Student FAQs

The Americans with Disabilities Act gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, State and local government services, and telecommunications. Fair, swift, and effective enforcement of this landmark civil rights legislation is a high priority of the Federal Government.

What constitutes a disability?
A disability is defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as a mental or physical impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities. If you have a mental or physical condition, a history of such a condition, or a condition which may be considered by others as substantially limiting, you may have a legally defined disability.

What does substantially limiting mean?
According to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, substantially limiting is defined as being unable to perform a major life activity, or significantly restricted as to the condition, manner, or duration under which a major life activity can be performed, in comparison to the average person or to most people.

What is a major life activity?
According to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a major life activity is defined as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.

What are academic adjustments?
Appropriate accommodations (academic adjustments) create an equal access to education, as long as it doesn’t require a substantial change in an essential element of the curriculum (fundamental alterations). Such modifications may include an adjustment in the amount of time allowed to complete a degree, substitution of degree requirements (non-essential and available to all students), and adaptation of the manner in which specific courses are conducted, extra-time on testing, etc.

How are appropriate accommodations for a student determined?
The process to determine appropriate accommodations for a student is an interactive process involving several steps. To begin this process, the student must submit a request for accommodations (following the specific process for various accommodations on campus). The Office of Accessibility reviews the information and determines appropriate accommodations based upon the substantial limitations of the student and the recommended modifications suggested by the supporting specialist. In the case of housing or dietary accommodations, the OA reviews the application for completeness and forwards the application packet for review by the Housing Accommodations Committee.

​Frequently Asked Questions from Parent/Future Student

Are students with disabilities treated differently?
Reasonable accommodations may change the manner in which a person gains access to course information or is tested however, the essential requirements in a course and rules within the campus community is the same for everyone. For example, you may need accessible parking, a tape recorder, interpreter, or extra time on tests and assignments – these accommodations aim to level the playing field without giving unfair advantage. Persons with a disability are not different – they are simply differently-abled.

How do the responsibilities of working with students with disabilities at Higher Education institutions differ from those of high schools?
The responsibilities towards students with disabilities in Higher Education institutions are very different from those of high schools. High schools are required under IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) to identify the educational needs of students with a disability and provide a free and appropriate education. This responsibility is not required of higher education institutions. Higher Education institutions are required to provide appropriate academic accommodations to ensure that a student with a disability is not discriminated against. The student is responsible for disclosing his or her disability to the institution and making specific accommodation requests.

What are the responsibilities of a student with a disability if he or she would like to receive accommodations?
A student with a disability is responsible for requesting accommodations through Office of Accessibility (OA). OA will not seek students out. A student with a disability is also responsible for providing acceptable documentation of his or her disability that supports the accommodation requests.

Can I request accommodations for my child?
No. All requests for accommodations must come directly from the student.

Can I speak with the Office of Accessibility in regards to my child’s disability/academic case?
As an adult (recognized as 14+ in a higher ed setting), the student may choose to have information about his or her case discussed with his or her parent(s) through signing a FERPA release, or Release of Information for the Office of Accessibility. The release cannot be a blanket release for the student’s entire college career and may allow an individual on campus to discuss your student’s case, but any employee can choose not to discuss any part of the student’s information at their discretion. Parents cannot speak in lieu of a student–all processes through the Office of Accessibility must be student-initiated and driven.

Since the student is now in charge of his or her educational planning, what are some self-advocacy skills he or she should develop?
The Office of Accessibility strongly encourages students to develop these self-advocacy skills:

  • Understand Your Disability: A student should be able to articulate what his or her disability is.
  • Communicate Barrier Created by Your Disability: A student should also be able to describe how the disability limits his or her functioning (functional limitations). A student should also be able to express some ways that he or she could be accommodated.
  • Be Proactive: A student should provide acceptable documentation to the Office of Accessibility and request accommodations that remove barriers (preferences are not accommodations). A student should learn to work collaboratively with instructors to ensure his or her success with the accommodations. A student should also be able to identify if his or her accommodations are being honored, and if needs are not being met.

What is the impact of the Americans with Disabilities Act on Higher Education of 1990?
The Americans with Disabilities Act on Higher Education of 1990 impacts the whole institution including activities, facilities, programs, employment, and housing. For more information please go to

Does a student have to inform Siena Heights University that he or she has a disability?
A student with a disability does not have to disclose his or her disability to SHU. Disclosure of a disability is on a voluntary basis. However, a student will not receive accommodations unless he or she discloses this information. Moreover, accommodations are not granted retroactively. To disclose a disability to the Accessibility Coordinator, or to discuss the accommodations process, please email or click here.

What can a student with a disability expect in regards to admissions procedures?
In regards to admissions procedures, a student with a disability:

  • Must apply through normal channels
  • May not be asked about disability status during application by Admissions
  • May choose to disclose the disability in his or her personal statement, but this information cannot be used to discriminate against your admission. As a general rule of thumb, if your application is marginal, then disclosing your disability and special circumstances in the essay portion of the application may help you.
  • May take a standardized test with accommodations. For standardized tests:
    • Be prepared to submit documentation–each standardized testing company has differing requirements.
    • Admissions may not take any review action based upon submission of standardized test score
    • As a note, SHU is a test optional admissions school

Will a student’s admission to Siena Heights University be denied because he or she has a disability?
A student meeting the essential requirements for admission to Siena Heights University will not (and can not by law) be denied admission solely on the basis of disability.

Does the Office of Accessibility provide tutoring services?
OA does not provide tutorial services. There are tutoring options on campus for all students.  For students who qualify, there is the Student Support Services program (click here) and the Freshman Transition Summer Program (click here).  Tutorial services may also be obtained and funded privately by the student at their discretion.

Is there a charge for receiving accommodations from the Office of Accessibility?
There is no charge for receiving accommodations from the OA.

What are some examples of accommodations offered at the University?
In the University’s commitment to accessibility, we provide accommodations on an individually determined need. For individuals with print disabilities such as dyslexia and blindness or low vision, technology is available to read materials (coursework, emails, and campus announcements) from a computer screen. Reasonable accommodations may also include proctored testing in a small, quiet, yet secure room, digital recorders, note-taking process, extended time for testing, scribes, interpreters, accessible parking, flexible diet meal plans, visual alerts in housing units, accessible bathrooms, football stadium seating, accessible entry and seating for basketball games, commencement and other events held in the Field House, and a plethora of reasonable services. Referrals are easily made to secure alternative text books, ASL interpreters.  Documentation and advance notice helps the University to arrange services for your success.


The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 was enacted to protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination in several critical areas including education. Students with disabilities are responsible for contacting the Office of Accessibility if reasonable accommodations are not implemented in a timely and effective manner. The OA will work with university personnel to resolve the issue. If no effective resolution to the complaint can be reached, the student then has the option to file a formal complaint with the Office of the Dean for Students,, Ledwidge Hall, 517-264-7601.

If after the above steps are taken and the student still feels resolution has not been accomplished in a reasonable fashion, they may file an official grievance with the Office of Civil Rights:,4613,7-138-70682_67734-153171–,00.html