The Office of Academic Accessibility (OAA) works to ensure students with disabilities have equal access to university courses, programs, services and activities. Students are responsible for knowing and following university policies and procedures. Students who request accommodations and/or academic adjustments due to a disability are also responsible for following the policies and procedures of the OAA.
The content below contains important information about student and University rights and responsibilities, successful transition from high school to postsecondary education and OAA policies and procedures. Students should review this information because it provides important context for the relationship between the student and University and the student and the OAA.
A significant contributor to the successful transition from high school to postsecondary education for students with disabilities can be an accurate knowledge about their civil rights. Therefore we recommended that students read the Transition Guide linked below developed by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
Academic Accommodations are not the same as modifications. This means that they are not a change in the curriculum of the class or how the student with accommodations is graded. They are more of a change in how each student does the same work so that they all have the same opportunites regardless of condition or disability.
Accommodations for Temporary Disability
Alternate Text Formats
Individuals requesting textbooks in alternate format should first attempt to obtain accessible copies of textbooks, if available, through the following locations:
- On-line retailer, claims to have over 90% of course texts in use today.
- Free membership for qualifying members.
- Provides unlimited access to their digital library of accessible audio textbooks.
- Calibre - Comprehensive e-book viewer, free.
The UNC Asheville Bookstore
- UNCA's bookstore already offers many texts in e-text as an option. With 4 weeks or more notice most texts that aren't already available as e-text can be converted and made available.
- Internet Archive: Books for People with Print Disabilities
Can't find an accessible copy?
Students requesting alternate formats should provide the following information: ISBN number title, author, publisher, and edition.
- Individuals must submit proof of purchase/rental before the alternate format can be provided by OAA.
OAA works with publishers to obtain electronic formats of textbooks or produce them in-house. Individuals may then use text to speech assistive technology such asRead & Write Gold .
- Individuals may also use Read & Write Gold in University computer labs to scan and convert texts at any time throughout the semester.
Alternate Format for Electronic Material
Additional Alternate Format Resources
Absences from Class and Reasonable Attendance Adjustments
As the designated public liberal arts institution within the UNC system, UNC Asheville believes regular class attendance to be central to the learning process of the vast majority of its courses and programs of study. UNC Asheville’s Catalog states, “Students are responsible for regular class attendance.” In addition, the University Mission Statement includes the following: “Our practice of the liberal arts emphasizes the centrality of learning and discovery through exemplary teaching, innovative scholarship, creative expression, co-curricular activities, undergraduate research, engaged service, and practical experience…UNC Asheville offers a liberal arts education characterized by high quality faculty-student interaction.” [Emphasis added]
Faculty, at their discretion, may include class attendance as a criterion in determining a student’s final grade in the course. On the first day of class, faculty must inform students of their class attendance policy and the effect of that policy on their final grade; both policies must be clearly stated in the class syllabus.
Students failing to attend the first session of any class may be administratively dropped by the instructor; however, this is at the discretion of the instructor. It is each student’s responsibility to notify the Academic Success Center of any change to their schedule.
The Office of the Dean of Students within Student Affairs is designated office to notify faculty of absences due to acute events such as surgeries, hospitalizations, or death of an immediate family member.
Reasonable Attendance Adjustments
All students, regardless of a disability, are responsible for fulfilling the essential requirements of their courses/programs/degrees, including attendance expectations. However, some students have serious health related disabilities which may impact attendance due to their episodic nature. This may include, but is not limited to: inflammatory bowel diseases; seizure disorders; diabetes; mental health conditions experiencing acute exacerbation; various autoimmune disorders, or conditions requiring treatment such as chemotherapy or dialysis.
The Office of Academic Accessibility may determine Reasonable Attendance Adjustments as a reasonable accommodation. Reasonable Attendance Adjustments do not permit unlimited absences and are not intended to be applied retroactively. Students remain accountable for all academic activities (assignments, assessments, required readings, etc.) and evaluation standards specified on the syllabus. Seasonal illness (ie. flu, mono), temporary impairments, health conditions not on record with OAA or non-disability related absences are not subject to reasonable attendance adjustments.
The University can often find reasonable, equivalent options for students without compromising course standards. These options should be determined on a case-by-case basis in consideration of the disability’s anticipated impact on attendance, the course requirements and faculty expectations.
In most cases, class attendance is critical to a student’s mastery of the knowledge and skills that are taught in a specific course and students are expected to follow the attendance policy established by the instructor in each class. It is not reasonable for the University to fundamentally alter, waive or lower essential course requirements, academic standards, or educational experiences/outcomes when attempting to accommodate course absences.
Some options that may be considered as a reasonable adjustment for an absence:
- Assigning comparable alternate work.
- Altering timelines for coursework and tests.
- Allowing attendance to repeat lectures given in other course sections.
- Allowing review of missed materials during office hours.
- Allowing missed material/notes to be obtained from a classmate.
- Attendance to class remotely (such as, Zoom).
A Reasonable Attendance Adjustment Plan should be completed for each course. Students may complete these forms with faculty or OAA can facilitate the completion to establish course requirements, the impact of absences and potential attendance alternatives. A copy must be submitted to OAA for review if completed with between faculty and student to determine final course specific adjustments related to attendance. OAA will notify the student and faculty of the final approved adjustments for the course. If the Reasonable Attendance Adjustment Plan is not completed and submitted to OAA then course specific attendance adjustments will not be approved and OAA will not monitor disability related absences.
Excessive absences, even with an approved OAA attendance accommodation, may result in a fundamental alteration of the course, and withdrawal may be recommended. Faculty may also consider granting students an incomplete grade to allow an opportunity to fulfill course requirements.. It is the responsibility of the student to initiate requests of this nature with their individual instructor(s), and the responsibility of the faculty member to consider requests on a case-by-case basis.
Essential Course Requirements
The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has provided the following guidelines when determining if attendance is an essential course requirement:
- What does the course description and syllabus say regarding attendance?
- To what extent is there classroom interaction between the instructor and students and among the students themselves?
- Do student contributions in class constitute a significant component of the learning process?
- Does the fundamental nature of the course rely upon student participation as an essential method of learning?
- To what degree does a student’s failure to attend class constitute a significant loss of the educational experience of other students in the class?
- What elements of the course are used to calculate the final course grade?
In general, courses that involve significant interaction, in-class participation, or whose content mastery is reliant on attendance may limit what adjustment options are available. Examples of these courses may include:
- Foreign language learning
- Public speaking/communications
The ultimate decision regarding absences and the resulting influence attendance has on grades is at the discretion of the instructor after a comprehensive examination of the essential course requirements. When attendance is not essential to course requirements, instructors are encouraged to make reasonable considerations. However, when absences are believed to affect course integrity, instructors should consult with OAA to determine what course-specific adjustments may be applicable
- Consider disability-related needs when choosing courses and developing a class schedule; for example, scheduling classes at a certain time of day, scheduling breaks between classes, etc.
- Carefully review the syllabus for each course to learn the essential course requirements and the attendance requirements.
- Complete a Reasonable Attendance Adjustment Plan with faculty for every course and submit to OAA once the Accommodation Plan has been requested for faculty via the online module so that course specific adjustments can be determined.
- Make an effort to attend every course meeting.
- Contact faculty and OAA (email@example.com) prior to the disability-related absences. This expectation is vital if the anticipated absence occurs on a test/quiz day or the day of a deadline for submitting an assignment. For emergencies or unexpected disability-related absences, students must inform faculty and OAA as soon as possible.
- Complete and stay current with all required coursework, obtaining missed materials/notes due to disability-related absence.
- Understand that even with reasonable attendance adjustments, grades and content mastery could be negatively impacted by not attending class.
- Contact OAA if there is concern after discussing attendance adjustments with faculty.
- Clearly examine essential course requirements
- Have established attendance requirements for their courses stated via the syllabus.
- Faculty should closely examine essential course requirements, and consult with OAA to determine reasonable course specific adjustments.
