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DSS is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to ensure that students have access to their education -- and to working with instructors to make sure this process is as transparent, responsive, and supportive as possible.

General Information

What is a disability?

The Americans with Disabilities Act defines disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. This includes persons who have a record of such impairment and those who do not have a disability but are regarded as having a disability. The degree of impairment must substantially limit a major life activity (e.g., walking, seeing, hearing, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, and communicating.) Some examples include specific learning disabilities, visual impairments, and psychological conditions.

What laws protect students with disabilities in higher education?

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. It specifically states, “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability shall solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 expanded the mandates set forth in section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications, and governmental activities. The Americans with Disabilities Act was amended in 2008 and expanded the definition of disability. Section 508 is an amendment to the United States Workforce Rehabilitation Act of 1973 mandating that all electronic and information technology developed, procured, maintained, or used by the federal government be accessible to people with disabilities.

What is a reasonable accommodation?

A reasonable accommodation is support that lowers or removes a barrier caused by a disability or disabling health condition. An accommodation is a means to provide equal access to an individual who is experiencing a substantial limitation in one or more major life activities. For example, a student who experiences processing delays in reading and writing may need more time on time-constrained assignments, like an in-class exam.
Accommodations are a means to provide access, but do not guarantee success. It’s up to the
student to use their skills and strategies to be successful.

How does MCC determine eligibility for disability related accommodations and services?

Students must self-identify to the DSS office to initiate the process of determining eligibility. MCC uses an individualized interactive process to determine eligibility and accommodations which includes review of disability documentation, functional limitations, impact in an academic setting and student’s self-report regarding disability and needs.

FAqs for Students

Is my disability information shared with my professors?

Information related to a student’s disability is not shared with instructors. A Notice of Academic Accommodations is emailed to your faculty each quarter. You will also be emailed a copy. This notice focuses on accommodations and does not share disability-specific information. It is up to students to decide what information beyond accommodations they do or do not feel comfortable sharing. A student should never be required to share disability-specific information with their instructors.

Do I need to apply for accommodations each quarter? 

Students do not need to apply for accommodations each quarter.

What if I need additional accommodations?

Students can request changes to their accommodations at any time. To request additional accommodations, students can reach out to their DSS counselor to discuss whether or not an accommodation can be added and if additional documentation is needed.

Who is responsible for paying for documentation to verify my disability?

The student is responsible. Please review the Documentation Guidelines. If you have questions about where to obtain the necessary documentation, please contact a DSS counselor.

If I have received accommodations at a different college or university, will I automatically receive the same accommodations at MCC?

A student may not receive the same accommodations they had at a previous institution. Documentation is reviewed and decisions are made independently from other institutions because colleges and universities have different processes and accommodations they provide. It can be helpful for students to provide documentation of previous accommodations used with their application to DSS. This allows DSS to determine accommodations that may be similar if they are eligible based on MCC's policies.

What accommodations are required if a student discloses a disability after the fact (e.g., after failing an exam or assignment?)

To use academic accommodations, students registered with DSS are responsible for having a conversation with their instructors regarding their use of accommodations for each class. Accommodations cannot be applied retroactively.

If I register with DSS, will it show up on my academic record?  

Registering with DSS does not appear on your academic record because disability-specific information is confidential.

Can my parents be involved in this process?

Family members or members of the student's support system can absolutely be a part of the accommodations process if a student would like. Before someone else can be a part of the accommodations process with students, students will need to complete a consent form that grants permission. Students can contact their DSS counselor directly to request a consent form.

Should I self-identify that I have a disability during the admission process?

Disclosing a disability during the admission process is voluntary. MCC will not discriminate against you due to your status as an individual with a disability.  

Should I tell my academic advisor about my disability?

Students can choose whether they would like to disclose their disability to their Academic Advisor/Success Navigator, as well as other offices on campus. It is not required for students to share disability-specific information.

Are students required to identify their disability or provide copies of disability documentations to faculty and staff?

No. Students are not required nor should they be asked to disclose the nature of their disability. Additionally, students should not be asked to provide faculty and staff with copies of their disability documentation.  

What if I disagree with an accommodation decision that has been made by a DSS counselor?

If you disagree with an accommodation decision made by DSS, please contact the Dean of Student Advocacy and Accountability (Julie Langholdt,, 531-622-2202) to discuss your concern.  

I'm having issues with an exam accommodation being proctored by an instructor. What do I do?

If a student is having issues receiving accommodations from their instructor, they should contact their DSS counselor. The DSS Counselor can work with students and instructors to ensure that accommodations are being provided.

The structure of my class includes both quizzes and exams. For what tests will I need to receive the exam accommodations?

Instructors should provide exam accommodations for all quizzes and exams.

