Office of Disability Services

Faculty Guide: Technical Standards new

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Technical Standards Overview

Each college should be proactive in establishing a process for reviewing and creating technical standards for non-academic criteria for admission and continued participation in an educational program.

According to best practices outlined by the Association on Higher Education and Disability, "These standards should be specific and include abilities, behaviors and safety needed in a course of study. Standards should be anchored to the curriculum, supported in policy and practice and utilize objective performance criteria that can be reliably applied to all program applicants or participants. Finally, an individualized interactive process must be used to determine if reasonable accommodations would allow a student to meet the technical standards" (AHEAD Joint Comments).

Course Substitutions

From time to time, a student may request a course substitution as an accommodation. There is a process in place for making a request, providing documentation and determining eligibility for a substitution. The course substitution request process is outlined on the university policy page.  In these cases, ODS often consults with faculty or the college about the potential for substitutions and how the essential skills of a course of study may be fulfilled in accessible ways.

Addressing Disability Accommodation(s) Grievances

If ODS denies a student’s requested accommodation(s), ODS will notify the student in writing, (within 5 business days of the College Accommodation Plan meeting) of the reasons for the denial, along with instructions outlining how the student may appeal the denial.

Students have the option of appealing to the ODS Director or to the University’s Section 504/ADA Coordinator, as outlined in the Section 504/ADA Grievance Procedures set forth in the student handbook. The current university 504/ADA Coordinator is:

Tom Webb
University Hall 180
3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy, Dayton, OH 45435-0001
(937) 775-5680

ODS may refuse a requested adjustment/accommodation that imposes a fundamental alteration of a University program or activity, but ODS may do so only after ODS staff has engaged in a deliberative process for determining if academic requirements are “essential” or whether a requested modification would fundamentally alter a course, academic program, or University-sponsored performance-based experience.

With the support of the Director of the Office of Disability Services, a panel of academic and disability professionals will collaborate and determine the essential requirements of a course/program.  The panel will convene within 3 business days of a student’s request for an accommodation that requires more in depth consideration in terms of an essential requirement.  Commonly requested accommodations/adjustments (e.g. extended test time, reduced distraction environment, note taker, etc.) will not require this level of review.

Generally the panel will consist of membership of the following people:

  • The Program/Department chair and the faculty instructors who teach the course and bring knowledge of the subject’s content, methods, and essential requirements;
  • Disability Services case managers, who understand what accommodations are possible;
  • The student who has requested an adjustment/accommodation and who understands his/her own limitations and how his/her disability impacts his/her ability to learn in a classroom.

When determining if a requested adjustment/accommodation fundamentally alters the essential requirements for a course or program, the panel will endeavor to:
Identify the essential academic standards of the course (requirements that embody the very nature of the subject matter or that are of the utmost importance in achieving the course/program objective).

  • Articulate specific requirements that individual instructors believe are fundamental to teaching the course/program, taking academic freedom into consideration.
  • Identify the unique qualities of the course/program in relation to its overall objectives and any program in which the course is required.
  • Engage in "reasoned deliberation" as to whether modification of the course/program would change the fundamental academic standards.
  • Determine whether there are any options to fulfill the fundamental requirements of the course/program.
  • Determine if the requested accommodation will lower the academic standards of the course/program.
    • If the panel determines that the requested accommodation will lower academic standards, the panel will determine why the standard that the instructor believes will be lowered is important to the course/program.
  • Determine if the standard is the better way (or the only way) to achieve the desired academic objective.
  • Determine if this requested accommodation has ever been granted before for another student with or without a disability?
  • Determine if a different method or requirement that will not be altered by the accommodation will achieve the required academic or pedagogical result.
    • If the panel determines that a different method or requirement that will not be altered by the accommodation will not achieve the required academic or pedagogical result, they will determine why not.

This process ensures that such determinations are made by a group of people, including ODS and pertinent faculty or other relevant personnel, after a careful, thoughtful deliberation that includes a review of program/course requirements and available options and alternatives.  The decisions made during the deliberations and the reasons supporting them will be fully documented by ODS.

ODS will document in the student’s case file any of the outlined interactive process that takes place between the University and the student.  The documentation will include the dates of any academic adjustment/accommodation requests, the nature of each request, any supporting documentation, and any reason(s) for the denial of a request.

Addressing Disability Discrimination Grievances

It is the policy of Wright State University to comply with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), as amended by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, and other applicable federal and state regulations that prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability. The Rehabilitation Act and the ADA require that no qualified person shall, solely by reason of disability, be denied access to, participation in, or the benefits of, any program or activity operated by the university. Wright State has adopted an internal complaint procedure providing for prompt and equitable resolution of concerns alleging any action prohibited by Section 504 and/or the ADA on the basis of disability in any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. The law and regulations may be examined in the Office of Equity and Inclusion, (937) 775-3207, which has been designated to coordinate the efforts of Wright State to comply with Section 504 and the ADA.

The following procedures apply to complaints by students who believe they have been subjected to discrimination on the basis of disability by Wright State officers, employees, and/or third parties who, while not Wright State employees, perform work on behalf of Wright State:

Any person who believes he or she has been subjected to discrimination on the basis of a disability, including any person who has requested an accommodation but whose request is not granted, may file a complaint informally or formally by communicating (orally or in writing) their concerns to the Section 504/ADA Coordinator within one hundred and eighty (180) days of the incident.

The Section 504/ADA Coordinator is:
Tom Webb
University Hall 180
3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy, Dayton, OH 45435-0001
(937) 775-5680

Thank you for your consideration of this resource and its best practices. We look forward to our continued partnership in providing services for individuals with disabilities on our campus. ODS is happy to also provide in-person training as requested by departments, colleges and any other interested groups at the University.