ADA/Reasonable Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Excelsior College is committed to the principle that every individual should have an equal opportunity to enroll in an Excelsior College degree program, to register for courses or examinations in order to demonstrate their knowledge and skills under appropriate conditions, and to complete a degree. The College seeks to assure access by providing  accommodations to individuals with a disability as defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA).Accommodation is the provision of aids, or modification to testing, services or a program of study, that allows access by individuals with disabilities.

The ADA defines a disability as “any mental or physical condition that substantially limits an individual’s ability to perform one or more major life activities” as compared with the average person in the general population. Major life activities include, but are not limited to, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, performing manual tasks, concentrating, caring for one’s self, working, learning, and the operation of a major bodily function such as those of the immune system, respiratory system, etc.

The ADA requires an institution of higher education to provide accommodation to a qualified individual with a disability, provided that the accommodation does not create undue hardship. An undue hardship refers to any accommodation that would be unduly costly, substantially disruptive, or that would fundamentally alter the nature of the program. Both matriculated and non-matriculated students may request accommodations from Excelsior College.

Additionally, the College is required to abide by the provisions of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which protects otherwise qualified individuals from discrimination based on their disability. In order 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.

Individuals requesting accommodation are required to self-disclose to the disability services coordinator and submit a request in writing or an accessible format appropriate for their limitation which generates a durable record. The request should be accompanied by documentation of the disability including information from an appropriate, licensed professional, which should address the current functional limitation(s), their prognosis, and recommendation(s) of appropriate accommodation. Once eligibility has been established, accommodations are requested on a course-by-course (or exam-by-exam) basis.

PROCEDURE

Overview

How to Apply for Accommodation

1. Review the Online Accommodation Request Process  which is available at the College’s Accessibility Services web page, in the Student Policy Handbook, or by request from the disability services coordinator.

2. Complete the Online Accommodation Request Process at the College’s Accessibility Services web page,Students unable to complete an online request can request a paper copy by contacting the disability services coordinator by calling the College toll free at 888 647-2388. An accessible format which generates a durable record may be substituted for a written version of this form where appropriate.

3. Document the student’s disability. Documentation of a disability will include a telephone intake interview with the disability services coordinator so that we can better understand each student’s disability, the barriers to education that have been addressed and effective/ineffective accommodations previously received. Third party documentation from an appropriate, licensed professional adds to the complete 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 professional in the area of the student’s disability. The documentation should address at a minimum:

a. Identification of the specific disability and functional limitation(s)

b. Prognosis (permanent or temporary and, if temporary, the anticipated duration)

Recommendations for specific accommodations

4. In the case of students requesting accommodation for the Clinical Performance in Nursing Examination (CPNE®), the documentation must address the student’s ability to safely care for adult and pediatric patients in the acute care setting.

5. 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 Disability Services Coordinator, Excelsior College, 7 Columbia Circle, Albany, New York 12203-5159. Documentation may also be submitted as a scanned PDF via email to ACS@excelsior.edu.

6. Hard copy submissions and requests in alternate format, should be submitted directly to the Disability Services Coordinator, Excelsior College, 7 Columbia Circle, Albany, New York 12203-5159. Documentation and accommodation request forms may not be submitted by fax.

7. Accommodation requests will not be reviewed until the online request form and documentation are available to the disability services coordinator and the intake interview is 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.

8. The disability services coordinator will review the request and work with faculty and staff as appropriate. The student will be notified in writing through the My Message Center, by correspondence, or by accessible format which generates a durable, confidential record where appropriate, regarding the outcome of the request. When third party documentation is submitted, Excelsior College reserves the right to verify the  credentials of the qualified professionals and the authenticity of the documentation.

9. Each student who is offered an accommodation is required to affirmatively indicate his/her acceptance of the accommodation offered by responding to Disability/ADA Services through the My Message Center or emailing ACS@excelsior.edu. Directions for this required response are contained in each official accommodation letter.

10. Students who receive accommodations for Excelsior College courses will be sent a letter in PDF format which is to be shared with the instructor of each course. The letter explains all approved accommodations to the instructor. It is the responsibility of each student to forward the letter to the individual instructor within 48 hours of receipt.

11. When requests are not granted by the college, specific reasons for such decisions shall be clearly articulated in writing and shall specifically inform the student regarding any additional information the college needs to further support the student’s request.

12. In the event a student’s accommodation request is denied or the student finds the accommodation offered unacceptable, such student may submit a written appeal to the ADA Review Board (“Board”) composed of the Vice Provost of Academic Affairs, the Ombudsperson and the Associate Ombudsperson for consideration and determination. Such written appeal should be made within 45 days of notice of denial of accommodation request and should be directed to ECProvost@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 an attorney, other appropriate professional with knowledge of the student’s disability, functional limitation(s) and/or the availability of appropriate accommodations and/or a family member or caregiver of the student. 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.

