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Americans with Disabilities Act Policy

National American University strives to make its programs accessible to all individuals, in compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Its purpose is to create and maintain an environment in which students may achieve their fullest potential, limited to the least extent possible by individual disabilities. Such disabilities include physical or mental impairment that substantially limit major life functions. All faculty, staff, and students of the university are expected to adhere to this philosophy of equal access to educational opportunity and to assume broad responsibility for its implementation.

Disclosure of a disability is not required, but if disclosed, it is the responsibility of the individual to seek available assistance and make needs known. The system student services office is the designated office at National American University that maintains disability-related documents, certifies eligibility for services, and determines and provides reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities. It is located at 5301 S. Highway 16, Suite 200, Rapid City, SD 57701.

All requests for accommodation, documentation reports, and inquiries should be forwarded to:

Dr. Meg Whiston

System Director for Learner Services

System ADA Coordinator

5301 S. Highway 16, Suite 200

Rapid City, SD 57701

(605) 721-5328 mwhiston@national.edu

General Principles

  1. National American University strives to provide people with disabilities the following:
    1. Equal access to courses, programs, services, activities, and facilities offered through the university;
    2. An equal opportunity to learn and to receive reasonable accommodations, academic adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids and services;
    3. Appropriate confidentiality of all information regarding their disability and to choose to whom, outside of the university, information about their disability will be disclosed, except as disclosures are required or permitted by law;
    4. Essential information that is reasonably available in accessible formats.
  2. Students with disabilities at National American University are asked to:
    1. Meet course prerequisites and essential institutional standards for courses, programs, services, activities, and facilities, with reasonable accommodations if necessary;
    2. Identify themselves as individuals with a disability when an accommodation is needed and seek information, counsel, and assistance as necessary;
    3. Demonstrate and/or document (from an appropriate licensed professional) how the disability limits their participation in courses, programs, services, activities, and facilities;
    4. Follow published procedures for obtaining reasonable accommodations, academic adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids and services.
  3. National American University shall endeavor to:
    1. Identify and establish essential functions, abilities, skills, knowledge, and standards for courses, programs, services, activities, and facilities and shall strive to evaluate faculty, staff, and students on this basis;
    2. Request and receive current documentation that supports requests for accommodations, academic adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids and services;
    3. Provide information, in accessible formats, to students and guests with disabilities upon request;
    4. Review courses, programs, services, activities and facilities, and strive to make them available and usable in the most integrated and appropriate settings;
    5. Evaluate students and applicants on their abilities as demonstrated with or without reasonable accommodations if necessary;
    6. Provide or arrange reasonable accommodations, academic adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids and services for students and guests with disabilities in courses, programs, services, activities, and facilities;
    7. Maintain appropriate confidentiality of records and communication, except where disclosure is permitted or required by law;
    8. Recognize that some students have academic or behavior problems but do not have a disability and do not qualify for reasonable accommodations;
    9. Confirm what the essential requirements in courses and programs are as stated in the Academic Catalog and on the course syllabus. This will help in determining the appropriateness of accommodation requests and will focus discussions on defined information.
  4. National American University may:
    1. Deny a request for accommodations, academic adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids and services if the documentation reveals that the request is not warranted, or if the individual fails to provide appropriate documentation;
    2. Refuse an unreasonable accommodation, adjustment, and/or auxiliary aid and service that imposes a fundamental alteration on a program or activity or constitutes undue hardship to the university.
  5. Faculty at National American University shall participate in the managing of disability-related issues by:
    1. Determining course content and general methods of teaching;
    2. Making informed decisions in conjunction with the system student services office about whether and how best to adapt teaching and assessment methods to accommodate students;
    3. Seeing that the standards in their courses are not lowered or compromised;
    4. Requiring students to meet the essential requirements of the course in order to obtain an appropriate passing grade;
    5. Questioning system student services office and system academic personnel (not the student) about a specific accommodation request if it is either inappropriate for the course, or if the nature of the request would alter the essential requirements of a course;
    6. Determining the most appropriate ways in conjunction with the system student services office and system academics office to adapt courses to the needs of particular students;
    7. Understanding that when he/she receives a notification of a request for accommodation for a student, that the student has provided adequate and appropriate documentation of his/her disability, and that accommodation requests are based on this documentation;
    8. Knowing that alternative ways to assist students with disabilities may be discussed with the system student services office;
    9. Realizing that some students with disabilities have academic or behavior challenges unrelated to their disability, and that these issues should be confirmed or discussed with the system student services office. Faculty are not obligated to treat such challenges any differently than they would for a non-disabled student.

