Student Disability Services
At the Texas Tech Student Disability Services Office our mission is to enhance each student's learning through the provision of programs and services for students with a disability. Our goal is to assist you in attaining your academic, career, and personal goals regardless of any physical, learning, psychological, psychiatric, or other documented disability you may have.
Within the SDS Office we provide reasonable in-class accommodations based on the documented needs of each of our students. We also offer skill-building workshops designed to enhance students' in-class learning. These topics are focused on the skills necessary to be successful both in the classroom and in life, and topics include areas such as organization, time management, note taking, tips for test taking, and many others.
Services offered by the Student Disability Services Office:
- Assistance in arranging course, classroom, and testing accommodations
- Assistance in working with instructors
- Campus accessibility and service/resource information
- Campus disability awareness education
- Sign Language Interpreter services
- Coordination of support programs and services with other campus departments
- Consultation, counseling, and assistance in resolving problems
- Information regarding and referral to a variety of campus and community resources
- Leadership and interpersonal skills development opportunities
- Loaning of some assistive devices
- Information regarding student organizations, activities, and support groups
- Information on study skills, test taking strategies, time management, etc.
- Priority Registration
- Drop-in tutoring
Accommodations are tailored to the individual rather than the disability, and are based on information contained in each student's documentation. So students with the same type of disability may receive different types of in-class accommodations.
Possible accommodations include, but are not limited to:
- Supplemental note taking services
- Additional time on work done in class and on tests, unless speed is the essential element being tested
- Alternative test location that provides a reduced distraction environment
- Priority seating
- Test reader
- Test scribe
- Books in electronic format
- A sign language interpreter
- Allowance of assistive devices such as tape recorders or lap top computer for note taking
The Student Disability Services Office is committed to ensuring that all information regarding a student is maintained as confidential as required or permitted by law. Information provided to the Student Disability Services Office is considered confidential and is not disclosed to a third party without the written permission of the student.
If a student wishes to allow someone to have access to information about their disability that individual must be specifically listed on the students Release/Exchange of Information. A release of information is a legal document that provides written permission to disclose or receive information pertaining to a specific student. Students must sign a release of information that allows the Student Disability Services Office to speak with any individual on their behalf relative to their disability including their doctor, therapist, and parents. If you have a question about signing a release of information or confidentiality please contact the Student Disability Services Office. In order for the Student Disability Services Office to release Letters of Accommodation to a student he/she must have a signed Release/ Exchange of Information on file with the Student Disability Services Office stating that we have permission to speak with the students faculty/staff members.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990
According to the ADA, an individual with a disability is defined as a person who: (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more life activities; (2) has a record of such impairment; or (3) is regarded as having such impairment. Major life activities include but are not limited to walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, caring for oneself, and performing manual tasks.
The ADA prohibits discrimination solely on the basis of disability in employment, public services, and accommodations. The person in consideration must be otherwise qualified for the job, program, or service.
The ADA details administrative requirements, complaint procedures, and the consequences for non-compliance related to both services and employment. The ADA requires provision of reasonable, effective accommodations for eligible students across educational activities and settings.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
Section 504 of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs, public and private, that receive federal financial assistance. Section 504 includes institutions regardless of whether they have open door, selective, or competitive admissions practices.
People with disabilities have the same legal remedies that are available under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended in 1991. Thus, individuals who are discriminated against may file a complaint with the relevant federal agency or sue in federal court. Enforcement agencies encourage informal mediation and voluntary compliance.
How these Laws Apply to Higher Education
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 were designed to ensure that colleges and universities are free from discrimination in their recruitment, admission, and treatment of students.
In the application of both laws, students with disabilities must be qualified to participate in University activities. A qualified student with a disability is one who meets the admission and essential eligibility requirements of a program or service, with or without:
- modifications of rules, policies, or procedures
- removal of architectural, communication, or transportation barriers
- provision of auxiliary aids and services.
Individuals who pose a direct threat to their own health or safety or the health or safety of others will not be considered qualified.
The law requires higher education institutions to ensure that all programs, services, or facilities are accessible to or usable by persons with disabilities. The law does NOT require:
- making each facility accessible if alternatives are effective
- a fundamental alteration of programs or services
- undue financial or administrative burden.
The University is under no obligation to change academic requirements which the University, programs, or majors can demonstrate are essential to the program of instruction or to any direct licensing requirement.
