Accessibility Services

Mission

The Office of Counseling/Accessibility Services (OCAS) honors the legacy of Thaddeus Stevens by advocating for accessible facilities and services, and encouraging all academically qualified individuals with disabilities to achieve their full potential.

OCAS encourages academically qualified students with disabilities to achieve their full potential by fostering self-advocacy, independence, and use of technology.  The support, accommodation and integration of individuals with disabilities requires cooperation and coordination with all departments, offices and personnel on the Stevens Campus.  Within the limits of HIPPA, and FERPA; OCAS  provides information to educate the campus community so that programs and services are delivered equitably and efficiently to all members of the campus community. 

Disclosure

Disability information is protected information; therefore, the student must disclose and personally request accommodations. Further, individuals within the campus community are only informed of a student’s disability on a “need to know” basis.  As accommodations are provided through coordination with various offices and individuals on campus, the student signs a service agreement acknowledging their responsibilities and the procedure for obtaining accommodations.  The provision of accommodations is confirmed through the signed Approved Accommodations Form that is taken by the student to each instructor and service provider as is appropriate at the start of each semester. 

Key Facts

  • The student must make the request, not the parent
  • The college via Accessibility Services determines reasonable accommodations
  • Disability documentation is very specific (see below)
  • Disability information is confidential and shared only on a Need to Know basis.
  • Students with disabilities must be “otherwise qualified” and able to perform essential functions  with or without accommodations
  • Accommodations are not retroactive.
  • Accommodations may not be provided without written approval from Accessibility Services Coordinator

Students requesting accommodations or services due to a disability are required to submit  documentation to determine eligibility in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of  1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Amendment Act of 2009.

 Documentation

  • Must include a specific diagnosis (Ex. a specific learning disability in reading),
  • Must state how the disability substantially limits a major life activity, such as learning
  • Must cite accommodations that are appropriate for the disability with supporting rationale ( Note:  Accommodations may not alter pace, content, academic level, or essential skills)
  • Must include objective data regarding aptitude, achievement, IQ, information processing, and  standard test  scores that reflect current level of ability (Ex: Reading comprehension is 10th gr level)
  • Must reflect a current need
  • Must be completed by a professional such as a psychologist, or medical professional
  • May need to include medical clearance if the student is entering a “Safety Sensitive” Program

Types of documentation accepted, but not limited to

    • IEP and Evaluation Report or Psychological
    • Letter from a physician
    • Discharge Summary

Placement Test Accommodations

Students must submit Documentation no later than two weeks prior to the date they would like to test.

Students should not schedule their actual test date until they have received their Approved Accommodations Letter.

Students should schedule their placement tests through the Admissions Office and not through the Counseling & Accessibility Office.

Testing Accommodations 

Students with Disabilities who wish to request accommodations are required to disclose to the Counselor/Accessibility Coordinator. It is recommended that students disclose before May 1 to allow time to arrange for accommodations, and to schedule a Transition Interview prior to the start of their first semester.  Specific documentation is required to document a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the 2009 Amendment Act. (ADAAA).  Documentation must be current, and provide evidence of a disability that affects a major life activity.  Further students may be diagnosed with a disability, but must also be “otherwise qualified” for their program of study. Otherwise qualified is defined by ADA as able to perform essential skills with or without accommodations.  Therefore, specific accommodations may be cited in provided documentation; but not considered reasonable, as accommodations in college may not alter the pace, content or essential skills required for a course or program of study.

Accessibility Services Provided at Thaddeus Stevens College

Definition of a Disability 

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. “Substantially limited” generally means that a person is unable to perform a major life activity that the average person in the general population can perform. Mitigating or corrective measures such as medication or corrective lenses may be considered when determining whether a person is substantially limited. The ADA protects individuals from discrimination if they have a record of such impairments, or if they are regarded as having such impairments.  Additional specific protections are guaranteed through section 504 (part E) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (amended 1978) and the ADAAA of 2008.

