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Purpose of Handbook

The purpose of this handbook is to inform you of the services available at the University of Michigan-Flint for students with disabilities.  The decision to utilize available services is an individual choice.  At the University of Michigan-Flint, you --- the student --- make the decisions.  You are the expert as to what works best for you.

Students tend to achieve higher levels of academic success when they demonstrate initiative and assertiveness, begin preparing for college or graduate school early, and are aware of and can communicate their strengths and weaknesses along with appropriate accommodations. Disability and Accessibility Support Services (DASS) is here to provide support along the way.  This handbook serves as a guide to help you as you make those decisions.  It should serve as a resource and a tool for enabling you to be informed and empowered during your academic career at the University of Michigan-Flint.

Before and after a student enrolls at the University of Michigan-Flint, Disability and Accessibility Support Services staff are available to answer questions and give referrals concerning admissions, registration, services available, financial aid, academic advising, etc.  In addition, we can help you with assessing your needs in such areas as classroom accommodations, tutors, note takers, and adaptive equipment.  Disability and Accessibility Support Services encourages new students to stay in contact with our office as a means of resolving any problems that may arise relating to your disability.

Mission and Vision Statements

Mission

Our mission at the University of Michigan-Flint is to utilize our expertise in disability and higher education to deliver innovative and high quality services and classroom accommodations to students with disabilities. We will facilitate and advocate for reasonable accommodations allowing students equal access to programs, activities and services of the institution; cultivate opportunities for students to articulate their strengths and advocate for necessary accommodations as well as identifying and responding to the fluid nature of student needs and learning environments.

Vision

Our vision is an inclusive community that fosters the full participation and the contribution of every member of the University of Michigan - Flint.

Who We Are

Located in the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) Office, room 264 UCEN, Disability and Accessibility Support Services (DASS) exists to help students maximize their academic potential by:

  • Assisting students in negotiating disability-related barriers in pursuit of their education.
  • Advocating for student rights.
  • Striving to improve access to university programs, activities, and facilities for students with disabilities.
  • Promoting increased awareness of disability issues on campus.

What We Provide

Services available to students are individualized and based on the disability and resulting functional limitations.  Accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis according to a student's documented needs, guidelines suggested by federal and state legislation, and criteria set forth by UM-Flint. Some students may need accommodations that apply to altering the format of printed material used in and outside of the classroom (Braille, audio, electronic text, etc.).

Other academic accommodations, as applied to the classroom may include adjustments in seating arrangements, physical access, testing procedures, teaching techniques, auxiliary aids, and receiving copies of lecture notes.

Students should speak with their instructors before or during the first week of classes regarding any accommodations. DASS will provide qualifying students an official Accommodation Letter detailing approved accommodations. You may also tell faculty about the faculty handbook available on the DASS website for his or her use. This handbook describes different types of disabilities and lists suggested accommodations. If an instructor is unwilling to make a reasonable accommodation, contact DASS for assistance as soon as possible.

Although most instructors are willing to pursue creative teaching methods and are interested in working individually with students, it is rare that the modification to essential course requirements are recommended; e.g., allowing the student to substitute a paper or other project for an exam. The staff members of DASS are available to discuss with students and faculty reasonable accommodations and how they can best be arranged.

We strongly discourage lowering academic standards for students with disabilities. If you feel, however, that your needs are not being accommodated appropriately, you may contact the DASS office for mediation. 

Planning for Services

You are expected to plan appropriately for services needed and contact DASS within reasonable time frames for accommodation requests. University Policy is two weeks’ prior notice for any academic accommodation. Faculty may be able to provide accommodations earlier than two weeks, but it should not be expected.  

Eligibility for Services

Students requesting services from DASS must adhere to the following:

  1. Students must have a documented disability as defined by state and/or federal regulations.
  2. Documentation of disability by a qualified professional must be provided. See the Documentation Guidelines section regarding what constitutes appropriate documentation.
  3. Students must meet with DASS prior to the beginning of services for an intake meeting and to determine appropriate accommodations.
  4. Specific accommodations are based on disability and their effect on major life activities encountered as a student.
  5. Students receiving in-class support must attend class on a regular basis 

Accommodation Request Process

  1. Student completes the Accommodation Request form found at the following link: https://umflint-accommodate.symplicity.com/public_accommodation/ and provides supporting documentation, if available. 
     
