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Disability Services

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, or those regarded as having 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. 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, eating, standing, bending, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, learning, and working. It also includes operation of major bodily function, such as the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine and reproductive functions.

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, but rather, the student's individual qualifications, to meet the essential elements of the program, service or activity being offered, assuming incorporation or use of the proper academic adjustment and/or auxiliary aids, if necessary. 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 may request accommodations at any time. However, the University must have time to review and approve the request before making accommodations. In addition, some accommodations take more time to provide than others. Therefore, students are encouraged to contact the DSO as soon as possible after they have filed their intent to enroll with the University. A staff member will assist the student in putting together a disability related documentation packet for review, see  Guidelines for Disability Documentation, and will set up an intake interview for the student with the director in order to assess the student's needs. The documentation should be sent to the DSO either by fax or by regular mail as soon as possible before the student's first semester of enrollment at Pepperdine. Students should not assume that the University knows any information about his or her disability because it was included it in the student's application for admission. If the student does not have documentation, or if the documentation is insufficient, a DSO staff member can refer the student to an appropriate professional for evaluation.

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. A temporary impairment (e.g., a broken bone) is a disability only if its severity is such that it results in a substantial limitation of one or more major life activities for an extended period of time. Whether a temporary impairment is substantial enough to be a disability must be determined on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration the duration (or expected duration) of the impairment, the extent to which it actually limits a major life activity, and the assessment of a qualified professional.

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.

IV. Implementation of Approved Accommodations

The DSO director has the responsibility to review each student's documentation conscientiously and diligently in carefully considering the student's request for accommodation. When the director has completed the evaluation and has determined that the student's disability has a current functional impact on his or her academic work or ability to participate in Pepperdine's programs, the director will work with the student to determine what accommodations are reasonable and appropriate. The DSO staff will also assist the student with the necessary paperwork required to request services.

In situations where a faculty member objects to providing a University-approved accommodation, such accommodation will be provided to the student until a final decision has been reached by the DSO director on the faculty member's objection. The DSO will consider the student's disability-related needs, the nature of the approved accommodation, the basis for the faculty member's objection, whether the accommodation would alter or waive essential academic requirements or constitute a fundamental alteration, and whether an effective alternative accommodation is available. No faculty member may unilaterally usurp the duties and obligations of the DSO including, but not limited to, making determinations as to whether a student has a disability, the extent of a student's disability or the appropriateness of an approved accommodation.

V. Appeal

In the event that there is a disagreement between the student and the University regarding the outcome of the DSO director's evaluation (including whether the student is a qualified individual with a disability, the adequacy of the student's documentation regarding the student's disability and decisions regarding the student's academic adjustment or auxiliary aid), the student can file an appeal through the University's Nonacademic Student Grievance Procedure (as found in the Academic Catalogs).

VI. 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.

VII. Authority

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