Office of Accessibility Resources

Students during Autism Awareness Week

 

Please note our name change:

The Office of Disability Services is now the Office of Accessibility Resources (OAR)!

 

Mission and Goals

It is our mission to remove barriers and ensure equal access for all qualified students with disabilities.

In support of this mission the goals of the Office of Accessibility Resources are to:

  • Coordinate and provide accommodations and related support services for students with disabilities;
  • Serve as advocates for students with disabilities while promoting independence, self-determination, and responsibility;
  • Assist the University in compliance with the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), its Amendments, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973;
  • Provide training and support for faculty, staff, and administration regarding the needs of students with disabilities;
  • Provide consultation, information, and outreach to parents and prospective students regarding the needs of and services for students with disabilities;
  • Foster awareness and understanding University-wide of issues of accessibility and disability.


What we do

Services to students with disabilities are designed to level the playing field for those students and to ensure access by providing accommodations. Accommodations are provided when deemed necessary and reasonable for a particular student and are determined on a case-by-case basis through an interactive process between the student and OAR.

How to Register with the Office of Accessibility Resources

It is your responsibility as a student to disclose your disability and to request academic or physical accommodations. You should make your request in a timely manner to the Office of Accessibility Resources (OAR) and every reasonable effort will be made to provide services. Requests for accommodations or services can be made at any time. However, some accommodations may take time to put in place, so it's best to make your request as early as possible in the semester. Accommodations are not retroactive and cannot be made for events or exams that have occurred prior to the request.

The process for obtaining accommodations is as follows:

  1. Make an appointment with the Office of Accessibility Resources (OAR).
  2. Complete a Registration and Request for Services Form
  3. Provide current documentation of your disability (see Documentation Guidelines for more information on appropriate and acceptable documentation).
  4. Once a Registration and Request for Services Form and documentation are received and reviewed, you will work with OAR to determine necessary accommodations and initiate an Accommodations Plan.
  5. OAR staff will write Accommodation Letters for your instructors.
  6. OAR staff will sign the letters. You will sign the letters.
  7. You are then responsible for delivering the letters to your instructors and discussing your accommodation needs with them.
  8. OAR staff will be available for consultations with faculty and meetings with students and faculty upon request.
  9. Accommodations must be reviewed and new letters generated each semester in which the student is enrolled.

Documentation Guidelines

Each student requesting accommodations must provide current, comprehensive documentation of a disability by a qualified professional (which may include, depending upon the nature of the disability: a physician, psychologist, audiologist, speech-language pathologist, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, physical therapist, optometrist, or learning disabilities specialist).

The Federal definition of a person with a disability is a person who (1) has a physical or mental impairment which limits one or more major life activities; (2) has a record of such impairment; or (3) is regarded as having such impairment. The determination of whether an individual has a disability under the law is not based on the name or diagnosis of the impairment but rather the impact of that impairment on the life/learning of that individual (the functional limitations).

Please remember that documentation serves two purposes: 1) to establish that a student meets the definition of a person with a disability; and 2) to describe functional limitations in order to support the need for and reasonableness of specific accommodations. All documentation provided is reviewed in light of these purposes.

In general, documentation of disability should be typed on letterhead stationary or be in a report format and should include the following:

  • A clearly stated diagnosis;
  • A description of the diagnostic methodology used;
  • A description of the student's current functional limitations in an academic environment;
  • A description of the expected progression or stability of the disability;
  • The signature, printed name, title, professional credentials, and contact information of the evaluator; and
  • The date of the most recent evaluation.

Other points to remember:

  • Because provision of accommodations and services is based upon the current impact of the disability, it is in your best interest to provide the best, most recent documentation.
  • Documentation should be current within three-five years. However, each case is evaluated on an individual basis and exceptions may be granted depending upon circumstances and the disability.
  • Keep in mind that assessments done in childhood may not be sufficient documentation for an adult college student.
  • Should you need a current assessment, assistance will be given in identifying resources where necessary testing can be provided. OAR does not pay for nor provide testing and/or diagnosis.
  • Documentation should address your ability to function in an academic environment and may include recommendations for accommodations. OAR is not obligated to provide specific accommodations as recommended by evaluators. All accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis in collaboration with the student and in consideration of that student's unique situation.
  • A school plan such as an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) does not alone constitute documentation of disability but may be included in a student's overall assessment.
  • A physician's prescription pad note is not acceptable as documentation of disability.
  • Submission of documentation does not complete the process. You must meet with OAR to discuss and plan services.

Information regarding a student's disability is not obtained through the admissions process. Disability-related information and records are maintained separately from academic records. Therefore all documentation of disability should be sent directly to OAR.

Accommodations Plan/Accommodations Letters

Accommodations Plans are created collaboratively with the student and OAR. From that plan, Accommodations Letters are generated for each class and specifies appropriate classroom accommodations, which may include (examples):

  • alternative testing arrangements,
  • extended time,
  • reduced-distraction testing rooms,
  • readers,
  • scribes,
  • alternative format materials (such as handouts and textbooks in PDF or Braille),
  • use of a word processor,
  • recorders,
  • SmartPens,
  • captioning of videos,
  • interpreters, or assistive technology.

Accommodations Letters inform instructors of approved modifications. It is your (the student's) responsibility to deliver the letters to your instructors and to initiate discussion about your accommodations. OAR staff will be available for consultations with faculty and meetings with students and faculty upon request. Accommodations must be reviewed and new letters generated each semester in which you are enrolled.

Testing Accommodations

Students with documented disabilities are sometimes entitled to alternative testing accommodations. These accommodations are designed to adjust testing conditions to validly measure what the student with a disability has learned rather than measuring the impact of that person's disability.

The most common testing accommodations include: extended time (time-and-a-half or double time); a reduced-distraction testing environment; use of a reader or text-to-speech software; use of a computer; use of a scribe or speech-to-text software; or exams given using alternate materials (such as Braille or large print).

Many times your instructor can provide the accommodations you need (such as extra time or a quiet environment). However, there may be times when the instructor does not have the space or time to do so. In those cases, you will need to schedule to take your exams with OAR.

 

Test Proctoring Request Procedure

How to submit a test proctoring request:

Proctoring requests must be received in our office THREE (3) business days before the test.

 Email your proctoring request (one per test) to: disabilityservices@wcu.edu
Type in the subject line of the email: Test Proctoring Request

Type the following information as formatted below in the body of the message:

  1. Your first and last name
  2. Your 92#/Student ID
  3. Class prefix and number (e.g. PSY 150)
  4. Your instructor's first and last name
  5. Date and time the class will take the test
  6. Date and time you will take the test, if this is different from when the class will take the test. (You may need to schedule a different time if you have a class immediately following.)
  7. List the accommodations you will need for this exam, such as: extra time (indicate time-and-a-half or double time); reduced-distraction environment; reader; scribe; alternate format test (such as Braille); computer and/or other equipment. (Specific accommodations must be listed in your letters and agreed upon ahead of time.)

You will be sent a confirmation email within one business day of the receipt of your request (Friday requests will be confirmed on Monday). If you do not receive confirmation, please contact OAR at (828) 227-3886.

IMPORTANT: IF YOU DO NOT FOLLOW THIS PROCEDURE, OAR may not be able to proctor your exam and you will have to take your exam with the rest of the class. In this case, the instructor might not be able to provide your accommodations for that exam.