  • Major life activities include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.
  • Major Bodily Functions include, but are not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.

Services Provided

Services provided at Thaddeus Stevens College are in accordance with these laws, and follow the recommendations of the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD).  Universal Design concepts provide the basis for integrating accessibility so that students with disabilities may fully participate in their educational experience.  Disability determination is on a case-by-case basis.  The college cannot set-up predetermined categories of what types of disabilities will be accommodated and what types will not.   However, there are accommodations that are likely to be approved.  (See Comprehensive list of Accommodations Generally Approved at the college included below)

Accommodations Not Provided

  • Personal devices such as wheelchairs, hearing aids or glasses
  • Personal services such as assistance with eating, toileting, or dressing
  • Accommodations that would fundamentally alter the nature of a program
  • Accommodations which lower or substantially modify academic or program standards
  • Accommodations that are unduly burdensome, administratively or financially.

Differences between IEP’s, 504 Plans, and College Accommodations

Laws and Federal Regulations that guide provision of accommodations

IDEA: The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is a federal law that governs any special education service or policy for children ages 3 to graduation (or until age 21 if student remains in high school until then). Each IEP (Individualized Education Plan) is developed by an “educational team” for that specific child and stipulates how that child’s education will be individualized in order for the child to learn. The IDEA is stylized so the child has the best opportunity to succeed. The child may be allowed “modifications” in the curriculum, the delivery, testing, and in the grading process in order to achieve some success in school. Therefore, a child with an IEP may make an A in a course if he/she completes 70% of coursework rather than 100%, or the child may be allowed the modification of having one correct answer and one incorrect answer to choose from on a test rather than one correct answer and 3 incorrect answers that the rest of the class has.

Section 504: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protects individuals from discrimination based on their disabilities. This Act governs any public school or college that accepts any type of federal financial assistance, but the Act itself provides no funding for the schools or colleges affected by its mandates. The seven-part Act is divided into Sections A-G. Subpart D applies to K-12 schools and Subpart E applies to postsecondary institutions. Subpart E mandates that qualified postsecondary students with disabilities be offered the opportunity to complete a degree with all other, non-disabled students.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 is a federal civil rights law structured to provide equal opportunities for all people with disabilities. The ADA requires equal access and protects individuals from discrimination based on their disabilities. The ADA trumps all other acts regarding students in the postsecondary world.  

Comparison of High School and College Accommodations: AHEAD Comparison of Accommodations

Disclosing a Disability to obtain Accommodations

The student personally must initiate the request for accommodations. To request accommodations students are required to provide documentation to the Counselor/Accessibility Coordinator.  Documentation should be within a 3-year period, however, older documentation may be considered. An interview with the student is essential in determining accommodations.  The student understands his or her personal experience, including challenges, what previous accommodations have been helpful, and whether or not there is a need for accommodations.  The interview content follows the AHEAD recommended Needs Assessment.  The Accommodations Needs Assessment includes the setting in which accommodations are provided, the characteristics of the student’s disability, the student’s goals, and needs.  The student’s preference is considered, if several accommodations would be appropriate. However, the college reserves the right to select appropriate effective accommodations based on what the college is able and required to provide.

Guidelines for Complete Documentation to obtain Accommodations

The following content should be included in documentation provided to substantiate a request for accommodations.  This documentation may be included in a psychological evaluation, an IEP and Evaluation Report, or a medical report or a letter from a professional. While IDEA requires a Summary of Performance, this may not include the necessary information to obtain accommodations at the college level.  Documentation must provide a diagnosis that clearly states the disability and its impact on a major life activity.  Accommodations are only approved to address the identified functional limitations caused by the student’s disability.

