Disability Services

Application of Accommodations


Any student wishing to request accommodations must self-identify to Disability Services as an individual with a disability and follow published procedures for requesting services. The first step in the process generally requires that the student provide current medical and/or psychological documentation from a qualified professional which diagnoses the disability and describes its impact in an academic setting.  Students must meet and maintain academic standards for college courses, programs and activities, and adhere to the Student Code of Conduct.

There are many types of disabilities, and they impact students in different ways. Academic adjustments are determined through an analysis of each student’s need, based on documentation by a qualified professional. The college has assigned this role to Disability Services, whose Letter of Accommodation is your assurance that the student has followed proper procedures and qualifies for the services outlined in the notice. Disability Services welcomes the cooperation of faculty in this process and, in some cases, active collaboration between DS staff, faculty, and the student is necessary to ensure the appropriateness of an accommodation. However, it is in your best interest, both logistically and legally, to defer to Disability Services for the review of documentation and the determination, if any, of appropriate services.

If you have questions on how to implement an accommodation or are concerned that an accommodation is not appropriate for your course, contact Disability Services as soon as possible.

A reasonable accommodation is an adjustment made to the academic environment and/or to a policy that ensures students with disabilities have equal access to course material, information, activities, programs, and other college facilities and resources.

No, it is likely that many students with disabilities have chosen not to register with DS. Some do not need services or accommodations. If a student chooses not to register with DS, faculty do not need to provide an accommodation. If students wish to receive accommodations, they must register and follow the process for accommodations through DS.

A student can notify a faculty member of the need for accommodations by having Disability Services (DS) send a Letter of Accommodation (LOA) at any time during the quarter. Faculty should provide accommodations from that point forward in the quarter. Accommodations are not expected to be applied retroactively.

Disability Services is the designated office for determining reasonable accommodations through an interactive process with the student. The determination whether an accommodation is reasonable involves three primary elements:

  • A review of professional documentation, containing clinical opinions and professional recommendations, to determine if a condition meets the standard established by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of a substantial impairment of a major life activity;
  • A determination of the functional impact of this condition on the student in an academic setting;
  • Past history of accommodation.

Disability Services also considers the experiences and perspective of the student and the nature of the course or degree program. All requests for accommodation are considered on a case-by-case basis. Disability Services staff will consult with the course instructor when an accommodation is exceptional, or if it is apparent that an accommodation might constitute a fundamental alteration of the course or degree program.

No. A faculty member generally does not have a need to know what the disability is, only that the disability has been appropriately verified by the office assigned this responsibility on behalf of the institution (at North Seattle College, this is the DS office). Upon approval of a student's request for a reasonable accommodation, the college and instructor must accommodate the student.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act are federal laws designed to protect the rights of students with disabilities in educational programs and activities. As a federal funds recipient, North Seattle College must comply with these laws and Department of Education regulations regarding students with disabilities.

No. While the process of providing reasonable accommodations begins when the student makes a request to Disability Services, it is an instructor’s responsibility to ensure that the learning environment is equitable and accessible.

No. The standards should be the same for all students. But students with disabilities may exhibit their knowledge, production, and other course expectations differently than their non-disabled peers. For example, a student with a learning disability in writing may produce an essay exam by using a computer or scribe rather than writing out an answer. The standard for the final work product would not change in response to this reasonable accommodation.

If the student makes a request and the request is not something you would do for any other student in your course, please refer the student back to the DS office for consultation. It is not always possible to predict the specific interaction between a student's disability and a specific course requirement; as a result, it may be necessary to amend the accommodations. In consultation with instructor and student, DS will be able to advise you as to the best academic adaptation. As a matter of best practice and guidance from the federal government, faculty should not provide any accommodation that has not been approved by DS.

Start by inviting your student to have a 1:1 conversation with you. Please do not ask about disability status, instead explain which behaviors or habits are concerning you, and invite your student to tell you a little bit more if they want. If the difficulties are disability related, students will often disclose at this time. Discuss possible strategies for success, and refer them to Disability Services. If the student does not disclose a disability, offer a list of campus resources you think may be helpful to the student based on your specific concerns (e.g., Disability Services (DS), Student Learning Center, Library services, Counseling, et cetera).

Remember that only the student can decide to disclose their disability, or to pursue information about services available in the DS office. Therefore, it is essential that disability information be kept confidential as it falls under FERPA.  Again, making the direct referral to DS is not a violation of the student’s confidentiality but at no time should the class or other students be informed that a student has a disability, except at the student’s request. All information that a student shares with a faculty member is to be used specifically for arranging reasonable accommodations for the course.