Students With Specific Needs

Florida College recognizes and values our students with specific needs, including students with disabilities. The college does not discriminate against students with disabilities and endeavors to keep its policies and programs in compliance with appropriate federal and state laws.

If you are a prospective student with specific needs, Florida College welcomes you. The faculty and administration work together to extend educational and spiritual opportunities to all students, regardless of circumstances, and we encourage you to join with us in this effort.

Accommodations

Florida College offers various accommodations to all students who qualify as specific-needs students. Accommodations are adjustments to a student’s academic routine specifically intended to offset physical differences or other circumstances that limit substantively that student’s ability to succeed academically.

Examples of accommodations are:
– Extra time on exams
– Taking exams in a quiet location
– Recording lectures
– Printed lecture notes or note-takers (scribes)
– Designated parking areas

The granting and management of student accommodations are the responsibility of the Florida College academic advising office. The college’s legal obligation is to provide reasonable accommodations as defined by applicable federal and states laws. It is the college’s responsibility to determine to the best of its ability what accommodations are reasonable.

Confidentiality

Students with specific needs are protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Florida College respects the confidential nature of the student’s medical information. Access to information provided is used by our personnel on a need-to-know basis and for ongoing support of your accommodations. Information provided to faculty for accommodation purposes will state only approved academic accommodations.

Any applicant or student wishing to receive accommodations must qualify as a specific-needs student. There are four basic steps.

1. The student must complete a Voluntary Declaration of Disability Form and submit all required supporting documentation by the appropriate deadline.

2. Once the applicant’s paperwork is received, the academic advising office will review the submission and make a ruling on whether to award accommodations. If accommodations are awarded, the applicant will receive a letter of accommodation explaining the details.

3. The student must decide whether to accept the accommodations offered and complete and return promptly the response form enclosed with the letter of accommodation.

4. The student must schedule a meeting with the academic advising office to review how accommodations will be used. For incoming students, this meeting must be scheduled to occur immediately upon the student’s arrival on campus. For current students receiving accommodations for the first time, this meeting must occur as soon as possible after the student receives the letter of accommodation.

Any Florida College student or applicant for admission who wishes to be considered for specific-needs student status must apply to the college in writing. All applications for specific-needs student status, including all supporting documentation, must be completed accurately and truthfully. Inaccurate or fraudulent applications will result in the denial or revocation of accommodations and may subject the student to further disciplinary action.

To apply for specific-needs student status, any student or applicant for admission must submit a fully executed Voluntary Declaration of Disability Form to the Florida College academic advising office by the appropriate deadline. Fully executed means completely filled out and with all necessary supporting documentation attached.

Fall Semester Deadline: July 1
Spring Semester Deadline: December 1

Eligible students who apply for admission after the above dates, or whose forms are received after the above dates, may not receive accommodations for the next semester. All applications and submissions are subject to the college’s late fees.

Supporting Documentation:
The submitted Voluntary Declaration of Disability Form must have attached a formally documented clinical diagnosis and treatment plan provided directly to the college by a qualified licensed health care professional. The diagnosis must be given in both written form and as a diagnostic code consistent with the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual nomenclature. The written and coded diagnoses must match. The diagnosis must establish that the student’s condition constitutes a true disability and limits significantly the student’s ability to succeed academically. The specific limitations must be stated clearly and specifically.

A “qualified licensed health care professional” shall be an MD (such as a pediatrician, family physician or neurologist), licensed clinical psychologist, pediatric neuropsychologist, or other clinical specialist licensed to practice and diagnose in the specialty field related to the applicant’s stated disability. Unlicensed persons and school psychometrics do not meet these qualifications.

All communication from the licensed health care professional must be on office letterhead and signed by the provider. Handwritten notes, copies of records, etc. must be accompanied by a provider’s cover letter that meets these requirements.
The applicant must provide written evidence of both current diagnosis and current treatment for the stated condition requiring accommodation. Current means within 18 months of enrollment. Treatment must be fully consistent with the stated diagnosis. An applicant who has a current diagnosis, but who is not participating in treatment may not be granted accommodations.

In general, an Individual Education Program (IEP) alone is not sufficient to establish a diagnosable disability. The existence of past services does not constitute a present disability. In no case will the college accept an out-of-date (more than 18 months old) diagnosis, IEP or an IEP which indicates either no clear disability or that the student’s academic needs have been resolved. It is the applicant’s or student’s responsibility to communicate these requirements to all appropriate health professionals.

