Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University

Disability Accommodations

Policy Statement

Thomas Jefferson University is committed to providing equal education opportunities to all students, including students with disabilities, in accordance with section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Thomas Jefferson University will provide reasonable accommodations to all qualified individuals with disabilities to allow equal access and full participation to all University sponsored activities and programs. 

Definitions

Disability:  Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the term "disability" means:  

a)    A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of [an] individual;

b)    a record of such an impairment; or

c)     being regarded as having such an impairment.

Reasonable Accommodation: A modification or adjustment to an academic program that enables an otherwise qualified individual with a disability equal access to participation in University-sponsored programs.  “Reasonable” accommodations are those that neither impose an undue financial or administrative burden on the University nor fundamentally alter the service, program or course being offered.

Documentation: Sources of information used for providing evidence of a disability and/or evaluating requests for accommodations (see Documentation Standards).

Technical Standards: The essential skills and characteristics required to complete a particular degree program. These requirements apply to classroom, laboratory and clinical/fieldwork environments.  Students must be able to meet a program’s Technical Standards at all times during the course of study, with or without reasonable accommodations.

Role of Student/Staff

Student Responsibilities:

  • Identify the need for accommodations to a member of the Student Accessibility Services
  • Fill out the Student Intake Form
  • Meet with  a member of the Student Accessibility Services to review the intake form and discuss accommodation requests
  • Provide documentation of diagnosis and requested / suggested accommodations from a qualified professional (see Documentation Standards)
  • Engage in a dialogue, if necessary, with Student Accessibility Services personnel and other school representatives toward identifying mutually acceptable reasonable accommodation(s)
  • Use the Accommodation Letter provided by the Student Accessibility Services to communicate official approved accommodations to faculty
  • If necessary, meet with faculty or other relevant Jefferson personnel to determine appropriate means of providing the accommodation
  • Communicate with a member of the Student Accessibility Services if any complications arise in regards to the accommodation or if accommodation needs change

Student Accessibility Services Responsibilities:

  • Meet with the student to gain insight into the disability and requested accommodations
  • Review documentation and determine need for additional documentation
  • Collaborate with the student and the student’s academic program in an effort to identify reasonable accommodations
  • Communicate decisions about reasonable accommodations and procedures for implementation to the student
  • Provide the student with the Jefferson Accommodation Letter
  • Work with student in an ongoing manner regarding any changes or complications in regards to the accommodation

Faculty Responsibilities:

  • Provide the accommodation listed in the Jefferson Accommodation Letter
  • If necessary, meet with the student to determine appropriate means of providing the accommodation
  • Refer all students requesting an accommodation to the Student Accessibility Services
  • Communicate with a member of the Student Accessibility Services if any complications arise in regards to the accommodation or if a student requests an accommodation without the Jefferson Accommodation Letter

Accommodation Requests

Reasonable accommodations are determined through a collaborative, individualized, and interactive process involving the Student Accessibility Services, student, and academic department.  All accommodation requests must be supported by appropriate medical documentation (see documentation standards below) to help Student Accessibility Services in establishing disability, understanding how the disability may impact a student, and making informed decisions about reasonable accommodations.

Recommendations by properly credentialed professionals will be considered as part of the collaborative process toward identifying appropriate reasonable accommodations.  These recommendations may be adopted when they provide equal access to services, courses and programs and are considered to be reasonable in nature. Student Accessibility Services may substitute another reasonable accommodation, if it is considered to be as effective as the one requested or recommended.  Documentation of a specific disability does not translate directly into a specific accommodation or set of accommodations.   Reasonable accommodations are determined on a case-by-case and course-by-course basis according to the unique experience of the student and the course and/or program.

The technical standards of a program or course (if applicable) are taken into consideration when determining reasonable accommodations.  Students entering or progressing in an academic program must be able to meet the program’s technical standards, with or without reasonable accommodations.

Documentation Standards

A combination of the following forms of documentation will be considered in evaluating accommodation requests at Thomas Jefferson University:

  • TJU Disability Accommodations Intake Form
  • Medical records and/or the TJU Medical Intake Form
  • Psycho-educational/Neuro-psychological reports
  • School records (e.g. Individualized Education Plans)
  • Letters of accommodation from previous higher education institutions

Students who wish to request reasonable accommodations must submit supporting documentation acceptable to TJU in the form of medical records or psycho-educational/neuro-psychological reports that establish a disability, detail the current functional impact of that disability, and confirms the need for each accommodation requested. A diagnostic statement alone is not sufficient to establish eligibility for accommodations. The documentation must be thorough enough to demonstrate whether and how a major life activity is substantially limited by providing a clear sense of the severity, frequency and pervasiveness of the disability and functional limitations.  Generally the documentation should not be more than three years old, with the exception of a permanent, lifelong impairment.  In these instances documentation may not need to be as recent, but specific recommendations for the current academic setting should still be provided by a qualified professional.  Changes in the functional impact of a condition (e.g., result of growth, development) may warrant more frequent updates in documentation.  Specific documentation standards can be found below.

