Disability Terms & Definitions

To help you understand the language used in relation to KCC’s disability services offerings, this area contains definitions of disability-related terms commonly used by KCC’s Support Services staff. For more information, contact the College’s Support Services office at 269-965-4150 or supportservices@kellogg.edu.

Accommodation

This is a broad term that refers to auxiliary aids and/or services that students with disabilities can receive upon approval by our office. Possible accommodations may include the following:

  • Adjustable lighting
  • Sound amplification
  • A note taker
  • ASL interpretation
  • Speech to text interpretation
  • Use of a computer for exams and writing assignments
  • A quiet setting, whenever possible, for exams
  • Extended time for exams
  • Alternative book formats

Accommodations are tailored to an individual student’s situation and documentation that has been received. They take into account the nature of the disability, prior experience with specific accommodations, the learning environment and course content. All accommodations must be approved by our office as reasonable before they can be made available to the student and require that documentation of the disability be submitted to and evaluated by Support Services before a decision can be made.

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is the law that prohibits, under certain circumstances, discrimination based on disability. In the context of higher education, ADA provides a civil right for college students with disabilities not to be discriminated in, or excluded from access to, educational opportunities and activities conducted or sponsored by the college. Section 202 of ADA states:

“No qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from the participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of any public entity, or be subject to discrimination by any such entity.”

To achieve equal access to educational opportunities, reasonable accommodations may be provided to students to minimize the effect of the disability on the individual student’s access to educational services, programs, and/or activities. However, the intent of such accommodations is only to “level the playing field,” not to change the requirements to complete assignments, a course, or a program of study. This stands in sharp contrast to the requirements of IDEA for K-12 institutions to make significant modifications to the curriculum, so that students with disabilities can receive a high school diploma. For more information, please visit our page for high school staff.

Assitive Technology/Equipment

Any mechanical device, electronic device (hardware), or computer program (software) that is used as an approved reasonable accommodation for a disability. Assistive technology may include:

  • Tape recorders
  • Magnifiers
  • Calculators
  • Screen reader software (such as JAWS)
  • Voice recognition software (such as Dragon Naturally Speaking or iSpeak)
  • Reading pens
  • Electronic dictionaries

Confidentiality

KCC Support Services strictly observes student confidentiality in all matters, especially concerning disability information. According to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the college may not disclose information about students, except what is considered “directory information” (such as name, address, status as freshman or sophomore, etc.). However, it is a long-standing policy of KCC not to disclose any information without student permission, unless this disclosure is to a law enforcement agency or a court in situations defined by law.

Sometimes this might mean that our staff cannot share any information with a parent if the information pertains personally to a student with a disability who is served by our department (even if the student is a dependent minor). While we understand parents’ or family members’ desire to help their KCC student by finding out vital information, we always need the student’s permission to disclose any personal information. Such permission may be verbal or written.

Decision

When Support Services has received and reviewed all required documentation for a student with disabilities, a determination is made as to which accommodations are reasonable for the student. This determination is based on the documentation and best practices at KCC and by other colleges.

Occasionally students find out that they were not approved for the accommodation they received in K-12 or at another college. Different colleges may have slightly different standards, so some differences should be expected. Please contact our office if you have any questions or concerns about your accommodations.

Diagnosis

A diagnosis is provided in documentation from a qualified professional and includes: how the disability substantially limits the individual’s ability to perform a major life activity and how the diagnosis was determined. While we are not looking for specific “key words,” the above components are required for Support Services to be able to make a decision about what reasonable accommodations the student may receive. Please note that a diagnosis of an illness or impairment by itself may not entitle you to any accommodations if the physical or mental condition diagnosed does not impose a functional limitation on one or more of the major life activities.

Disability

Federal law defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits or restricts the conditions, manner, or duration under which an average person in the general population can perform a major life activity. Disabilities don’t always impair the individual student’s performance but may require the individual to seek alternate methods of carrying out a given task. An impairment or diagnosis, in and of itself, does not constitute a disability: it must “substantially limit” activities of daily living.

Documentation

KCC Support Services needs the student to provide documentation of his/her disability to take advantage of any accommodations or services he/she may qualify for as a result of the disability. Without documentation, our department will conclude that sufficient evidence of a disability does not exist. The following guidelines apply to documentation of disabilities:

  • The documentation must be produced by a professional who is qualified or licensed to diagnose the particular impairment in question.
  • The documentation must state the diagnosis and how it relates to limiting a major life activity
  • The method of diagnosis must be stated and supported by additional documentation (such as results from examinations–psychological testing, eye exam, hearing exam, etc.).
  • Recommendations for specific accommodations in a college setting must be given that relate directly to the functional limitations.
  • The date that the information was provided must be clearly stated (Only information that is less than 5 years old will be considered).
  • Documentation can be dropped off in person in Support Services, mailed to our address, or faxed to us by the student, the professional, or a third party on behalf of the student.

Support Services will review any documentation received and determine what, if any, accommodations are reasonable for the student.

