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Student Accessibility Services
MassArt offers equal opportunities to all qualified students, including those with disabilities. By federal law, a person with a disability is any person who:
- has a physical or mental impairment;
- has a record of such impairment; or
- is regarded as having such an impairment,
which substantially limits one or more major life activity such as self-care, walking, hearing, speaking, breathing, or learning.
Student Accessibility Services within the Academic Resource Center (ARC) provides support to students with learning and psychiatric disabilities, neurodivergent students, as well as students with visual, mobility and hearing impairments.
Accommodations are academic adjustments designed to provide students with disabilities equal access and equal opportunity to participate in programs, courses, services, and activities. Appropriate accommodations allow students to be evaluated based on their true abilities and are designed to “level the playing field” for students with disabilities.
All students must learn the same material and are graded according to the same standards. Likewise, all students must comply with the behavioral standards set forth in the Community Standards. Colleges are not required to reduce or adjust the essential requirements of a course or program, conduct testing of learning disabilities, prepare or adhere to IEPs (Individual Education Plans), or to provide personal attendants or tutors.
Requests for accommodations are evaluated based on documentation supplied by students and in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and subsequent Amendment Act (ADAAA).
At the college level, students are responsible for the success of their academic experience. This includes setting up accommodations. Students seeking accommodations must do the following:
- Self-identify to Student Accessibility Services prior to the start of the semester.
- Submit requests in an appropriately timely manner
- Provide documentation – with current functional limitations and recommendations for academic support – by a qualified practitioner.
- Set an appointment to meet with a staff member from Student Accessibility either prior to the start of classes or during the first weeks of the semester to create a letter of accommodation to provide to their instructors.
- Set up a meeting with each instructor to review the letter of accommodation, have the faculty member sign a copy, and return it to ARC.
- Assume responsibility for testing procedures and notifying faculty
- Self-advocate and seek help regarding their academics, including meeting with faculty and advisors and utilizing resources such as tutors and success coaches in the ARC
- Follow the attendance policy outlined in each professor’s syllabus
- Meet MassArt’s graduation requirements
A student can begin the process by completing and submitting a Request for Accommodations Form. Incoming students must submit their request and accompanying documentation by May 1st for housing accommodations and July 1st for academic accommodations for the fall semester. Students entering MassArt in the spring semester should submit their requests by December 1st and January 10th, respectively. Current students requesting housing accommodations should follow the timeline set forth in the information regarding the housing lottery process.
To identify the type of information and documentation necessary to the process for determining reasonable and appropriate accommodations, please refer to the following guidelines:
- Students must submit any prior assessment and/or evaluative report conducted by educational evaluators, medical professionals, mental health providers, etc. to establish the existence of a disability.
- Documentation must be current and relevant to the requested accommodation. Adult measures are preferred.
- An Individual Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan may not provide sufficient information determine accommodations, but should be submitted if other information is not available.
- Professionals conducting assessments, rendering diagnoses, and making recommendations for appropriate accommodations must be qualified to do so. Information from these sources must be made on professional letterhead, dated, and signed.
- Prescriptions for medication is not appropriate documentation.
- Diagnostic providers should include information regarding the existing condition(s), presenting concerns, history of prior accommodations, current treatments, recommendation for accommodations in the post-secondary environment.
- Student Accessibility Services may request additional documentation if information provided is insufficient.
- Documentation should be scanned and emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org either using a scanner or see these instructions for scanning documents with your phone outlined in these guidelines.
Some classroom accommodations need additional time to be prepared including, but not limited to, assistive technology, physically accessible classrooms, interpreters, note takers and texts in alternative format. Students are encouraged to make these requests at the end of the prior semester to ensure staff are able to provide the requested accommodation at the beginning of the new semester. Current students requesting housing accommodations should refer to the deadlines in the housing contract.
ACCOMMODATIONS IN HOUSING AND RESIDENCE LIFE
Student Accessibility Services works closely with the Office of Housing and Residence Life to provide housing accommodations to qualified students with disabilities. As in the classroom, reasonable accommodations within housing (including, but not limited to, accessible rooms, specific buildings or floors, single rooms, access to kitchens, service and emotional support animals) depend upon the nature and degree of severity of the documented disability. While the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 requires that priority be given to the specific methods requested by the student, it does not imply that a particular accommodation must be granted if it is deemed not reasonable and other suitable modifications are available. Please be advised that single rooms as an accommodation are reserved for individuals who document substantial needs and for whom living with a roommate is not a viable option.
