What is the function of Disability Resources?


Disability Resources assists Southern Oregon University in complying with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which states that "no qualified individual with disabilities shall, on the basis of their disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any post-secondary program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) additionally clarifies the role of public entities (including the Oregon University System) in assuring educational opportunity for postsecondary students with disabilities.

To assure that students with disabilities are not denied equal access to the academic and non-academic life of Southern Oregon University, the Disability Resources office offers a wide range of services, accommodations, and auxiliary services. Disability Resources' individually designed services are based on the specific disability-related needs of each student.

What disabilities are most common on our campus?

We are currently providing accommodations for students with:

  • learning disabilities
  • Attention Deficit Disorder
  • psychological or psychiatric disabilities
  • traumatic brain injury
  • chronic health conditions (such as heart conditions, cancer, diabetes, etc.)
  • communication disorders
  • physical or sensory disabilities (such as vision, hearing, or mobility impairments)

How does Disability Resources know whether a student has a disability?

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a "person with a disability" includes any "person who has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of such person's major life activities; has a record of such an impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment." Learning is a major life activity.

In order to offer accommodations to a student, Disability Resources must have verification of the student's disability on file. This verification varies according to the disability. It may be in the form of a letter from a diagnosing medical professional, or it may consist of a written report on testing that was administered to the student. For specific documentation requirements, download our Documentation Guidelines MS Word document

Does Disability Resources keep a student's disability information confidential?

Information We Collect

The Disability Resources office at Southern Oregon University is charged with the responsibility for collecting and holding student disability documentation.  Student documentation information is private and sensitive, and Disability Resources holds this information in the context of assuring that the students have access to necessary accommodation(s) and support.

The student records held by Disability Resources are protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) .  As such, the records are considered to be educational records, not medical records.  They are kept in secure files, with access limited to the personnel in the Disability Resources office and the Dean of Students to whom we report.

Privacy Statement

There may be occasions when Disability Resources will share information regarding a student’s disability with other SOU personnel if circumstances necessitate such sharing due to an appropriate legitimate educational need to know. Confidentiality is not maintained in the case of abuse, suicidal, or homicidal intent.

Guidelines around confidentiality will be discussed with you during the intake process. You will have an opportunity to have your questions answered before signing.

Accommodation letters are requested by students, then delivered by email directly to the appropriate faculty through our online system.

What are Accommodation Letters?

Each student with a documented disability confers with a specialist in the Disability Resources office who, in consultation with the student, clarifies the student's disability-related needs and determines which accommodations and services are most likely to allow the student equal access to the educational environment.

Accommodation letters give faculty members specific information about the classroom accommodations for which the student is eligible. Students request the delivery of letters (via email) through our online accommodation system (AIMS). Instructors are not required to provide accommodations for students without such notification.

What is the purpose of the academic accommodations which are specified in the Accommodation Letter?

Students with disabilities at SOU are capable people who experience some limitations in calling for adaptation of materials, methods, or environments to facilitate the students' learning; or to ensure that when they are evaluated, the students are able to demonstrate their learning rather than the effects of their disabilities.

Title 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 mandates full access of people with disabilities to all of SOU's academic and other programs. Course-specific accommodations are one way of assuring that students with disabilities are not denied equal access.

What if a student presents an Accommodation Letter only a few days (or hours) before an exam?

Disability Resource and instructors will make a good faith effort to provide accommodations whenever they are requested. In some cases, it may not be possible to make accommodation arrangements for exams without at least 3 full business days' notice.

What are the most commonly used accommodations?

Accommodations requested for each student at SOU will vary according to the needs of the student. Depending on the student's disability, they may need adaptations in the way specific courses are conducted or in the use of auxiliary equipment or services.

The accommodations most commonly used are:

  • Exam accommodations (extended time, separate environment, scribing, use of assistive technology, etc.)
  • Notetaking services
  • Extensions on assignments, if discussed in advance with the instructor
  • Priority registration for classes
  • Taped lectures
  • Specialized seating
  • Alternate format materials

What if the specified accommodations appear to compromise the integrity of a class or academic program?

When providing accommodations for disabilities, institutions of higher education are not required to lower academic standards or compromise the integrity of the school or program (Davis v. Southeastern Community College, 1979).

In 1977, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (now the Department of Education) established guidelines for the implementation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 . Relevant portions of these guidelines are summarized here:

Institutions of higher education must modify academic requirements that are discriminatory. Modification may include extending time for completing degree requirements, allowing course substitutions, and adapting the manner in which particular courses are conducted. Institutions are not required to compromise on requirements that are essential to the program or course of instruction, or that are directly related to licensing requirements. Section 104.44(a)

In situations where a faculty member believes that particular accommodations may jeopardize an essential element of a class or program, he or she should immediately contact the Coordinator of Disability Resources  to discuss options that will provide access to the student without compromising the integrity of the course.

If a student with a disability is already getting good grades in a class, why is it necessary to provide accommodations?

Both Section 504 of the Rehab Act and Title II of the ADA establish that students with disabilities must have equal opportunity.

A student with a disability's excellent performance in a class (or incidence of finishing exams early or on time) is not, by itself, a compelling argument that the student is being given equal opportunity. In order to have equal opportunity, the student may require accommodations.

What if a faculty member has questions about the accommodations for a student, or disagrees with the designated accommodations?

The instructor should promptly contact the Coordinator of Disability Resources. If the instructor and the Director cannot agree, the instructor should seek review of the designated accommodation within five (5) days of being asked for the accommodations. The faculty member should provide the requested accommodation until it is either set aside or modified by the Coordinator of Disability Resources in concert with the instructor.

Does Disability Resources maintain a testing center where students with disabilities can take proctored exams?

Yes. Disability Resources proctors hundreds of exams every term.

It is not generally advisable for students with disabilities to take part of the exam with the class and then move to another test site. Being asked to temporarily stop work and move to another location may be especially difficult for some students with disabilities, causing them to lose concentration and focus and to forget important details. However, if the exam has sections designed around different modalities (such as an oral portion and then a written portion for a foreign language class), this may be necessary.

What are Alternative Format materials and who is eligible?

Alternate format materials include audio, large print, electronic text, Braille, and other specialized formats of textbooks, syllabi, and other class materials.

According to copyright law, Disability Resources can only provide alternate format text materials to students with a verified print disability. A print disability is defined as a disability that interferes with a student's ability to read, comprehend, or manipulate (hold, turn pages) traditional text. The conversion process is often lengthy and challenging, as each text is formatted specifically for individual students' needs. For further information, contact the Assistive Technology Specialist.

Disability Resources cannot provide alternate format materials for other, non-print disability-related reasons, such as commuting times or personal preference for audio materials.

How do I get started with Disability Resources?

 Check out the Getting Started Links .

Do I need a specific SOU Parking Permit to use a space designated for persons with disabilities?
Do I need a specific SOU Parking Permit to park in marked disabled parking spots?

In order to park in any designated disabled parking space (marked with blue signs and paint), the vehicle must display a DMV parking placard and comply with any meter or permit designations for that parking area. These designations are posted at or near each disabled parking space. Oregon does recognize disabled parking permits from other states and countries. A person with a valid SOU parking permit and a DMV placard may park in any space, in any lot, other than the timed/metered spaces.

As with any other parking space, disabled parking spaces are first-come, first-served; SOU does not issue reserved space permits for this purpose. For more information on SOU parking, please go to: http://www.sou.edu/parking/ .