Services for students with disabilities at Penn State Abington
At every Penn State location, there is a Student Disability Resources (SDR) office designated to provide reasonable accommodations and services to students with disabilities. Each office
- requests and maintains disability related documents
- certifies eligibility for services
- determines and develops plans for reasonable accommodations such as academic adjustments, auxiliary aids, and/or services
In order for a student's disorder or impairment to be considered a disability, the student must demonstrate through documentation that the disorder/impairment meets the definition of a disability under Title II of the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) of 2008 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. A disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
A clinical diagnosis is not synonymous with a disability. That is, evidence sufficient to render a clinical diagnosis might not be adequate to determine that an individual is substantially limited in a major life activity. The documentation must include the student's specific current functional impairment(s) and describe how the disorder/impairment substantially limits one or more major life activities in order for Penn State to fully evaluate the necessity for academic adjustments, auxiliary aids, and/or auxiliary services.
Prospective Student Information
A prospective student is defined as one who is:
- Entering Penn State as a freshman.
- Transferring from other colleges or universities.
- Currently enrolled in courses, but not receiving academic adjustments, auxiliary aids and/or services.
ADA law requires students contact SDR directly if they wish to self-identify as having a disability and to request accommodations. At the college level, every interaction with the SDR office should be student led. Since accommodations are provided for students, the process for requesting and providing academic accommodations requires the active participation of the student. Open communication between SDR and the student directly is imperative in order to assess the needs and wishes of the student who is requesting the accommodations. Furthermore, the Office for Civil Rights has ruled that students must initiate the process, be active participants in the accommodation process and have direct interaction/contact with the SDR coordinator.
In order to qualify for reasonable accommodations, the student must demonstrate through documentation that the disorder/impairment meets the definition of a disability under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act ( ADAAA) of 2008 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. A disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
Students interested in obtaining services at Penn State for a disability should begin the process described below as soon as possible. Due to the number of students we serve, we strongly suggest contacting us early in the semester prior to the semester you wish to receive accommodations. If additional information is needed at any time during the process, the procedure of reviewing documentation can be delayed, which may also delay the delivery of academic adjustments, auxiliary aids, and/or services.
Steps to Request Accommodations
- Students seeking services for a disability must self-disclose the need for services to Student Disability Resources (SDR) at Penn State Abington.
- Submit all required documents:
a. Diagnostic documentation from a licensed medical professional who is currently treating the student (e.g., medical doctor, therapist, counselor, psychiatrist, psychologist, etc.). It is the responsibility of the student to obtain documentation and present a copy to SDR for review. The documentation must meet Penn State's guidelines for appropriate documentation. For detailed information regarding Penn State's guidelines for documenting a specific disability, go to the following web site: http://equity.psu.edu/ods/guidelines
i. Examples of documentation that may meet our guidelines include but are not limited to neuropsychological evaluations, psychoeducational evaluations, medical evaluat ions, physiological assessments, or audiograms. Please note that recent secondary school documentation, such as Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) or Section 504 Plans, may assist in the determination for services, but their sole submission does not meet Penn State University’s documentation requirements. If you had an IEP in high school, please make sure you submit copies of any evaluation or reevaluation reports as part of your documentation.
b. registration packet
*Please submit all 3 sets of paperwork together. Separate submissions will not be accepted.
- Once all 3 sets of information are received (documentation, registration packet, and self-evaluation) documentation is reviewed and evaluated to determine if Penn State's documentation guidelines have been met, and to determine if the student's disorder/impairment meets the criteria for having a disability. A disability (as defined by the Rehabilitation Act, 1973, and the American's with Disabilities Amendments Act (ADAAA), 2008) is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. The determination for reasonable academic adjustments, auxiliary aids, and/or services is an interactive process that is determined on a case by case and a course-by-course basis.
- Student will be asked to schedule an intake interview with the SDR Coordinator. During the intake interview the student's disorder/impairment and academic history are discussed, services are explained, and the rights and responsibilities of the student and Penn State are reviewed. A student should anticipate that the intake assessment will take approximately one hour.
- After the intake appointment, it takes an average of 1-2 weeks for the determination of approved accommodations and for the student to be provided their accommodation letter. Letters will not have any diagnosis information, just the approved accommodations.
- It is the student’s responsibility to meet with each instructor they wish to use their accommodations with to go over their letter.