Rights, Responsibilities & Laws

Student Rights

To the extent possible, the University of St. Thomas makes reasonable effort to provide qualified students with disabilities equal access to all the courses, services, programs, job activities and facilities available through the university. Students have the following rights:

  1. Appropriate and reasonable academic accommodations provided in a timely manner, determined on an individual, as-needed basis.
  2. Confidentiality of records and communication except where disclosure is necessary to arrange accommodations, required by law, or authorized by the student.
  3. Evaluation of academic achievement based on ability, not disability.
  4. The right to appeal a decision concerning academic accommodations according to the university's grievance policy (please refer to the Student Handbook for policy guidelines).

Student Responsibilities

Every qualified student with a documented disability has the responsibility to:

  1. Meet and uphold the university's qualifications and institutional standards as outlined in the Student Handbook and university catalog.
  2. Contact the Disability Resources in order to arrange for appropriate academic accommodations in a timely manner. Requests received prior to or within the first two weeks of the semester will result in receiving accommodations in a timely manner. Students who need accommodations that take an extensive amount of time to prepare, such as alternate format texts, sign language interpreters, or computer aided real time translation are urged to contact Disability Resources immediately following their assigned registration date during the early registration period for the upcoming semester. Late requests may result in the delay or denial of accommodations. The staff will make reasonable effort to accommodate late requests. Students must make an appointment either in person or over the telephone with a Disability Resources staff member in order to arrange accommodations.
  3. Inform professors at the beginning of each semester about the need for any necessary and reasonable academic accommodations. The student may also want to discuss how his or her performance in classes might be affected by his or her disability.
  4. Provide Disability Resources with appropriate documentation from a qualified professional, which verifies the diagnosis of the disability, functional limitations and, accordingly, the need for specific accommodations.
  5. Follow specific procedural guidelines set forth by Disability Resources for obtaining and arranging reasonable and appropriate academic accommodations, (e.g. scheduling exams, requesting assistance, arranging accommodations with professors, etc).

Institutional Rights

The University of St. Thomas has the right to:

  1. Request current and appropriate documentation from a qualified professional to verify the need for reasonable academic accommodations.
  2. Consult with students in making the final determination regarding the selection of effective, appropriate and reasonable academic accommodations. The university reserves the right to make the final decision regarding which accommodations will be provided.
  3. Deny a request for accommodations if the documentation does not identify a valid disability, fail to verify the need for the requested accommodations, or if the documentation or request for accommodations are not provided in a timely manner.

The University may also refuse to provide any accommodation that is inappropriate or unreasonable, including any that:

  • Pose a threat to the health and safety of others
  • Constitute a substantial change or alternation to an essential requirement of a course or program
  • Pose undue financial or administrative burden on the university

Institutional Responsibilities

The University of St. Thomas has the responsibility to:

  1. Maintain and uphold the academic standards and requirements set forth by the university.
  2. Provide information regarding university policies and procedures to students with disabilities and assure availability in accessible formats upon request.
  3. Evaluate students' academic achievement based on their abilities, not their disabilities.
  4. Provide reasonable and appropriate academic accommodations for students with disabilities in a timely manner.
  5. Maintain and uphold confidentiality of records and communication concerning students with disabilities except where disclosure is necessary for the accommodations, required by law, or authorized by the student.
  6. Provide accommodations free of charge.

Appeals Process

Students with disabilities are responsible for contacting the Disability Resources office if they feel reasonable accommodations are not implemented in an effective or timely manner. The staff of the Disability Resources office works with students to resolve disagreements regarding recommended accommodations. If students disagree with an accommodation decision made by a Disability Resources staff person, the student is encouraged to try to resolve their concern with the staff person. If there is no resolution, the student may meet with the Director of Disability Resources. If the student wishes to appeal the Director’s decision, the student should raise the concern with the Dean of Students within thirty (30) days. If the student and the Dean of Students are not able to resolve the concern, the student has five (5) days after the Dean of Student’s decision to file a written grievance. The written grievance shall be delivered to the Dean of Student’s office, which will refer the grievance to the chair of the University’s grievance and discipline committee.  For more information, see the Student Bill of Rights.

Laws Concerning Students with Disabilities

The University of St. Thomas is committed to compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Accordingly, the university has used these legal mandates as guidelines for developing policies and procedures for students with disabilities at the University of St. Thomas.

What is the law?

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability against people in programs or activities receiving or benefiting from federal financial assistance. Accordingly, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states:

"No otherwise qualified disabled individual in the United States shall solely by reason of his or her {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 of 1990 upholds and extends the standards for compliance set forth in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to employment practices and communications, and policies, procedures and practices that impact the treatment of students with disabilities. It prohibits discrimination for qualified individuals on the basis of disability.

Who is protected under the law?

Under federal law, a person with a disability is any person who:

  1. has a physical or mental impairment.
  2. has a record of such impairment
  3. is regarded as having such an impairment. To meet the definition of a disability a person's disability must substantially limit one or more major life activities such as self-care, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing or learning. Furthermore Section 504 states:

A "qualified" person with a disability is defined as one who meets the requisite academic and technical standards required for admission or participation in the postsecondary institution's programs and activities.

Example of possible disabilities include:

  • Blindness or visual impairment
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Chronic illness, such as AIDS, arthritis, cancer, cardiac diseases, diabetes, multiple sclerosis or muscular dystrophy
  • Deafness or hearing impairments
  • Drug or alcohol addiction (Section 504 covers former users and those in recovery programs currently not using drugs or alcohol)
  • Epilepsy or seizure disorders
  • Mobility impairment
  • Specific learning disability
  • Speech disorder
  • Spinal cord or traumatic brain injury
  • Psychological disabilities
  • Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder