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Office of Accessibility Resources

Coronavirus Information: Individuals are encouraged to stay up-to-date at the  Coronavirus Resources Webpage for campus updates and resources.

The Office of Accessibility Resources (OAR) removes barriers in support of equal access for individuals with disabilities by providing campus-wide accessibility services and reasonable accommodations for eligible students. We recognize that students have been admitted to the university based on their abilities to succeed, expected to meet the same academic and technical standards. The OAR supports disability as an aspect of diversity and inclusion integral to our campus community and society.

Students not registered with the OAR and requesting accommodations for the first time at Western Carolina University should engage as soon as possible once they have identified a barrier or need.

Getting Started - Requesting Accommodations

OAR Registration Form

Documentation Guidelines

Students submit the OAR Registration Form, and their documentation, such as evaluation and medical report to the OAR (please see our Documentation Guidelines for more information). Upon receiving the information, the OAR will facilitate an interactive and engaging process to determine accommodations and support the student. Students with approved acccommodations are provided an Accommodation Letter.

Academic Accommodations 

Testing Accommodations

Alternate Format Book Request


Other Services

Request a Kurzweil 3000 Account

Assistive Technology

  • Computer services include:identifying and locating text-to-speech or speech-to-text software; identifying and using other accessibility features (such as magnification).
  • 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.
  • 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.

Register with the Office of Accessibility Resources

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. It is the student's responsibility to disclose their disability and to request academic or physical accommodations.

Students should make their request in a timely manner to the Office of Accessibility Resources (OAR) and every reasonable effort will be made to provide accommodations and ensure accessibility. Requests for accommodations can be made at any time; however, some accommodations may take time to put in place. Therefore, it is best for students to make their request as early as possible in the semester. Accommodations are not retroactive and cannot be made for events or exams that have happened before the request.

The process for obtaining accommodations is as follows:

  1. Complete an OAR Student Registration Form
  2. Provide current documentation of disability (see Documentation Guidelines for more information on appropriate and acceptable documentation).
  3. Schedule an intake appointment with the Office of Accessibility Resources (OAR) to determine necessary accommodations and support.
  4. OAR will write and provide Accommodation Letter to the student.
  5. Students are responsible for distributing their letters to instructors and discussing accommodation needs with them.
  6. OAR staff will be available to meet and consult with students and faculty about issues of accessibility and/or accommodations upon request.
  7. Accommodations are reviewed and new letters generated prior to the start of each academic year in which the student is enrolled.

Documentation Guidelines

To ensure the provision of reasonable and appropriate accommodations, a student must submit their current documentation of a disability.

Documentation must validate the presence of a disability under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disability Act. With respect to the individual, the definition of a person with a disability includes:

  1. A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual.
  2. A record of such an impairment; or
  3. Being regarded as having such an impairment.

Documentation helps establish if the student meets the definition of a person with a disability and should describe functional limitations to support the need for, and reasonableness of specific accommodations. All documentation is evaluated on a case-by-case basis.  

Documentation Should Include

  • The contact information and licenses/credentials of a third-party professional who has relevant experience and expertise in the area for which accommodations are being requested.
  • A clearly stated diagnosis or diagnostic statement that identifies the disability with information that describes how the condition was diagnosed, notes the functional impact, and details the typical progression or prognosis.
  • Identify the session(s) of the evaluation and the length of time if the individual has been in treatment for the specified disability.
  • Contain the full name and birthdate of the person being evaluated.
  • Be up to date and not exceed five years.
  • Include a description of the person's current functional limitations in an academic and/or environmental setting.
  • For some disabilities, include the description of the type(s) of evaluation and diagnostic methods as this may help the student access additional accommodations not directly affiliated with the university.
  • Present itself on a letterhead with the date, name, and signature of the licensed professional making the diagnosis.

Other Points Concerning Documentation

  • The provision of reasonable accommodations is based upon the current impact of the disability; therefore, it is in the student’s interest to provide the best, most recent documentation.
  • Keep in mind that evaluations conducted in childhood may not be sufficient for an adult college student.
  • The OAR does not pay for, nor provide testing, evaluations, and/or diagnosis.
  • It is helpful when the documentation addresses the student’s ability to function in an academic environment and may include recommendations for accommodations.
  • WCU is not obligated to approve every accommodation as recommended by evaluators.
  • All accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis and in consideration of that student's unique situation.
  • Individualized Education Programs (IEP) or 504 Plans do not alone constitute documentation of disability but is often helpful and may be included in a student's overall assessment.
  • A physician's prescription pad note is not acceptable as documentation of disability.
  • The OAR does not obtain information regarding a student's disability through the admissions process.

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

Accommodation Letters

Accommodation Letters are created collaboratively with the student and OAR through an interactive process.
Some examples of classroom accommodations include:

  • 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
  • digital recorders
  • SmartPens
  • captioning of videos
  • interpreters or assistive technology

Accommodation Letters inform instructors of approved modifications. It is the student's responsibility to deliver the letters to their instructors and to initiate discussion about accommodations. OAR staff will be available to meet with students and faculty upon request. Accommodations are reviewed and new letters generated prior to the start of each academic year in which the student is enrolled.

 

Mission & Goals 

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:

  • Serve as advocates for accessibility for students with disabilities while promoting student independence, self-determination, and responsibility;
  • Coordinate and provide accommodations and related support services for accessibility for students with disabilities;
  • Provide training and resources for faculty, staff, and administration around accessibility for students with disabilities;
  • Provide consultation, information, and outreach to parents and prospective students regarding accessibility and accommodations for students with disabilities;
  • Foster awareness and understanding University-wide of issues of accessibility in all aspects of campus life;
  • Assist the University in supporting the civil rights of students with disabilities as provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), its amendments (ADAAA), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
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