University Policy for Accommodating Students and Applicants with Disabilities
It is the policy of Pepperdine University to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and state and local regulations regarding students and applicants with disabilities. Pursuant to these laws, no qualified individual with a disability shall unlawfully be denied access to or participation in any services, programs, or activities of Pepperdine University.
In carrying out this policy, we recognize that disabilities include mobility, sensory, health, psychological, and learning disabilities. It is our intent to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities, to the extent it is readily achievable to do so. In determining what appropriate accommodations are to be provided, the Disability Services Office (DSO) will engage in a conscientious and diligent process with the student. We are unable, however, to make accommodations that are unduly burdensome or that fundamentally alter the nature of the service, program or activity.
I. Disability Defined
A disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of the individual.
A. Major Life Activities: The phrase major life activities refers to normal functions such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.
B. Physical Impairment: A physical impairment includes any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory and speech organs, cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genitourinary, hemic and lymphatic, skin and endocrine.
C. Mental Impairment: A mental impairment includes any mental or psychological disorder such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities.
D. Learning Disabilities: A learning disability is a generic term that refers to a heterogeneous group of disorders manifested by significant difficulties in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or mathematical abilities. These disorders occur in persons of average to very superior intelligence and are presumed to be due to central nervous system dysfunction.
II. Admission of Students with Disabilities
The University will make admission decisions using criteria which do not consider an individual's disability. Thus, the University will not impose or apply admission or eligibility criteria that screen out or tend to screen out individuals on the basis of their disability, unless such criteria is necessary for the provision of the program, service or activity being offered. The University believes that this carries out the intent of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
Students with disabilities desiring to enroll in any program, service or activity of Pepperdine University must be able to meet the minimal standards of both the University and the particular school, program, service or activity to which admission is sought.
The University does not engage in any affirmative action programs for students with disabilities, nor does it consider a student's disability in evaluating admission criteria. It is, of course, within the student's discretion to inform the respective school's Admissions Committee of a disability if they wish. If this choice is made, the University will not discriminate against the student on the basis of the disability and will make reasonable accommodations, when necessary.
III. Students Requesting Accommodations
Students with disabilities have the responsibility of contacting the DSO as soon as possible after they have filed their intent to enroll with the University. A staff member will assist you in putting together a disability related documentation packet for review, see Guidelines for Disability Documentation, and will set up an intake interview for you with the director in order to assess your needs. Your documentation should be sent to the DSO either by fax or by regular mail as soon as possible before your first semester of enrollment at Pepperdine. Accommodations will not be granted until the DSO director has reviewed your documentation and approved reasonable and appropriate accommodations. You should not assume that the University knows any information about your disability because you chose to include it in your application for admission. If you do not have documentation, or if your documentation is insufficient, a DSO staff member can refer you to an appropriate professional for evaluation.
IV. Disability Verification
Students requesting accommodations must provide documentation from a qualified professional verifying their disability. The opinions and recommendations of a qualified professional will be considered in developing a suitable accommodation plan. Temporary impairments are not commonly regarded as disabilities, and only in rare circumstances will the degree of limitation rendered by a temporary impairment be substantial enough to qualify as a disability pursuant to this policy.
Physical and Mental Disabilities: A student with a physical disability must provide verification certified by a licensed physician, audiologist, speech pathologist, physical therapist, rehabilitation counselor, or other professional health care provider who is qualified in the diagnosis of the disability. The verification must reflect the student's present level of functioning of the major life activity affected by the impairment. The cost of obtaining the professional verification shall be borne by the student.
If the initial verification is incomplete or inadequate to determine the present extent of the disability and necessary accommodations, the University shall have the discretion to require a supplemental assessment of the disability. The cost of the supplemental assessment shall be borne by the student. If the University requires an additional assessment for purposes of obtaining a second opinion, then the University shall bear any costs not covered by any third party payor.
Learning Disabilities: A student with a learning disability must provide professional testing and evaluation results which reflect the individual's present level of processing information and present achievement level. Documentation verifying the learning disability must be prepared by a professional qualified to diagnose a learning disability, including but not limited to a licensed physician or learning disability specialist. This documentation should be no more than three years old.
V. Implementation of Approved Accommodations
When the director has completed the student's documentation review and has determined that the student's disability has a current functional impact on the student's academic work, or the student's participation in Pepperdine's programs, he/she will work with the student to determine what accommodations are reasonable and appropriate for the student. The DSO staff will also assist the student with the necessary paperwork required to request services.
Absent a significant health or safety concern, instructors are required to provide all approved accommodations. If an instructor has questions about the approved accommodations, the instructor should immediately contact the DSO. Instructors may not unilaterally make a determination as to whether the student has a disability, the extent of the student's disability, or the appropriateness of an approved accommodation.
If an instructor believes that the approved accommodation is unduly burdensome or would result in a fundamental alteration to an essential component of the course, the instructor may present the issue to the DSO in writing. While the issue is being considered, the instructor will continue to provide the approved accommodation, unless the DSO notifies the instructor that an alternative accommodation should be provided. A meeting with the DSO, the instructor, the student, and any other relevant individual (such as the Department Chair) will take place within a reasonable time period following the instructor's notice to the DSO. The final decision regarding any changes to the approved accommodation will be achieved through an interactive process among the DSO, the instructor, the student, and any other relevant individual.
A student may challenge any determination via the appeals process as outlined below.
VI. Appeals Procedure
If a student is dissatisfied with the outcome of the evaluation or accommodation provided, the student may file an appeal through the Nonacademic Student Grievance Procedure then existing in the student's school's Academic Catalog or Student Handbook.
VII. Students Desiring Additional Information
Students and Applicants who desire information beyond what is written in University publications may contact the Disability Services Office. If after contacting the Disability Services Office there remains a desire for additional information, students may contact the University's Equal Opportunity Officer.
This policy was adopted from Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C.A. § 12181 et seq. (1993), 28 C.F.R. § 36.101 et seq.; The National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities, Journal of Learning Disabilities, Volume 22, Number 2, February 1987, Pages 109-112; and The University of Houston Law Center Handbook For Students And Applicants With Disabilities, August, 1993.