ADA Accommodations for Students
The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) defines a disability as any physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” Major life activities include, but are not limited to, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working. The ADA requires an institution of higher education to provide accommodations to a qualified individual with a disability, provided that the accommodation does not: 1) fundamentally alter the nature of an academic program, or 2) create undue hardship to the institution. An undue hardship refers to proposed accommodations that are impossible, unfeasible, or excessively disruptive or burdensome to administer. Both matriculated and non-matriculated students may request accommodations from Excelsior University.
Additionally, the University is required to abide by the provisions of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act which protects otherwise qualified individuals from discrimination on the basis of disability. To be considered otherwise qualified, a student with a disability must be capable, either with or without accommodation, of fulfilling the essential requirements of the educational program.
How to Apply for Accommodation
- Review the Online Accommodation Request Process available at https://www.excelsior.edu/support-resources/accessibility-services/, in the Student Policy Handbook, or by request from the Accessibility Services Office at 844-427-4356.
- Complete the Online Accommodation Request Process at https://www.excelsior.edu/support-resources/accessibility-services/. Students unable to complete an online request can request a paper copy from the Accessibility Services Office by calling the University toll free at 844-427-4356. The Accessibility Services Office will work with students who need to submit the information in an alternate format, if appropriate.
- Documentation of Disability. Documentation of a disability will include a student intake interview (by phone, video, or other accessible method that provides a durable record) with the Executive Director of Student Accessibility or the Accessibility Services Coordinator so that we can better understand each student’s disability, the barriers to education that will be addressed, and the effectiveness of accommodations previously received. Third party documentation from an appropriate, licensed medical professional helps to ensure fuller understanding of the barriers to education faced by the student. Third party documentation can be submitted prior to the intake interview, or the coordinator can help determine additional documentation needs after the initial interview.
Third party documentation should be on official letterhead and signed by a qualified healthcare professional in the area of the student’s disability. The documentation should address at a minimum:
- Identification of the specific disability and functional limitation(s)
- Prognosis (permanent or temporary and, if temporary, the anticipated duration)
- Recommendations for specific accommodations
- In the case of students requesting accommodation for the clinical practice experiences, the documentation must address the student’s ability to safely care for adult and pediatric patients in an acute care setting.
- Documentation may be scanned as a PDF and sent as part of the online accommodation request process. It may also be sent as an attachment through the My Message Center to Disability/ADA Services or may be sent separately by mail to the Executive Director of Student Accessibility, Excelsior University, 7 Columbia Circle, Albany, New York 12203-5159. Documentation may also be submitted as a scanned PDF via email to ACS@excelsior.edu.
- Hard copy submissions and requests in alternate format, should be submitted directly to the Executive Director of Student Accessibility, Excelsior University, 7 Columbia Circle, Albany, New York 12203-5159. Documentation and accommodation request forms may not be submitted by fax.
- Accommodation requests will not be reviewed until the online request form and documentation are available to the Accessibility Services Coordinator and the intake interview has been conducted. The accommodation process is an interactive process, so student input is expected and required. Each request is reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Requests for accommodation are processed as they become complete. Intake interviews and third-party documentation are only required for first-time accommodation requests.
- The Executive Director of Student Accessibility or the Accessibility Services Coordinator will review the request and work with faculty and staff as appropriate. Students will be notified in writing through My Message Center, by correspondence, or by an alternative accessible format which generates a durable, confidential record where appropriate, regarding the outcome of the request. When third party documentation is submitted, Excelsior University reserves the right to verify the credentials of the qualified professionals and the authenticity of the documentation.
- Each student who is offered an accommodation is required to affirmatively indicate their acceptance of the accommodation offered by responding to Accessibility/ADA Services through the My Message Center or emailing ACS@excelsior.edu. Directions for this required response are contained in each official accommodation letter. Please note, students should apply for accommodations at least 3 weeks (15 business days) prior to the course term for which they are sought..
- Students who receive accommodations for Excelsior University courses will be sent a letter in PDF format. Course letters will be shared by the Executive Director of Student Accessibility or the Accessibility Services Coordinator directly with the instructor and the department chair.
- When requests are not granted by the University, specific reasons for such decisions will be clearly articulated in writing and will specifically inform the student regarding any additional information the University may need to further support the student’s request.
- In the event a student’s accommodation request is denied or the student finds the accommodation offered inadequate, such student may submit a written appeal to the ADA Review Board (“Board”) composed of the Associate Vice President for Student Success or designee, and the provost, for consideration and determination. Such written appeal must be made within 45 days of notice of denial of accommodation request and should be directed to Provost@excelsior.edu. The student may request a conference with the Board, or the Board’s designee, to discuss the appeal. The student may be assisted during such conference by a representative of their choosing. The ADA Review Board shall provide the student with a written copy of their determination within 45 calendar days of the date of receipt of the written appeal.
Primary Documentation: This information is gathered through an intake interview (via phone, video, or other accessible format that provides a durable record) between the student and the Accessibility Services Coordinator. This is the student’s narrative of their experience of disability, barriers faced, and effective/ineffective accommodations. It presumes honesty, self-awareness, and accuracy on the part of the student.
Secondary Documentation: The University may also consider observation and interactions with the student when helpful to identify what has been experienced in terms of barriers to education.
