Apply Visit Contact

Frequently Asked Questions - Disability Services

Click on a question to see the answer:

What is a disability?
A disability is defined as any physical or mental impairment that affects one or more major life aspects, such as education or the ability to work.


Are academic accommodations only for people with physical limitations such as blindness or being in a wheel chair?
The short answer is no! You are always better off to ask than assume your diagnosis isn’t covered. In general though, disabilities can be categorized in three ways: physical limitations such as a mobility, hearing, or sight based diagnosis; psychological limitations such as depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder; and developmental/learning limitations such as autism spectrum disorder, dyslexia/dysgraphia, or ADHD. And even then there are many diagnoses that don’t fit cleanly in those three categories such as diabetes, food allergies, and seizure disorders.


What are the student’s responsibilities when applying for and receiving academic accommodations?
The student is responsible for identifying themselves to the Disability Services Office and going through the initial process for requesting accommodations. The Disability Services Office is NOT allowed to accept referrals from faculty, staff, or parents; requests for accommodations must come directly from the student. Students are required to provide appropriate signatures on forms and to provide all requested documentation. The student is also responsible for communicating regularly with the Disability Services Office every semester and communicating with professors regarding their accommodations. Faculty are notified which students in their classes have accommodations and what those accommodations are, but how to apply them in the classroom is between the student and the professor. The student is also responsible for notifying the Disability Services Office as soon as possible when there are problems with the accommodations or if they are not proving to be effective.


What are the faculty’s responsibilities when they have a student in their class that is receiving accommodations?
Faculty are responsible for enacting academic accommodations and communicating with the Disability Services Office and the student regarding enacting accommodations in the classroom. Faculty are never responsible for informing the Disability Services Office that a student needs an accommodation.


What are the Disability Services Office’s responsibilities?
The Disability Services Office is responsible for providing counseling and advising to students with disabilities, processing requests for accommodations in a timely manner, and informing students of the process and requirements. The Disability Services Office is also responsible for determining the appropriate accommodation and for providing the resources necessary to enact the accommodation (including purchasing of equipment).


What kind of accommodations are provided to students with disabilities?
Accommodations are always given on a case-by-case basis and always in a three way discussion between the student, the Disability Services Office, and the faculty; as what works for one student or one class may not work for others. The most common types of accommodations are extended testing time, taking tests in a quiet testing environment, note taking assistance, use of a calculator on tests, extended time on assignments, not being counted off for spelling, or audio-books. Other uncommon accommodations might include accommodations such as interpreting services, books provided in braille, having tests read aloud, or exceptions to syllabi requirements on recording lectures or absences.

Accommodations may also sometimes be referred to as “auxiliary aids” and, in the cases of communication-related diagnoses, refer to their purpose as providing “effective communication.”


How are the specific accommodations decided upon?
There are two big questions when it comes to deciding whether an accommodation will be granted. The first and most important is does the accommodation remedy the effects of the disability in the most reasonable and least disruptive way? This means that the accommodation has to make the effects of the diagnosis as much of a non-factor as possible in the student’s opportunity to succeed. However, we may not be able to make it a complete non-factor which is why we always look for an accommodation that gets close but doesn’t create more problems than it solves. If there are multiple accommodations that may work, then we will have to discuss what is the most reasonable for the student and for the institution and try to strike a balance between the two.

The second question that we ask is does the accommodation requested result in a fundamental change in the requirements of the curriculum? If the answer to that question is “yes,” then the University won’t be able to accommodate that request. There is a fine line between remedying the effect of the disability and giving a student an unfair advantage. However, before getting to that point, there is lots of discussion and engagement with faculty and the student. Accommodations are rarely denied due to this issue.


What kind of accommodations are NOT provided to students with disabilities?
There are only a few types of accommodation request that are automatically denied. The first is when an accommodation request would require a fundamental change to the requirements of the curriculum. These would be things such as substituting one requirement for another, like substituting an internship with a research paper, or changing the format of a requirement like turning an essay test into a multiple choice test. All students, regardless of disability, must meet the same requirements for passing the course.

