Procedures for Student Disability Accommodation Requests
The University of Illinois is committed to the most fundamental principles of academic freedom, equality of opportunity, and human dignity, and requires that decisions involving students and employees be based on individual merit and be free from invidious discrimination in all its forms. To that end, the University of Illinois - College of Medicine (COM), through the Office for Access and Equity (OAE), has developed the following Rules and Procedures for providing reasonable accommodations for all qualified persons with disabilities.
Article I. Disability Defined
Section 1.01 As defined by applicable law, including the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (“ADAAA”), a person with a disability is “any person who (1) has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities, or (2) has a record of such an impairment, or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment.”
Section 1.02 “Major life activities” refer to functions such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, concentration, thinking, and working; also “major bodily functions” such as normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, immune system, and reproductive functions.
Article II. Required Documentation and Student Responsibilities
Students seeking accommodations should complete a “Student Disability and Accommodations Request Form.” In addition, the Office for Access and Equity requires that a student provide documentation that verifies that his/her disability substantially limits some major life activity and that supports the requested accommodation. Students must submit documentation to OAE at least one month in advance of the date of the requested accommodation. A student’s documentation shall be at the student’s expense and must meet each of the following criteria:
Section 2.01 Qualified Professional: The documentation must include an evaluation conducted by a qualified professional. Documentation must include information about the professional credentials of the evaluator, including their licensure and area of specialization. Additional information about their, experience with the diagnosis and treatment of adults in the appropriate field is recommended. An appropriate evaluator for learning disabilities is generally a licensed clinical, educational or neuro-psychologist. The diagnostician should not be a family member.
Section 2.02 Current Documentation: The current impact of a disability upon the student’s performance is at the crux of determining an effective reasonable accommodation. As such, documentation and the evaluation must be recent.
- For non-physical disability accommodation requests, documents must not be older than three (3) years;
- For physical disability accommodation requests, if the physical disability is a permanent condition, documentation of any age may be considered. If the disability is a temporary condition, clinical documentation should be less than one year old.
Section 2.03 Comprehensive Evaluation: The evaluation conducted by a qualified professional and submitted by the student must provide information in 5 areas:
- A specific medical diagnosis of a physical, mental or learning disorder.
- A description of how the diagnosis was confirmed based on established diagnostic criteria. Diagnostic testing and methods must be those currently utilized in professional practices within the relevant field.
- A description of how the diagnosis impacts a major life activity including education, and the expected duration of the limitation.
- The medical and educational history of the disability.
- Specific, realistic recommendation(s) for accommodations with a rationale for the recommendations.
Article III. ACCOMMODATION PROCESS
Section 3.01 The Office for Access and Equity (“OAE”) will determine if the student is eligible for an accommodation (i.e., is covered by the applicable laws and policies). In order to determine eligibility, OAE will review the documentation submitted by the student and his/her evaluator and determine whether the documentation meets the requirements set forth under Article 2 (Qualified Professional; Current Documentation; Comprehensive Evaluation). If the Article 2 requirements are met, OAE shall deem the student eligible.
Section 3.02 If eligible, OAE (in conjunction with the student, student’s advisor, and a representative of University Health Services, if appropriate) will determine what specific accommodations should be implemented with priority consideration given to the specific accommodation requested by the student, unless it is deemed not reasonable and other suitable techniques are available. Accommodations are reasonable when they do not fundamentally alter the nature of a program or service and do not represent an undue financial or administrative burden.
Section 3.03 Decisions regarding accommodations are made on a case-by case basis. There is no standard accommodation for any particular disability.
Section 3.04 OAE shall provide its decision regarding approval of accommodations to the student in writing.
Section 3.05 OAE reserves the right to send the student for further evaluation. However, to do so, OAE must provide the student with a written explanation of why further evaluation is needed, as follows:
- If the documentation provided by the student is incomplete, OAE may require the student to obtain additional information from his/her evaluator. Such cost is borne by the student.
- If the documentation is complete, but OAE requires further evaluation by a second professional opinion in order to determine the most appropriate and reasonable accommodation, OAE bears the cost. The second professional will be a qualified professional and representative of University Health Services as set forth in Section 2.01.
Section 3.06 The Accommodation Process may require six (6) or more weeks to complete.
Section 3.07 Following submission of the required documentation, a student may request temporary accommodations pending review by OAE. These requests will be approved on a case by case basis by OAE.
Article IV. APPEALS PROCESS
A student who is denied an accommodation (either in full or specific request) may appeal OAE’s decision through the formal student grievance process.
Section 4.01 A student may file a formal grievance in writing to the COM grievance officer within forty-five (45) calendar days of the date the student received OAE’s written decision. The appeal must also be submitted to the Chair.
Section 4.02 OAE is responsible for submitting all documentation to the grievance officer for consideration.
Section 4.03 The grievance officer may consult with OAE or other relevant professionals.
Article V. ADDITIONAL PROVISIONS
Section 5.01 The foregoing rules and procedures supersede any and all prior practices and procedures implemented by the College of Medicine or OAE.
Section 5.02 The foregoing rules and procedures are not intended to alter the student formal grievance process.