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Accommodations

  1. What kinds of accommodations are available?

Institutional level

The choice of accommodation must be based on the information provided in the documentation.  A detailed description of current substantial limitation in the academic environment is essential to identify appropriate academic accommodations, auxiliary aids, and services. Specific requests for accommodations need to be linked to the student's current functional limitations, and the rationale for each recommendation clearly stated.

Examples of accommodations that can be granted at the institutional level, if justified by documentation include:

  • Extended time on exams
  • A quiet place for taking tests
  • Permission to audio-record lectures and/or have a designated note taker
  • Use of a non-programmable calculator
  • Use of computer-based technologies for reading and/or written work
  • Textbooks and other print materials in alternative format

Regents level

A small number of accommodations are considered Regents level accommodations. These include:

  • A course substitution for the high school Required High School Curriculum (RHSC) foreign language requirement;
  • Additional semesters in Learning Support; and
  • Regents’ Test, Collegiate Placement Exam (CPE) or COMPASS modifications beyond those that can be granted by the institution. (2.22.04, 2.22.05) 

If the student is requesting a Regents level accommodation, the RCLD must review the student's documentation and approve the accommodation. The DSP will obtain the student's written permission to send a copy of the documentation to the center.  The center will notify the DSP in writing of the results of this review and will provide detailed information about the reasons for any disapprovals. Most disapprovals occur because the documentation does not contain all of the information required by the Board of Regents for documentation of a disability.  For example, some evaluation reports do not include enough information regarding correlated cognitive processing deficits, and may not consider socio-emotional factors that might be contributing to the learning or academic problems.

  1. Who decides which accommodations will be provided to an individual student?

Eligibility for accommodations at a state college or university is determined by the University System. Accommodations approved previously at the high school level, or at a non-University System of Georgia institution, may or may not be granted.

If a student has been evaluated at an RCLD, the RCLD’s written report will include a list of recommended accommodations that are consistent with University System policy. If the student has been evaluated elsewhere, the disability service provider may choose to seek consultation from an RLCD to identify appropriate accommodations based on that student's specific needs. A small number of accommodations are considered Regents level accommodations and must be approved by an RCLD.  (See #16)

  1. Must students with learning disorders meet all of the Required High School Curriculum admission requirements?  

Applicants with disabilities are expected to have completed the Required High School Curriculum (RHSC) with the appropriate instructional accommodations. The Core Curriculum of each college requires students to complete college-level courses in English, mathematics, social science, and science, and no exemptions or substitutions are permitted for these required college courses. Students who are unable to complete the high school college preparatory courses in these areas are unlikely to succeed in college courses and will not be provided with RHSC exceptions in the admissions process.

An additional RHSC requirement is two years of a foreign language. Because foreign language is not required in college for all majors, students with learning disorders that preclude acquisition of a foreign language may petition for admission without completing this RHSC requirement.

  1. What is required for students with learning disorders, who have not completed the Required High School Curriculum foreign language requirement, to petition for admission? (See Section 2.22.03.01)

To receive permission for a RHSC foreign language substitution:

  • Students should notify the Office of Admission, at the time of application that they are petitioning for a RHSC foreign language substitution.
  • Students should contact the DSP at the institution for assistance in completing the petition.
  • Students should be instructed to submit their petition documentation at least six months in advance of the beginning of the term in which they wish to enroll.

If the petition is approved, the student will be allowed to satisfy the RHSC foreign language requirement by substituting another type of course. The approval of a petition for substitution does not waive the requirement.

Approval of a petition for a course substitution for the RHSC foreign language requirement does not extend to the foreign language requirements of certain degree programs at the University level. Students must submit a separate petition, following their institution's standard procedures for modifications to program requirements, to request a course substitution for foreign language coursework required for a specific program of study or degree.

  1. Does approval of a RHSC foreign language substitution guarantee a similar substitution for any foreign language courses that are required in the student's chosen major or program of study?

The RHSC foreign language substitution is for admission purposes only; it does not guarantee a substitution for a foreign language requirement in the student's chosen major. Students may petition to a designated committee at each institution for a substitution of any foreign language course(s) required for the major. In some fields of study, the institution may decide that the foreign language requirement is an "essential course/program requirement" which cannot be substituted, regardless of a documented disability.

 

 

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Comparison of ADA and Amended ADA

 

Issue

 

ADA
(as construed by the courts)

 

 ADA, As Amended
by the ADA Amendments Act

Scope of the Definition of Disability: In General

The ADA defines a “disability,” in part, as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity of an individual.  (This is the first prong of the definition of disability.)

In several cases, the Supreme Court has narrowly construed this definition in a way that has led lower courts to exclude a range of individuals from coverage, including individuals with diabetes, epilepsy, cancer, muscular dystrophy, and artificial limbs.

The ADAAA defines a “disability,” in part, as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity of an individual.  (This is the first prong of the definition of disability.)

The ADAAA rejects the Supreme Court’s interpretation of “substantially limits” by providing a rule of construction stating that the term “substantially limits” shall be interpreted consistently with the findings and purposes of the ADAAA. 

Findings and purposes make clear that Congress intended to apply a less demanding standard than that applied by the courts, and to cover a broad range of individuals.

A rule of construction provides that the definition of disability shall be construed in favor of broad coverage of individuals, to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of the ADA.

