The following frequently asked questions and answers are intended to serve as a guide and to share information with students, employees and visitors to the University of Delaware who have a disability. The DSS Office is available to answer questions, share information about the process for requesting and determining reasonable accommodations for an appropriately documented disability when the current impact of the condition and a functional limitation are established.
Q: Are all students and employees with disabilities registered with the DSS Office?
A: No, having a disability does not automatically qualify you for an accommodation. You only need an accommodation if the disability is substantially limiting and an accommodation provides equal opportunity for you. Many people with disabilities do not need a specific accommodation.
Q: Are students with disabilities who are admitted allowed into every program and activity on campus?
A: Admission to some specific programs that have technical standards might not be possible for some disabilities; however it is determined on a case-by-case basis with or without reasonable accommodations. If you are in doubt, please contact the specific program that you are interested in. Activities are generally accessible to all, however make sure you make accommodation requests in advance of participating in the activity.
Q: How do students, employees and staff register with the DSS Office?
A: Make an individualized appointment with the Coordinator to discuss your disability and how it affects you academically or on the job. Be prepared to provide documentation.
Q: If I sign a release, who is entitled to see my medical or psychological documentation?
A: The documentation is kept in a separate file in the DSS Office for both students and employees who register. The information in the documentation will only be released on a need-to-know basis in order to provide the reasonable accommodations. The information is kept as confidential as possible. FERPA is the act that pertains to students' documentation and for employees; the documentation is to be kept separate from employee records.
Q: Is there a separate admission process for students?
A: No, admission to the University and specific programs are made without regard to disability. There is a place on the application for students to write an essay on their own accomplishments and challenges but it is not mandatory. Please do not send documentation to the Admission’s Office.
Q: Is there any consideration given to persons with disabilities in the employment process?
A: If you need an accommodation in the application process, please notify human resources or the department you are applying to. You must be able to perform the essential functions of the job, with or without accommodations.
Q: What happens if I'm not registered and my disability becomes such that I need accommodations? What happens if I am being informally accommodated by my instructor or supervisor?
A: Accommodations, through the DSS Office, can only begin after you have registered and completed the process to determine eligibility. Accommodations are not provided retroactively.
Q: What happens if the student or employee refuses an accommodation or doesn't want one?
A: The person with a disability has the right to refuse any accommodation. Some people feel that registering with the DSS Office gives them a "label". While there is an effort to keep documentation as confidential as possible, others who are involved in implementing accommodations do need to know the nature and severity of the disability in order to provide accommodations.
Q: What if a person with a disability does not do well academically or perform to acceptable standards on the job?
A: Students with disabilities and employees on the job must perform at satisfactory levels with or without reasonable accommodations. Both must be "qualified" and be able to perform the essential functions of the class or job. Modifications and adjustments are possible and are determined on a case-by-case basis depending on the need. Again, the individual must be registered, and acknowledge the disability and the need for accommodations. Students can fail classes, and employee can be fired without their civil rights being violated even if accommodations are provided. There is no guarantee of success, access is the focus.
Q: What if I have a student in my class or an employee who seems to have a disability?
A: For students, it is important to provide a syllabus statement inviting students who think they might need an accommodation to contact the DSS Office. For employees, you can ask a person who seems to be struggling with an issue if they need any help but generally it is up to the person to ask for an accommodation. For employees, please refer to the information on the process for accommodations that can be accessed on the EEOC website, www.eeoc.gov/types/ada.html.
Q: What if I have a temporary medical condition?
A: A temporary medical condition, while not usually covered by the ADA, has some short term accommodation provisions. Typically, rides are given by public safety on campus but the service is limited. Exams can be taken in the DSS Office for students with a broken arm or finger. Other accommodations are possible on a case-by-case basis. Employees typically can work out short term needs with their supervisor. In the event that the temporary condition becomes permanent, the individual has the option of registering and continuing the accommodations.
Q: Who is obligated to provide and monitor the accommodation(s)?
A: The University, as a whole, has an obligation to make sure the approved accommodations are provided and monitored. However, the person with the disability has the primary responsibility to notify the instructor, the DSS Office or the supervisor if accommodations aren't working. Sometimes accommodations need to be changed or altered to make sure equal access is provided.
Q: Who pays for the accommodations?
A: The person with the disability does not pay for the accommodation itself. The DSS Office typically funds any costs incurred for students and the departments are expected to pay for employee's accommodation costs. There often are reasonably priced accommodation options so contact the DSS Office for information. The person with the disability typically knows what works. We have an obligation to provide a meaningful accommodation, not always the first choice of the requestor.
Q: Who is responsible for determining appropriate and reasonable accommodations?
A: The DSS Office is the where decisions are made about accommodations based on the documentation that is provided and other pertinent information. Each accommodation is determined on a case-by-case basis.