Effective Accommodations

While reasonable accommodations may be approved for a student’s disability, this doesn’t necessarily mean they really “work” for the individual. Effective accommodations are ones that actually “work” and make the student’s access to educational opportunities equal to all other students. Therefore it is up to the student to communicate to Support Services if his/her accommodations are not “effective”–that is, don’t work for him or her.

The final responsibility to determine what accommodations will be provided rests with Support Services. Sometimes a student may disagree with our determination, and we are always happy to hear from students and discuss concerns.

Extended Time (on tests)

Some students with disabilities are allowed extended time on tests and quizzes. At KCC, “extended time” is defined as one and one-half times the normally allowed testing time in class. This accommodation can be arranged directly with the instructor or through Support Services. If the instructor does not set a time limit on the test, Support Services uses one class time as the “normally allowed” time for regular classes (meeting 2-3 times per week) or one-half of the number of credit hours if the class does not follow a typical schedule. This accommodation may frequently be combined with a quiet setting.

As with any reasonable accommodation, this must be approved by Support Services ahead of time based on student documentation.

Functional Limitation

A disability must limit functioning in school before one can receive an accommodation. A college-level educational institution, such as KCC, defines “functional limitation” as the impact of the disability on the student’s ability to have access to a program of study. A diagnosis of an illness or impairment, in and of itself, does not necessarily require accommodation. There must be a logical link between the functional limitation stemming from the diagnosis and the accommodation provided.

Individualized Education Plan (IEP)

The IEP (Individualized Education Plan) is a personalized curriculum that is put together for a student with a disability in a K-12 public school by a team consisting of school officials and the student’s parents. The IEP usually includes information about any accommodations or services the student may have received during his/her time in the school.

While this information, along with a recent psychological report (for learning disabilities) is very helpful to Support Services for determining reasonable accommodations, the accommodations and services received in the K-12 institution do not automatically “transfer” to a college. A decision will be made by Support Services Director based on documentation submitted. For more information, please visit our page for high school staff.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) legislation only applies to opportunities that must be available to students enrolled in Kindergarten through 12th Grade. The K-12 school maintains responsibility for determining which students need special education. The school must identify students who need help, through testing and observation. Schools are responsible for diagnosing the specific problem. Public schools are responsible for providing an appropriate education for each student, based on an evaluation and an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). In K-12, parents and teachers advocate for the academic needs of students. For more information, please visit the For high school staff section of our website.

Instructor Notification

When reasonable accommodations have been approved for a student, Support Services sends notifications to instructors at the beginning of every semester. The notifications contain the following information:

  • Student name
  • Which course the student is taking with this instructor
  • General information about disability services procedures
  • Which accommodations have been approved for this student by Support Services

No information identifying the student’s actual disability or diagnosis is ever sent to instructors. The student may choose to share this information with the instructors–and in fact, we encourage such sharing to take place, so that greater understanding can develop. Whether or not to share this information and the extent of information shared is up to the student.

Learning Disability

A group of disorders that affect a broad range of academic and functional skills including the ability to speak, listen, read, write, spell, reason and organize information.

A learning disability is not indicative of low intelligence. People with learning disabilities have difficulty achieving to their intellectual ability because of a deficit in one or more of the ways the brain processes information.

Licensed Professional

An individual who has a license to practice in his/her area of medicine, psychiatry, or psychology by a state, board, or other licensing or credentialing body. In the context of disability services, a licensed professional is one who would be qualified to make a diagnosis of a disability related to his/her area of practice.

Please note that, for disability documentation, a licensed professional is qualified to make a diagnosis and/or recommendations only when the disability diagnosis is within his/her area of licensure.

Major Life Activity

Government regulations define “major life activities” as “functions such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.” This list is not an exhaustive one—that is, the listed activities are examples, but other activities may also be considered “major life activities.” An impairment or diagnosis, in and of itself, does not constitute a disability: it must “substantially limit” activities of daily living.

Note Taker

Note takers are used as an accommodation for a number of physical and learning disabilities. One of the student’s classmates usually serves as a note taker. Note takers can work as volunteers, or they can become student employees and be paid for their services. Note takers will only share notes with the student with disabilities if the student is present for the class session. The student should contact Support Services at the beginning of the semester if note taker services are requested.

As with any reasonable accommodation, this must be approved by Support Services ahead of time based on student documentation.

Proctor

A KCC staff member or student employee who monitors the test-taking environment. A proctor must be used if Support Services have approved a student to receive testing accommodations such as extended time or a quiet setting. The course instructor may serve as the proctor, or you can arrange for a proctor through Support Services.

As with any reasonable accommodation, this must be approved by Support Services ahead of time based on student documentation.

Qualified Professional

A medical doctor (general practitioner or specialist), psychologist, or psychiatrist who has appropriate credentials to make a diagnosis of a disability in his/her field of practice. Usually qualified professionals are also licensed by a state board or another credentialing body.

Please note that, for disability documentation, a professional is qualified to make a diagnosis and/or recommendations only when the disability diagnosis is within his/her area of licensure or practice.