Content needed:

  • Documentation should be legible and dated.
  • Documentation should be typed or printed on letterhead, dated and signed by the elevator, who also indicates his/her name, title and professional credentials.
  • Current Documentations: 3 years for Learning Disability/ADD/ADHD; 6 months for Psychiatric Disabilities; Include current impact of the disability on a major life activity and it’s functional impairment.
  • Reason for Referral
  • Testing: The tests used should be listed, valid and age appropriate; Test and sub test results should be clearly stated
  • Diagnosis: Clearly stated and supported by the documentation (A diagnosis however does not necessarily mean a disability)
  • Background description of student’s developmental, medical, and educational history. Describe student’s academic performance
  • Evaluator should also discuss what academic and other functions are not affected by the disability.
  • Description of the student’s academic accomplishments, and achievement levels.
  • Summary recap with discussion on how the accommodations relate to the test results, and other findings.
  • Each requested accommodations must be specifically stated.
  • Documentation is provided to the Accessibility Coordinator for review prior to the student needing services. Recommended period is two weeks for the placement tests, and a minimum one-month prior to the student’s first semester.

Considerations when Approving Accommodations

Under the guidelines of the ADAAA, the following considerations are taken into account when reviewing documentation for approval of accommodations.

  • Does the applicant have ability with respect to the verbal domain as it relates to learning in academic areas?
  • For mental health or physical disabilities does the applicant possess aptitude with respect to domains under performance, manual applications?
  • Does the accommodation in any way change the pace, level or essential skills* required for a particular course, or program of study? 
  • Would this accommodation be provided in the workplace? 
  • Is the applicant otherwise qualified for the course or program of study?
  • Can this accommodation be provided through assistive technology that is available to the student?
  • If so, is this assistive technology beneficial to all students or only to the individual student?
  • Is the accommodation a disruption to the educational experience of other students in the student’s program or course?
  • Without the accommodation is the student at risk for being disruptive to the educational experience of other students?
  • Does the accommodation present a safety issue related to the use of equipment?
  • Is the student able to access campus services and experience the campus the same as other non- disabled students?
  • Are there alternative interventions or accommodations that would provide similar benefit?

 Comprehensive Review of Current Approved Accommodations

Accommodations in college for students with disabilities as defined by the American’s with Disability Act, and 504 Rehabilitation Act (Section E) of 1973.  The Difference between High School and College is that accommodations in high school focus on success, but in college, the focus is access.  Further, in high school a success focus may result in having expectations adjusted so that a student can graduate, but in College pace nor academic content may be adapted.    In college, all students must be qualified which means the student must be able to perform the essential skills required in their courses and program of study, and meet graduation standards.  The following list represents how high school accommodations may be provided at Thaddeus Stevens College.

Frequently Requested Accommodations and Implementation at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology

  • Verbal Cues to refocus-  Instructors will generally remind ANY student to refocus, behavior that repeatedly needs reminders and disrupts instruction may result in  the student being asked to leave class and meet with a counselor.
  • Preferential Seating:  Students may request assigned seating to assist with focus, auditory or visual limitations
  • Read, Simplify, Clarify Directions:  Students may ask for directions to be repeated, students may meet with instructors to review directions.  Directions are generally provided in writing, and verbally.
  • Chunk Large Assignments: Students are given deadlines for assignments, and may work with an academic coach to layout assignments. 
  • Extended due dates for long assignments:  Students who work more slowly are provided with additional lab time during their non-scheduled class time.   Students are expected to use non-scheduled class time to complete homework, and assignments.  Due dates are generally not extended.
  • Lecture notes:  Instructors may provide power points, and lecture notes during class and online which students may request or access. 
  • Use of Computer to take notes, all written work:  Students are encouraged to use computers.  Not all classrooms have computers; Students may bring their own computer, or borrow a laptop from the library.   Students who do not remain on task while using their computer may lose the accommodation.
  • Study Guides:  Students are generally not provided with study guides prior to tests; they may be told what topics to study, and to write down specific information.  Students go to the Academic Center where they can participate in a study group and learn how to study as well as develop their own study guides. 

NOTE: Study guides help students memorize information to pass a test, not learn how to apply the information.

