At UMA, Effective Learning & Student Success is the department which is responsible for providing necessary accommodations to students with disabilities in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
UMA complies with all laws which define the rights of individuals with disabilities, and makes reasonable efforts to accommodate specific academic needs. Students with disabilities who apply to the University are admitted through the same admissions process, and must meet the same admission standards, as other students. It is the student’s responsibility to request support through contact with the Department of Effective Learning & Student Success, or their local Coordinator of Student Services.
It is important to note that the laws and procedures which govern support for students with disabilities are different in college than in high school. Colleges do not offer special education, rather they provide accommodations. An accommodation is any change in the learning environment or in the way things are customarily done that enables a person with a disability to have equitable access to the University experience.
Accommodations may vary according to the specific requirements of a course or activity; therefore, an accommodation request must be made by the student prior to each new semester, or desired participation in University sponsored events. Students are encouraged to request course accommodations as soon as they know their class schedule for the upcoming term. Accommodations may take several weeks to implement.
University of Maine System Guidelines for Documentation of a Learning Disability
The campuses of the University of Maine System are committed to providing equal access to campus programs and activities for qualified persons with disabilities. A qualified individual is a person who, with or without reasonable accommodations, can meet established criteria applied to all students for participation in campus programs and activities.
In order to determine if an individual is entitled to these protections the campuses of the University of Maine System require documentation that establishes the presence of a learning disability; and provides sufficient information to describe the likely impact of the learning disability on the individual’s participation in the learning process as well as other campus programs and activities.
Documentation consisting only of a diagnosis, case or chart notes, and/or prescription notations is unacceptable. Copies of IEPs and Section 504 plans may be informative, but are not sufficient documentation to support accommodation.
Individuals conducting evaluation and rendering diagnosis must have appropriate qualifications. Documentation typically would be provided by certified and/or licensed school psychologists, clinical psychologists, neuropsychologists, learning disability specialists, or other professionals with specific certification and experience in the identification of learning disabilities.
The University has final authority for determining accommodations. This decision is based on the nature of the course or program, and specifics of the individual’s disability-related needs. Accommodations do not include interventions that are remedial or needed for personal care or study.
Documentation of a Learning Disability must include:
- Relevant Historical Information
A summary of background information includes relevant developmental, medical and educational histories.
Testing must be current, generally within the past three years, in order that accommodations are appropriately suited to the current impact of the disability.Testing must be comprehensive. It is not acceptable to administer only one test for the purpose of diagnosis or establishing that substantial limitation exists. Minimally, domains to be addressed must include but are not limited to:
- Aptitude: The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale III (WAIS lll) with subtest scores is the preferred instrument. Other acceptable instruments include: The Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational Battery lll: Tests of Cognitive Ability or the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale: Fourth Edition. (The Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test (KBIT) is NOT a comprehensive measure and therefore is NOT suitable).
- Achievement: Current levels of functioning in reading, mathematics and written language are required. Acceptable instruments include the Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational Battery lll: Tests of Achievement; Wechsler Individual Achievement Test ll (WIAT ll); Stanford Test of Academic Skills (TASK); Scholastic Abilities Test for Adults (SATA); or specific achievement tests such as the Test of Written Language 3 (TOWL 3), Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests – Revised, and the Stanford Diagnostic Mathematics Test. (The Wide Range Achievement Test 3, WRAT 3, and the Mini-Battery of Achievement, MBA, are NOT comprehensive measures of achievement and therefore are NOT suitable.)
- Information Processing: Specific areas of information processing (e.g., short and long term memory; sequential memory; auditory and visual perception/processing; processing speed) must be assessed. Information from subtests on the WAIS-lll, the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Ability, or the Detroit Tests of Learning Aptitude-Adult (DTLA-A), as well as other instruments relevant to the presenting learning problem(s) may be used to address these areas.
This is not intended to be an exhaustive list or to restrict assessment in other pertinent and helpful areas such as vocational interests and aptitudes.
Standard scores are required in reporting test data. Percentiles and grade equivalents are inadequate by themselves.
- Interpretation and Diagnosis
Test scores and other information gathered through the evaluation process should be synthesized by the evaluator and provide clear and specific evidence that a learning disability does or does not exist. Evidence of a substantial limitation to learning or other major life activity must also be provided.
- Recommended Accommodations
Suggestions for appropriate auxiliary aids or services should be included. The documentation should provide a rationale substantiating the need for accommodation based on the impact of the disability. Description of accommodations and/or auxiliary aids used previously are informative, but past accommodations, especially those used in a high school environment, will not necessarily be appropriate in a university setting. Accommodations that would fundamentally alter the essential nature of a course or program will not be implemented.
- Identifying Information
Documentation must include the name and professional title(s) of the evaluator as well as the date(s) of testing. Reports must be typed on letterhead and signed by the evaluator. Handwritten scores or summary sheets are not acceptable.