Services for Students with Disabilities

The system student services office is the designated office at National American University that acts as a resource/advocate for students with disabilities, verifies and files documentation, certifies eligibility for services, and establishes reasonable accommodations. Any student who has need for accommodations should contact the System ADA Coordinator.

To be eligible for services, students must have a disability – a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities: walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, learning, breathing, working, taking care of oneself, performing manual tasks.

The university seeks to provide equal access to students with disabilities through accommodations and support, and to inform and enlighten the entire university community about disability concerns.

  1. Documentation and Certification of Eligibility for Student Accommodations
    1. Documentation Purposes. Eligibility for accommodations at the university is dependent on the nature of the disability and its impact on learning. Therefore, the system student services office and the ADA Coordinator requests disability-related documents from the appropriate licensed professional(s) to verify a student as having a disability and to determine the need for reasonable accommodations. Documentation serves two purposes. It establishes existence of a disability (a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity) that affords protection under the law, and it demonstrates a need for accommodations to insure equal access to courses, programs, services, activities, and facilities.
    2. Elements of Documentation. Documentation from a licensed professional legitimizes a student's request for accommodations and should include the following information:
      • A clear statement of the diagnosed disability;
      • A description of the functional limitations resulting from the disability;
      • A list of the accommodations recommended;
      • A statement of why the disability qualifies the applicant for accommodations requested.

    **Please see Student Grievances section for more information

    Depending on the situation, an educational, developmental, and medical history, and a list of all test instruments used in the documentation and relevant scores also may be necessary. The document should be current (ordinarily within the last three years), must appear on official letterhead of the licensed professional, and must be signed by a qualified professional not related to the student.

    1. Costs. The cost of obtaining student documentation is borne by the student. If the initial documentation is incomplete or inadequate in determining the extent of the disability and reasonable accommodations, the university has the discretion to require additional documentation. Any cost of obtaining additional documentation is also borne by the student.

    Students reporting learning or attention difficulties may be given referrals for comprehensive and diagnostic testing in the community. The student is responsible for testing costs.

    1. Certification. The system student services office certifies that a student has a disability, and registers disabled students for services provided through the university. Students who do not meet the legal requirements for disability accommodations are referred to other campus and community resources for assistance. Pending receipt of documentation, the university reserves the right to deny services or accommodation.
  2. Determining Reasonable Accommodations

    A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a course, program, service, activity, or facility that enables a qualified student with a disability to have an equal opportunity. An equal opportunity means an opportunity to attain the same level of performance or to enjoy equal benefits and privileges as are available to a similarly situated student without a disability. National American University is obligated to make a reasonable accommodation only to the known limitations of an otherwise qualified disabled student. To determine reasonable accommodations, the system student services office may seek information from appropriate university personnel regarding essential standards for courses, programs, services, activities, and facilities. Final determination of reasonable accommodations is made by the system student services office. Reasonable accommodations are determined by examining:

    • The barriers resulting from the interaction between the documented disability and the campus environment;
    • The possible accommodations that might remove the barriers;
    • Whether or not the student has access to the course, program, service, activity, or facility without accommodations; and
    • Whether or not essential elements of the course, program, service, activity, or facility are compromised by the accommodations.
  3. Obtaining Academic Accommodations
    1. Procedures. Students who request accommodations are responsible for initiating the eligibility determination process and must seek assistance from the System ADA Coordinator in a timely manner, at least two weeks prior to the beginning of classes or when a disability becomes known. Official notification is considered to be visits, phone calls, email, or letters from the student, parent, transfer institution, or an interested party (e.g., Division of Vocational Rehabilitation). Untimely requests may result in delays.

    Students with a disability must provide a complete, adequate documentation of their disability from an appropriate source before they can be recognized and given consideration as a student with a disability. When this is submitted, the System ADA Coordinator and the student will discuss the interaction of the disability and the academic environment, and determine what reasonable accommodations may be appropriate. Consultation with faculty, staff and outside professionals regarding essential elements and reasonable accommodations will occur in situations that are new, complex, or sensitive. The System ADA Coordinator will file the official documentation and ensure that all disability-related documents are kept confidential and shared with university personnel on a limited and need-to-know basis only.

    The system student services office will supply individualized letters certifying that the student has a disability and listing the appropriate accommodations. The letter also invites contact with the system student services office if there are concerns or questions about the accommodations. Instructors will be expected to assist with the provision of accommodations when reasonable and necessary. They are not expected to compromise essential elements of the course or evaluation standards.

    The student with the disability will be responsible for delivering the letters to appropriate faculty and are encouraged to discuss with their professors the functional limitations on each discipline.

