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University Disability Support Services|Student Educational Opportunity

Legal History Overview

"It's okay; I'll take the test with the class. I really don't want to have an unfair advantage." This is a statement UDSS coordinators often hear from students who know that their disability affects their performance on a test, but who feel uncomfortable accepting assistance. Did you know that you may be legally entitled to the accommodations you request?

There are three federal laws that protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination: the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008.  It is because of these laws that people with disabilities have had a more equal opportunity to attend and participate in college. Each law has provisions that are specific to post-secondary education or public institutions.  Some of the requirements for colleges and universities are listed below:

  • Program accessibility to individuals with disabilities.
  • Fair admissions requirements so as to avoid screening out people with disabilities.
  • Provisions for academic adjustments to ensure that evaluations do not measure the disability.
  • Provision of auxiliary aids, services, etc.


UDSS assists the University in meeting these legal obligations.  To accomplish this, certain expectations are made of each student who needs assistance.

Student Responsibilities

As a student, it is your responsibility to identify yourself to UDSS as an individual with a disability and to request accommodations. According to the laws, an individual with a disability is someone with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, such as walking, seeing, hearing, learning, caring for oneself, speaking, breathing, thinking, concentrating, etc.

Documentation of the disability must be provided to UDSS and is kept on file to assist UDSS in determining appropriate accommodations. The documentation must support the accommodation(s) requested by the student; and requests for accommodations must be made in a timely manner.

In return, UDSS works closely with each student to individually determine what accommodations are effective and appropriate. Communication is the key. You, the student, know best how your disability affects you. It's important to feel comfortable discussing this with your UDSS coordinator and to know what kind of assistance you need to be successful.

Information on the laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability are available from many sources. See your UDSS coordinator if you would like more information.

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