Macalester College makes reasonable efforts to provide qualified students with disabilities equal access to all the courses, services, programs, job activities and facilities available through the college.

Laws Concerning Students with Disabilities

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.

Confidentiality and Release of Information

  • All disability-related information for students at Macalester is housed in the Disability Services office. Each student has a separate file housed electronically on a secured server.
  • All materials pertaining to a student’s disability are confidential. This policy is based upon government mandates regarding the confidential treatment of disability-related information.
  • Any written material regarding a student’s disability obtained by the Disability Services office is used to verify the disability and to create a plan for appropriate services..
  • The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), also known as the Buckley Amendment, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), do not allow faculty or others access to disability-related information.
  • Students may request to review the contents of their own file. All information in the file is the property of the Office of Student Affairs.
  • The Office of Student Affairs will retain all disability documentation for seven years after students leave the college.

Student Rights

  • Access to courses, programs, services and facilities offered through the college
  • Appropriate and reasonable academic accommodations provided in a timely manner, determined on an individual, as-needed basis.
  • Confidentiality of records and communication except where disclosure is necessary to arrange accommodations, required by law, or authorized by the student.
  • Fair evaluation of academic achievement
  • The right to appeal a decision concerning academic accommodations according to the college’s grievance procedures

Student Responsibilities

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

  • Meet and uphold the college’s qualifications and standards as outlined in the Student Handbook and college catalog.
  • Contact the Disability Services office to arrange for appropriate academic 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 (CART) are urged to contact the Director of Disability Services as soon as courses for the following semester are confirmed.
  • 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 their performance in classes might be affected by a disability.
  • Provide the Disability Services office with appropriate documentation from a qualified professional, which verifies the diagnosis of the disability, explains how the disability limits participation and, accordingly, the need for specific accommodations.

College Rights

Macalester College has the right to:

  • Identify and establish essential functions, abilities, skills, knowledge, and standards for courses, programs, services, and facilities and to evaluate and determine reasonable accommodations on this basis
  • Request current and appropriate documentation from a qualified professional to verify the need for reasonable academic accommodations.
  • Consult with students in making the final determination regarding the selection of effective, appropriate and reasonable academic accommodations. The college reserves the right to make the final decision regarding which accommodations will be provided.
  • 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 College 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 college

College Responsibilities

Macalester College has the responsibility to:

  • Maintain and uphold the academic standards and requirements set forth by the college.
  • Provide information regarding university policies and procedures to students with disabilities and assure availability in accessible formats upon request.
  • Evaluate students’ academic achievement based on their abilities.
  • Provide reasonable and appropriate academic accommodations for students with disabilities in a timely manner.
  • 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.
  • Provide accommodations free of charge.