Resources for Disabled Students

Why Accommodations?

The University is required through federal mandates to be non-discriminatory based on disability in all its programs and services.  These obligations apply to all individuals employed by the university.  The process of non-discrimination has as its goal to minimize the effects of a disability that results from an environment created without consideration for the vast diversity of human characteristics in physical and/or mental ability.  Accommodations are provided to ensure that qualifed students are able to participate in and benefit from any university program or service.


No otherwise qualified student shall be excluded solely on the basis of disability from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination under, any academic, research, occupational training, housing, counseling, financial aid, physical education, athletics, recreation, transportation, other extra-curricular, or other postsecondary education program or activity (from Section 504, Rehabilitation Act of 1973).

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 established certain procedures and obligations for all higher education institutions that receive federal funds. The rules and regulations associated with this law are the guidelines by which the university is held accountable for non-discriminatory behavior towards individuals with disabilities. These rules and regulations went into effect in 1977 after several demonstrations by people with disabilities who took over federal buildings across the country. The protest was specifically over the publishing delay of these rules and regulations.

The ADA, or Americans with Disabilities Act, and its amendments, represent federal legislation that reinforces the requirements that ensure the university does not discriminate, based on disability, against qualified individuals who have disabilities. It was signed into law in 1990. The non-discrimination obligations of the ADA are patterned after the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504. Both acts stress providing equally effective access to all university programs.

Students who meet the basic requirements (otherwise qualified) of a program or activity cannot be denied access to any program or activity offered or sponsored by the university solely on the basis of disability. Eligibility criteria that screen out or tend to screen out individuals with disabilities are also not allowed UNLESS such criteria are necessary for successful participation in the program or activity.

The regulations of both acts also outline the types of auxiliary aids and/or reasonable accommodations the university is to make for qualified students with disabilities. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • moving classes/activities to accessible locations
  • providing alternatives to print material
  • allowing the tape recording of lectures
  • providing sign language or oral interpreters
  • changing the length of time for completion of assignments and other academic activities
  • providing adaptive computer equipment
  • adapting or modifying testing situations

However, accommodations are not meant to change the fundamental or essential elements of a program or activity and they are not designed to guarantee a student's success.

As defined by Section 504 and the ADA, a person with a disability is someone who currently has, has a history or record of, or is considered to have, a physical or mental impairment or condition that significantly limits a major life activity. These activities include, but are not limited to: walking, seeing, hearing, learning, breathing, etc. While some disabilities are apparent, others may not be. Verification of the presence of a disability is supported by appropriate documentation when necessary.

Although the majority of students with disabilities have permanent conditions, students with temporary disabilities may be eligible for support services depending upon the availability of resources (although not required by law). Accommodating a student with a temporary disability can aid in the retention of the student since many temporary disabilities can disrupt a student's normal functional abilities for academic activities (e.g. taking notes or writing exams due to hand surgery).

An otherwise qualified person is anyone who meets the basic requirements of a program or activity. Students with disabilities at Colorado State University have all met the basic requirements for admission to the university. Eligibility for accommodations or auxiliary aids is determined by information supplied by the student including appropriate diagnostic documentation by qualified professionals.


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