Pepperdine University complies 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.
- Major life activities: 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.
- Physical impairment: 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.
- Mental impairment: any mental or psychological disorder such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities.
- Learning disabilities: 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.
II. Admission of Students with Disabilities
The University will make admission decisions using criteria that 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 Office of Student Accessibility ("OSA") as soon as possible after they have filed their intent to enroll with the University. A staff member will assist the student in understanding the process for putting together a disability related documentation packet for review (see Guidelines for Documentation of a Disability) and will set up an intake interview for the student with a director (or his or her designee) in order to assess the student's needs. The documentation should be sent to the OSA either by email, fax, or 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, an OSA 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 healthcare 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 incurred 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. 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
An OSA director has the responsibility to review each student's documentation conscientiously and diligently in carefully considering the student's request for accommodation. When a 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 OSA 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 an OSA director on the faculty member's objection. The OSA 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 OSA 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. Disability Accommodation Complaint and Appeal Procedure
In the event that there is a disagreement between the student and the University regarding the outcome of the OSA director's evaluation of the student's request for disability accommodation(s) (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, including denial of requested and/or approved services) and the student is not able to successfully resolve the disagreement informally with the OSA director, the student may submit a written complaint to the Office of the Provost. This written complaint should be submitted as soon as possible after the student knows of the subject problem. The complaint should specify the University policy, procedure, or norm violated and specifically set forth all relevant factual details (including relevant supporting documentation). A student may elect to withdraw a complaint at any time; however, the University reserves the right to investigate all complaints where necessary to protect the interests of the University community.
The Associate Provost (or his or her designee) shall serve as the grievance officer concerning student complaints regarding the OSA director's evaluation of requests for disability accommodation(s). The Provost (or his or her designee) will serve as the reviewing officer if the student wishes to request an appeal of the grievance officer's decision. The grievance officer will have the necessary training and expertise concerning (1) the student's disability, (2) the applicable University policies and procedures, (3) the applicable legal standards, and (4) the appropriate methods for resolution, including the scope of remedies available to the student, or shall seek consultation as necessary and appropriate (which information can be obtained through consultation with the OSA).
The grievance officer shall read the complaint, all relevant records or other factual information, and all University policies and procedures as may be necessary to determine whether the student's complaint warrants implementing the remainder of the procedures outlined below. If, for example, the allegations in the complaint, even if true, would not constitute a violation of a University policy, procedure, or norm, then the grievance officer should inform the student in writing that the student's complaint is not subject to the Disability Accommodation Complaint and Appeal Procedure.
If the grievance officer determines that the complaint does warrant further investigation and consideration, then the grievance officer will initiate a reasonable investigation into the matter. The scope of any investigation shall be in the sole discretion of the grievance officer. The investigation may include, but is not limited to, meeting with the parties, talking with witnesses, and reviewing any supporting documents. If the grievance officer desires, he or she may appoint an ad hoc committee to assist in the investigation of the complaint and/or for advice concerning the handling of this matter. In such instances, the ad hoc committee should have the necessary training or expertise necessary to investigate the complaint and offer advice on the handling of the matter.
Within ten (10) business days of a receipt of the written complaint, the grievance officer shall make a decision by a preponderance of the evidence based on the written complaint and any other information the grievance officer determines is relevant. The decision shall be in writing and consist of factual findings, conclusions, and a remedy if one is appropriate. The grievance officer will provide a copy of the decision to the student and the OSA director.
The student may submit a written request for appeal to the Provost ("reviewing officer") within three (3) business days from the date of the grievance officer's decision. The request for appeal must specifically set forth all grounds for appeal. The reviewing officer shall be limited to addressing only the following questions:
- Did the grievance officer consider all the important and appropriate facts in the investigation of this matter?
- Did the student prove by a "preponderance of the evidence" (that is, more likely than not) that the OSA director's evaluation of the student's request for disability accommodation(s) violated a University policy, procedure, or norm or otherwise engaged in any unlawful or illegal activity?
- Was the process carried out in a fair manner?
- Was the decision one that a reasonable person might have made?
- Was the grievance officer biased?
Within six (6) business days from the date of receipt of the written appeal, the reviewing officer shall make a final decision based on the written complaint, the grievance officer's written decision, and the written request for appeal. The decision of the reviewing officer shall be final. The reviewing officer will provide a copy of the final decision to the student, the grievance officer, and the OSA director.
All written decisions made and materials produced in connection with a grievance conducted under this procedure shall be retained by the Office of the Provost for seven years after graduation.
VI. Students Desiring Additional Information
Students and applicants who desire information beyond what is written in University publications may contact the Office of Student Accessibility. If after contacting this 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.
Notice of Updated Privacy Practices
Pepperdine University respects that the privacy of your Personal Health Information ("PHI") is important to you. Therefore, effective August 1, 2014, we have updated our Notice of Privacy Practices ("NPP"). This NPP describes the collection, maintenance, and use of your PHI in the course of our business operations.
Click here to view the updated NPP. You may also obtain a copy by contacting the Pepperdine University Department where you last received care.
Last updated 5/17/18