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Services for Students with Disabilities

FAQs for faculty

Role of the faculty

It is the responsibility of the faculty to determine the essential elements of the academic program or course of study and the academic standards involved in formulating requirements within the context of program needs, and to protect disabled students' rights to privacy and confidentiality in all communications. Although the initial determination is made by the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities whether requested services and accommodations are warranted, those accommodations will be determined by the office in conjunction with the faculty member.

Appealing accommodation prescriptions

In case of a disagreement on a recommended accommodation by Office of Services for Students with Disabilities, the faculty member should arrange to meet with OSSD and the director of affirmative action to discuss the matter in an attempt to resolve the impasse. If the faculty member is not satisfied with the resolution attempt, he/she may petition the Chancellor's Office for a ruling on the disagreement. This appeal should include the reasons why the faculty member considers the accommodation request as unreasonable in the context of curriculum/classroom management. The chancellor/chancellor's designee will respond in writing to the faculty member within 10 working days of the appeal file date as to the ruling in the matter. This appeal may also be used in circumstances where there is disagreement with the University of Missouri Policy Related to Students with Disabilities, Section 240.040 of the Collected Rules and Regulations.

Definition of a disability

Section 504 defines a person with a disability as follows:


A person is considered to be a person with a disability if he/she is someone with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. This includes caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working. A person is considered to be a person with a disability if he/she has the disability, has a record of the disability or is regarded as having the disability.


Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a person with a disability is someone with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. A person is considered to be a person with a disability if he/she has the disability, has a record of the disability or is regarded as having the disability.


Under both Section 504 and the ADA, the term "auxiliary aids and services" includes: qualified interpreters, note takers, transcription services, written materials, telephone handset amplifiers, qualified readers, taped text, Braille materials, acquisition or modification of equipment or devices, or other similar services and actions. However, the law does not require the university to provide auxiliary aids and services of a personal nature. This includes such items as wheelchairs, hearing aids and personal attendants.


Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act is a program access statute. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in any program or activity offered by an entity or institution receiving federal funds. Since 1973, all institutions receiving federal funding must be prepared to provide appropriate academic adjustments and reasonable modifications to policies and practices for people with disabilities.


Section 504 states (as amended):


“No otherwise qualified person with a disability in the United States...shall, solely on the basis of disability, be denied access to, or the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity provided by any institution receiving federal financial assistance.”


The ADA is a federal civil rights statute designed to remove barriers which prevent qualified individuals with disabilities from enjoying the same opportunities that are available to persons without disabilities. Universities are covered in many ways under the ADA. Employment is addressed by Title I, accessibility provided by public and private entities by Titles II and III and miscellaneous items by Title V.

Do I have the right to know what type of disability a student has when they ask for an accommodation?

No. A student does not have to inform the faculty member about their disability. If you have a question regarding the need for the accommodation, then you as a faculty member may contact the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities at 816-235-5696. That office will have documentation regarding the student's disability on file.


They cannot give details about the disability, unless the student has signed a written consent form, but can inform you if the student has a documented disability and if the academic adjustment requested is appropriate. The student may disclose their disability to you. You are then obligated to maintain confidentiality regarding the student's disability.


It is important to remember that the confidential nature of disability-related information has been an over-arching principle of nondiscrimination since Section 504.

Does the student receive “special privileges” under this legislation?

No. Providing accommodations should not be regarded as giving students “special privileges,” but rather as minimizing the impact of the student's disability to the greatest extent possible. Institutions are not required to make changes in or require a major or substantial change in an essential element of the curriculum. The institution has the right to set academic standards.


It is important that students be treated the same and be allowed to fail or succeed. This is important in their educational experience and may give the students an opportunity to learn from the experience. The legislation does not intend that institutions pass students because they have a disability, and it is important to expect the same academic performance, with requested accommodation, from the student with a disability as from a student without a disability.

Does the student with a disability need to ask for academic adjustments in a certain time frame prior to classes?

Yes. UMKC, like most universities, requests that the student give the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities at least six weeks notice if an accommodation is needed.

How do I know what type of academic adjustment a student needs?

The Office of Services for Students with Disabilities will first determine what type of accommodation is needed. Accommodations will then be determined by the coordinator in conjunction with the faculty member.


There is not one type of accommodation for all students with disabilities. Each accommodation must be decided on a case-by-case basis. Some common accommodations are: taped text, readers, oral examinations, interpreters, note takers, extended test time and large print materials.

Does the student with a disability need to ask for academic adjustments in a certain time frame prior to classes?

Yes. UMKC, like most universities, requests that the student give the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities at least six weeks notice if an accommodation is needed.

What if I am unsure how to handle a situation with a student with a disability?

First ask the student. He/she is the best source of information about their disability. Second, contact the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities, which is a resource for students with disabilities.

What are my responsibilities concerning field trips and outside programs?

The legislation is very explicit about this. Persons with disabilities are entitled to participate in the most integrated settings possible. If a teacher conducts field trips or special programs, accommodation must be offered. If an institution offers transportation to students going on a field trip, it must offer accessible transportation to students with disabilities. For example: You decide to use a University van to take the students to a museum and you have a student who uses a wheelchair – you must offer accessible transportation to the student with a disability. The student may accept or refuse the accessible transportation.

Do I have to provide academic adjustments if the student is taking the class for audit?

Yes. The legislation states any student with a disability is eligible for all services if the institution receives federal assistance.

I need the answer to a question that isn't covered here.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your rights or responsibilities as discussed in this document, contact the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities at 816-235-5696 or the director of affirmative action; 223 Administrative Center, 816-235-1323. The Board of Curators and the University of Missouri-Kansas City are committed to the policy that there shall be no discrimination on the basis of race, color, creed, sex, age, national origin, disability or Vietnam Era Veteran's status.

Information for this reference guide was provided by the Center for Innovations in Special Education and the Creating Employment Opportunities Project. Special thanks to Martha Wille Gregory, project coordinator.