The University does not have to provide personal attendants, individually prescribed devices, readers for personal use or study, or other devices or services of a personal nature, such as tutoring or typing (United States Office of Civil Rights, July, 2002).
The institution must provide auxiliary aids to ensure the participation of students in college classes and activities and must accommodate the academic participation of qualified students with disabilities. The institution must NOT:
- limit the number of students with disabilities admitted
- make pre-admission inquires as to whether or not an applicant has a disability
- use admission tests or criteria that inadequately measure the academic level of visually impaired, hearing impaired, or otherwise disabled applicants because special provisions were not made for them
- exclude students with disabilities from any course of study solely on the basis of their disability
- counsel students with disabilities towards a more restrictive career than non- disabled students, unless such counsel is based on strict licensing or certification requirements in a profession
- measure student achievement using modes that adversely discriminate against students with disabilities
- institute prohibitive rules (such as the barring of tape recorders or other auxiliary aids) that may adversely affect the performance of students with disabilities
- select a site or a facility that would exclude participation of persons with disabilities.
The law does not require special treatment of students with disabilities, but does require that students be given the opportunity for equal participation in the University's programs. This is done by providing to eligible and qualified students appropriate academic adjustments and auxiliary aids necessary to facilitate the students' fullest possible participation in the University's academic programs.
Admission to Texas Tech University is based upon an applicant meeting the published admission criteria of the University with no preference provided on the basis of disability.
Students are notified of acceptance to Texas Tech University by a letter from the Office of Admissions.
Students seeking admission to the various programs and majors offered at Texas Tech must meet the admissions requirements for the particular program and/or College with no preferences provided on the basis of disability.
Requirements for entrance to, participation in, and completion of various majors and programs are available in the Undergraduate/Graduate catalog.
Program and course requirements will not be waived. However, reasonable in-class accommodations are provided as appropriate means for a student with a disability to be able to satisfy published requirements for a program.
Attendance and Disability
Students most likely to request modified attendance policies are those with health-related disabilities that flare up episodically. This might include students with lupus or fibromyalgia, sickle cell anemia, seizure disorders, cancer, migraines, and conditions requiring dialysis. Students with psychological disabilities who are experiencing an exacerbation of symptoms may also request modification of attendance policies.
Federal law requires colleges and universities to consider reasonable modification of attendance policies if required to accommodate a student's disability. In making this determination, two questions must be answered:
Does the student have a documented disability that directly affects his/her ability to attend class on a regular basis? Student Disability Services will make this determination based on a review of documentation from the student's physician or psychologist and provide verification in a letter the student presents to the instructor.
Is attendance an essential part of the class? Would modification of attendance policies result in a fundamental alteration of the curriculum? Faculty members make this determination in consultation with Student Disability Services.
The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has provided the following guidelines to assess if attendance is an essential part of a class:
- Is there classroom interaction between the instructor and students and among students?
- Do student contributions constitute a significant component of the learning process?
- Does the fundamental nature of the course rely on student participation as an essential method for learning?
- To what degree does a student's failure to attend constitute a significant loss to the educational experience of other students in the class?
- What do the course description and syllabus say?
- Which method is used to calculate the final grade?
- What are the classroom practices and policies regarding attendance?
Student Disability Services recommends that students with a disability-related need for flexibility in attendance meet with their instructors to discuss the extent to which modification in attendance policies may be reasonable for a particular class. The student and instructor should have a clear understanding of what accommodation can be made for disability-related absences. In cases where attendance is an essential part of the class, a medical or mental health withdrawal may be considered a reasonable accommodation if absences become excessive. Student Disability Services is available to consult with faculty on issues concerning disability and attendance. No accommodation exits that allows a student to miss class simply because of their disability. Class attendance is considered an essential element of the course unless otherwise noted in the course syllabus.
Regardless of the type or severity of a disability, all Texas Tech University students must adhere to the policies, rules, and regulations of the Code of Student Conduct section in the Student Handbook as approved by the Board of Regents.
Dropping A Course
For a full explanation of all Drop Policies refer to your Undergraduate/Graduate Catalog. Please note that official policy states "all students who attend a Texas state institution of higher education are restricted to a maximum of six course drops during their undergraduate academic career. This includes all courses that were dropped at any Texas state institution of higher education the student has attended. For example, if a student attended a public community college and dropped two courses prior to enrolling at Texas Tech University, that student has four course drops remaining prior to graduation."