- Communicate and document how to implement the OAA approved course adjustments with their students
- Faculty have the responsibility to engage in the interactive process by completing the Reasonable Attendance Adjustment Plan
Degree Requirement Modification
- Have current documentation of a specific diagnosis of a disability and how her/his disability substantially limits the student's ability to complete the course in question.
The Office of Academic Accessibility will work with the student to determine what specific documentation is necessary.Note : Providing documentation does not guarantee a substitution.
Students will work with a staff member from the Office of Academic Accessibility to determine the appropriateness of the substitution request. It is highly recommended that requests for course substitutions be submitted during the student's first semester at UNC Asheville. Factors considered in this determination may include (but are not limited to):
A student's previous history with the course in question. A substitution or exemption in high school does not guarantee a substitution at UNC Asheville.
- Psychological/learning test results.
A student's good-faith effort in attempting the course at UNC Asheville. A student's good faith is determined by progress in the course, attendance, communication with the professor and the Office of Academic Accessibility, and use of additional resources such as tutoring, office hours and classroom accommodations. If, despite a student's consistent attendance, work and study, s/he is failing the course near the withdraw deadline, the student will withdraw from the course and work with the Office of Academic Accessibility to determine the next step. If a student is passing the course with a "C" or better, the student is expected to finish the course. It is the student's responsibility to keep the Office of Academic Accessibility informed of her/his progress in the course.
- Other mitigating factors as determined by a staff member of the Office of Academic Accessibility.
Second Language Substitutions
If a student desires to pursue a foreign/second language substitution, she/he must adhere to the following criteria:
Have current documentation of a specific diagnosis of a disability and how her/his disability substantially limits the student’s ability to learn a language on file with Office of Academic Accessibility. The Office of Academic Accessibility will work with the student to determine what specific documentation is necessary. Note: Providing documentation does not guarantee a substitution.
Students will work with a staff member from the Office of Academic Accessibility to determine the appropriateness of the substitution request. It is highly recommended that requests for course substitutions be submitted during the student’s first semester at UNC Asheville.
Factors considered in this determination may include (but are not limited to):
The student’s previous history of second language study. A substitution or exemption in high school does not guarantee a substitution at UNC Asheville.
- Psychological/learning test results
The student’s good-faith effort in college-level language study. A student’s good faith is determined by progress in the course, attendance, communication with the professor and the Office of Academic Accessibility, and use of additional resources such as tutoring, office hours and classroom accommodations. If after a student’s consistent effort she or he is failing the course near the withdraw deadline, the student will withdraw from the course and work with the Office of Academic Accessibility to determine the next step. If a student is passing the course with a “C” or better, the student is expected to finish the course. It is the student’s responsibility to keep the Office of Academic Accessibility informed of her/his progress in the course.
- Other mitigating factors as determined by a staff member from the Office of Academic Accessibility.
Emotional Support Animals
Emotional Support Animals are animals selected or prescribed to an individual with a disability by a healthcare or mental health professional to play a significant part in a person's treatment process, e.g., in alleviating the symptoms of that individual's disability. An emotional support animal does not assist a person with a disability with activities of daily living, and does not accompany a person with a disability at all times. An emotional support animal is not a "Service Animal."
An Emotional Support Animal is not a Service Animal or a Therapy Animal, and an Emotional Support Animal need not have specialized training. An Emotional Support Animal may not reside in University housing without the approval of both the Office of Academic Accessibility and the Office of Residential Education. No request for an Emotional Support Animal will be considered by a student who is found to be currently in violation of UNC Asheville's "No Pets" policy at the time of the request.
A student requesting permission to have an emotional support animal in his or her on-campus housing must provide the Office of Academic Accessibility with appropriate documentation on or before June 1 (Fall Semester) or December 1 (Spring Semester). Requests for accommodation is made after these dates cannot be cannot guaranteed, due to the need for reasonable time to process the student's request.
If the need for the accommodation arises when an individual already resides in University housing, the student should contact the Office of Academic Accessibility and complete the Online Student Application as soon as practicably possible. OAA cannot guarantee that it will be able to meet the accommodation needs during the semester or term in which the request is received.
