Disability Services and Accommodations
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is understood and carried out in classes offered by Alvernia University. Anyone covered by the ADA who has specific needs will receive reasonable accommodations. The Disability Services Office is located in Bernardine Hall. Our Disability Services Coordinator, can be reached at 610-568-1499. The Fax # is 484-335-4486.
Who is responsible for facilitating accommodations at Alvernia?
At the college level, responsibility for facilitating any accommodations rests with the student, who must provide the appropriate documentation outlining a diagnosis and request for accommodations. Your IEP from high school does not follow you.
What kinds of accommodations can Alvernia provide?
Reasonable services and accommodations include, but are not limited to, extended time for testing and assignments, testing in a sequestered site outside the classroom, use of tape recorders, and preferential seating in the classroom.
I think I might qualify for disability services, but I’m not sure. What do I do?
The first step in getting the process moving is to submit a request for accommodations and a copy of your IEP and/or 504 and/or professional evaluation to the Disability Services Coordinator, who will then review this information. You will be notified if further documentation is required or she will send you a draft proposal of accommodations. She will request a meeting with you to discuss any questions and concerns you may have and to make sure that all the tools are in place to help you to succeed academically.
When should students request accommodations?
Each semester, as soon as possible, students qualifying for accommodations must see Darla Timberlake, Coordinator of Disability Services in room 105 C Bernardine Hall, to request that letters for instructors are generated. Letters will be given to the student in person at the beginning of each semester. It is the student's responsibility to distribute these letters to each instructor.
Receiving information regarding any physical concerns in a timely manner is important as accessibility arrangements can take some time. Please contact Darla Timberlake (610-568-1499) or at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible if there are any mobility or other issues of a physical nature. Official documentation will be needed to establish and maintain any accommodations.
Please be advised that it takes time to review documentation. It may take a week or more between the submission of documents and the start of accommodations. Accommodations are never retroactive. Please plan accordingly.
What type of documents must the student submit?
1. A request for accommodations form.
2. Authorization for release of information form
3. Official documentation that meets the following criteria.
Official Documentation should:
be current — i.e., completed within the last 5 years for LD, last 6 months for psychiatric disabilities, or last 3 years for ADHD and all other disabilities (NOTE: this requirement does not apply to physical or sensory disabilities of a permanent or unchanging nature)
identify a diagnosis
describe the current academic, emotional or health function, as appropriate
describe the functional limitations
include suggested educational recommendations justified by assessments
be supported by complete relevant educational, developmental and medical histories
include the names and scores of testing assessments used to make specific determinations.
be prepared by a qualified professional in the appropriate field of concern, who is not a family member of the student
be typed, signed and on official letterhead
Records supporting the use of services in high schools or other institutions are helpful in assisting Alvernia staff, although reports such as IEPs, SOPs and letters from disability service providers at other colleges are not, in themselves, automatically considered sufficient to meet this documentation request. Alvernia professional staff reserves the right to request additional information to determine appropriate services or eligibility, if necessary
Who has access to my documentation once I submit it?
Documentation is maintained in a secure file accessible only by the ADA Coordinator. Documentation is not shared with others, although if requested, general information about the student’s accommodations may be discussed on a need-to-know basis with faculty or administrative professionals. The ADA Coordinator is committed to maintaining utmost discretion in matters involving students’ disabilities and related matters. Pertinent information related to records may be shared with University personnel only when deemed necessary and appropriate to facilitate the student’s access to programs and services. Requests to share information with persons acting in roles external to the University will be considered only with prior written approval by the student. Files are usually maintained for five years beyond a student’s last registration with the ADA Coordinator, after which they are destroyed.
Alvernia University Disability Services Appeal or Grievance Procedures
Institutions of higher education have the obligation to make informed decisions about accommodations. These decisions may not always agree with recommendations from outside professionals or with prior Individualized Educational Programs (IEPs) and 504 Plans.
Students who do not agree with the accommodation decisions of the Disability Services office should follow the process outlined below.
A student who disagrees with the appropriateness of a decision regarding accommodations should speak first with the Academic Learning Specialist-Academic Intervention Coordinator, Darla Timberlake, to resolve the issue.
If a satisfactory resolution cannot be reached, the student should appeal to the Associate Dean for Educational Planning, Danielle Saad, in writing, preferable a PDF letter attached to an email or sent via US mail.
If a satisfactory resolution still cannot be reached, the student has two options. For academic accommodations, written appeals should be sent to the Chief Academic Officer, Provost Shirley Williams. For non-academic accommodations related to medical and physiological disabilities, including campus access (residential, classroom, social and athletic) written appeals should be sent to the Vice President for University Life, Dr. Joseph Cicala.
If the Provost or Vice President of University Life (as appropriate) feels that the decision settled upon by the Academic Learning Specialist or Associate Dean was reached according to ADA guidelines, written notification of the decision will be issued to the student and kept in the student’s file in the Disability Services Office.