Harris Family Center for Disability & Health Policy (CDHP)

Policies & Procedures

Western University policies and procedures regarding students with disabilities are also included in the AARC Student Handbook.


To be eligible for disability-related services, individuals must have a documented disability as defined by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and/or the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Eligible disabilities are any physical or mental impairments that may include, but are not limited to: vision, hearing, mobility, learning, systemic illness, psychiatric condition, and brain injury that substantially limit one or more major life activities. AARC requires documentation from an appropriate professional to certify that individuals have a diagnosed disability.

Disabilities Covered Under Section 5041

The Education Department Section 504 regulation defines an “individual with handicaps” as any person who (i) has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities, (ii) has a record of such an impairment, or (iii) is regarded as having such an impairment. The regulation further defines a physical or mental impairment as (A) any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; genitourinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine; or (B) any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities. The definition does not set forth a list of specific diseases and conditions that constitute physical or mental impairments because of the difficulty of ensuring the comprehensiveness of any such list.

The key factor in determining whether a person is considered an “individual with handicaps” covered by Section 504 is whether the physical or mental impairment results in a substantial limitation of one or more major life activities. Major life activities, as defined in the regulation, include functions such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.

The impairment must have a material effect on one’s ability to perform a major life activity. For example, an individual who has a physical or mental impairment would not be considered a person with handicaps if the condition does not in any way limit the individual, or only results in some minor limitation. However, in some cases Section 504 also protects individuals who do not have a handicapping condition but are treated as though they do because they have a history of, or have been misclassified as having, a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. For example, if you have a history of a handicapping condition, but no longer have the condition, or have been incorrectly classified as having such a condition, you too are protected from discrimination under Section 504. Frequently occurring examples of the first group are persons with histories of mental or emotional illness, heart disease, or cancer; of the second group, persons who have been misclassified as mentally retarded. Persons who are not disabled may be covered by Section 504 also if they are treated as if they are handicapped. For example, if they are infected with the human immunodeficiency virus.

1 This Section is from the United States Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights.

Determination and Provision of Accommodations

As per Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA, academic adjustments, auxiliary aids and program modifications will be provided to qualified students with a disability to enable students to have an equal opportunity to participate in any program, course, activity, or service offered by the University. An equal opportunity means an opportunity to attain the same level of performance or to enjoy equal benefits and privileges as are available to similarly-situated individuals without an AARC-recognized disability.

The University is obligated to provide reasonable academic adjustments, auxiliary aids, and/or program modifications (accommodations) only to the known limitations of an otherwise qualified individual (student) with a disability. In general, it is the responsibility of the student with a disability to inform the University that an accommodation is needed, and to provide appropriate documentation to substantiate the student’s disability and that any requested accommodation is reasonably needed. When a qualified student with a disability requests accommodation, the University will make a reasonable effort to provide an accommodation, adjustment, and/or auxiliary aids that are effective for the student. Once appropriate documentation is provided and a student is determined eligible for services and recommended accommodations, the Assistant Director of AARC will complete a memorandum to the College Dean and the designated College Accommodations Liaison (CAL). Admissions interviews, evaluation of performance, course examinations and other measures of achievement will be conducted with appropriate accommodations or modifications to ensure that the decision and evaluation and subsequent academic decision reflect the students merit and achievement rather than reflecting the impact of a disability.

College Accommodations Liaisons (CAL)

The CAL works in collaboration with AARC to implement recommended accommodations for students with disabilities. AARC provides CAL with information and guidelines for working with students with disabilities. CAL acts as an “in-house” resource for faculty and students with disabilities and for faculty concerning access issues.

Requesting Accommodations: Policy and Procedure

A student with a disability may request accommodations by scheduling an intake interview appointment and submitting a request to the Assistant Director of AARC, located in the Administration Building. The request shall be accompanied by supporting documentation, which must include: (see Disability Documentation Requirements).

AARC will evaluate the request as follows:

  1. Assemble and review the request and supporting documentation
  2. Determine the student’s eligibility for accommodation
  3. Consult with the student (and the affected department chairs, designated representatives, and faculty member(s) if necessary)
  4. Attempt to reach consensus on the appropriate accommodation for satisfactory documented disability

If no consensus is reached by the above means, AARC will advise the student of the informal resolution procedure.

Students will need to provide personal attendants (aides) for any of the following needs. AARC personnel will not provide these services:

  1. Feeding
  2. Administering and storing of medications
  3. Assisting with personal hygiene (i.e. catheter bags, etc.)
  4. Typing, writing and proofing papers
  5. Tutoring (will be referred to the appropriate department on campus)
  6. Psychological counseling (will be referred to PacifiCare)
  7. Storage of medical supplies (i.e. oxygen tanks, etc.)

Services requested by students that are determined to be personal in nature (as determined by the Assistant Director) will not be provided.

Temporary Disabilities

Some disabilities are temporary but may require accommodations for a limited time. Students who are recovering from surgery, injury, or severe illness may be unaware of accommodations that may be reasonable for a limited time period. Students with a temporary disability are encouraged to contact AARC and to talk with faculty and staff to determine if temporary accommodations are available. The student, faculty/staff member, and AARC staff may work together to establish reasonable accommodations.