Another type of accommodation that is automatically denied are requests for personal services or personally prescribed devices. Services of a personal nature such as an attendant or independent living services are not provided by Newman University. Likewise equipment that is prescribed specifically for the individual student (such as hearing aids or crutches) are not provided by Newman University.

Lastly, one type of accommodation that cannot be granted is accommodations that involve professional programs where the disability could not be accommodated in the professional setting. For example for nursing, if a nurse is required to be able to find a pulse in the professional setting, then the student may be required to demonstrate that skill in the classroom during a test. These test are often referred to as a “mastery assessments” and are not able to be accommodated.


Will Newman University purchase equipment needed for an accommodation?
The short, unsatisfying answer to this question is: maybe. The primary question involved in this is, is the equipment necessary for remedying the effects of the disability? If the answer to that is yes, then the question becomes whose responsibility is it to pay for the equipment? The answer to this lies in whether the equipment was prescribed for the specific student, this would include things such as mobility aids, hearing aids, or prosthetics. One example of this is an accommodation of an FM System, where a microphone transmits the audio from a lecturer to a receiver, which then pushes the audio to a hearing piece that is worn by the student in the case of severe ADHD, a hearing impairment, or perhaps an auditory processing disorder. In this example, the transmitter and receiver are almost always purchased or already owned by the institution, however if the student does not wish to use generic headphones or is required by their specific disability to use a hearing aid or cochlear implant, than that last part in the chain would be considered a personally prescribed device.


What if there are multiple options on how a disability might be accommodated? Who decides which accommodation will be used?
In a situation where there are multiple accommodations that may work to accommodate a disability, the institution will seek to balance the student’s needs and preferences, with the burden (financial, administrative, and in classroom disruption) to the institution. In general, if costs are relatively similar and the requested specific accommodation is not more administratively burdensome or does not cause any more of a disruption to the classroom than another, the student’s preference will be given the most weight. However, if there are multiple options and the requested accommodation is significantly more expensive or requires significantly more administration or classroom disruption, then it may not be the accommodation granted by the institution.

For example, when a student requests a specific brand of equipment or a specific model, but there are other options available that are significantly cheaper and are relatively as effective, the University will try to accommodate the student but may not go with exactly what the student has requested. Or if the student is requesting to take tests in a quiet testing environment specifically in the professor’s office, the student may be required instead to take tests in the testing center as that is less administratively burdensome to the professor who may not have time to proctor individual tests.

It is important to note that as a private University, Newman University adheres to the legal standards laid out in Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, whereas public University’s adhere to Title II. This means that whereas a public University is required to give primary preference to the student’s requested auxiliary aid, Newman University’s obligation is only to provide a means of “effective communication.” As long as the auxiliary aid reasonably does this, Newman University is not required to give preference to the student’s preference. That being said, Newman University will ALWAYS strive to give as much weight as possible to the student’s preferences and will NEVER make decisions regarding accommodations without consulting the student and involving them in the process.


Can accommodations be applied retroactively?
No, unfortunately accommodations are never applied retroactively. This is why it is very important to be sure that the accommodations process is completed as soon as possible. It is not uncommon for students to request accommodations after already receiving a poor grade on a test or to start the accommodations process, but not finish it in time to apply it to a test or assignment.


Do you provide sign language interpreting for deaf students?
Students with a hearing disability may be provided sign language interpreting as an auxiliary aid, along with CART services, or captioning services. Most deaf students whose primary method of communication is sign language will be able to receiving interpreting services as an accommodation, but there are some situations when other options may be discussed. Requests for interpreting services must be provided no less than 5 business days from the requested date of service. Requests for semester-long interpreting services are handled like other academic accommodations, along the same timelines.


What kind of accommodations are provided if a student cannot take notes in class?
Students who are unable to take notes in class due to a disability may request note taking accommodations. This generally involves having another student in the class share their notes through the Disability Services Office (the note taker scans and sends their notes in and then they are forwarded to the disability student to preserve confidentiality). Notes are generally received on a weekly basis unless otherwise requested.


