Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Applicable legislation concerning qualified persons with disability

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

In discussing university life for students with disabilities it is important to note Southeast is subject to the requirements of two major federal laws: the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the American with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act states no qualified person with a disability in the United States shall be subject to discrimination or denied access to any program or activity at an institution that receives federal financial assistance.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) goes beyond this by requiring all institutions of higher education to provide access to students with disabilities, regardless of federal funding.

It states no qualified individual shall by reason of disability be excluded or denied the benefits of services, programs or activities, or be subject to discrimination.

While Individual Education Plans (IEP) for all students who qualify as disabled are requirements for elementary and secondary schools, in institutions of postsecondary education requests for accommodation must originate with the student.†

Students have a legal right not to be identified as disabled, but if they choose to self-identify and receive access to resources of accommodation, they must take the first step by registering with Disability Services and submitting a request for services.

The ADA defines a qualified individual with a disability as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of impairment or is perceived by others as impaired.

The university requires the student to meet with a Disability Services professional staff member and provide documents that substantiate their request for services in their classes.

A faculty notification will be sent to the instructors of a registered studentís classes that outlines what accommodations need to be made in light of the documentation on file with Disability Services. Faculty notifications should not identify a studentís diagnosis

Faculty are encouraged to modify specific course requirements for qualified students; lowering academic standards for students is not an appropriate accommodation.†

Students may register with Disability Services at any time during the semester. A list of standard accommodations are available on the Disability Services webpage.

Another relevant piece of legislation is The Missouri Human Rights Act, which includes all entities that employ six or more employees.

The law requires accessible facilities, acquisition of equipment, modification and reasonable accommodations that do not present hardship or undue burden on the entity.

Buildings constructed or renovated after 1991 require public-use areas to be readily accessible, especially in terms of wheelchair accessibility: including but not limited to door width, outlet height, grab bars in bathrooms and wheelchair accessible ramps.

Additional legislation important to mention includes the Fair Housing Act and the Architectural Barriers Act.

The Fair Housing Act requires equal housing opportunity for the disabled, including readily accessible common use areas.

The Architectural Barriers Act requires buildings and facilities designed, constructed or altered with federal funds to comply with federal standards for physical accessibility.

On the subject of transportation, campuses that offer public shuttle services are required by the ADA to be readily accessible. Southeast also allows request for transit service adjustment based on request at least four hours prior to need.†

About two percent of publicly available parking spots are to be designated as handicapped parking spots.

Lastly, in relation to service animals, Southeastís animal-control policy allows service animals (under ADA definition) in university buildings while providing services.

The ADA defines service animals as a dog individually trained to work or perform tasks to benefit a disabled individual. The work or task performed by a service animal must be directly related to a personís disability (i.e. vision assistance, pulling wheelchair, seizure assistance, interrupting destructive behavior).

There is an exception for a specifically trained miniature horse, but all other species trained or untrained are not considered service animals for ADA purposes.

The ADA does not recognize emotional-support animals as service animals.

Psychiatric service dogs though are considered separate from comfort or therapy animals based on tasks, such as detecting the onset of psychiatric episodes.†

An entity is not allowed to require documentation of a service animalís certification or training.

Southeastís Accessibility Plan states although certain facilities are not fully physically accessible to people with disabilities, the university will take such means as are necessary to ensure that no qualified person with a disability is denied benefits, excluded from participation or subjected to discrimination because of inaccessibility.