The Office of Academic Accessibility requires such advance notice in order to gather, review, and verify the necessary documentation, which includes, but is not limited to: verification of a disability, the determination of any conflicting disabilities in the immediate vicinity where the animal will be housed, and verification of all vaccinations and the health of the animal including all the necessary licensing. If documentation is immediately available, the time for the approval process may be shortened. Please review the Assistance Animal Policy form prior to going forward with the Emotional Support Animal request so that you are aware of the guidelines for animals living in the dorms.
The Office of Academic Accessibility, working in conjuction with guidelines from the FHA, has developed a form to gather information from a qualified professional (healthcare providor or licensed therapist) with direct experience working with the student and has been involved in ongoing treatment sufficient to determine that an ESA will substantially relieve one or more symptoms of the student's condition while living in the residence halls, which are otherwise pet-free.
The Request for Information: Emotional Support Animal should be downloaded, completed, signed before being scanned and returned. This form can then be submitted directly to the BULLDOG ACCESS site, emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, or returned by postal mail to One University Heights, CPO #1575, Asheville, NC 28804.
If you prefer, you may also provide a letter to supplement the information requested on this form. At a minimum, the letter should include the following items:
- The provider's diagnosis of the person's condition.
- A clear description of the current impact and functional limitations resulting from the disability.
- The provider's confirmation that the Emotional Support Animal has been prescribed for treatment purposes and is necessary to help alleviate symptoms associated with the person's condition and/or to help the person use and enjoy university housing services.
- The provider's description of the service(s) that the animal will provide.
- Any additional rationale or statement the University may reasonably need to understand the basis for the professional opinion.
The Office of Academic Accessibility will review documentation and, if it is determined that a qualifying disability exists, OAA staff will arrange a meeting with the person requesting that an Emotional Support Animal be housed in university housing. Once approved in writing by OAA, the student will schedule a meeting with a Residential Education staff to complete the process. The Assistance Animal Policy will be reviewed with the student at this time. This policy must be reviewed and signed annually.
The effect on others in the residential housing unit must be considered, including the potential effect on persons with allergies to animal hair or dander, as well as the willingness of roommates to share their housing with an animal. Depending on such considerations, an alternative housing assignment may be considered.
Any student having a grievance related to the determination of and/or provision of disability-related services and accommodations through the Office of Academic Accessibility at UNC Asheville is entitled to a prompt and equitable resolution of their complaint.
Students who believe they have been subjected to discrimination or treated unfairly must follow the established procedure listed below.
Most grievances and complaints can be resolved through this process. To register complaints regarding the results of this process, students may contact the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights. More information regarding this process can be found on the OCR Website or through How To File a Discrimination Complaint.
In order for a student to be eligible to receive this accommodation, the following criteria must be met:
- The student must be registered with the Office of Academic Accessibility.
- The student's documentation must establish that she/he is eligible for the academic accommodation of alternative note-taking strategies.
Students must attend class to receive notes. The provision of a Note Taker is not a replacement for class attendance.
- Students must provide the instructor with a Letter of Accommodation from the Office of Academic Accessibility.
In cases where the criteria to qualify for the provision of a Note Taker are not met, students may employ the following strategies on their own:
- Students may use their personal audio recorder to record lecture(s).
- Students may utilize a laptop for typing their own notes.
- Students may exchange notes with other students in their class so they have a second set for reference.
- Students may ask other students in their class for a copy of their notes and to serve as "voluntary" note-takers for them.
Students may ask instructors for a copy of their notes, PowerPoint presentations, overheads, handouts, etc. (if available) prior to class.
Note Taker Recruitment
Providing the student with written instructions for the instructor. These will grant the instructor permission to announce that a Note Taker is needed in that particular class.
- Providing, upon request, guidelines for facilitating the note-taking process for students with disabilities.
Note Takers may be paid for the administrative time required to share their notes .
Personal Care Attendants/Devices
Requesting Accommodations for Required Meal Plans
Deadline Extensions as Reasonable Accommodation
Regardless of a disability, all students are responsible for fulfilling the essential requirements of courses/programs/degrees, including meeting completion dates for assignments. However, some students have disabilities which can impact their ability to complete assignments by the due date, including, but not limited to, students whose conditions are episodic in nature, conditions that change and result in problematic symptoms, and conditions that require hospitalization.