  • Repetition, review, 1:1 assistance, study skills, retention, memory, assignment completion, time managementUse of Planner: Students are expected to participate in study groups, meet with academic coaches, use peer tutors, use math and English labs to reinforce their learning.  These services are available outside class time, and students are expected to make time during their non-class hours to utilize these services.  Instructors also are available during office hours. 
  • Praise: Grades are considered a reward. Instructors do acknowledge effort but not as part of a behavior plan.
  • Use of a fidget: as long as the student can maintain focus, participate in the class activities and is not a disruption to others fidgets are approved.
  • Multi- modal presentation of lecture, written materials, and visual materials: Text to Speech programs can access written materials on line.  Some textbooks and classroom materials are prepackaged with auditory option.  Ancillary materials, demonstrations, videos are used to support lecture and theory.  Examples of work are generally provided to students to aid in understanding assignments.

Approved Accommodations

Testing

  • Read Test: Students who have a print disability or a reading disability may qualify to have tests read.  Tests are read as written, not rephrased.  This service is provided outside the classroom by the Academic Center coaches.  However, if the test is in an online format it may be read by an online text to speech program.   If the test is in a hard copy format, the student may opt to use a reader pen.  Note: The admissions test proctor will provide this for applicants if the applicant provided documentation to the Accessibility Office prior to scheduling the test. 
  • Extended Test Time: Students are permitted to remain in their class or go to the Academic Center.  Instructors are encouraged to build extended time (1.5X max) into their tests.  Most instructors allow an entire period for General education courses or two to 4 hours for tests in the programs.
  • Distraction Free Environment:  These accommodations maybe provided in the classroom or in the Academic Center.  
  • Auditory presentation of written materials:  provided through on line resources, e- texts, reader pens, on-line Text to speech programs.  Students may obtain Alternate format textbooks from LearningAlly.com, Bookshare.com or the Publisher.  The student should set up an account to obtain books. To obtain an alternate form book from a publisher, a letter must be sent from the Accessibility Coordinator, which may delay obtaining the book.  Google, Amazon, You Tube may have books available in e format.  Cengage books are available in e format and may be read through a Text-to-Speech program.   
  • Recording Lecture:  Students may record lecture but musts sign a specific agreement with each instructor
  • TECHNOLOGY/ONLINE Resources: Students are apprised of free and low cost aids, technology, and resources to increase their independence and ability to self-accommodate as they transition to the workplace.  Options are changing constantly.

Note: To have any accommodations approved and initiated the student must provide documentation to the Accessibility Coordinator AND meet with the coordinator to review and sign the approved accommodations (AA) Form.  This form is signed at the beginning of each semester. The student informs his instructor or key staff about accommodations by providing a copy of the signed AA FORM to them.   Information about a student’s disability is not shared, nor do Instructors receive copies of a student’s IEP.  Instructors may not initiate accommodations without being provided with the Signed AA Form.  Instructors and staff do not communicate with anyone other than the student regarding disabilities and related accommodations due to the confidential nature.

Accommodations Not Approved:  Word banks, modified tests, re-testing, study guides, re-wording at student’s level.

Course specific Accommodations:

Math

  • Calculator - for tests when computation skills are not being assessed.
  • Not approvedMultiplication charts, Sample questions on tests, Formulas, Step Guides.

Writing

  • Graphic organizers, outlines- student attends the writing lab and works with the tutor to address each step of the writing process.   Use of computer for all written work
  • Not approved: Ignoring spelling, grammar, punctuation.  Altering length of assignment. 

Emotional/Social/ Behavioral: Students are expected to conduct themselves and manage their social interactions, emotions, behavior as if they were in the workplace.  Students are supported in developing appropriate coping strategies through counseling services.  Repeat behavior that disrupts the learning environment, or behavior that creates an unsafe situation for the student, or others may be asked to withdraw from a course, program or college until the student is able to make appropriate changes.   