I need a sign language interpreter or speech-to-text service for my courses. What do I do?

Once the student has registered with DSS, they will work with you for speech-to-text or interpreting services for your courses.   

FAQs for Faculty and Staff

When students identify themselves as having a disability, what should instructors and staff do?

Interaction with students with disabilities is the same as with any other student. Listen to what they have to say. Ask questions only about how and if the disability will impact them in the class as well as about the accommodations they may be requesting. If the student is already registered with DSS, instructors will receive an emailed notice of academic accommodations. Ask students who are self-identifying with a disability about their DSS registration status. Students who are registered will have been assigned to a DSS counselor who can facilitate the accommodation process. Accommodations should not be granted unless the student is working with DSS.

How do faculty know if a student in their class is registered with DSS and needs accommodations or services?

The course instructor will be notified by a DSS email which will be to the student and the faculty member. This letter will outline assigned accommodations. Faculty members are encouraged to correspond with the DSS counselor when questions regarding accommodations arise.

Do instructors have a legal responsibility to accommodate qualified students with disabilities?

Yes. Accessibility is essential and should be at the forefront of course planning. If you are concerned about accommodations for a class, please contact the DSS counselor immediately. The Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights (OCR), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandate students' rights to accommodations and their right to file complaints (OCR) and/or lawsuits (ADA) against the College if these accommodations are not provided.

Should faculty provide accommodations to any student who discloses that they have a disability, but has not registered with DSS?  

No. Faculty should not provide accommodations directly to students who are not registered with DSS. This protects both the college and students requesting services. The professionally trained DSS counselors are responsible for evaluating presenting documentation in order to determine if a student qualifies for services, and which services are appropriate in light of their disability. After the DSS counselor assigns accommodations, they assist to ensure services are offered in a timely manner.

When are accommodations not appropriate?

The law provides several exemption areas when accommodations are not appropriate, if the
● Poses a direct threat to others’ health or safety
● Creates an undue burden on the College
● Creates a fundamental alteration of College policies, practices, procedures, or
academic requirements (see the next question for more information)
● Requires the provision of personal services and devices (such as personal aides,
specialized tutors, or specialized personal equipment; a student may use these as
needed, but the College does not provide them)

Is there a process I need to follow if I believe an accommodation is a fundamental alteration in my course, or if I have concerns about an accommodation?

Yes. Please contact the DSS counselor to discuss the situation. Please note that an accommodation is not automatically omitted if you believe that it fundamentally alters your course; we must go through an interactive process first.

How do we determine if an accommodation presents a fundamental alteration of a course?

A fundamental alteration generally involves one of the following:
● A removal of an essential skill
● A lowering of an objective or standard
● A change in the essential goal or outcome of the course or assignment
● The modification of a requirement needed for a specific licensure or certification
These skills, objectives, standards, goals, outcomes, and requirements would generally be
included in a course syllabus in order to be considered fundamental. A fundamental alteration
would not be reflected in a tradition, absence of consideration, a failure to consider technology,
or a pretext of discrimination.

The accommodation letter indicates volunteer note taker. What do I need to do?

It is the College’s responsibility to make sure the student has access to classroom notes when this is indicated on the accommodation letter. Identify a student in the class who can act as the volunteer note taker. The student with a disability will provide directions and a note taking pad. If you are unable to secure a volunteer note taker for the class, contact DSS for assistance immediately.

Am I required to lower the standards of an assignment because a student has a disability?

No, students with disabilities are required to meet the same essential requirements and course standards as other students. However, it may be reasonable to exercise flexibility in a component of a course that is not essential. For example, it may be appropriate to complete an assignment in writing versus an oral presentation if the purpose of the assignment is not to assess oral expression.

What do I do if a student with a disability is failing?

The purpose of the accommodations is to ensure access and does not guarantee success. Treat the student as you would any other student who is not performing well. Encourage the student to visit you during office hours to discuss reasons for failing performance and what resources the student may use to improve. Encourage the student to consult with his/her DSS counselor regarding needs and strategies. You may also consult with the DSS counselor directly.

What do I do about a student with a disability who is misbehaving, threatening, or rude

All students are expected to abide by the College’s Code of Conduct. Poor behavior is not excused on the basis of disability. Respond to the behavior as you would with any other student. It is helpful to clearly state behavioral expectations for all students; discuss them in your classroom, on your syllabus, and with individual students as needed. If a student continues to exhibit inappropriate or disruptive behavior, discuss your observations and expectations privately with the student. The DSS office and the Office of Student Conduct are available for consultation if you need assistance.

What accommodations are required if a student discloses a disability after the fact (e.g., after failing an exam or assignment?)  

To use academic accommodations, students registered with DSS are responsible for having a conversation regarding the use of those accommodations in each class. Accommodations cannot be applied retroactively.

I want to refer a student to DSS because I think they might have a disability. How do I talk to the student about my concern?

If you believe a student may have a disability or if a student expresses concern that they may have a disability, please encourage them to contact DSS for more information.
If you have questions or concerns, please contact a DSS counselor. Thank you for your assistance with this process.  

Can I ask a student who is having difficulties whether he/she has a disability?

Asking a student directly about the possibility of a disability is inadvisable. Disability rights laws prohibit unnecessary inquiries about the existence of a disability. Treat the student who is having difficulty as you would any other student. This may involve encouraging the student to utilize supports and resources such as tutoring centers on campus, counseling and advising, and use of your office hours. If the student shares with you that he or she has a past history of a disability, or suspects he or she has a disability, it would then be appropriate to refer the student to DSS directly.

What should I do when a student directly hands me their documentation of a disability?

Refer the student to DSS or share the hyperlink to the Applying for Accommodations webpage. The DSS counselor will review the documentation to determine eligibility for accommodations. Once approved for services, the DSS counselor and student will discuss appropriate accommodations for each class and assist the student in communicating with the instructor about their accommodations.

Are students required to identify their disability or provide copies of disability documentation to faculty and staff?

No. Students are not required nor should they be asked to disclose the nature of their disability. Additionally, students should not be asked to provide faculty and staff with copies of their disability documentation.
The structure of my class includes both quizzes and exams. For what tests will the student need to receive the exam accommodations?
Instructors should provide exam accommodations for all quizzes and exams.

What should a faculty member do if they believe a student is having a seizure during class?

The faculty member should call 911, keep calm, provide reassurance, and remove bystanders. Please keep the student safe, remove objects and do not restrain. Stay with the person until recovered from the seizure.

What is the role of DSS in providing deaf or hard of hearing services?

DSS works with students who are deaf or hard of hearing to ensure they receive all reasonable academic-related accommodations necessary. Accommodations may include class notes, sign language interpreters, speech-to-text services, or amplification systems.

What should I take into consideration when teaching a deaf or hard of hearing student?

Each student is different and there are a wide variety of accommodations that may need to be arranged, including sign language interpreting and note taking services. For more information see Sign Language Interpreter Services.

Is there anything special I need to do for deaf or hard of hearing students if I am showing a video or online video clip in class?

Instructors who have students who are deaf or hard of hearing in their classes need to consider the accessibility of the media they plan to use. These instructors will be notified in advance before the quarter begins by DSS. Instructors who intend to use DVD, VHS, or web-based videos and/or podcasts in their course should be aware that they are responsible for offering captioned versions of course materials. Videos are accessible when they are captioned and podcasts are accessible when a written transcript accompanies the audio file.

If a video is not captioned or a podcast does not have a transcript, instructors will need to arrange for an accessible version to be produced. Inaccessible media must not be shown in class until accessible media is available for all students.

Chris Voorhees, Educational Accessibility Specialist, is available to assist instructors with locating captioned videos, adding captions to videos, and showing videos with captions in classrooms and online courses. Chris can be contacted at

Accessibility Notice  

MCC’s policy requires that all web content conform to accessibility standards described in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, version 2.0, level AA, as set forth by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Individual units are charged with developing and implementing a web accessibility strategy per the Implementation section of this policy

How do sign language interpreters work in class with a deaf student?

Many deaf and hard of hearing students will utilize sign language interpreting or captioning services in the classroom. Depending on the course content, you may be asked for materials in advance so that the service providers may prepare for upcoming classes. For example, in a class where there is a large amount of new terminology and vocabulary and readings, such as a literature class, it would be beneficial to provide as much of this information to the interpreters or speech-to-text providers in advance. Additionally, service providers may need to be given course materials such as a copy of the syllabus and/or supplemental materials.

When there is a sign language interpreter present, should I speak to the interpreter or directly to the deaf student?

When needing to speak to the student, address the student rather than the interpreter and keep in mind that the student will need to be able to see the interpreter and the interpreter will need to be able to hear what you are saying.

Should I make arrangements with DSS if I have to meet with a deaf student during office hours?

Check with the student to see if they need communication assistance. While some students utilize services in the classroom, they may or may not need the same services one-on-one. Instructors who need to request sign language interpreters or speech-to-text services are encouraged to have the student contact DSS promptly to ensure timely arrangement of services. Although we strive to respond to all service requests, we may be unable to meet requests made less than 48 hours in advance. The request can be sent to the student’s DSS counselor.  

Where can faculty members get more information about students with disabilities and how to make their classrooms accessible?

Please contact a DSS counselor for more information.