Course Substitutions to Accommodate Disabilities

Operating Procedures
Passed by Academic Council 1-10-94

Wright State University has adopted the following procedure to respond to student requests for course substitutions to accommodate a disability.

The sequence of decisions to be made is as follows--

  1. Is this course "essential to the program of instruction being pursued by the student or to any directly related licensing requirement?" (Section 504, Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Federal Register, Vol 42, no 86, May 4, 1977)
  2. Does the individual's disability warrant a course substitution?
  3. What course or courses provide a reasonable substitute requirement for the course in question?


Questions 1 and 3 should be answered by the faculty members who have responsibility for the requirement in question. It is important to note, however, that Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires the university to "demonstrate" that a requirement is "essential."

Whereas questions 1 and 3 focus directly on academic issues, question 2 asks for a determination about the presence and significance of a disability. Consequently, the persons charged with making decisions regarding course substitutions should be equipped to recognize and understand the consequences of various disabilities.

Procedure

  1. The process is initiated when a student requests a substitution be allowed for a required course, due to the presence of a disability. Advisers, petitions committees, and others who hear such requests should refer the student to the Office of Disability Services.
  2. The Office of Disability Services advises the student regarding university policy, collects documentation, notifies the academic unit requiring the course in question, and forwards all pertinent material to the Academic Substitutions and Accommodations Board.
  3. If the course in question is one that is required by a department or college, the faculty of that department or college shall determine if the course is "essential" for the student's program of study. If the course in question is a General Education requirement, a General Education Oversight Group will determine if the course is "essential" for the student's program of study. If it is determined that the course is essential, the Academic Substitutions and Accommodations Board will notify the student that no substitution can be made regardless of the presence of a disability. In all other instances, the Academic Substitutions and Accommodations Board reviews available materials and determines whether a course substitution is necessary to accommodate the student's disability. If a substitution is not allowed, the board may sometimes recommend specific modifications to make the course accessible to the student.
  4. If the Academic Substitutions and Accommodations Board determines that a substitution is needed, the college or department requiring the course will arrange for an appropriate substitute course.


Board Membership
The Academic Substitutions and Accommodations Board consists of three faculty members.

Two faculty members will have expertise in areas related to disability and academic adjustments. One is to have expertise related to diagnosis of learning disabilities, to be appointed by the School of Professional Psychology. The other is to have expertise related to strategies for accommodating disabilities, to be appointed by the College of Education and Human Services. These two members of the board will participate, with voting rights, in each course substitution request heard by the board. [Timing of appointments: these two board members will be appointed annually no later than October 1 by the above-named colleges.]

The third faculty member should have expertise in the learning of the subject matter of the course in question; thus, this faculty member will vary. The procedure for choosing the third individual will be as follows:

  1. The Office of Disability Services will maintain a roster of departments offering courses for which substitution requests are anticipated. (Here and below, "department" refers to an actual department or other academic unit offering the course in question.)
  2. The Office of Disability Services will ask each such department to designate a faculty member with expertise in the learning of the department's discipline.
    This designee need not be a member of the department in question. There may be more than one designee from one department if appropriate. If no faculty member with expertise in the learning of the department's discipline can be identified, then the department will designate another member of the faculty, who will be expected to become familiar with issues pertinent to the board's deliberations.
    [Timing of appointments: during the summer session, the Office if Disability Services will solicit designees from the departments on the roster in step a; the departments will reply no later than October 1. These designees are expected to be available for service for a one-year term.]
  3. When the Office of Disability Services forwards a course substitution request to the Academic Substitutions and Accommodations Board, the Office of Disability Services will select the third faculty member from the persons designated in step b, according to the department which offers the course in question. If no faculty member has been designated from the department in question, then the Office of Disability Services will solicit a designee from that department or, if necessary, from the department's college.
    This third faculty member will participate in the course substitution request at hand, with voting rights.


Board Procedures
Although the voting membership of the board consists of only three faculty members, both the board and the student applicant are permitted to invite additional persons to bring information or expertise to the committee. In particular, the student applicant is permitted to invite any members of the university community (faculty, staff, or students) who may have pertinent information to share with the board. In addition, for each case, the board chair will secure input both from the department or program that requires the course in question and from the department that offers it, as well as from any other persons from the university community as deemed appropriate.

A representative from the Office of Disability Services will convene the meetings, supply the board members with necessary documents for each case, provide additional information as needed, and convey results to the student who requested the substitution, to his or her academic adviser, and to others as appropriate. Although permitted to participate fully in deliberations, the representative from Disability Services has no vote.