  2. DASS will review the information submitted and e-mail student to schedule an intake appointment to discuss how they are affected by their disability and possible accommodations.
     
  3. DASS will review the student’s request, taking into account information from the Accommodation Request Form, documentation, and intake appointment.
     
  4. DASS will follow-up with the student, usually via e-mail, with an official response. If an accommodation request is denied a reason and possible alternatives will be provided. If more information, or additional documentation, is needed, it will be stated at this time as well.
     
  5. Once accommodations are agreed upon, the student will be sent their official Accommodation Letter. It will be the student’s responsibility to share this letter with faculty to activate the accommodations. This letter should be shared with faculty in a manner timely enough to appropriately provide the accommodations.

Accommodation Letters

As needed, professors are entitled to an overview of the type of accommodations to be provided. Students will be provided an accommodation letter to be shared with his or her instructor. This letter will help guide the student and instructor in determining the best approach to administering the accommodations. If any questions arise, Disability Services should be contacted immediately. 
Accommodation letters are valid for a single term. Once a student is approved for accommodations they will need to submit a semester request for each subsequent semester they plan to use their accommodations. 

Provisional Accommodations

At times, the process of obtaining documentation supporting a student's disability may take some time. For example, an undated evaluation may be reqeusted, or a student may have a delay in getting an appointment with their care provider. In these circumstances, at the Disability Services Coordinator's discretion, provisional accommodations may be provided.

Provisional accommodations are a courtesy given to a student who is working on obtaining the proper documentation. They typically last until the end of the current semester. At that point, further documentation is required to continue with the accommodations.

Temporary Accommodations

Students who suffer a short-term injury, such as an injured hand that prohibits them from taking notes, may be eligible for temporary accommodations. The application process is the same and accommodations can be provided on a semester basis.

Submitting a Semester Request

Each semester students recieving accommodations will be required to submit a semester request. Semester requests can be submitted starting one month prior to the start of the semester and should be done as early as possible after the student's schedule is set. If a student adds classes after their initial semester request, and additional request will need to be made. After the request is submitted, it will be reviewed by DASS and the student's Accommodation Letter will be sent to them. To complete a semester request, follow these steps:

  1. Login to Accommodate using the link in the left hand menu.
     
  2. Once logged in, click "Accommodation" in the left menu
     
  3. This will expand the Accommodation menu, displaying its submenus. Select “Semester Request.”
     
  4. The Semester Request page will show you any past semester requests made. To make a new one for the upcoming semester, click the “Add New” button.
     
  5. A list of accommodations you have been approved for, and can be requested, is displayed. To make initiate your request for the following semester, select it from the drop-down menu.
     
  6. Selecting the semester brings up the list of classes you are registered for. (This list may not be live and changes within the last 24 hours may not be displayed.) If you want to use all your accommodations for all the classes listed, click the “Submit For All Accommodations” button. If you want to select which accommodations you use and what class you use them in, click the “Review The Renewal” button. Please note that the instructors for classes you select will be able to see a list of your accommodations within their portal.

Once your semester request is submitted, you will receive a confirmation email. DASS will then review your request and generate your Accommodation Letter. This letter will also be viewable by the instructor of any class you selected and will be available in your Accommodate portal.

Rights and Responsibilities of Students

The University of Michigan-Flint is committed to protecting the rights of students with disabilities. In accordance with those rights, students with disabilities:

  • Shall have the right to choose to disclose or not disclose their disability to faculty.
  • Shall have the right to confidentiality.
  • Shall have equal access to campus facilities, activities, and programs.
  • Shall be evaluated by the same admissions policies and procedures as all students.
  • Shall receive necessary and appropriate accommodations and auxiliary aids in a timely and efficient manner.
  • Shall have input into the types of accommodations provided.
  • Have a responsibility to meet the academic program criteria.
  • Have a responsibility to provide "reasonable notice" when requesting an accommodation.
  • Have a responsibility to provide the necessary documentation for the accommodation.

