Disability Support Services, a division of Student Affairs, is the designated office that provides services to students with disabilities.
The mission of the Office of Disability Support Services is to coordinate services and accommodations for students with disabilities to ensure accessibility and usability of all programs, services, and activities. Disability Support Services also serves as a resource for information and as an advocate for students with disabilities for full participation in all aspects of campus life.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) gives individuals with disabilities civil rights protection that is similar to that provided to all individuals on the basis of race, sex, national origin, and religion. The act guarantees equal opportunity in employment, public accommodations, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications. In addition, Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation act states: “No otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States shall, solely on the basis of his/her handicap, be denied benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance”.
The policy at Southern Arkansas University is consistent with the ADA and Section 504. SAU is open and accessible to students with disabilities. We are committed to providing assistance to enable qualified students to accomplish their educational goals as well as assuring equal opportunity to derive all of the benefits of campus life.
Confidentiality and Release of Information
The Office of Disability Support Services is committed to ensuring all information regarding a student remains confidential as required or permitted by law. This information may include grades, biographical history, disability information, and case notes. No one has immediate access to student files in our office except authorized staff. Any information regarding a disability gained from medical or psychological evaluations shall be considered confidential and shall be shared with others within the institution on a need-to-know basis only.
Disability related information is to be treated as medical information is treated. For example, University faculty and staff do not have a right or a need to access diagnostic or other information regarding a student’s disability related needs. A student may sign a written consent form giving our office permission to discuss the disability with faculty and staff, parents, coaches, and/or advisors who require further information. Information will not be released without consent unless it is required by federal or state law.
To be eligible for academic accommodations through Disability Support Services (DSS), students must present documentation of a disability. Documentation must be provided before accommodations can be arranged. In most cases, documentation will be needed from doctoral level professionals such as psychologists, medical doctors, psychiatrists or neurologists. The professional should be experienced in diagnosing and treating the disability, should prepare the documentation on appropriate clinical stationary, should sign the document and should be able to provide the University with verification of the experience and expertise in the specialty if asked.
The type of documentation may vary dependent upon the type of disability. Documentation should be current within three years, but exceptions may be necessary dependent upon individual circumstances and disability.
Students with physical disabilities are asked to provide documentation by an appropriate, qualified professional.
Students who reside outside the campus community and are taking only online courses will follow a somewhat different process. The DSS application process can be conducted entirely by phone, or part e-mail and part by phone. Instead of meeting personally with your professors to discuss the logistics and accommodations, you will contact them by phone or e-mail. You will need to indicate to DSS that you are an online student, so we will know to send the letters to your professors via email. It is still necessary for you to contact your professors to work out accommodation logistics for exams and to follow up to be sure they received your Faculty Notification Letter.
Students Without Documentation
Some students contact our office who have not been tested for cognitive disabilities, such as a learning disability, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or a psychological disability, but suspect that they may have one. Southern Arkansas University does not have the resources to provide the necessary testing. DSS will provide students with a list of appropriate professionals who are qualified to conduct a diagnostic evaluation. The cost of such an evaluation ranges between $450.00 and $1,200.00. Insurance companies sometimes pay for testing, but often they do not. In some cases, local service agencies can provide financial help to students.
If you plan to take tests in the Disability Support Center, please read the following:
- Complete a test request form for each course in which you plan to use Test Taking Accommodations. A test request form is the only way we have of knowing when you have a test scheduled so we can contact your instructor and make arrangements to administer your test.
- A Test Request Form must be completed at least three days prior to the date the examination is scheduled to be given. This allows us time to contact your instructor.
- If you do not know the dates for all your exams or dates change, when you know the correct information, stop back and make necessary additions or changes on your test request form.
Administration of Tests
- Arrangements will be made for staff in this office to pick up and return all tests. This is to protect your credibility.
- To take tests you should schedule an appointment with Counseling and Testing @ 235-4145 or come by Reynolds 216.
- Only those materials, i.e. calculators, books, notes, etc., specified by the instructor will be permitted in the testing room.
Do not hesitate to ask if you have questions or are unclear about the use of Test Taking Accommodations.