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Disability Services Process
Disability Services (DS) collaborates with students with documented disabilities and faculty to provide reasonable accommodations, auxiliary aids, and support services that are individualized and based upon medical documentation, functional limitations, and a collaborative assessment of needs. In order to receive accommodations, students must complete the following process:
- Submit Intake Form - Once a student has been admitted to the University, he/she should complete the Intake Form (available at http://ods.gmu.edu/ or the DS office) and submit it to the Office of Disability Services along with their medical documentation. The student is encouraged to start preparing as early as possible as some accommodations may require significant planning in advance of the semester.
- Submit Documentation of Disability - A student requesting reasonable accommodations must provide appropriate documentation. The documentation guidelines are available on theDS website at documentation guidelines. The guidelines will be helpful in working with the medical provider to ensure that evaluation reports are appropriate to document eligibility and support requests for reasonable accommodations. Disability Services staff are available to answer any questions regarding documentation guidelines. The University does not provide nor pay for services rendered to meet the above documentation requirements.
- Initial Intake Interview – Once the Intake Form and Documentation of Disability is received and reviewed, a Disability Services staff member will contact the student to schedule an intake interview. At the intake interview, the DS staff and the student will discuss the student's eligibility, individual needs and tentatively agree upon accommodations.
- Accommodations - After the initial interview has been conducted, a Faculty Contact Sheet will be developed to identify the accommodations. Copies will be given or emailed to the student for distribution to faculty members.
- Student's Responsibilities - It is the student's responsibility to distribute the accommodation sheets to the appropriate instructors as soon as possible. Failure to distribute accommodation sheets may cause delay in the provision of services. The student must also keep a copy of the accommodation sheet for his/her records.
- Continuing Needs - A student must meet with a DS staff member prior to the beginning of each semester to review accommodation needs for the upcoming course work. It is the student's responsibility to request this appointment and to do so early enough to allow for the processing of the accommodations.
- Grievance Procedure - Students with disabilities who have any complaints, including, but not limited to, complaints regarding a request for accommodations are encouraged to use the student grievance procedure outlined on the DS website at http://ods.gmu.edu/students/grievance.php
Student needs will vary according to the individual course requirements and the nature of the disability. The university is not required to provide every accommodation that a student may request. Students should note that the requirements for accommodations for postsecondary education are different from the requirements for high school and that the accommodations themselves may differ. The student’s preferences are considered but are not determining. Accommodations may take many forms and generally apply to three broad categories: teaching and learning, demonstrating knowledge, and meeting academic requirements.
The following are examples of each category:
Teaching and Learning
- Use of recorder for lectures
- Use of assistive technology
- The mission of the Assistive Technology Initiative (ATI) is to provide individuals with disabilities access to technology that is available to all Mason employees and students so that they have the tools needed to be as independent and successful as possible in the university’s academic environment. ATI is a joint project supported by the University Equity Office, the Helen A. Kellar Institute for Human disAbilities, and ODS.
- The ODS works directly with the ATI to provide services to qualified students with disabilities
- Use of Sign Language interpreters/transliterators
- Use of particular types of desks and other furniture
- Use of comprehensive syllabi (i.e., more detailed syllabi)
- Examination modifications (e.g., extended time, oral exams, readers, testing in a quiet environment, use of a word processor for essays)
- Extended time for assignments:
- Under certain conditions, “extended time on assignments” may be an appropriate accommodation. This accommodation must have supporting documentation. Granted on a case-by-case basis, this accommodation must be negotiated with the professor in advance of the assignment due date. The student and professor should come to an agreement on the specific amount of extended time and due date for each assignment receiving this accommodation.
Meeting Academic Requirements
- Substitution or waiver of certain classes:
- Students who wish to request an exemption because of a specific disability should contact ODS so that they may be referred to the correct college or department for further information. DS does not make any determinations regarding course substitutions or waivers.
- Scheduling accommodations:
- Priority registration is available to students who are registered with DS.
- Reduced course load:
- Students who need reduced course load status should make an appointment with a DS advisor to discuss the process for making this request.
- Housing accommodations
- A student requiring specialized accessibility needs as a residential student must first contactDS when seeking housing accommodations. The student will need to provide documentation of the disability. The director will handle each request on a case-by-case basis.
- Extended time to complete course requirements
- Use of a scribe or note taker
- Use of assistive technology
- Physical access:
- Every effort is made to reduce barriers to classrooms and other university facilities. Students with accessibility problems should contact DS as soon as they become aware of the need for an accommodation.
- Parking accommodations are handled through George Mason University Parking Services. Students may contact Parking Services at 703-993-2710.
Examples of Accommodations Not Made
The university is not required to provide personal assistants, individual personal tutors or coaches, or personal assistive technology. Whenever possible, DS will refer students to agencies that may provide personal assistance of that nature. The university is not required to make, and does not make, accommodations that would reduce academic expectations or standards or eliminate essential components of any course. Open-book tests or exams are not provided as an accommodation, but may be a part of any particular professor’s methodology for instruction and testing.