    Most accommodations such as accessible classrooms, assistive technology, note takers, readers, interpreters, course substitutions, document conversion, priority registration, study strategies, and taped lectures will be arranged in collaboration with the campus academic dean.

    Students with disabilities will be responsible for contacting the System ADA Coordinator if reasonable accommodations are not implemented in an effective or timely way. The System ADA Coordinator will work with university personnel and the disabled student to resolve disagreements regarding recommended accommodations. Students may also register a complaint by following grievance procedures specified under "Student Grievances" in this handbook.

    An ADA Student Accommodation Agreement applies to each active quarter at National American University.

    1. Academic Accommodations. Students with disabilities have been admitted to National American University through the same process as other students in that they are "otherwise qualified" to attend. Accommodations do not provide a different set of standards but seek to "level the playing field" or remove barriers that would prohibit an accessible educational environment. While National American University desires all of its students to achieve favorable academic outcomes, and affords accommodations to provide access, it does not guarantee success in its offerings and activities. The university and its faculty are not required to waive essential elements of courses or make fundamental alterations to programs or services. Students with disabilities are not entitled to the accommodation they may prefer or have received in other educational settings, but their requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis, supported by the documentation they provide.
  4. Confidentiality and Release of Information

    The university is committed to maintaining as confidential student disability-related information. Information collected may include test data, grades, biographical history, disability information, performance reviews, and case notes. Guidelines about such information include the following:

    1. Any information regarding disability gained from medical examinations or appropriate post-admissions/hiring inquiry shall be considered confidential and will be shared with those school officials of the university who have legitimate educational interests. Disability-related information is to be treated as medical information is treated. Generally, faculty and staff need not have access to diagnostic or other information regarding a student's disability. They do need to know what accommodations are necessary or appropriate to meet the student's disability-related needs. If a student has requested an accommodation, upon request, the student will be informed as to what information is being provided to the faculty or staff regarding the request.
    2. A separate confidential file is established which contains documentation of a disability and any ongoing changes in the student's condition.
    3. Records will be kept for seven years after the date of graduation or the year the student was expected to graduate.
    4. Information in files will not be released except as permitted by law, including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). FERPA allows the release of student information to other school officials for legitimate educational purposes and in emergency situations where the release of information is necessary to protect the health or safety of others. It also allows release in certain other limited circumstances. For more information on FERPA, please see the university's annual notice of FERPA rights.
    5. A student's file may be released pursuant to a court order or subpoena.
    6. A student may give written consent for the release of information when she or he wishes to share it with others. Before giving such consent, the student should understand the information being released, the purpose of the release, and to whom the information is being released. Information will not be released without consent unless required by federal or state law.
    7. The university may charge a reasonable fee for costs incurred in connection with the copying of information.
    8. The system student services office will retain a copy of all information provided. If a student wishes to have a record expunged, he or she must make a written request to the coordinator who will decide whether it is necessary for the office to retain the record.
    9. A student has the right to review his or her own file.
  5. Student Grievances

    The purpose of these procedures is to attempt to resolve internally all types of student disability-related grievances at the level where they occur and in a timely manner. It is advantageous to students, faculty, staff, and administration to keep communications open and to contact someone immediately if a situation is escalating.

    Students with disabilities are asked to contact the System ADA Coordinator immediately if reasonable accommodations are not implemented in an effective or timely way. Faculty who wish for reconsideration of an accommodation should also contact the System ADA Coordinator. This should be done no later than one week after the accommodation is scheduled to be implemented.

    If an agreement cannot be reached informally, an individual may file a written complaint with the System ADA Coordinator who will conduct a thorough investigation that allows interested persons an opportunity to submit evidence relevant to the complaint.

    At least three members of the university senior administration will review the gathered evidence, meet with all parties in the dispute with their permission, and decide upon an appropriate plan of action. A written determination as to the validity of the complaint and a description of the resolution, if any, will be issued by the university to the complainant and other concerned parties no later than 10 work days after the filing of the grievance.

    If dissatisfied with the resolution, the complainant may request reconsideration by contacting the university's ADA Coordinator within 10 business days of the resolution. Accommodations in question generally will continue to be provided until a final decision is made.

    If the grievance is against the System ADA Coordinator, the above procedures will be followed except that the initial complaint should be made with the system vice president of academic administration and regulatory affairs.

    While it is hoped the student can resolve a grievance within the campus process, he/she has the right to file any grievance directly to the U.S. Office of Civil Rights at any time. The statute of limitations for filing a complaint with OCR is 180 days from the time the incident occurred.