Documentation Guidelines

DASS collaborates with students with documented disabilities to provide reasonable and appropriate accommodations that are individualized and based upon disability documentation, functional limitations, and a collaborative assessment of needs.

To be eligible for services, a student must provide current, appropriate, written documentation from a licensed and/or certified professional in the field concerning the specific diagnosis. Documentation must validate the presence of a disability as defined under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act 2008 (ADA-AA). The documentation should include an evaluation that clearly states what the impairment is and how the impairment impacts the student’s ability to participate in the college’s educational programs and services. Functional limitations and the relationship with the accommodation(s) requested should be clearly outlined. 

The general and disability specific guidelines that are listed below were developed to assist professional(s) in preparing the information needed to evaluate the student’s request for accommodation(s).These guidelines are based upon current United States disability law (504, ADA-AA).

Please note: information provided by public and private special education programs (i.e. IEP, Social History, and Special Education Eligibility) may be helpful but may not fully meet the needs of DASS in terms of adequacy or currency of documentation. It is important to consult with DASS about the need for, and appropriateness of documentation. If there are any questions about documentation guidelines, individuals can contact DASS.

General Guidelines

All documentation submitted to DASS must include the following information in addition to disability specific information listed on following pages.

  1. Credentials of the evaluator(s): Documentation must be provided by a licensed or otherwise properly credentialed professional who has undergone appropriate, comprehensive training and experience relevant to the student’s diagnosis. (e.g., an orthopedic impairment might be documented by a physician, but not a licensed psychologist)
     
  2. A diagnostic statement identifying the disability: Documentation must include both a diagnosis and a statement that describes how the condition was diagnosed, provides evidence on the functional impact, and details the typical progression or prognosis of the condition.
     
  3. A description of the diagnostic methodology used: Documentation should include a description of the diagnostic criteria, evaluation methods, procedures, tests, and dates of administration, as well as a clinical narrative, observation, and specific results. If standardized tests were administered both the standard and percentile scores need to be provided in the report.
     
  4. A description of current functional limitations: Information on how the disabling condition(s) currently impacts the individual provides useful information for both establishing a disability and identifying possible accommodations. A combination of the results of formal evaluation procedures, clinical narrative, and the individual's self-report is the most comprehensive approach to fully documenting impact. Documentation is expected to be thorough enough to demonstrate whether and how a major life activity is substantially limited by providing a clear sense of the severity, frequency and pervasiveness of the condition(s).
     
  5. A description of the expected progression or stability of the disability: It is helpful when documentation provides information on expected changes in the functional impact of the disability over time and context. Information on the cyclical or episodic nature of the disability and known or suspected environmental triggers to episodes provides opportunities to anticipate and plan for varying functional impacts.
     
  6. A description of current and past accommodations, services, and/or medications: Documentation will include a description of current medications, auxiliary aids, assistive devices, support services, and accommodations, including their effectiveness in ameliorating functional impacts of the disability. A discussion of any significant side effects from current medications or services that may impact physical, perceptual, behavioral or cognitive performance is helpful when included in the report. While accommodations provided in another setting are not binding on the current institution, they may provide insight in making current decisions.

Instructors

DASS supports you as the advocate to your instructors regarding classroom and academic accommodations.  In most cases, determining and implementing accommodations is a seamless process.  However, there are times when there are not obvious solutions to addressing your needs.  As appropriate, students, professors and DASS will work collaboratively to resolve these matters accordingly.   Nevertheless, you, the student, are considered the expert on your particular needs.  As such, DASS encourages you to meet with your instructors early in the semester to confirm what accommodations will be provided for the course.

When talking with your instructors:

  • State that you have a disability.
  • Explain your affiliation with DASS.
  • Have suggestions about what they can do to provide an equitable opportunity for you to learn.
  • If appropriate, make them aware of your past successes.
  • Discuss specific details about how examinations and any in-class accommodations will be handled.
  • Make it clear that you are a serious, motivated student who will succeed in their classes if a reasonable allowance is made for a specific problem you have in a specific area.
  • As appropriate, engage them in a problem-solving process with you when there are not obvious solutions to the problem.
  • Be on time for scheduled appointments.
  • Be calm, courteous, and do not interrupt.