Tertiary (Third Party) Documentation: This includes documentation from external sources such as medical records, assessments created by educational psychologists, healthcare providers, etc. This guidance will vary in its relevance and value depending upon the original context, credentials of the evaluator, level of detail provided, and the comprehensiveness of the narrative.
After the intake interview, if it is determined that third party documentation is necessary and the student does not already have such documentation, the Executive Director of Student Accessibility or the Accessibility Services Coordinator will assist the student in identifying the information that should be collected. Accommodations are requested on a course-by-course basis. The time frame for requesting accommodations is determined according to the method used by the student to earn credit through Excelsior University.
For Excelsior University Courses
Students who are seeking accommodation (such as extended time for examinations, etc.) should submit their request to the Accessibility Services Coordinator using the Online Accommodation Request Process form or by an alternative accessible format which generates a durable record at least 15 business days prior to the start date of the course. While the Accessibility Services Coordinator will review and attempt to fulfill late requests, the delay may result in accommodations not being available at the start of the term. Accommodations are never retroactive.
For the Clinical Practice Experiences
Students seeking accommodation for the clinical practice experiences may request it as soon as they are scheduled but no later than 21 calendar days prior to the start of the course. While the Accessibility Services Coordinator will review and attempt to fulfill late requests, the nature of the request may result in accommodations not being available for the scheduled date. All requests for accommodation and documentation must be received by the Executive Director of Student Accessibility or the Accessibility Services Coordinator at least seven days prior to the scheduled clinical weekend to be processed. In the case of such late requests, no guarantee can be made regarding the processing or approval of the requests.
Examples of Accommodations
Accommodations are provided to individuals on a case-by-case basis. Each individual is unique, and each course may impose different barriers to equal access. To the extent possible, the University will maintain a barrier-free web site.
Accommodations for Educational Program
For all students with hearing or speech disabilities, Excelsior provides TTY to facilitate telephone communication with the University. Students may also use a telephone relay service or may communicate through email, the My Message Center, or correspondence.
The appropriate faculty will consider requests for substitution or waiver of specific degree requirements, provided that substitution or waiver does not alter the academic integrity of the degree. The University is not required to allow substitutions for courses or examinations considered fundamental to the academic program, but it will consider possible course or examination substitutions (if disability proves to be a barrier to fulfillment of the course or examination in question). The feasibility for available alternatives will be considered and faculty will determine whether a course or examination substitution is possible without lowering academic standards or requiring substantial program alteration.
Additional Accommodations for Clinical Practicums (Examples):
- Additional time to assess and document patients
- Amplified stethoscope
- Electronic Vital Sign Machine
- Special mechanical devices (limited)
- Sign language interpreter (spoken instructions only)
- Large font size on computer monitor
- Separate room
Accommodations for Excelsior University Courses
Students with disabilities who are taking Excelsior University courses may request accommodations providing that they do not fundamentally alter the validity, interactivity, or content of the course. Excelsior University seeks to develop courses which are ADA compliant and accessible to all students. Examples of modifications for courses include:
- Extended time for testing and assessments (time-and-one-half or double time).
- Provision of alternate print or presentation formats (e.g., books in, enlarged print, Braille). Additional information and application by the student is required to obtain publisher’s files in electronic format. Publishers require that the student be registered for the course, provide proof that the textbook has been purchased, and certification that any electronic file provided will be used by that student for the course indicated. Students with print-based disabilities should purchase the e-version of the textbook if available. If an e-version is not available, such students should make a request 6-8 weeks prior to the start of the term since the request must be sent to individual publishers.
- Extension of Due Date. If a student submits a request for an extension of the due date for a project or other assignment and the documentation specifically addresses the functional limitations which create barriers to access, the Executive Director of Accessibility Services will review the essential elements and requirements of the course with the appropriate program director to determine if an extension is reasonable or whether it would fundamentally alter the validity of the course.
- Accommodations for the clinical practice experiences. All students must be able to safely care for hospitalized adult and pediatric patients, addressing their physical needs (including mobility) and psychological needs. Students are expected to satisfy the Technical Standard for the nursing degree programs. Students may access and review the technical standards in their online catalog. Where appropriate, accommodations for the clinical practice experiences may include but are not limited to:
- Use of an amplified stethoscope
- Use of electronic devices for assessing vital signs
- Sign language interpreter
- Assistance with lifting and positioning of patient
- Provision of latex-free gloves (according to individual hospital policies for latex-sensitive nurses)
Special note regarding accommodations for the clinical practice experiences: The clinical site hospitals may determine that some accommodations requested are not appropriate for the hospital facility. In this case the facility may decline to approve the student’s request to take the clinical at their facility, and the nursing degree program staff will assist the student to find an alternative clinical site.
Management of Student Information
The Executive Director of Accessibility Services receives and retains in a secure manner all inquiries and requests for accommodation and the required documentation.
Requests for accommodation and related documentation will be scanned into the ADA database and the original documents will be retained by the University during the period of the student’s enrollment in the University.
Access to information regarding student requests for accommodation is on a “need to know” basis consistent with the requirements of Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 USC 1232g and related regulations at 34 CFR Part 99 regarding the confidentiality of and access to student records. To preserve student confidentiality, all information regarding requests for or delivery of accommodations is housed in a secure ADA database and access is restricted to staff supporting Excelsior’s accessibility services processes.