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Learning Accommodations

Hollins University recognizes the special needs of students with disabilities and is committed to providing equal opportunity to all of its degree-seeking students, observing section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Students with temporary physical or mental impairments should communicate directly with their instructors. However, if a physical or mental impairment is permanent, long-term or substantially limits one or more major life activities, the undergraduate student should communicate with the dean of academic services. Graduate students may contact the manager of graduate services. Hollins University uses the definition of learning disabilities published by the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities:

Learning Disabilities: "A general term that refers to a heterogeneous group of disorders manifested by significant difficulties in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or mathematical abilities. These disorders are intrinsic to the individual, presumed to be due to a central nervous system dysfunction, and may occur across the life span. Problems in self-regulatory behaviors, social perception, and social interaction may exist with learning disabilities but do not themselves constitute a learning disability. Although learning disabilities may occur concomitantly with other handicapping conditions (for example, sensory impairment, mental retardation, serious emotional disturbance) or with extrinsic influences (such as cultural differences, insufficient or inappropriate instruction), they are not the result of those influences." (NJCLD, 1988, p.1)

A student requesting accommodations and support services needs to provide a diagnostic report which clearly identifies a learning disability based on testing and evaluation in some or all of the following areas:

  • Receptive and expressive oral and written language
  • Word-attack skills and reading comprehension
  • Mathematical reasoning and computations
  • Verbal and nonverbal concept formation
  • Auditory and visual-processing abilities, including memory, sequencing speed, perception, and discrimination
  • Capacity for sustained attention

Recommendations for accommodations and support services in a student’s documentation need to be supported by diagnostic data. “Learning differences” or “styles” alone do not justify accommodations.

Documentation of the learning disability needs to be prepared by a professional qualified to diagnose a learning disability, including but not limited to a licensed psychiatrist, learning disability specialist, or psychologist, and will include the testing procedures followed, the instruments used to assess the disability, the test score results, and a written interpretation of the test results by the professional. The university reserves the right to ask students to undergo reassessment if the documentation they provide is more than three years old.

The following procedures are meant to assist students seeking academic accommodations because of learning disabilities:

  • For information about learning accommodations, undergraduate students and prospective students must first contact the Office of the Dean of Academic Services. Graduate students should contact their program director.
  • Upon request, a meeting will be arranged promptly between the student and the dean or program director to review policies and procedures, to assess the particular situation, and to give guidance about how to proceed.
  • A Hollins student will be defined as having a learning or attention disability once she/he provides a substantive report from a qualified professional. The report must provide diagnostic data and recommended accommodations. If an assessment is required, the student will be given information about resources in the community.
  • The dean or program director will review the documentation to make certain that the accommodations are both supported by the diagnostic data and are reasonable. Reasonableness will be considered both in terms of protecting the integrity of the academic program at Hollins and in terms of economic feasibility. Each student’s situation will be considered on its own merits. The university recognizes that disabilities with the same diagnostic label may manifest themselves differently in different students and require different accommodations.
  • The dean or program director will write a letter specifying the accommodations that have been approved for a given term and will send copies to the student’s professors and academic advisor. Students must meet with the dean of academic services or graduate program director at the beginning of each new term to determine appropriate accommodations for that term.
  • When necessary, the dean or program director will consult with a faculty review panel, the composition of which will be decided by the Academic Affairs Council. The purpose of the panel is to determine whether accommodations will actually facilitate the student’s learning and also maintain the academic integrity of Hollins. The panel may seek professional advice about disabilities, accommodations, and standards for academic integrity from Health and Counseling Services, appropriate faculty members, or community resources. The student will be invited to meet with the panel.
  • Students who encounter difficulties with their accommodations should contact the dean of academic services or graduate program director. If the student has a grievance about an accommodation, an appeal can be made to the Academic Policy Committee, which has final authority.

 

(References: National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (NJCLD), (1988). Letter to NJCLD member organizations. National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), (1994). A Student Affairs Guide to the ADA & Disabilities Issues.)

Physical Disabilities: Students with physical disabilities should provide documentation of the disability to the dean of academic services (or graduate program director) and the director of health and counseling services. The documentation must come from a qualified health professional and must include a list of recommended accommodations. The dean (or graduate program director) and the director of health and counseling services will consult with the student to determine reasonable accommodations. The dean of academic services (or graduate program director) will write a letter to the student’s instructors informing them of the accommodations.