Disability Service Guidelines
Skidmore College understands that maintaining confidentiality of student documentation is essential. The Coordinator for Students with Disabilities understands the sensitive nature of the comprehensive documentation required to verify the existence of a student's disability and to determine the need for accommodation. All applications and disability related information is kept in secure files accessible only to the essential staff, and students may review their individual file at any time.
Disability related documentation submitted to the Coordinator for the purpose of verifying a disability is considered an academic record. Based on this, the documentation is subject to the requirements of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). This Act requires records to be maintained as private and specific disability related information to be shared only when there is a legitimate educational need to know. Therefore, Skidmore faculty members may at times request disability related information they view as necessary to assist in the improvement of a student's education or academic skills. Below are a few examples of situations that may lead to the release of information.
As noted above, students are better served when they work in collaboration and cooperation with faculty and the Coordinator for Students with Disabilities to identify and implement accommodations. The Coordinator is available to work with students to develop the self-advocacy skills necessary to facilitate this process.
Some individuals with disabilities utilize service animals to assist them in activities of daily living. The ADA defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals with impaired hearing to intruders or sounds, providing minimal protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, or fetching dropped items. Service animals are working animals, not pets. Service animals are permitted to accompany students with disabilities any where on campus and are not required to be certified by a state or local entity. Service animals must be appropriately licensed in accordance with local regulations and wear a valid vaccination tag.
Owners are responsible for appropriate care and management of service animals. In the event a service animal's behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, the owner will be expected to remove the animal from campus.
For some individuals, therapy animals have been proven effective to help reduce the impact of psychological disorders and function to help lower anxiety, cope with panic attacks, predict seizures, and alleviate post-traumatic stress. Therapy animals, however, do not meet the definition of a service animal as described above and, therefore, are not specifically covered under the law. Nonetheless, students who request waiver of Skidmore's "no pets" rule in order to keep a therapy animal on campus should consult with the Coordinator for Students with Disabilities prior to bringing an animal on campus. The Coordinator will review the requests on a case by case basis and may require supporting documentation. The Coordinator may also seek consultation with both on and off campus personnel before a final determination is made.
At all times the Coordinator for Students with Disabilities will make every effort to work collaboratively with individual students to establish reasonable accommodations based on strengths, needs, and personal preferences. In the event of disagreement regarding the Coordinator's determination or denial of accommodation, students may appeal the decision by following the steps outlined below.
Skidmore College is committed to the ideal that all students should be free from discrimination, whether intentional or unintentional, throughout their educational pursuit at the College. If, at any time, students feel that they have been subject to discriminatory actions or denied entitled rights, redress can be sought by filing a grievance with the Coordinator for Students with Disabilities. The grievance should be in writing and should address any concerns regarding an activity of the College or the behavior of another student or college employee.
If the Coordinator agrees discrimination has taken place, or has the potential of taking place, steps will be taken to remedy the situation which may include cooperation and input from the student and consultation with the Office of Human Resources, the Dean of Student Affairs and/or the Dean of Studies. If the Coordinator does not, or can not, conclude that discrimination has taken place, or has the potential of taking place, the complaint will be forwarded to the Dean of Student Affairs for review. The Dean of Student Affairs may also consult with college offices or personnel as deemed necessary to determine a course of action. The student will be informed of the findings and actions regarding the grievance in a timely fashion.
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