Reasonable Accommodations

In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Southern Virginia honors requests for reasonable accommodations made by students with disabilities. Students must self-disclose their documented disability to the Student Wellness Center, which coordinates accommodations between students and professors. Professors are not advised of the nature or details of the disability unless the students themselves choose to discuss it with them. Students should take care of the necessary documentation and paperwork with the Student Wellness Center early in the semester. Accommodations for disabilities are not made until the professor is provided with proper documentation and will not be implemented retroactively for assignments due previous to the receipt of documentation.

Accommodation Guidelines

Accommodations are adjustments to the standard methods used to access educational opportunities at Southern Virginia University. For example, students may be eligible for extra time on an exam, or the use of a basic four-function calculator.

Individual accommodations are determined through a series of questions. The answer to each question must be “yes,” or the accommodation is not appropriate.

  1. Does the student have a disability as defined by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990?
  2. Has the student provided appropriate documentation?
  3. Is the student “otherwise qualified” to participate in the program or course?
  4. With the requested accommodations, can the student perform the essential tasks of the course?
  5. Is the requested accommodation reasonable?

An accommodation is reasonable if it is based on documented individual needs; allows the most integrated experience possible; does not compromise the essential requirements of a course or program; does not pose a threat to personal or public safety; does not impose undue financial or administrative burden; and is not of a personal nature involving self-care or activities of daily living.

Determination of reasonable accommodations is made individually on a case-by-case basis. Accommodations are not provided based simply on diagnosis but are provided according to consideration of an individual’s specific needs.

Documentation Guidelines

Students who are seeking academic accommodations through the Student Wellness Center at Southern Virginia University will need to submit documentation to verify disability eligibility under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Protection from disability discrimination under these statutes is based upon confirmation of a disability that substantially limits a major life activity.

The following guidance is provided in the interest of assuring that documentation is appropriate to verify eligibility and requests for reasonable accommodations or assistive technology. Appropriate documentation will contribute to our understanding the disability and the impact it has on the student in the college environment. The Director of Student Wellness is available to consult with diagnosticians, parents, and students regarding this guidance.

Ideally, quality documentation is:

  1. Conducted by qualified and credentialed professionals, who have no personal relationship with the student, and whose credentials match the disability being evaluated (i.e., a medical condition documented by a physician, a psychological condition documented by a psychologist, etc.)
  2. Clear, and contains a specific diagnostic statement, which describes the current, functional impact on a major life activity. A DSM code is preferable.
  3. Comprehensive, and includes a description of diagnostic criteria, evaluation methods, procedures, dates of testing, and includes the names, data and results of formal instruments, e.g., aptitude testing (such as the WAIS), achievement testing (such as the Woodcock-Johnson), and behavioral testing (such as the BASC).
  4. Current, and contains information about current functional limitations, and how it impacts the individual in an academic setting. Recent documentation from assessments done during or since the senior year of high school using adult norms are preferable and may be required. Older documentation can inform us of how permanent or invariable conditions may impact the individual.
  5. Thorough and extensive, and contains information about how the condition may change over time, and in various environments, e.g., weather changes, times of the day, or within changing social and academic contexts. A summary of the effectiveness and impact of medications, interventions or treatments across physical, social, and cognitive settings is also important.
  6. Detailed, and gives a historically relevant description of past services, interventions, and accommodations, with rationales for each.
  7. Indicatory, giving explicit recommendations, made by a credentialed professional, for accommodations, services, and strategies.

Emotional Support Animals

Students who wish to keep an emotional support animal on campus will need to provide the following documentation to the Student Wellness Center. Documentation must be provided at the start of each academic year and be dated within the previous six months. The evaluators should be from Virginia or the student’s home state. Documentation should include:

  1. Credentials and contact information of the evaluator(s).
  2. Diagnostic statement identifying the disability.
  3. Description of the diagnostic methodology used.
  4. Description of the current functional limitations.
  5. Description of the expected progression or stability of the disability.
  6. Description of current and past accommodations, services, and/or medications.
  7. Statement on how the animal serves as an accommodation for the verified disability.
  8. Statement on how the need for the animal relates to the ability of the student to use and enjoy the living arrangements provided by the university.
  9. Proof the animal is licensed pursuant to applicable laws.
  10. Health statement, including vaccination record, for the animal from a licensed veterinarian.
  11. Name and contact information of an alternative caregiver for the animal should the owner become ill or unavailable. (The student must keep this information updated with the Office of Housing & Residence Life.)

A student may check in to university housing with an emotional support animal after the Student Wellness Center has certified all documentation. The animal must remain in the student’s bedroom.