Physical/Medical Disabilities

The Medical Intake form or a recent letter from a qualified physician or certified rehabilitation counselor that includes:

  • A diagnosis of the physical condition or illness.
  • A description of the functional limitations as a result of the condition or side effects of the required medications. This description must establish a substantial limitation in a major life activity.
  • A summary of the recommendations for accommodation at the post-secondary level.
  • Any pertinent background information about the disability or medical condition that will assist the University in assessing whether to grant the requested accommodation.
  • Whether the duration of the student's medical condition is temporary or permanent.

Learning Disabilities

The Medical Intake Form cannot be used for Learning Disabilities.  Learning Disabilities require a recent psychoeducational or psych-neurological report by a certified and licensed psychologist, containing the following:  

  • An assessment of the student that provides clear and specific evidence that a learning disability exists. The assessment should consist of and be based on a comprehensive assessment battery that does not rely on any one test or subtest. The assessment should include a list of the tests performed.
  • A recent diagnosis. Individual "learning styles,” "academic problems” and "test difficulty or anxiety,” in and of themselves, generally do not constitute a learning disability. The diagnostician is encouraged to use direct language in the diagnosis and documentation of a learning disability, avoiding the use of terms such as "suggests” or "is indicative of.”
  • Specific limitations in higher education.  The data should logically reflect a substantial limitation in learning for which the student is requesting the accommodation.
  • Specific recommendations in higher education that provides for access.

NOTE: Students who received services at a previous educational institution should also submit their Individualized Educational Plans (IEPs) and transition plans that include a summary of accommodations needed at the college level. School plans (IEP or 504 plan) may not be sufficient in and of themselves, but should accompany the comprehensive assessment battery (if applicable).

Attention Deficit or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

The Medical Intake From or current and comprehensive documentation of the disorder from the licensed diagnosing physician, psychiatrist or psychologist is required to contain the following:

  • Diagnosis, date of diagnosis and last contact with student.
  • Description of symptoms that meet the criteria for this diagnosis.
  • Instruments and procedures that were used to diagnose the ADD/ADHD. Attach the diagnostic report.
  • An indication of the substantial limitation to learning or other major life activity presented by the ADD or ADHD, and the degree to which the disorder impacts the student in the learning context for which accommodations are being requested.
  • Current medication, dosage and frequency.
  • Recommendations for accommodations at the post-secondary level as related to the functional limitations of the diagnosis, including the rationale for why they must be provided.  Include a discussion of previous accommodations. If accommodations were not provided in the past, include a detailed explanation as to why none were used and why they are needed at this time.

Psychological Disabilities

The Medical Intake Form or current and comprehensive documentation of the disorder from the licensed diagnosing physician, psychiatrist or psychologist is required to contain the following:

  • Diagnosis, date of diagnosis and last contact with student.
  • Description of symptoms that meet the criteria for this diagnosis.
  • Instruments and procedures that were used to diagnose the student. Attach the diagnostic report.
  • Current medication, dosage and frequency.
  • Indication of the substantial limitation to learning or other major life activity presented by the disorder and the degree to which it impacts the individual in the learning context for which accommodations are being requested.
  • Recommendations regarding accommodations at the post-secondary level as related to the functional limitations of the diagnosis, including the rationale for why they must be provided. Include a discussion of previous accommodations. If accommodations were not provided in the past, include a detailed explanation as to why none were used and why they are needed at this time.

In addition to this documentation students must submit the Student Intake Form, which can be obtained through Student Accessibility Services.  Students can also submit any documentation or materials that establish a history of receiving accommodations in a previous academic setting (e.g. secondary school accommodation plans such as IEPs or letters of accommodation from previous higher education institutions).  It is the student’s responsibility to pay for any costs associated with obtaining sufficient current documentation.

Confidentiality

All accommodation request documentation provided by a student will be maintained by Student Accessibility Services.  The documentation will be kept confidential, and will be distributed only to persons who are involved in evaluating the accommodation request or implementing accommodations.  Any persons who receive accommodation documentation will be instructed to maintain its confidentiality and to neither discuss nor distribute it to anyone who is not involved in evaluating or implementing the accommodations.

Timeframe

Accommodation requests should be made as soon as possible after admittance or the need for an accommodation is known.  Once appropriate documentation is provided it can take up to four weeks to finalize accommodations.

Appeal Process

In most instances, the reasonable accommodations determined by the Student Accessibility Services are acceptable to the student.  If a student disagrees with the Student Accessibility Services’ determination of eligibility for or the provision of reasonable accommodations, he/she may seek further review by meeting with the Assistant Provost for Student Affairs.  After the meeting a letter with a final decision will be sent to the student.  If a resolution is not reached, the student has five days from receipt of the letter to file a written appeal with the Provost of Jefferson.  The Provost, or a designee appointed by the Provost, will meet with the student to attempt to mediate the situation.   The decision of the Provost or designee shall be final and binding.   

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Suite 1120
(215) 503-6335
(215) 503-2787

 

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