Access to counselor, social worker, staff person when becomes frustrated or upset as needed, opportunity to debrief social situations - Counselors schedule appointments with students, and are not available for daily or weekly check ins.  Counselors are available for urgent and emergency situations during specified work hours. Student may not be able to access a counselor on demand

  • Permission to leave room when becomes upset or frustrated- Students are permitted to go to the bathroom, or get a drink of water. Frequently leaving the room can be disruptive, and leaving for extended periods can result in student’s falling behind. Students are guided to develop coping strategies that would be acceptable in the workplace. .
  • Housing/Single Room:  Student must provide documentation from a treatment specialist that cites the diagnosis, and specific reasons a single room is necessary.  Single rooms are limited and assigned based on level of need, when the request was made. 
    • Housing:  Students requesting housing accommodations must complete a request forms.
    • Housing Policy, procedure and Accommodation Request Form

Not approved:  Positive Behavioral Support Plans- Expected behavior is detailed in Student Handbook, which is reviewed at Orientation, Expected classroom behavior, is written in course syllabus, which is reviewed during the first day of class.

Physical/MedicalConditions that limit lifting, standing, use of limbs, vision, hearing: etc., that may interfere with performing specific skills, or create a safety risk for the student or other students are reviewed on an individual basis. Students may be required to provide clearance from a physician to participate in specific programs. Essential Skills by program are provided as part of the physical form for review, so that students and their treatment providers are aware of program expectations. 

Students are expected to attend and participate in their programs of study and courses in person.  Many labs, activities, assignments are designed to build teamwork, leadership, and simulate the work environment. A maximum of 5 days (20 contact hours) missed may be permitted for programs of study per semester, and a maximum of 3 days (3 contact hours) missed per course per semester. Students must provide a letter from a doctor and inform their instructors to be excused. Students who are hospitalized for any reason must provide discharge and clearance to the Nurse on main campus prior to returning to class. Additional time missed is excused on a case-by-case basis.  Instructors, Administrators Accessibility Coordinator review missed time in relation to essential skills required for a program or course. In most cases, a student who develops a condition that will cause the student to miss a significant period of time (5-10 days) from their program of study may be asked to take a medical leave of absence.  Appointments or treatments that require the student to miss time from class should be scheduled during non-class hours. Whenever possible students are encouraged to work with local providers. 

  • Parking: Students provide documentation. Accessibility Coordinator reviews documentation and approves. Coordinator requests parking permit from VP Finance.  Permit is provided to student. Must be placed in front window of vehicle to avoid parking ticket.
  • Interpreters: Individuals with hearing difficulties that require sign language interpreters must contact the Counseling/Accessibility Office a minimum of two weeks for a specific event; May 1 for services during the Fall semester, and by November 1 for services in the Spring semester. The college does not employ interpreters, but contracts with a local agency to provide that service. Interpreters are available for Graduation. However, interpreters for the academic year are available on a case-by-case basis for students requiring services. A request form must be completed. For specific events 36 hr. cancellation is required  Interpreter Request Form
  • Personal Care: The College does not provide accommodations that include personal care.   
  • Dietary: Students with specific food allergies or special diets must provide documentation of their disability from a licensed dietitian, nutritionist or treating physician to request a meal plan waiver. The Director of Food Services will review request to determine if the special diet can be provided.  If the dietary restrictions cannot be met, the student may request a waiver of the meal plan.  If approved the student would not be required to pay for a meal plan but would be responsible for obtaining, and preparing their food within the resources available on campus.   Both the medical office and the Accessibility Coordinator should be informed of dietary restrictions, and food allergies.

Disclaimer: This list is a general overview of the most frequently requested accommodations, and is not meant to be comprehensive. It is intended as a general guide for what students may expect to receive in the way of accommodations at Stevens. Please consult with the Accessibility Coordinator if you have further questions.   

Accommodations Request Forms

Learning Accommodations at Stevens

This document describes the possible accommodations while attending TSCT.

Policy and Procedure for Housing Accommodations

In compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Amendment Act of 2009, students at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology with documented disabilities may request special housing accommodations .

Housing Accommodation Request Form