Letter of Accommodation:
Students who are deemed eligible for accommodations shall receive a letter of accommodation from the academic advising office. This letter shall describe the accommodations granted.

Specific-Needs Student Responsibilities:
Florida College may point out to the applicant any discrepancies or omissions which may exist in the applicant’s paperwork and documentation. However, it is the responsibility of the applicant to remedy and resolve any problems with these in a timely manner.

1. Maintain Close Contact With the Academic Advising Office:
Each student with specific-needs student status must meet with his or her advisor at the start of each semester to review all accommodations and discuss their progess at Florida College. It is the student’s direct responsibility to make an appointment with the academic advising office to address this requirement. The appointment should be set to occur on orientation/registration day for each semester, even if the student is a returning student and does not participate in orientation. The student must make this appointment well in advance of orientation/registration each semester.

2. Comply Fully With All Treatment Prescribed by Your Physician or Other Licensed Health Care Professionals:
All specific-needs students at Florida College must comply fully with all treatment prescribed for them by their health-care provider(s) in order to maintain their special-needs student status and to continue to qualify for accommodations. The reason for this rule is two-fold. First, most disabilities require an ongoing plan of treatment for proper management and best outcome. If a student is unwilling to comply with a prescribed plan to receive the best possible treatment, then in most cases, accommodations will be of minimal value, and they will definitely not make up for the lack of professional care. Second, because the college’s resources are limited, we want to be sure that accommodations are provided to those students who are appropriate in their self-care and who are genuinely motivated to make the most of their educational opportunities. We believe that compliance with prescribed treatment is valid evidence of appropriate motivation.

3. Keep the Academic Advising Office and Your Course Instructors Up to Date:
From time to time, the circumstances related to a student’s specific-needs student status may change. Examples of such changes are a new diagnosis, a revised treatment plan or a new prescription. Such changes may affect the nature of the accommodations needed by the student. Therefore, it is the student’s direct responsibility to inform the academic advising office of any such change immediately, so that a review of accommodations can be conducted by the academic advising office.

Elementary and High-School Students:
Disabled children in kindergarten through 12th grade are granted services by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and/or the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504, Subpart D – Preschool, Elementary, and Secondary School.

IDEA ensures a free public education for K-12 children with disabilities by providing funding to states’ school systems. This education must be provided in a setting that is as non-restrictive as possible. IDEA defines 13 categories requiring the provision of special educational services at the K-12 level. Services must be delivered in a way that allows the disabled student to benefit meaningfully from the education provided. Services are provided to each student through an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). There is an extensive list of services to be provided, but the student is guaranteed only those services actually specified in the IEP. The individual student’s obligation under IDEA is simply to do one’s best.

College Students:
An IEP granted in grades K-12 is no longer applicable and will not be used for college academics. The criteria used in processing the IEP is no longer helpful for establishing a need for college accommodations. For college students with disabilities, services are identified and regulated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504, Subpart E – Postsecondary Education.

The Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 forbids colleges to discriminate against disabled persons who are otherwise qualified for both admission and participation in a college’s services. A disabled person is defined as any person with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. Services must be delivered in a way that allows for equivalent access to the college’s services and programs. There is no mandate for formal plans for delivering services to disabled college students under these federal regulations.

Services must be reasonable accommodations and academic adjustments. Examples of such accommodations are in-class note-takers, test accommodations and offering advance registration times. Personal aides, tutoring and counseling are not mandated by Section 504 or ADA. However, colleges are required to make available to disabled students the same services provided to other students.

The college student’s obligations under these regulations are as follows:
– Disclose the disability voluntarily and provide adequate supporting documentation
– Cooperate with the college in the provision and use of reasonable accommodations
– Attend classes and other appropriate educational activities as required
– Make appropriate use of the accommodations granted
– Notify professors or administrators promptly if there are any problems with accommodations

The college must provide to its disabled students accommodations that are reasonable in scope and implementation. Accommodations provided to any student may change over time as needs and circumstances change. Because college-level accommodations are not tied to a specific plan (such as an IEP) and because each student is unique, it sometimes turns out that accommodations do not provide initially the results expected. In such cases, some degree of experimentation (trial and error) and cooperative give and take between student and the college is necessary before the most reasonable accommodations can be identified.