When talking with your instructors DO NOT:

  • Quote the ADA, Section 504, or IDEA.
  • Dictate policy.
  • Get mad.
  • Request unreasonable adjustments.
  • Make demands for large amounts of their time.

DASS is available to answer questions from your instructors about how to provide needed accommodations.  If an instructor is unwilling to make a reasonable accommodation, you are encouraged to contact DASS. However, many instructors are willing to pursue creative teaching methods and are interested in working individually with students.  The University of Michigan-Flint is not required to fundamentally alter essential curricular components of its academic programs.

Grievance Policy and Procedures

In accordance to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, the University makes reasonable adjustments and provides necessary services to permit students with disabilities to participate fully in academic programs and activities. Students who believe the university is not meeting these responsibilities or who believe that they have been otherwise discriminated against, should follow the grievance policy and procedures:

Step 1: Consultation with DASS, 264 UCEN, (810) 762-3456.

Step 2: Consultation with Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, 359 University Center, (810) 237-6648.

Step 3: Consultation with Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, 237 University Pavilion, (810) 762-3434.

Step 4: Consultation with the University of Michigan Office of Institutional Equity ADA Coordinator, 2072 Administrative Services, (734) 763-0235.  

On Campus Support

Academic Advising

Students with disabilities should begin planning their class schedules well before registration.  This will insure that the needed services and support are arranged in a timely fashion.  The Academic Advisors assist students in selecting courses for general education requirements, program requirements, petitioning procedures, dropping and adding classes, and changing majors.  The ultimate responsibility for selecting the proper courses and completing degree requirements lies with the student.  Accordingly, all students should carefully read and understand the UM-Flint catalog.

Where appropriate, Academic Advisors and the Disability Services Coordinator will work together in addressing academic accommodation needs as they relate to your particular disability and course requirements.

Writing Center

The Writing Center offers free services designed to assist college students with their academic writing skills. Workshops and individual assistance are offered. The Writing Center is located at 308 Thompson Library (810) 766-6602.

Student Success Center

The Student Success Center, in 285 University Pavilion, provides free tutoring services to UM-Flint students. DASS will assist you in identifying your specialized tutoring needs.

When working with a tutor, be as organized as possible.  Explain to the tutor before the session the material to be covered. Stress to the tutor the need for dependability and a sustained commitment.  Be dependable and reasonable in your expectations. It is important to keep the lines of communication open and to discuss smaller problems before they become big ones.

Tutors are usually juniors and seniors who will have a command of the subject matter.  DASS will help with specific problems and assist in matters of teaching methods and learning styles. However, staff limitations make close individualized monitoring difficult.  Thus, students must be able to communicate their needs and evaluate the tutor's effectiveness.

Tutors won't:

  • Do assignments for students.
  • Ask favors of instructors for students.
  • Substitute for academic advisors.
  • Tolerate personality conflicts.
  • Run errands or act as a chauffeur.

Tutors will:

  • Guide students through the course, perhaps setting intermediate objectives toward course completion.
  • Provide immediate feedback.
  • Help students from repeating mistakes.
  • Stress concepts and relationships rather than pure memorization of facts.
  • Pose questions so that students can learn to think for themselves, draw conclusions and make inferences.
  • Help students become more aware of how they learn best to allow themselves to work independently.

Types of Accommodations

Accommodations are specific to each student’s needs and are based on the effect of their disability. Students with similar diagnoses may be effected very differently and require different accommodations. The student and DASS will work interactively to determine appropriate accommodations.

Accommodations are considered reasonable if they mitigate the effects of the disabling condition and do not create a fundamental alteration to the program, or result in an undue financial or administrative burden to the institution.

There may be times when an accommodation is reasonable in one situation, but not reasonable in another. For example, attendance flexibility may be appropriate in one class, but cause a fundamental alteration to the curriculum in another. Students should communicate with instructors early in the semester to determine the appropriateness of their accommodations in that class.