Most assignments/papers have established due dates which are provided via the syllabus in advance. Students are expected to proactively work on assignments and manage their time with consideration given to potential challenges related to the impact of their disability and other class assignments/coursework requirements. OAA understands some due dates are announced with little advance notice, or unexpected exacerbations from a disability occur.
Faculty members, working together with OAA, may provide approval for Deadline Extensions as a Reasonable Accommodation for individual assignments for qualified students.
Generally, approval for a deadline extension provides the student up to 48 hours, or two additional days, on a given assignment. However, this approval does not automatically apply to all assignments and is not intended to be applied retroactively. Deadline extensions do not permit unlimited extensions and students remain accountable for all academic activities (assignments, assessments, required readings, etc.) and evaluation standards specified on the syllabus.
It is not reasonable for faculty to fundamentally alter, waive or lower essential course requirements, academic standards, or educational experiences/outcomes when attempting to accommodate extension requests. OAA may be consulted regarding course-specific adjustments.
Unexpected illness or injury, recent diagnosis, onset or change in condition may warrant a withdrawal from a course or when indicated, an incomplete grade.
In consultation with OAA, instructors often can find reasonable, equivalent options for students to successfully complete essential course requirements without compromising course standards. These options are individually tailored to the disability’s impact, the course requirements, and the instructor’s expectations.
Per the faculty handbook, instructors should include the following on the syllabus: course goals or objectives, including student learning outcomes; required and recommended reading or other course materials; course requirements, including description and due dates (if known) of tests, presentations, and assignments; date and time of final exam.
Advance notice allows students to proactively work on their assignments.
Some options that may be considered to assist in the completion of assignments include:
- Provide advance notice of future assignments and expected completion due dates.
- Give an incomplete grade to allow an opportunity to fulfill course requirements.
- Allow student to complete the remainder of the course through independent study.
Essential Course Requirements
In general, up to a two day extension on an assignment would not constitute a fundamental alteration to a course, but OAA encourages instructors to consider the following questions for each course when determining if established due dates are essential:
- What does the course description and syllabus indicate regarding late work or completion deadlines?
- Are the due dates arbitrary or are they essential to course requirements?
- Would an extension (or multiple extensions) fundamentally alter the course?
- Does the fundamental nature of the course rely upon timely completion of assignments as an essential method of learning?
- Does timely completion of assignments constitute a significant component of the learning process?
- To what degree does a student’s failure to submit timely completion of assignments constitute a significant loss of the educational experience for other students in the class?
The ultimate decision regarding due dates and the resulting influence extensions would have on the course is at the discretion of the instructor after a comprehensive examination of the essential course requirements. However, when due dates are believed to affect course integrity, instructors must consult with OAA to determine what course-specific adjustments may be applicable.
- Proactively work on assignments and manage their time with consideration given to potential challenges related to the impact of their disability and other class assignments/coursework requirements.
- Make a request for an extension to instructor each time one is needed
- Submit work completed by the due date.
The Americans with Disability Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADA) states that businesses and organizations that serve the public must allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals into all areas of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go.
About Service Animals in Training:
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) assures people with disabilities who are accompanied by service animals that they will not be excluded from public places or activities, nor charged any additional fees, because they are accompanied by their service dog. However, the ADA does not provide the same protection to service animals in training (that is, the ADA assures access for the handler/partner only if the dog is fully trained to give some disability-related service).
North Carolina State Law states that an animal in training to become a service animal may be taken into any of the places listed in G.S. 168-3
• for the purpose of training
• when the animal is accompanied by a person who is training the service animal and
• the animal wears a collar and leash, harness, or cape that identifies the animal as a service animal in training.
