Western University of Health Sciences Harris Family Center for Disability & Health Policy (CDHP) Western University of Health Sciences
Harris Family Center for Disability & Health Policy (CDHP)

Confidentiality & Privacy

Western University of Health Sciences Confidentiality and Privacy statements are also included in the AARC Student Handbook.

Confidentiality Statement

AARC is committed to ensuring that all information regarding a student’s disability is kept in accordance with state and federal laws

AARC complies with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, commonly known as FERPA. This federal law protects the privacy of student education records. Students have specific, protected rights regarding the release of such records. Click the link for more information about FERPA.

Students requesting accommodations from AARC, or any college, will be requested to sign a Registration Agreement acknowledging that they understand that provision of disability services and accommodations may involve sharing/disclosure of disability information provided by the student with appropriate University personnel participating in the accommodation process. It is important for students to understand what their signature means. The following is an explanation of our procedure and practice pertaining to confidentiality and disclosure.


Confidentiality and Privacy

Students have a right to confidentiality. The University recognizes that student records, for the purpose of disability documentation, disability determination, and accommodation determination are confidential, as per state and federal laws, and are treated as such. However, the student’s right to privacy must still be balanced against the University’s need to know the information in order to provide requested and recommended services and accommodations.

When students request accommodations, particularly instructional accommodations, the issue arises as to what and how much information the faculty needs and/or has the right to know. By signing the Registration Agreement form, students acknowledge and understand that, in order for the Assistant Director of AARC to coordinate, advise, or administer requested accommodations, disclosure of disability information to faculty or appropriate administrators/staff may be necessary and/or required.


Disclosure

  1. First, it is important to understand that no one except AARC staff has automatic access to the student files housed in its office. AARC staff works very closely with the designated CAL of each college (DO, DPT, PA, Nursing, Vet Med, Pharm, etc.). CAL works closely with AARC to effectively implement accommodations for the students in their college.
  2. What do we mean by “disclosure”? Disclosure exists on a continuum, ranging from minimum to full disclosure of disability documentation. An example of minimum disclosure would be the case of a faculty member requesting only confirmation that a Western University (WU) student has a disability and that the accommodations were indeed recommended based on the documentation in the AARC student file. Thus, we have disclosed the presence of a disability and the recommended accommodations. It is important for a student to understand that whenever we acknowledge that he/she has a disability, we have essentially “disclosed” confidential information. Because we talk with faculty and staff in order to implement accommodations, we routinely confirm that the student has a verified disability. All colleges provide clinical rotations, which are conducted at other host institutions. AARC may work with a designated representative of the host institution, and minimal disclosure or more information may be required as indicated in the paragraph below. Additionally, the host institution and AARC may need to assist with implementation of accommodations, making some disclosure of information necessary. If necessary, a student may be requested to sign a release to permit AARC to share information with the host institution.
  3. Moving along the continuum, discussing with this same professor the specific nature of the disability (i.e. learning disability, low vision, epilepsy, etc.) and the rationale for the accommodation requested constitutes more comprehensive disclosure. In this case, the specific disability and its impact on a specific student are disclosed with the intent of assisting the faculty member in understanding the relationship between the disability and the accommodation. Often, the additional information assists faculty in designing an appropriate accommodation.
  4. Finally, full disclosure would be sharing, either verbally or in writing, specific and detailed information regarding a student’s disability. For example, providing a copy of a psycho-educational report, or hospital or other medical records, would constitute full disclosure of disability documentation. AARC does not provide full disclosure of disability documentation to faculty. Providing copies of file information requires a student to sign a separate release of information form.