Below are some of the common accommodations provided and how they are typically carried out. This is not an exhaustive list of available accommodations.

Testing Accommodations

Extended Testing Time

Many students with disabilities find additional time on quizzes and tests to be helpful in mitigating the effects of their disability. Students with ADHD often get distracted while testing. Students with learning disabilities may take longer to read the test. Students with mobility related disabilities may take longer to record answers. No matter the reason, extended testing time has proven to be an effective accommodation. Time and a half is the typical starting point for extended time, but there is no set standard. Double time is also commonly given if the student is still struggling to demonstrate their knowledge with time and a half.

Students receiving extended testing time can take the exam in the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) testing center, or with other arrangements with the instructor.

Extended testing time should not be given if speed is one of the metrics of the exam, as this would create a fundamental alteration.

Distraction-Reduced Environment

Often given along with extended testing time, a distraction-reduced testing environment reduces distractors that may be present in the classroom. Many students with disabilities find noises made by other students, or seeing students finish before them triggers the effects of their disabilities. Note that it is listed as distraction-reduced, as we cannot guarantee there will be no distractions during the exam.

Students receiving a distraction-reduced environment can take the exam in the CAPS testing center, or with other arrangements with the instructor.

Test Reader

Students with print-related disabilities or visual impairments may be approved for a test reader. Students can take their exam in the CAPS testing center, or with other arrangements with the instructor. Several options exist to provide this accommodation:

  • In the CAPS testing center, literacy software can be used to read the test out loud. Faculty will provide CAPS with a copy of the exam in either Microsoft Word or PDF format to be used with the software. This is the preferred method for providing this accommodation in CAPS.
     
  • A human reader can be used. The reader will read the exam verbatim and will not expand on any terms, or reword any questions. The reader should be careful to not give clues to correct answers with tone of voice or inflection.
     
  • For exams with difficult terminology, it may be desirable to have a faculty member, or their designee, record the exam for student playback.

Exams Taken in CAPS Testing Center

  1. The student receiving testing accommodations should notify the testing coordinator five full working days prior to the date of the test. The student must complete a DASS Exam Accommodation Request Form for that particular exam and date.
     
  2. The student must make arrangements with the instructor to send or deliver a copy of the test and any special instructions to DASS, 264 UCEN. It is the student’s responsibility to remind the instructor of agreed upon arrangements.
     
  3. A DASS Coordinator will coordinate the appropriate support service(s) accommodations and monitor the testing situation.
     
  4. No books or notes will be allowed in the test unless the instructor has given verbal or written authorization.
     
  5. DASS will return the test to the faculty member or department office following the completion of the test.  If the test is completed after 5:00 p.m., it will be delivered the following morning.
     
  6. Upon receipt of the test, the faculty member or department person accepting the test will be asked to sign a verification of test receipt.  This receipt remains on file for the duration of the semester.
     
  7. If a student is unable to make the scheduled exam, it is the student’s responsibility to notify the DASS Coordinator and the instructor.  The exam will be returned to the instructor’s office unless the instructor notifies DASS otherwise.  It is the student’s responsibility to arrange for a make-up exam with the instructor.

Note Taker and Recording Lectures

Some students with disabilities utilize note takers. With the emergence of new technologies, permission to record lectures is often given in place of a note taker.  This accommodation can be provided in a variety of methods.

  • Student uses technology, such as the Livescribe SmartPen or Microsoft OneNote, to take notes. This is often the preferred method, as the student remains in control of the learning process. DASS can assist in determining what technology is appropriate for each student and can loan it to the student on a trial basis.
     
  • Student can ask for a copy of the instructor’s notes. However, in many circumstances the notes instructors use are not appropriate or complete for student use.
     
  • Student can form a study group or ask another student in class to share their notes.
     
  • With the help of the instructor, student can obtain a list of students in the class who are willing to volunteer their notes. The instructor will ask for volunteers, pass around a sheet of paper for volunteers to add their contact information, and then discreetly pass this sheet to the student receiving the accommodation.

