Bard College at Simon’s Rock is committed to providing individuals with disabilities equal access to its programs, services, and facilities in accordance with Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The Director of Accessibility and Academic Support works individually with students with disabilities to assure that they have equal access to the full range of opportunities at the College. This accommodation process is meant to aid the individual student and the College alike. Good documentation provides a framework for establishing the accommodations and/or services that qualified students with disabilities need to access the College’s academic and residential offerings. Additionally, the process assists the College in making consistent, informed decisions with regard to student accommodations.
Documentation Guidelines and forms can be found here.
Who is eligible for accommodations?
A student with a disability is entitled to reasonable accommodations. Disability, as defined by civil rights law, must constitute a mental or physical condition that results in significant impairment in one or more major life functions. Disabilities include, but are not limited to, mobility and orthopedic impairments, sensory impairments, psychological disorders, chronic health impairments, and learning disabilities.
How are accommodations provided? How do I begin?
At the college level, if you have a disability it is your responsibility to self-disclose and to request accommodations. It is the responsibility of the student to obtain and supply the college with all necessary documentation. You can initiate the process by contacting the Director of Accessibility and Academic Support, who can advise you as to what forms and documentation you will need to submit. Requests for services and accommodations must be made in a timely manner. Without sufficient advance notification and proper documentation, Disability Services may not be able to meet your requests. It is particularly important to be in contact early if you need services such as sign language interpreters, alternative print materials, etc. so that services are in place when you arrive in the fall. Once eligibility is established, you meet with the Director of Accessibility and Academic Support to discuss an accommodation plan. Please note that while a request for accommodations can be initiated at any point in the school year, accommodations cannot be applied retroactively. Students are expected to actively participate in using accommodations they have requested and which have been approved by the College. The College will not impose accommodations nor do we preempt a student's responsibility to request accommodations and/or voluntarily disclose a disability.
What is appropriate documentation and who provides it?
Documentation of a disability must substantiate the need for specific accommodations requested. Documentation submitted should comply with the guidelines established by the Association of Higher Education and the Disabled (AHEAD- www.ahead.org). All documentation must be current. Educational evaluations and testing for a learning disability should not be more than 3-5 years old. Documentation of psychological disabilities must not be more than 1 year old. Examples of unacceptable documentation include a brief note from a doctor that simply requests an accommodation, information or notes written on prescription pad. Documentation of a learning disability which is not comprehensive or which identifies learning “problems or challenges”, but does not specifically diagnose a learning disability, will be unacceptable under most circumstances. If you have any questions about whether your documentation is sufficient, please call the Director of Accessibility and Academic Support. Documentation must be provided by a licensed professional who has no personal relationship with the individual being evaluated. The information provided must include a diagnosis that establishes the existence of a disability and description of the nature of the disability, duration (if temporary), limitations relevant to a residential educational setting and recommendations for accommodations.
Who has access to the documentation I submit?
Documentation is considered confidential information and does not become part of your permanent record. Any information regarding a disability is considered confidential and will be shared only with others within the college who have a legitimate educational interest. It is not normally shared with other campus offices without your written consent. The College is committed to ensuring that all information and communication pertaining to a student’s disability is maintained as confidential as required or permitted by law. This information is protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
How are accommodations determined?
In the beginning of each semester, if you have registered with Disability Services and have submitted acceptable supporting documentation, the Director of Accessibility and Academic Support invites you to meet with her, and together you discuss what reasonable accommodations you may need. Neither previously received accommodations nor recommendations made by the diagnosing professional are automatically provided. Accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis. It is your responsibility to request modifications if the provided accommodations are not effective.
How are faculty informed of my academic accommodations?
After you meet with the Director of Accessibility and Academic Support, she will prepare a letter verifying that you are eligible to receive accommodations and identifying the appropriate accommodations. This letter is signed by both of you, and is presented to your instructors by you. This letter is meant to serve as a starting point in your discussions with your teachers. The letter does not identify the specific disability, only the academic accommodations you are entitled to.
What types of accommodations does the college provide?
- Accommodations often include, but are not limited to:
- Testing modifications, such as extended time or reduced distraction location
- Note-taking assistance
- Textbooks on tape or CD
- Provision of readers, scribes or interpreters
- Written materials provided in alternate format
- Assistive technology
The College does not provide services of a personal nature such as personal attendants, homework assistance, private tutors, or typing services, nor does it provide diagnostic evaluations of disabilities. Peer tutoring and writing counseling are available to all students at the College through the Win Commons.
Who should you contact if you have additional questions?
If you have any other questions related to Disability Services at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, please contact:
Jean Altshuler, Director of Accessibility and Academic Support
Bard College at Simon’s Rock
84 Alford Rd
Great Barrington, MA 01230
Guidelines adapted from text created by Polly Waldman and Laura Rauscher