 

TESTING FAQ's

  • Do I have to take my exam with OAR if my instructor can give it to me with the extra time?
    • No. If your instructor can administer your exam with your approved accommodations, then they should do so.
  • I gave my accommodations letter to my professor at the beginning of the semester. Doesn't that mean they have to schedule my exams with OAR? Can't I just show up to OAR on the day of my exam?
    • It is the student's responsibility to schedule individual exams and you must do so at least three business days in advance of your exam. Follow the procedure described in the section: Test Proctoring Request Procedure.
    • OAR will then contact your instructor for details.
  • What happens if I forget to schedule my exam with OAR until the day before?
    • If you do not schedule your exam with OAR using the proper procedure (as described in the section: Test Proctoring Request Procedure), OAR may not allow you to take your exam in our office. You will have to take your exam with the instructor and the rest of the class.
  • What if I am sick on the day of my exam or if I forget to come take my exam? Do I just reschedule with OAR?
    • No. You must contact your instructor and discuss it with him/her. Once you agree with the instructor on a make-up date/time, we are happy to administer the exam. We will not administer a test other than at the originally scheduled time without explicit approval from the instructor.
  • I am approved for a reader. Can I bring someone with me to read for me or can I request a particular reader?
    • In order to maintain the security and integrity of testing, OAR will not allow you to bring your own reader.
    • OAR assigns readers based upon availability of our staff and cannot guarantee a particular person to read. In some cases, OAR may use Assistive Technology for reading exams aloud.
  • I have not used testing accommodations all semester. Can I still take my final exams at OAR?
    • Yes, if you have met with OAR, received your Letters of Accommodation, and given them to your instructors. To schedule exams you must follow the procedure outlined in the section: Test Proctoring Request Procedure.
    • If you have not picked up your Letters of Accommodation or have not given the letters to your instructors, then you must take your exams with the rest of the class without accommodations.
  • I have an exam scheduled for the first day of finals but I'd rather take it on the last day, to give myself more time to study. Also, I have to work that day. Is this ok?
    • No. You must take your exam on the same day as or near the same time as the rest of the class unless you have multiple finals on the same day and have made prior arrangements with your instructor. Only your instructors—not OAR—can approve changes in your exam schedule. Work, travel, or other extra-curricular activities are not valid reasons for moving the date of an exam.
  • I have an exam scheduled for the last day of finals but I'd rather take it early because my parents are coming to move me out of the dorm. Can I do this?
    • Only your instructors—not OAR—can approve changes in your exam schedule. Work, travel, or other extra-curricular activities are not valid reasons for moving the date of an exam.
  • My exam begins at 8:30am. I have double time. Since that gives me 5 hours to take my exam, can I just come at 9:30am or 10am? Or can I come at 8am and sit in the room to study for a few hours?
    • No. You must begin your exam at the schedule start time. If you wish to begin more than 15 minutes before or after the scheduled start time, OAR must have approval from your instructor.
  • If I'm tired and have plenty of time, can I lie on the floor and sleep in the testing room?
    • No. If you are not taking an exam, we will assume you are finished and collect your exam.
  • Can I take my things into the testing room?
    • You may only take items that are approved by your instructor (i.e. calculator, book, notepaper, etc). You may have a drink or snack with you, if you like, but please do not spread out and make yourself a picnic.

Absolutely NO cell phones/smart phones/tablets are allowed in the testing rooms.

Advocacy Assistance

OAR staff are available to provide support and advocacy to address the unique personal and academic issues of students with disabilities. OAR does not provide therapy, counseling, or psychological evaluations, but we can refer you to appropriate sources as needed.



Other services/assistance available



  • Alternate format textbooks and materials: OAR can provide alternate format textbooks and materials if this is agreed upon in your Accommodations Plan.
  • Computer services include: identifying and locating text-to-speech or speech-to-text software; identifying and using other accessibility features (such as magnification).
  • Assistive technology: OAR has available for loan a limited number of assistive technology devices, such as digital recorder, SmartPens, FM listening systems, and others.
  • Interpretive services: Sign-language or CART services can be arranged through OAR.
  • Housing: Requests for special housing considerations for students with disabilities should be made through Residential Living. link to Residential Living: http://www.wcu.edu/student-life/division-of-student-affairs/departments/residential-living/index.asp
  • Accommodations for temporary disabilities: If you have a temporary disability due to an injury or illness, OAR can provide some accommodations on a temporary or short-term basis. Please make an appointment to discuss your situation.
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