Documentation Guidelines

Primary Documentation

This information is gathered through a telephone interview between the student and the disability services coordinator. This is the student’s narrative of his/her experience of disability, barriers faced and effective/ineffective accommodations. It presumes honesty, self awareness and accuracy on the part of the student.

The College may also consider observation and interactions with the student when helpful to identify what he/she has experienced in terms of barriers to education (secondary documentation).

Tertiary Documentation
Information from External or Third Parties

This includes documentation from external sources such as medical records, assessments created by educational psychologists, health care 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 disability services coordinator will assist the student in identifying the information that should be collected.

When to Apply for Accommodations

Students are encouraged to request accommodations at the time that they enroll in Excelsior College but are not required to do so. Accommodations are requested on a course-by-course (or exam-by-exam) basis. The time frame for requesting accommodation is determined according to the method used by the student to earn credit through Excelsior College.

For Excelsior College Courses

Students who are seeking accommodation (such as extended time for examinations, etc.), should submit their request to the disability services coordinator using the Online  Accommodation Request Process form, or by an alternate accessible format which generates a durable record at least 30 calendar days prior to the start date of the course. While the disability 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 UExcel® Exams, Excelsior College® Exams and Practice Examinations

Students who are seeking accommodation for Excelsior College Examinations or UExcel Exams should apply for accommodation at the time they are ready to register for an exam, allowing at least 30 calendar days between exam registration and the scheduling of the examination.

For Alternate Format of Required Texts for Excelsior College Courses, Excelsior College® Examinations or UExcel®  Exams                                                                         

Students with print-based disabilities (or those who are otherwise unable to use textbooks in traditional printed format) who are requesting alternate format of required textbooks are strongly encouraged to apply 6-8 weeks prior to the start of the term since this request must be sent to individual publishers. Publishers usually take at least 30 days to respond to a request for alternate format. Production of actual alternative format may take another 30 days. If an electronic version of the textbook is available, students should purchase or rent that version as publishers will not assist if an e-version is commercially available.

For the Clinical Performance in Nursing Examination (CPNE®) or CPNE Skills Workshop

Students seeking accommodation for the CPNE may request it  as soon as they are scheduled for the examination but no later than 30 calendar days prior to the scheduled date of the CPNE. Students should not apply for CPNE accommodations before they have submitted their CPNE application to the School of Nursing. Students should apply for accommodations for the CPNE® Skills Workshop at the time that they register for the workshop. While the disability 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 disability services coordinator at least seven days prior to the scheduled date of the CPNE in order 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 or examination may impose different barriers to equal access. Although not all inclusive, the following list contains examples of some of the most frequently requested accommodations.

Accommodations for Educational Program

  • For all students with hearing or speech disabilities, Excelsior provides TTY to facilitate telephone communication with the College. 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 College is not required to substitute 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.
  • To the extent possible, the College will maintain a barrier-free web site.

Accommodations for UExcel® and Excelsior College® Exams

The College will modify the testing conditions for Excelsior College Examinations and UExcel Exams provided that the modification does not compromise the validity of the examination. Examples of modifications to testing include:

1. Additional testing time

  • Time-and-a-half
  • Double time
  • Scheduled breaks

2. Assistance

  • Reader
  • Recorder
  • Special mechanical devices (limited)
  • Accessible workstations

3. Format

  • Braille examination booklet
  • Large print examination booklet
  • Large print answer sheet
  • Sign language interpreter (spoken instructions only)
  • Large font size on computer monitor
  • Separate room

Accommodations for Excelsior College Courses

Students with disabilities who are taking Excelsior College courses may request accommodations providing that they do not fundamentally alter the validity, interactivity  or content of the course. Excelsior College 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 electronic file, 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. When an electronic format of the text is available for public purchase or rental, it is expected that the student will purchase this alternate format.
  • 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 Disability Services Coordinator 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.
  • To the extent possible, Excelsior College will maintain a barrier-free Web environment

Accommodations for the Clinical Performance in Nursing Examination (CPNE)

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 Standards for the School of Nursing associate degree programs. Students may access and review the technical standards in their catalog or online. Where appropriate, accommodations for the CPNE may include but are not limited to:

  • Use of an amplified stethoscope
  • Use of electronic devices for assessing vital signs
  • Sign language interpreter
  • Additional testing time which can be extended by 30 minutes for each Patient Care Situation in the CPNE and five minutes for each Skills  Laboratory
  • Reduced areas of care in the Patient Care Situation
  • Additional break time between examination components
  • 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 CPNE

The test 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 test at their facility and the School of Nursing will assist the student to find an alternate test site.

Management of Student Information

The Disability Services Coordinator receives and retains in a secure manner all inquiries and requests for accommodation and the required documentation.

Requests for accommodation and the related documentation will be scanned into the ADA database by the assistant director of records and the original documents will be retained by the College for a minimum of six months.

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 accommodation is housed in a secure ADA database and access is restricted to staff supporting Excelsior’s disability services processes.