Frequently Asked Questions - ADA - Students

Q. What kinds of modifications to programs does the ADA require?
A. An institution must determine modifications on a case-by-case basis. Nonetheless, some examples of possible modifications include changing the length of time permitted for completion of degree requirements or substitution of a course for a required course.

Q. What kinds of modifications to examinations does the ADA require?
A. Once again, the institution must determine these modifications on a case-by-case basis. Some common modifications include using large print testing materials, providing a scribe or reader, permitting the test to be taken in a "quiet room," extending the time for completing the test, or administering an oral test.

Q. May my institution charge a surcharge for providing a reasonable accommodation?
A. No, but your institution may charge a student with a disability for optional services, such as physical therapy, or for accessible parking, if the charge for parking is comparable to that paid by other students.

Q. Do extracurricular activities and student housing have to be accessible to disabled students?
A. Yes.

Q. Is my institution responsible for providing auxiliary aids and services for disabled students?
A. Yes. Public institutions must provide auxiliary aids and services for individuals with a disability as accommodations for the programs offered. However, this does not include personal devices or services, such as eyeglasses, a wheelchair or readers for personal use or study.

Q. Is my institution responsible for paying for documentation of a disability?
A. No. The student is responsible.

Q. Does the institution have to provide the accommodations favored by the student or the student's health care provider?
A. No. The institution may choose among effective accommodations. However, the institution should work with the student to obtain necessary information to determine the type and nature of a reasonable accommodation. The institution does not have to choose the "best" accommodations or the accommodation requested by the student.

Q. How current does documentation of a disability need to be?
A. The best practice is to obtain the most up-to-date medical documentation in order to effectively process an accommodation request. Depending on the type and nature of the disability, information should be no less than three (3) years old. However, institutions must conduct individualized evaluations of documentation in each case. For example, certain disabilities may not change over time, making it unnecessary to obtain updated documentation.

Q. What if parents call and request information or ask to be involved in the accommodation process for their child?
A. Access by parents to information about a student is limited by the federal Family Educational Records and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Wisconsin Public Records Law. Parents generally may not access information about their student without the student's consent (unless, for example, the student is a dependent of the parent for tax purposes).

Q. What kind of documentation should an institution accept?
A. The best practice is to obtain up-to-date medical documentation from a treating physician or medical professional that directly evaluates a student’s disability in light of the educational standards and/or academic requirements. Evidence from some other proceeding or process is not enough (such as a social security determination of disability benefits). An institution may consider Individual Education Plans (IEP's), 504 Plans and other types of documentation, but these are not conclusive and do not constitute medical documentation. It is important to remember that the fact that someone provided an accommodation in the past is not a documentation of a disability.

Q. What should an institution do if questions arise regarding the validity of the documentation?
A. The institution should obtain a written release from the student as part of the disability services intake process which allows the institution representative to contact the health care provider directly.

Q. Are individuals who have a record of or are regarded as having a disability eligible for accommodations?
A. No. An institution is only required to provide a reasonable accommodation to a student with a documented and current disability so as to allow the student to participate in and benefit from the institution’s educational programs.

Q. May an institution consider mitigating measures, such as a medication that corrects the impairment, in determining whether a student has a disability?
A. No. In accordance with the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, an individual’s use of one or more mitigating measures (except ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses) cannot be considered in determining whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity (note that negative effects can be considered). This includes measures such as medication, equipment, devices, hearing aids, use of assistive technology, auxiliary aids or services, among others.