 Mitigating Measures

One way in which the Supreme Court narrowed the group of people covered under the ADA was by ruling, in the case of Sutton v. United Airlines, that mitigating measures (such as medication or devices) were to be taken into account in determining whether a person was substantially limited in a major life activity.  Thus, if medication or devices enabled a person with an impairment to function well, that person was often held by a court not to have a disability under the ADA – even if the impairment was the basis for discrimination.

The ADAAA provides that the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures should not be considered in determining whether an individual has an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.

An exception is made for “ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses,” which may be taken into account.

 “Substantially Limits”

The Court held in Toyota Motor Mfg. of Kentucky v. Williams that an impairment “substantially limits” a “major life activity” if it “prevents or severely restricts the individual” from performing the activity. 534 U.S. 184, 198 (2002).

The ADAAA requires that the term “substantially limits” be interpreted consistently with the findings and purposes of the Act.  The findings of the Act state that the EEOC and the Supreme Court have incorrectly interpreted the term “substantially limits” to establish a greater degree of limitation than had been intended by Congress.

 The “Major Life Activity” Requirement

In the Williams case, the Supreme Court ruled that a “major life activity” must be an activity that is “of central importance to most people’s daily
lives.” 534 U.S. 184

The ADAAA includes a non-exhaustive list of major life activities, such as seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, learning and concentrating.  Major life
activities also include the operation of “major bodily functions,” such as the immune system, normal cell growth, and the endocrine system.

 Episodic Conditions and Multiple Major Life Activities

Some lower courts have held that individuals must be limited in more than one major life activity in order to have a disability under the law. Other courts have held that episodic or intermittent impairments, such as epilepsy or post-traumatic stress disorder, are not covered under the law.

The ADAAA makes clear that an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity need not also limit other major life activities in order to be considered a disability.  In addition, the ADAAA clarifies that impairments that are episodic or in remission are considered disabilities if the impairment would substantially limit a major life activity when the condition is considered in its active state.

 Regarded as Having a Disability

In the third prong of the definition of disability, the ADA covers people with impairments who are “regarded as” disabled.  In the Sutton case, the Supreme Court established a very high requirement for an individual to show that he or she is substantially limited in working – essentially requiring the individual to prove that the covered entity that engaged in the discrimination also believed that many other employers would have discriminated against that individual as well.  More generally, lower courts have required individuals to show what was in a covered entity’s head in order to establish coverage under the “regarded as” prong.

The ADAAA provides that an individual can establish coverage under the “regarded as” prong by showing that he or she was subjected to an action prohibited by the ADA based on an actual or perceived impairment, regardless of whether the impairment limits a major life activity.  This reinstates the approach of the Supreme Court in the 1987 case of School Board of Nassau County v. Arline, 480 U.S. 273.  Transitory and minor impairments are excluded from this coverage, and employers and other covered entities under the ADA have no duty to provide a reasonable accommodation or modification to individuals who fall solely under the “regarded as” prong.

 Findings and Narrow Construction

In the Sutton case, the Supreme Court based its narrow reading of the definition of disability in the ADA partly on the ADA’s findings that “some 43,000,000 Americans have one or more physical or mental disabilities” and that “individuals with disabilities are a discrete and insular minority.” Sutton, 527 U.S. at 484; 527 U.S. at 494 (Ginsburg, J. concurring).

In the Williams case, the Court used the finding regarding 43 million Americans with disabilities to confirm its conclusion that the terms “substantially limits” and “major life activity” must be “interpreted strictly to create a demanding standard for qualifying as disabled.”  534 U.S. at 197.

The ADAAA replaces the two findings used by the Supreme Court to narrow coverage under the ADA with findings and purposes indicative of the breadth of coverage intended by the ADA.  The findings make clear that the ADAAA rejects the Court’s holdings in Sutton and Williams and reinstates a broad view of the definition of disability.  It adds two new findings, stating that Williams interpreted the term “substantially limits” to require a greater degree of limitation than Congress had intended and that the EEOC’s regulations defining “substantially limits” as “significantly restricted” were inconsistent with congressional intent by expressing too high a standard.  The ADAAA also adds two new purposes, conveying Congress’ expectation that the EEOC will revise that portion of its regulations that defined “substantially limits” as having too high a level of severity and conveying Congress’ intent that the primary object of courts’ attention in ADA cases should be whether covered entities have complied with their obligations and that the question of whether an individual’s impairment is a disability should not demand extensive analysis.

 Regulatory Authority

In Sutton, the Court held that “no agency has been delegated authority to interpret the term ‘disability’” through regulations. 527 U.S. at 479.

Title V of the ADA (42 U.S.C. 12201) is amended to grant the EEOC, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Transportation authority to issue regulations interpreting the definition of disability under the ADA.

 Academic Requirements in Higher Education

Higher education institutions are subject to the ADA’s requirements.  For example, Title III of the ADA requires that universities make reasonable modifications in their policies, unless the university can demonstrate that making such modifications would “fundamentally alter” the nature of the educational service being offered.

To address the concerns of higher education institutions, S. 3406 explicitly states that “nothing in this Act alters the [Title III fundamental alteration provision] specifying that reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures shall be required, unless an entity can demonstrate that making such modifications in policies, practices, or procedures, including academic requirements in postsecondary education, would fundamentally alter the nature of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations involved.”  This provision thus restates current law in order to clarify that the changes in the definition of disability do not change the “fundamental alteration” provision of the ADA.