Can I receive audiobooks as an accommodation?
Newman University provides audiobook accommodations by obtaining PDF copies of purchased/rented books that can be used in a free text-to-speech reader. This process can take several weeks, so requests for audiobooks should be submitted as soon as possible, along with a copy of the receipt showing purchase or rental of the text books. In rare cases where a PDF cannot be requested from the publisher, other sources can be utilized.


I had an IEP in high school, will my IEP work for documentation of my disability?
It is possible, but not likely that your IEP or 504 Plan could supply all of the documentation that you may need. IEPs and 504 Plans are not often useable as documentation for Disability Services in Higher Education for a number of reasons. Primarily, accommodations in the K-12 system are governed by a different set of laws than in higher education and so there are many instances of accommodations being granted in high school that cannot be applied to higher education. Another issue with IEPs and 504 Plans is that they are not usually signed by documented licensed professionals, which is a requirement of documentation at Newman University. It is always worth asking and sending a copy of your IEP or 504 Plan to Disability Services, but it is not guaranteed that it will be the only documentation needed.


I think I might have a disability, but I have never been tested. Can I still get accommodations?
Unfortunately, in order to receive accommodations for a disability, it must be documented by a licensed professional that there is an applicable diagnosis and also must be accompanied by recommendations for how to remedy the effects of that diagnosis as a starting off point of the accommodations discussion. If you believe you have a disability, there are resources that you can go to that may help you to get diagnosed. Please visit our “Disability Resources” page for more information, and always start the discussion with your primary care physician.


For international students, can documentation be used from their home country?
The short answer here is yes, however, if your home country is one where English is not the primary language, providing documentation that can be assessed can be difficult. Please see the Disability Services Office as soon as possible to discuss your options.


What should I do if a professor is not providing my approved accommodations?
If you believe that you are not receiving the approved accommodations or that anyone at Newman University is treating you differently because of your disability, please contact the Disability Services Office immediately. You have the right to receive your approved accommodations and the right to be free of discrimination and harassment due to your disability.


What should I do if the Disability Services Office denies my request for accommodations?
If you believe that the Disability Services Office has denied your request for accommodations, or has selected an accommodation that does not effectively remedy the effects of your disability, you can file an appeal by first meeting with the Director of Disability Services (at this time, this is Case Bell, the Director of Equitable Access), to discuss your grievance in detail. If you feel after this meeting that you would like to advance your appeal, you can submit an appeal to the Academic Affairs Office. Appeals must be submitted in writing and mailed, emailed, or hand delivered to the Academic Affairs Office located in Sacred Heart Hall. In the appeal, please include detailed information regarding the original request for accommodations, documentation submitted for that request, information regarding the decision the student is requesting to be appealed, and the rational for why this decision should be appealed. The Academic Affairs Office will provide a written response within 10 business days.


What should I do if I need an emotional support animal?
First, we need to distinguish between an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) and a Service Animal. Service Animals are allowed anywhere on campus that the student can go, but are required to be trained do specific tasks in support of a specific diagnosis. Emotional Support Animals are only allowed in the dorms, they are not covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act and are instead actually governed by the Fair Housing Act. There are quite a few requirements for ESA’s though and they must be approved by both the Disability Services Office and the Residence Life Office. If you feel that you need to bring an ESA to live with you in the dorms, please contact either office to start the process.


I am not a student, but will be visiting Newman University for an event, who do I speak to about disability accommodations?
Please contact the department hosting the event (e.g. Athletics for athletic events, the Theater department for plays and musicals, etc.) at (316)-942-4291.


I am not a student at Newman University yet, but will be applying, who do I speak to about disability accommodations for the application process?
Please contact Admissions if you are a freshman, transfer, or graduate school applicant and the specific department if you are applying to a professional program such as nursing, sonography, or radiological technology, and they will contact the Disability Services Office to discuss appropriate accommodations for the application process. Any department can be reached by calling (316)942-4291 and speaking with the operator.