The requirement to provide accommodations does not obligate the college to change its general academic standards, programs, or procedures, or to incur any undue administrative or financial hardship.

An excellent discussion of these regulations is available here. The above notes were condensed from this website.

I used to have an IEP in elementary, middle, or high school. Does that mean I will automatically get accommodations in College?
Having an IEP alone will not result in the award of accommodations. You will need to provide Florida College with clinical proof that you have a current diagnosis of disability, and that you are receiving appropriate treatment for it – both within the last 18 months.

What are accommodations?
Accommodations are adjustments to a student’s academic routine specifically intended to offset physical differences or other circumstances that limit substantively that student’s ability to succeed academically.

Examples of accommodations are:
– Extra time on exams
– Taking exams in a quiet location
– Recording lectures
– Printed lecture notes or note-takers (scribes)
– Designated parking areas

What is a Voluntary Declaration of Disability Form?
The Voluntary Declaration of Disability Form is a two-page form that any applicant seeking specific-needs student status and accommodations must complete. The applicant must also submit extensive supporting documentation.

If I have a disability, do I have to submit a Voluntary Declaration of Disability Form?
No, you do not. You only need to submit the form if you wish to apply for accommodations.

If I had accommodations in high school, will I get them automatically in college?
Not necessarily. To qualify for accommodations at Florida College, you will need to submit the Voluntary Declaration of Disability Form and meet the requirements as given here.

How do I find out if I will qualify for accommodations?
First, read the Florida College qualifying requirements. Next, you must submit a Voluntary Declaration of Disability Form and all supporting documentation. Once the Florida College academic advising office has reviewed your specific-needs student application materials, you will be informed whether you have been awarded specific-needs student status and whether you qualify for accommodations.

If I qualify for accommodations, which ones will I get?
There is no way to know in advance. Each applicant’s circumstances and needs are reviewed by the academic advising office on a case-by-case basis so that each person receives individual and personalized consideration. Once that review is completed, the academic advising office will inform you if you qualify. If you do, you will receive a letter of accommodation which will describe the specific accommodations you will receive.

Do accommodations cost me anything?
Some do and some don’t. For example, if a student is granted extra time on tests, there is no charge for that. Costs for that and other similar accommodations are paid by the college. On the other hand, all students, whether specific-needs students or not, who are granted the privilege to record class lectures are expected to purchase their own digital recorder and maintain it at their own expense. The same would be true for any other personal device used in the classroom.

What if I don’t want accommodations? Do I have to use them?
No, you don’t. The choice always rests with the student. In fact, if you already know in advance that you’d rather not have accommodations, you do not need to submit the Voluntary Declaration of Disability Form.

Let’s say I am granted accommodations and I decide to start out without them. Then, I change my mind and decide I want to use them. Can I still have accommodations then?
Yes, you can change your mind at any time. However, if accommodations have benefited you in the past, or this is your first semester in college, then we strongly recommend that you start out using accommodations at Florida College if you qualify for them. However, if you decline accommodations at any time, and then later on you decide to resume using them, you will need to resubmit the Voluntary Declaration of Disability Form and all supporting documentation, if your paperwork is more than 18 months out of date.

What if I start out using accommodations, and then I decide that I don’t want or need them after all?
Again, you can change your mind. You may cease using accommodations at any time. The student is always in control of whether accommodations are used. If you decide not to use accommodations, you must inform the academic advising office in writing.

How often may I change I mind?
You may change your mind about using your accommodations once per academic year. Each time you change your mind, you must inform the academic advising office in writing.

Can I lose my accommodations?
Yes, you can. There are three ways this can happen:
1. If a student falsifies the Voluntary Declaration of Disability Form or any supporting documentation, accommodations will be revoked and further disciplinary action may be taken.
2. If you do not follow the college’s regulations regarding accommodations, you may lose them.
3. If you do not comply with the disability-related treatment plan provided by your health care provider(s), then the college may terminate your accommodations.

This is important, so be sure you understand these points.
Here’s an example: Let’s say a student has ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and has been prescribed a medication to improve concentration and focus. The student must take the medication as prescribed to receive accommodations. If the student does not, then the student may lose accommodations.

Here’s another example: A student has been directed to meet regularly with a professional counselor or therapist, but the student decides not to do so. The student may lose accommodations.