The disability accommodation process

What students and faculty should know

Ferris’ office of Educational Counseling and Disability Services provides accommodations that help students and employees with disabilities succeed at Ferris.

In order to educate students and staff on the subject, ECDS gave a presentation on Tuesday, Oct. 11, at the David L. Eisler Center. The purpose of this presentation was to talk about the history behind disability civil rights, the process of gaining accommodations and what happens when accommodations are denied.

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities by federal agencies, federal contractors or any program receiving federal funds. Ferris is just one of many institutions that are affected by the Rehabilitation Act.

“We want to make Ferris a welcoming, inclusive and accessible space for all,” director of Ferris’ office of Accessibility and Disability Services Julie Alexander said.

However, accommodations may not be the first step in some cases.

“There are changes people can make so that accommodations aren’t as necessary,” Alexander said.

If a change can’t be made, it is time to take the next step, starting the accommodations process.

Students that are struggling and in need of accommodations, such as attendance accommodations and longer test-taking times, are highly encouraged to reach out to ECDS.

From there, a meeting can be set up. During this meeting, all relevant information regarding the student’s disability will be discussed. This discussion will be followed by an assessment of the student’s environment. Once all information has been received, the conversation regarding accommodations can begin.

The process is altered slightly for employees. Employees are encouraged to reach out to Human Resources to set up a meeting with Fredericka Hayes, the associate vice president at Human Resources.

This meeting will cover information about the disability to understand the barriers for the employee. From there, information will be gathered about the environment to move forward with discussing accommodations that will help the employee overcome barriers while still allowing them to perform essential tasks.

Once accommodations have been determined, a course accessibility letter will be sent out. This letter will list the accommodations without disclosing the reasons behind them. There will be a contact for the “counselor of record” in case any questions arise. Students and employees are not required to talk to their professors or employer about their accommodations, but they are highly encouraged to have that conversation.

“Come in and talk to us, even if you don’t feel like it’s valid,” Alexander said.

There are plenty of students and employees that hesitate to seek the accommodations they need because they feel their struggle is on them. ECDS figures out accommodations for students, as there is nothing to be ashamed of.

“Not all accommodations are granted,” director of Equal Opportunity Kylie Piette said during the presentation.

When requests are denied, appeal considerations can be made. All appeals under the student process go to Piette. Most appeals revisit the communications phase. If some sort of middle ground can’t be reached, those who want to follow through with their accommodations have to seek legal help outside of Ferris.

The presentation created by Alexander and Piette is just one of the events ECDS is hosting this month.

The service center will be putting together a Disability Awareness Month panel where students will have the opportunity to share what they want the Ferris community to know.