Skip to Main Content Skip to Footer Toggle Navigation Menu

Confidentiality and Disability Services

Disability Services is committed to ensuring that information and communication regarding students and their disabilities is confidential except when disclosure is authorized by the student, permitted by law, and/or required in specialized situations where there is a clear “need to know” or safety concern. 

Information such as contact notes with Disability Services, documentation, and diagnosis is protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADAA) confidentiality standards. Under the ADA, your diagnosis and documentation are considered confidential information.  Requesting accommodations via Disability Services will not become part of your permanent student record. Your degree, grades and transcript will not reflect your affiliation with our office or any accommodations. 

Important things to know

  1. The goal of confidentiality procedures is to ensure that a student with a disability will not be discriminated against based on his/her disability. As an adult participant in the accommodation process, students take the lead in dissemination of any disability related information. 
  2. Once a student becomes 18,  FERPA (Federal Educational Right to Privacy Act) and ADAA (Americans with Disabilities Act, Amended)  laws come into effect. This means that information regarding students’ academic history and other protected information cannot be released, including to family members, without the consent of the student.
  3. FERPA is different than the ADA.  Under the ADA (AA), parents or outside parties cannot negotiate accommodations or file concerns on  behalf of the student. Students are the primary deciders in their education and are required as per the ADA to take the role in both requesting accommodations and following up on any concerns in a timely fashion.
  4. Title IX concerns (sexual harassment, assault or other sexual misconduct ) cannot remain confidential within Disability Services.  To best support our students, information to a Title IX Coordinator or their representative must be reported in a timely way.. Students  are able to then decide their level of interaction with the TItle IX Coordinator, which will remain confidential.
  5. Students need not disclose their specific disability to faculty or staff outside of Disability Services. The Faculty Notification Letter will provide information that faculty or staff need to know in order to implement accommodations for a course or program, which does not indicate disability.  The only cases where there is an exception is if there is a safety concern that may require faculty follow up.
  6. As some of the information provided may be medical in nature and covered under HIPPA, no one within the university community has access to this information except in very specific need to know, or emergency situations. To protect confidentiality, all disability-related diagnostic documentation will be kept in a file separate from a student’s academic record. This information will be eliminated 4 years after a student has graduated or withdrawn from Macalester.
  7. Releases for Financial Aid or other agencies on campus do not automatically apply to Disability Services.


  1. Once a student disclose disability or medical information to someone outside of Disability Services (faculty or staff),  disability may not remain confidential. Disability Services, however, will disclose specific disability information without consent only in very specific situations. 
  2. Information about a student’s accommodations Disability Services can be disclosed to staff, administration and faculty who have a legitimate “need to know”.

What is a “Need to Know” Basis?

As a rule, faculty and administrative staff need to know what accommodations are appropriate and necessary to meet the student’s disability-related needs.  In some instances, a faculty or staff person may request a more in-depth discussion to better facilitate the student’s learning or accommodations. In that case,  may have conversations with staff or faculty members without student consent as long as disability information is not disclosed unless an immediate safety or health concern is indicated. 

If there are any questions or concerns, students can always contact our staff directly. 

Thank you!