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.
(previously Recordings for the Blind & Dyslexic) - 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
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]
Meeting essential requirements for courses is the responsibility of each student, with or without accommodations or academic adjustments. This includes any class attendance requirements set forth by instructors in their course syllabi. The university does recognize that some student’s disabilities can be chronic, cyclical, episodic or random and may infrequently impact their ability to attend classes. Students who have voluntarily identified with the Office of Academic Accessibility and have supplied supporting documentation demonstrating that their disability may impact attendance can request a Letter of Recommendation as affirmation. It is at the discretion of each instructor, not the OAA, to determine how or whether to modify their class attendance policy after a review of the core requirements for the course. The student is responsible for any material covered while absent as well as missed coursework.
The following procedure applies for each absence, in each course. Adjustments to an attendance policy requirement must be preceded by the delivery of a Letter of Recommendation to the instructor and are not available retroactively except in exceptional circumstances. Retroactive requests may not be considered more than one business day after a student’s return to class and must be supported by the information provided to the OAA. Non-disability related absence are subject to the instructor’s stated policy.
If/when a student finds that they are unable to attend class for disability related reasons they are to email the instructor AND the OAA immediately and prior to the absence (barring exceptional circumstances). The student will email the OAA to provide information about the disability related circumstances that will result in their inability to attend class. The OAA will then confer with the instructor to determine if adjustments to the attendance policy would be an alteration of the essential course requirements. Student communication with the instructor is important during this process so that the instructor can determine how or whether to modify their attendance policy. This will also enable the student to make informed decisions about how or whether to proceed in the class. The student is not required to disclose their disability or how they qualify for accommodations to the instructor during this process.
Determining if Attendance is an Essential Requirement
Instructors should use the following guidance when reviewing essential course requirements associated with attendance for students who have provided Letters of Recommendation about attendance.
• What does the course description and syllabus say regarding attendance?
• Is there classroom interaction between the instructor and students and among the students?
• Do student classroom contributions constitute a significant component of the learning process?
• Does the fundamental nature of the course rely upon student participation as an essential method for learning?
• Does a student’s failure to attend class have a significant negative impact on the educational experience of other students in the class? If so, to what extent?
• Is attendance used in calculating the final course grade?
• Is the attendance policy applied consistently?
Instructors should contact the OAA for clarification and to determine if there may be alternative ways to accommodate absences without altering essential course requirements. The OAA will assist instructors to develop options that are appropriate to each student’s disability.
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.
Foreign/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 foreign/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.
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
Requests for Extensions
Meeting essential requirements for courses is the responsibility of each student, with or without accommodations or academic adjustments. Many assignment due dates are provided well in advance on course syllabi. The expectation is that students plan in advance and manage their time and responsibilities taking their individual circumstances into consideration (disability related and non-disability related). This includes assignment due dates. The university does recognize that some student’s disabilities can be cyclical, episodic or random and may infrequently impact their ability to meet assignment due dates. It is at the discretion of each instructor, not the Office of Academic Accessibility, to determine how or whether to modify due dates after a review of the core requirements for the course.
Students who have voluntarily identified with the OAA and have supplied supporting documentation demonstrating that their disability may impact their ability to meet assignment deadlines can request this to be included in a Letter of Recommendation as affirmation. Accommodations and/or academic adjustments are not intended to, and instructors should not, alter essential components of course curriculum or lower standards. Accommodations and/or academic adjustments are intended to ensure equal access and are in no way an assurance of success.
The following procedure applies for each request for an extension of a due date, in each course. This procedure also applies to a second extension request for a single assignment. Adjustments to assignment due date requirements must be preceded by the delivery of a Letter of Recommendation to the instructor and are not available retroactively except in exceptional circumstances. Retroactive requests will only be considered when made as quickly as reasonably feasible and must be supported by the information provided to the OAA. Non-disability related extension requests are subject to the instructor’s stated policy.
If/when a student finds that they are unable to meet an assignment due date for disability related reasons, they are to email the instructor AND the OAA immediately and prior to the deadline (barring exceptional circumstances). The student will email the OAA to provide information about the disability related circumstances that will result in their inability to meet an assignment due date. Student communication with the instructor is important during this process so that the instructor can determine whether an extension is appropriate. This will also enable the student to make informed decisions about how or whether to proceed in the class. The student is not required to disclose their disability or how they qualify for accommodations to the instructor during this process.
Determining if an Assignment Deadline is an Essential Requirement
Instructors should use the following guidance when reviewing essential course requirements associated with requests for extensions of assignment due dates for students who have provided Letters of Recommendation about deadline extensions.
• What are the essential course requirements?
• What does the course description and syllabus say regarding assignment deadlines?
• Do deadline extensions fundamentally alter of the course?
• Are essential course requirements dependent upon meeting assignment due dates?
• Does meeting assignment due dates constitute a significant portion of the learning process?
• Does a student’s failure to meet assignment deadlines have a significant negative impact on the educational experience of other students in the class? If so, to what extent?
Instructors should contact the OAA for clarification and to determine if there may be alternative ways to accommodate absences without altering essential course requirements. The OAA will assist instructors to develop options that are appropriate to each student’s disability.
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.
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.
If the student is requesting testing accommodations to be proctored with the Office of Academic Accessibility in One Stop, the student should complete this Test Request Form or email the office and copy the instructor a minimum of 5 business days prior to the test and include the following information:
- the instructor's name
- the date, day, and time of the test
- the course title and course number
- any potential scheduling conflicts
This information will allow the Office of Academic Accessibility the time and information necessary to be able to make arrangements to proctor the test.
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.
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 person 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).
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.
Documentation of the need for an emotional support animal should include a signed letter, on professional letterhead, from the person's physical or mental healthcare provider or licensed therapist. The provider or therapist should be familiar with the professional literature concerning the assistive and/or therapeutic benefits of Emotional Support Animals for people with disabilities. At a minimum, the letter should include the following items (template letter is provided at the end of this document):
- 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.