Alternate Format Textbooks

Some students with visual impairments and print-related disabilities find textbooks provided in an alternate format to be of great assistance. DASS can provide textbooks in an alternate format using several methods. These books usually come in either PDF for Word format and then can be read using a variety of software programs. Requests for alternate format textbooks should be done early, as the process for getting them is sometimes lengthy. Alternatively, several services, such as Learning Ally and Bookshare, exist that allow students to get alternate format textbooks on their own. 

Many publishers are also creating electronic books that are accessible. This is becoming more commonplace and the student should explore all purchase options available.

In the rare occasion that an electronic version cannot be located, DASS will work with the Services for Students with Disabilities office in Ann Arbor in scanning the student’s book. This will involve sending the book to Ann Arbor and having the spine cut off. The book will be reassembled, but it might not be eligible to be sold back to the bookstore.

Many students with visual impairments rely on textbooks in an alternate format. This can mean audiobooks, large print, or braille. The student should work with DASS to decide which format of book will work best for them. Converting books to braille can be a timely, expensive procedure, especially for math and visual-heavy subjects. Many times, this needs to be planned several months ahead of time to allow for proper conversion. Students should initiate this process very early in the process to ensure appropriate material delivery.

Preferential Seating

For several reasons, students may be granted the accommodation of preferential seating. This may be near the door if the student needs to step out frequently, at the front of the room, or in the back of the room. The student receiving this accommodation should go to the first class session early to determine where they would like to sit and may need faculty assistance in reserving the spot for the remainder of the semester.

Sign Language Interpreter/CART Services

Sign language and real-time reporting services will be provided in the manner described above. When possible, advanced notice will be given to faculty regarding the presence of an interpreter or reporter so they can properly plan for their presence. For remote services, faculty may be asked to wear a microphone or otherwise aid in delivery of this accommodation. This should not interfere with normal class operations.

Course Waiver or Substitution

In some instances, a student may request a course be waived or substituted due to the effects of their disability. In some limited circumstances, substitution of a course requirement may be determined to be a reasonable and appropriate accommodation for a student with a properly documented disability. An accommodation of this nature is considered only when it has been confirmed that the student's disability makes completion of the requirement impossible. Consideration of a course substitution is done on a case-by-case basis. Course waivers are not typically granted. The final authority regarding the course substitution rests with the school whose course requirement is in question.

Early Registration

Students with disabilities may be granted permission to register for classes before their regularly assigned registration time, if they meet any one of the following criteria:

  • The student's disability requires classes to be located in accessible spaces. Early registration insures the maximum time period to rearrange class spaces.
  • The student with a disability requires an accommodation that takes an extensive amount of time to prepare, such as books in an alternative format or the hiring of interpreters or note takers.
  • The student has a disability or a side effect of medication that requires his or her course schedule be carefully planned with regard to the time of day classes are taken.

Scholarship Opportunities

If you are applying for scholarships and need confirmation from this office, please follow the procedure:

  1. Apply for Financial Aid
  2. Apply for the scholarships that pertain to you (and this office)
  3. Send  an email to your Disability Services Coordinator that states exactly what you need
  4. DASS will then email Financial Aid with your information
  5. Please do not wait until the last minute

Betty Bishop Catto

The Betty Bishop Catto scholarship offers financial assistance to students with physical or learning disabilities.  To qualify, you must be registered with the Office of Disability and Accessibility Support Services and have a minimum GPA of 2.0.

Flint Downtown Host Lions Club

The Flint Downtown Host Lions Club scholarship offers assistance to individuals who are blind or visually impaired.  To qualify, you must be registered with the Office of Disability and Accessibility Support Services.

To register for the scholarships listed above, you must fill out the Financial Aid Scholarship Application that is available from mid-December to mid-February.  More information can be found on the Financial Aid website.

Sam Duncan Memorial Scholarship

The Sam Duncan Memorial Scholarship is available to individuals with physical disabilities living in Genesee, Lapeer, and Shiawassee County.  Contact Lorraine Stone at 989-288-3009 for further information.