, applicants must separately submit any relevant information or documentation about a disability directly to ARS.

Please be advised that ARS does not have the ability to waive or adjust programmatic admissions requirements, including mandatory admissions testing (e.g., the Scholastic Aptitude Test ("SAT"), the American College Testing ("ACT") exam, the Graduate Record Examinations ("GRE"), the Graduate Management Admission Test ("GMAT")). If, however, a student has identified with ARS, ARS can, at the student's request, assist by providing documentation to the particular testing organization to support a student's request for accommodations. Please note that the requisite standards specific testing organizations apply to determine reasonable accommodations may differ from the standards upon which ARS relies.

ARS is also available to assist applicants with eligible disabilities with requests for accommodations during admissions interview processes (e.g., Multiple Mini Interviews ("MMI")).

Appeals

Students or applicants who wish to appeal a determination by ARS that the individual is not eligible for disability accommodations or that a requested accommodation(s) cannot be provided have several options for appeal. Information regarding these review processes is described in the ARS Policy on Accommodations Appeals.

Related University Policies

Contact ARS

Accessibility Resources & Service
Student and Academic Services Bldg North (SASB), Suite 2126
CB# 7214

450 Ridge Road
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7214

Telephone: 919-962-8300
Fax: 919-843-5609
TTY: 711 (NC-RELAY)

Email: ars@unc.edu

Website: https://ars.unc.edu/

Details

Article ID: 132436
Created
Thu 4/8/21 9:31 PM
Modified
Thu 6/3/21 10:04 PM
Effective Date
If the date on which this document became/becomes enforceable differs from the Origination or Last Revision, this attribute reflects the date on which it is/was enforcable.
07/28/2016 12:00 AM
Issuing Officer
Name of the document Issuing Officer. This is the individual whose organizational authority covers the policy scope and who is primarily responsible for the policy.
Issuing Officer Title
Title of the person who is primarily responsible for issuing this policy.
Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
Last Review
Date on which the most recent document review was completed.
07/28/2016 12:00 AM
Last Revised
Date on which the most recent changes to this document were approved.
07/28/2016 12:00 AM
Origination
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
07/28/2016 12:00 AM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
Accessibility Resources & Service