American with Disabilities Act/Student ADA

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) a disability is defined as an impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of an individual; a record of such an impairment; or, the perception that one has such an impairment.

The University of Massachusetts Medical School is firmly committed to providing full access to individuals with disabilities. In so doing, UMMS intends to fully comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, Diversity and Equal Opportunity Office guidelines, and Human Resources policies. Policies and procedures are in place to ensure that disabled applicants, students, staff, faculty, visitors, volunteers, and vendors do not experience discrimination in any way. The Diversity and Equal Opportunity Office, working in conjunction with the Department of Human Resources and the School Services Office, develops policies, procedures and training programs to ensure UMMS complies with all applicable federal and state regulations relating to individuals with disabilities. In addition, the Council on Equal Opportunity and Diversity evaluates policies regarding employees with disabilities, assesses adherence to these policies and makes recommendations for improvement to the Chancellor.

The University of Massachusetts Medical School’s (“UMMS”) School of Medicine, Graduate School of Nursing, and Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences fairly consider all applicants who meet the admissions requirements, and further UMMS shall make every effort to provide reasonable accommodations for any individual with a disability.  According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA” – 42 USCA 1211 and following), an “individual with a disability” is defined as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment.  The ADA does not name all “impairments” that are covered under the Act.  UMMS intends to fully comply with the ADA as well as all other applicable federal and state laws, codes and regulations, including but not limited to Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 151C.    

UMMS’ School Services Office shall coordinate all student accommodation issues for UMMS’ three (3) schools in accordance with all federal and state laws, codes and regulations.  The School Services Office is directed by the Vice Provost for School Services, Deborah Harmon Hines, PhD (“Student ADA Coordinator”).  Dr. Harmon Hines also co-chairs UMMS’ Academic Accommodations Committee (AAC) with Deborah DeMarco, MD.

Once a student is admitted to one of UMMS’ schools, it is the student’s responsibility, if they desire, to notify the Student ADA Coordinator of their disability, requesting academic accommodations in writing, and providing appropriate documentation of the disability (see Documentation requirements listed below).  A student may request accommodations at any time prior to or during matriculation.  All requests for accommodations are reviewed and acted on by the AAC, which must determine, based on the documentation provided, if the student meets the definition of an individual with a disability and if the requested accommodation is reasonable.  The AAC is comprised of faculty or staff representatives from the three (3) schools, the UMMS Learning Specialist and a representative from Graduate Medical Education.  Other specialists may be called in as needed.  Regardless of any accommodation that may be approved, all students must meet the “technical standards” for their respective school, which standards are listed in each school’s handbook/webpage.

It is always the student’s choice whether or not to accept any approved accommodation and the student has the right to appeal the AAC’s decision.  Students who meet the definition of an individual with a disability and apply for accommodations and/or who are approved for same shall not be treated adversely or with prejudice.  Confidentiality is a strict practice of the AAC and Academic Accommodations Appeals Committee (AAAC).  No ADA information goes into a student’s academic file.

Procedures

  1. If a student would like to request academic accommodations based on a disability, they must make an in-take appointment with Dr. Hines by calling 508-856-2444 or by email at Deborah-harmon.hines@umassmed.edu.  The student must put their request in writing on the Accommodation Request Form found on the website – (LINK)
  2. Written documentation of their disability must be sent by the health care provider directly to the student ADA coordinator.
  3. Following the AAC’s receipt and review of the request for accommodations and required documentation, the AAC shall determine (i) if the student meets the definition of an individual with a disability; and (ii) if the requested accommodation is reasonable.  If approved, the AAC shall design, implement and monitor an individual accommodation plan for a student with a disability in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Students requesting accommodations will receive responses to their requests in writing from the Student ADA Coordinator. 
  4. Temporary or interim accommodations may be granted by the AAC for a specified period of time pending  full consideration of the accommodations request.
    1. A student may appeal the decision of the AAC in writing within ten (10) working days of delivery of the AAC’s decision.  If the student has new or additional information and/or documentation regarding their diagnosis that was not considered in the original decision by the AAC, the student shall provide that information/documentation to Dr. Hines for re-review by the AAC.  The AAC will then re-consider the accommodations request and issue a supplemental determination.
    2. If the student wishes to appeal the AAC’s decision, the student must request the appeal in writing to Dr. Hines stating the basis for the appeal.   This appeal is not a re-hearing of the student’s request for an accommodation, but rather a review of whether the AAC acted in accordance with its policies and procedures and in conformity with all applicable laws, codes and regulations and if the AAC’s decision is supported by the information and documentation provided. 
    3. The Appeal shall be heard by the Academic Accommodations Appeals Committee (AAAC), which is composed of three (3) members, to be appointed by UMMS’ Provost from the following:
      1. One representative from UMMS’ Diversity and Inclusion Office; and
      2. One Faculty member from the school in which the student is matriculating; and
      3. One other educator from one of the schools in which the student is not matriculating.
  5.  The student is not entitled to an appearance before the AAAC, but this Appeals Committee may invite the student to its meeting (before deliberations commence).  
  6. The AAAC shall deliver a final binding decision in writing within 20 working days from its receipt of the appeal request and all supporting documentation.

Medical Disability Documentation

Please forward documentation that meets the below guidelines to the School Services Office.

  • Documentation must be provided by a clinician qualified to diagnose in the appropriate area of specialization.
  • Documentation must be on letterhead, typed, dated, and have an original signature.
  • Documentation must be based on a current evaluation (usually within three years) and historical documents.
  • Documentation must include:
  1. A specific diagnosis with the diagnostic code (ICD or DSM).
  2. A description of the functional limitations resulting from the disability.
  3. A description of current treatments and assistive devices and technologies with estimated effectiveness in ameliorating the impact of the disability.
  4. Clear support of the direct link to and need for the requested accommodation(s).

 

Learning Disability Documentation

Tests used to identify disabilities are to be valid, reliable, nationally normed and standardized assessments, including but not limited to the following:

  • Cognitive Assessments
    • Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale
    • Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales
    • Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities
    • Achievement Assessments
      • Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement
      • Wechsler Individual Achievement Test
      • Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests

The diagnosis of learning disability and/or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) requires comprehensive assessment of intellectual and achievement information, with ADHD providing additional support for attention concerns.  Other non-learning disabilities concerns requiring accommodation, such as anxiety, depression, or other conditions may also be required to provide assessment results to support the need for services.

  • Documentation must be provided by a professional qualified to diagnose in the appropriate area of specialization.
  • Documentation must be on letterhead, typed, dated, and have an original signature.
  • Documentation is based on a current evaluation (usually within three years) and historical documents.
  • Documentation must include:
  1. A specific diagnosis with the diagnostic code (ICD or DSM).
  2. A description of the functional limitations resulting from the disability.
  3. A description of current treatments and assistive devices and technologies with estimated effectiveness in ameliorating the impact of the disability.
  4. Clear support of the direct link to and need for the requested accommodation(s).

 

Confidentiality is a strict practice of the Academic Accommodations Committee. None of the ADA information goes into a student’s academic file.

Revised June 12, 2015

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