Because North Carolina state law does not clarify further the use of the phrase “service animal in training,” UNC Asheville has established policy, based on accepted practices suggested by Assistance Dogs International (ADI). A service-dog-in-training is a dog accompanied by its trainer (“a person training a service animal”) that is undergoing individual training to provide specific disability-related work or service for an individual with a disability. This does not include obedience training or socialization of puppies who may later become service animals (generally 15-18 months). Thus, adult dogs are recognized as being “in training” to provide disability-specific assistance only after they have completed an earlier period of socialization (obedience training, being house broken, getting acclimated to public places and every day activities as pets). A service animal trainer may bring such dog onto campus and interact with the campus community in public areas, campus offices, and so on, if it is properly identified as a service animal in training, and has completed the earlier basic training and socialization necessary prior to engaging in service animal training. As stated above, this necessarily restricts the age of a service-animal in training; dogs younger than one year may generally not be considered service animals in training.
Any student requiring a service dog in the residence halls will need to review and sign the University's Assistance Animal Policy annually.
About Emotional Support Animals:
Emotional Support, Companion and/or Therapy Animals are not considered Service Animals under the ADA and will be considered under the same process as other accommodations.
Questions, requests, and/or documentation should be directed to the Office of Academic Accessibility.
Sign Language Interpreting & Speech-to-Text Services
Student Responsibilities: Requesting an Interpreter
Student Responsibility: Assuring Timely Delivery of Interpreting Services & Speech-to-Text:
- All students receiving interpreting and/or speech-to-textnote-taking services are required to register with the Office of Academic Accessibility.
Semester course schedules need to be given to the Office of Academic Accessibility as early as possible. Requests for other academic work should be submitted at least 2 weeks prior to the day of the event (or earlier if possible) to best assure that interpreters can be available.
Room/Time Changes: The student must notify the Office of Academic Accessibility of any changes to their schedule as soon as the student is aware of the changes.
- Student cancellations must be emailed and called in by the student to both the interpreter and the Office of Academic Accessibility 24 hours in advance.
Instructor Cancellations: When the instructor has canceled a class, students are responsible for notifying both the interpreter and the Office of Academic Accessibility immediately.
Tardiness: Interpreters are required to wait 20 minutes for a 50-minute class and 30 minutes for all other classes. If you have arrived late to class do not ask the interpreter what you missed. It is your responsibility to gather missed information from other students, or the instructor as is the case with any student.
Supplemental Interpreting:If students need additional interpreting time for a conference with the instructor, team assignments, or to attend a co-curricular event as assigned by the instructor, aninterpreter request form must be submitted to the Office of Academic Accessibility. Please notify the Office of Academic Accessibility as soon as you become aware of the need for an interpreter.
Study Abroad Accommodations
- Students should consult with the Study Abroad Office with regard to their interest in studying abroad.
- Students should request accommodations through the Office of Academic Accessibility.
Office of Academic Accessibility and the Study Abroad Office will gather information and contact the host institution. Reasonable and appropriate accommodations will be provided after all parties have discussed the options available.
If additional accommodation needs arise while the student is at the host institution, the student will need to contact their study abroad advisor, the host institution and UNCA's Office of Academic Accessibility. A decision will be made to determine if the additional accommodation is reasonable and appropriate.
- When students return from studying abroad, the Office of Academic Accessibility requests that they provide feedback regarding their experience and make suggestions to be used for future study abroad experiences.
Due to staffing needs, this advance notice is required as of Fall 2020.
Students: To schedule testing accommodations through the Office of Academic Accessibility, log into the BULLDOG ACCESS system, and follow the instructions under the "Alternative Testing" menu to the left.
Faculty: To sign your testing agreement, log into the BULLDOG ACCESS system. You may also review your students' Letters of Accommodation through this portal. You should communicate directly with Katie Smith, Accessibility Specialist, regarding any specific questions or concerns you have about these test arrangements.
Tutoring is not an accommodation at the post-secondary level. The law, IDEA, which governs disability services and access at the secondary level, can entitle students to such supports. The ADA/ADA Amendments Act, which governs disability services and access at the university level considers tutoring a personal service and is therefore not an accommodation or academic adjustment. The ADA is intended to ensure equal access but is not a guarantee of success for students. As such, the university strives to ensure that students have equal access to courses, programs, services and activities, including tutoring services available to students.