Students requesting housing accommodations should note the request on the Housing Application Form and comply with all housing deadlines. Students must also provide appropriate documentation from a medical or mental health provider to Student Accessibility Services by May 1 for students entering in the fall and December 1 for students entering in the spring semester. The provided documentation must establish the need for an accommodation and relates the current impact of the condition to the requested accommodation. Guidelines for documentation listed above.
Staff from Housing and Residence Life and Student Accessibility Services will review requests and meet with students to discuss the needs and options for accommodation; however, all requests, even with appropriate documentation, are not guaranteed. Students will be informed of the decision within 2 weeks of the meeting. Students requesting Services or Emotional Support Animals must follow the policies and procedures outlined in these guidelines.
All students residing on campus are required to purchase a meal plan. Students with allergies and dietary restrictions are encouraged to work with Student Accessibility Services and Sodexo to ensure that Sodexo’s staff are aware of the student’s needs and will prepare food accordingly. Students are encouraged to review our meal service provider's dietary needs guide to learn more about accessing meals in the dining halls.
Students must schedule a meeting with Student Accessibility Services and engage in a dialogue regarding their disability, functional limitations, and appropriate accommodations.
For questions, or to send documentation, please email Student.Accessibility@massart.edu.
We encourage students to schedule meetings before the start of each semester. Accommodations are not retroactive. Students may not take "make up exams" or request to redo projects with accommodations if they originally took place before the faculty were notified.
If a student has questions or concerns with Student Accessibility Services’ decision about accommodations, the student should immediately contact Elizabeth Smith-Freedman, Associate Dean, to discuss the matter. If, after this consultation, the student believes that they have been denied a reasonable accommodation, appropriate auxiliary aids and/or academic adjustments, the student may contact the College’s EO Officer and ADA/Section 504 Coordinator who will advise and/or assist the student through informal or formal appeal steps as described in MassArt’s Equal Opportunity, Diversity and Affirmative Action (EO) Plan. In the event of conflict with a member of Student Accessibility Services, the student will be provided with an alternative staff contact within Student Accessibility Services or, if necessary, a contact designated by the Associate Dean of the Academic Resource Center.
Decisions regarding appeals submitted will be rendered within seven (7) business days. If, after receiving their appeal decision the student still believes that they have been denied a reasonable accommodation, appropriate auxiliary aids and/or academic adjustments, the student may file a complaint pursuant to the MassArt’s Equal Opportunity, Diversity and Affirmative Action (EO) Plan.
At any time during these processes, the student may contact the College’s EO Officer and ADA/Section 504 Coordinator for information regarding MassArt’s policy on reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities including grievance procedures.
The purpose of the formal appeal is not to provide a second review of the case, but rather to assure that disability related processes have been accurately and fairly followed by the university professionals with the expertise and judgment to make accommodation decisions in accordance with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act; and who have been entrusted with this responsibility. Grounds for appeal include:
- Procedural error: A procedural error(s) occurred during the original accommodation review process that may have impacted the outcome of the review.
- New information: Specification of new information, not available at the time of the initial review that, if introduced, may have altered the outcome of the review. A detailed account of the new information must be clearly described and be accompanied by supporting documentation from a certifying professional such as a treating physician, current therapist, or similar person. Information is not considered new that existed at the time of the original accommodation request but was voluntarily withheld during the initial review.
- Evidence of discrimination or bias on the part of the person making the decision, or an inability to consider the accommodation request objectively and completely.
Once the student has met with Student Accessibility Services, a staff member will create an email outlining the approved accommodations for that class or studio. This email will be sent to the student, who will give it to their faculty digitally and set up meetings with faculty to review the accommodations and discuss the manner in which they will be implemented. Once this discussion has occurred, faculty should let the ARC know when they have received the information.
(Note: This step is not applicable to accommodations outside of the classroom or studio)
As a part self-advocation, students should anticipate challenges and work with faculty on a resolution. For example, if an exam is scheduled and the student qualifies for extended time, they should reach out to the instructor a week prior to the test to ensure plans are in place for the accommodation.
Student Accessibility Services is available to support students as they navigate advocating for themselves or if they feel an accommodation has not been properly provided.