Quiet Setting (for test taking)

Some students with disabilities are allowed to take their tests and quizzes in a setting away from the classroom, where the number of possible distractions is reduced (a “quiet setting”). At KCC, a separate classroom, the Testing and Assessment Center, a testing room at one of the KCC regional centers or a separate study room in the KCC library, among others. If the instructor does not set a time limit on the test, Support Services uses one class time as the “normally allowed” time for regular classes (meeting 2-3 times per week) or one-half of the number of credit hours if the class does not follow a typical schedule.

As with any reasonable accommodation, this must be approved by Support Services ahead of time based on student documentation. y into a course or program. What is “reasonable” in a given situation is to be determined by the college and may vary from college to college.

Recommendations for Accommodations

When a qualified professional provides documentation of a disability, he or she is asked by Support Services to recommend specific accommodations that would be appropriate. Support Services uses these recommendations to determine which accommodations are reasonable and effective . Even though an accommodation is recommended, Support Services may or may not approve it based on a careful review of the documentation that is provided to our office. Certain accommodations are also not appropriate because they would alter the essential requirements of a degree program or place an undue hardship on the college.

Requesting Accommodations

Please follow this link to see our process for requesting accommodations.

Review of Documentation

Once Support Services receives your disability documentation, our review includes the following:

  • Verification of professional credentials
  • Verification that the diagnosis methods were appropriate to diagnose the stated disability
  • Review the diagnosis and recommendations for accommodations made by the professional
  • Make a decision on which accommodations are reasonable and would likely be effective based on the documentation

Once we have reviewed the documentation and made a decision on your reasonable accommodations, we notify you about our decision and record your accommodations, if any, in our computer system. If you are currently enrolled in classes, we send Instructor Notifications to your instructors.

Screen Reader

Software for students with print disabilities that reads the contents of the computer screen. Support Services may provide this software by request of students who have screen reader software as part of their accommodations. Please contact our office for more information about this software or fill out the Disability Services Request form if you have been approved for a screen reader as an accommodation.

Scribe (for test taking)

A KCC staff member or student employee who records student responses to test questions. Please note: a scribe cannot assist the student with reading the test or answering questions on the test.The scribe also cannot comment on test questions or student answers. Scribes must be approved by Support Services to assist a student who may also receive testing accommodations such as extended time or a quiet setting. The course instructor can be a scribe for students approved to receive this accommodation.

As with any reasonable accommodation, this must be approved by Support Services ahead of time based on student documentation.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a civil rights law designed to eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability in any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. Section 504 guarantees certain rights to individuals with disabilities. In the context of higher education, Section 504 requires the provision of appropriate educational services; services that are designed to meet the individual needs of qualified students to the same extent that the needs of students without a disability are met. Section 504 was designed to enable full participation in educational opportunities and activities conducted or sponsored by the college for individuals with disabilities. Section 504 states:

“No otherwise qualified individual with a disability as defined (herein) shall, solely by reason of his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

To achieve equal access to educational opportunities, reasonable accommodations may be provided to students to minimize the effect of the disability on the individual student’s access to educational services, programs, and/or activities. However, the intent of such accommodations is only to “level the playing field” for a course or a program of study. This stands in sharp contrast to the requirements of IDEA for K-12 institutions to make significant modifications to the curriculum, so that students with disabilities can receive a high school diploma. For more information, please visit our page for high school staff.

Self-Disclosure

Support Services strongly urges you to share an appropriate amount of information about your disability with your instructors. This type of self-disclosure (or self-advocacy) is not required to receive accommodations or assistance, but usually helps your instructors to better understand the difficulties you face and fosters communication between you, the instructor, and our office to allow us to better assist you.

Special Education

The general term used in the K-12 school system to refer to programs and assistance given to students with disabilities . Identifying students with disabilities in the K-12 system is the responsibility of the school, curriculum is modified for those students with special needs and specific disabilities, and the goal of Special Ed is to ensure student success (that is, student graduation with a diploma).

In colleges and universities, it is the student’s responsibility to self-identify, disclose his or her disability, and provide documentation. At postsecondary level, accommodations or modifications can only be made if they do not change the essential requirements of a course or degree program. Only reasonable accommodations for a disability that allow a student to fulfill the same requirements as any other student are utilized at the postsecondary level.

Undue Hardship

The ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act ensure that individuals (including students) with disabilities are provided reasonable accommodations for their documented disabilities. A student with a disability for which he or she has documentation has the right to request and receive accommodations for his disability. However, the college does not have to provide a particular accommodation if it imposes an “undue hardship” on the college, where “undue hardship” means significant difficulty or expense in, or resulting from, the provision of the accommodation. The following are used to help make this determination:

  • Size of the program/class
  • Financial resources
  • Cost of accommodation
  • Alteration or change in the course requirements
  • Disruption of other students

Any claims of “undue hardship” to the college are considered or initiated by Support Services, and a decision is made whether to approve or deny a request for accommodations.