Student Rights, Roles, and Responsibilities

DigiPen Institute of Technology wishes to promote an atmosphere of independence for all students, including those students with disabilities. We want to encourage students with disabilities to become advocates for themselves. Students are expected to notify the DSS Office of their need to be accommodated. Once approved, students are given official letters of request to be hand delivered to each instructor. A file copy of each letter is retained for disability records.  Students are expected to file accommodation requests for each and every semester, far enough in advance to allow time for planning and consultation.  Questions pertaining to accommodation should be addressed to the DSS Coordinator. To further that mission, here are some guidelines for the student’s rights and responsibilities:

Rights:

  • Having access to equal opportunities to be academically successful at DigiPen regardless of disability, according to the law.
  • Receiving reasonable accommodations in order to be provided with equal opportunity.
  • Having access to auxiliary aids/assistive technology available as to other students.
  • Being protected from discrimination due to a disability or any retaliatory discrimination, as addressed by law.

Responsibilities:

  • Identifying themselves to the DSS Office.
  • Actively participating in an intake interview and other meetings with the DSS Coordinator.
  • Assuming personal responsibility for meeting with faculty and requesting additional assistance.
  • Notifying the DSS Office when there are problems receiving the requested accommodations.
  • Adhering to all policies regarding academic conduct, which apply equally to all students, regardless of disability.
  • Meeting and maintaining academic standards, which have been established by DigiPen and applicable departments (with appropriate accommodations where needed).
  • Providing current disability documentation to the DSS Office.
  • Following all directions and adhering to all timelines when requesting accommodations. Failure to alert appropriate staff in a timely manner may result in significant obstacles to the provision of necessary accommodations for students.
  • Becoming aware of their rights as students and learn to advocate for themselves.

Requesting Accommodations

Students who wish to request accommodations must act on their own initiative and self-identify to the DSS Office. You can contact the DSS Office by email or phone to schedule an in-person intake appointment. DSS will work collaboratively with you in determining appropriate and helpful accommodations and auxiliary aids.

Steps for requesting classroom or testing accommodations:

  1. Email or call the DSS Office and identify as a student with a disability who would like to schedule an intake appointment for needed accommodations.  
  2. Provide medical/clinical documentation from a qualified professional, regarding the disability. Please refer to “Documentation Requirements,” below, for more information.  
  3. Print and complete the Accommodation Request Form, Intake Form, and Student Responsibility Agreement Form to bring to your intake appointment. 
  4. Supply faculty with your accommodation letter for the current semester and discuss with them your accommodation needs. Students must request accommodations each semester.
  5. Utilize the accommodation(s) the DSS Office has determined to be suitable.

Students may request accommodations at any time. However, it can take time to make the needed arrangements and, without adequate preparation time for DSS, the accommodation may not be in place when the student needs it. For this reason, the DSS Office strongly encourages students to request accommodations 5 – 6 weeks before the semester starts.

Accommodations are not retroactive. An accommodation will not go into effect until the student has furnished faculty with a copy of the DSS letter listing the approved accommodation/s, and discussed accommodation needs.

If an accommodation is not working, or if any problems or concerns arise, students should contact the DSS Office staff immediately.

DigiPen will not provide academic adjustments or auxiliary aids and services if such provision would fundamentally alter the nature of the program or the academic requirements that are considered essential to a program of study or to meet licensing requirements.


Documentation Guidelines

Students must provide current documentation from a qualified professional, such as a physician, clinical psychologist, or psychiatrist.

Students must furnish documentation sufficient for the DSS Office to make its determinations. This may involve acquiring additional, or more up-to-date, documentation. The age of acceptable documentation will vary depending on the student’s disability. For example, older documentation may be appropriate for conditions that are permanent, while the DSS Office may request more recent documentation for changing conditions and/or changes in how the condition impacts the student over time.

Documentation from the qualified professional must indicate that the student meets the necessary criteria for the diagnosis of a physical or psychological impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, as defined by the ADA. In an academic setting, the disability must substantially limit the student’s ability to participate equally in activities associated with learning and/or the demonstration of specific skills or knowledge.

The documentation must establish the student’s eligibility for accommodation/s, and include, at a minimum:

  • Date of the evaluation;
  • Description of the disability;
  • Current impact of the disability – in the educational setting;
  • Past use and effectiveness of any accommodations;
  • Recommendations for accommodations that are logically related to the impact described;
  • Credentials and contact information of the evaluator.

If the submitted documentation is incomplete, or does not support the student’s request for accommodation/s, the DSS Office may ask the student to provide additional information. Please be aware that many IEP (Individualized Education Program) and 504 (Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act) plans from a school district will not be sufficient for DSS purposes. Students who do not have documentation, or are unsure of the documentation needed, are encouraged to contact the DSS staff to explore options for support.

DigiPen will make all final determinations regarding reasonable accommodations.


Accommodations

The DSS Office will, in collaboration with students, make every effort to implement reasonable and effective accommodations for eligible students in order to assure equal access to educational opportunities. Requests for accommodations that fundamentally alter the college’s programs or requirements will be denied.  

Students are responsible for meeting with faculty to discuss accommodations and to work out the details of such accommodations prior to needing them, wherever prior notice was given by faculty or where the student had reason to believe an accommodation might be needed (e.g., before an in-class quiz). 

Accommodations are not retroactive; they do not go into effect until students have furnished faculty with a copy of the DSS Office letter listing approved accommodations, and have discussed accommodation needs with faculty. 

Students and faculty should discuss how best to arrange accommodations for each situation. Students and faculty are encouraged to contact the DSS Office staff if consultation is needed regarding accommodations.


Confidentiality of Information

Information presented to the DSS Office in support of a student’s request for accommodation is considered private and sensitive and will be handled accordingly. This information becomes part of the students’ FERPA record; as such, disability-related information will be shared with other institutional personnel only when there is a legitimate educational interest.

The DSS Office is responsible for receiving and holding students’ disability-related information in order to guard against the unintentional disclosure of sensitive information. If a student wishes to have information about disabilities shared with third parties outside DigiPen, the student must provide written authorization to the DSS Office before DSS will release the information. 

The DSS Office destroys documentation and other disability-related information seven years after a student leaves the college.


Grievance Procedures

Students wishing to request reconsideration of accommodation decisions and/or implementation should first engage the person who is responsible for the object of the grievance informally, to attempt to resolve the problem.

If a faculty member does not agree with an accommodation assigned to a student, the faculty member must communicate with the DSS Office first. Until and only if DSS decides otherwise, the faculty member must continue to provide the assigned accommodation.  

If a student or faculty member’s grievance regarding an accommodation cannot be resolved informally, formal complaints should be addressed to the Director of the DSS Office, according to the following process:

  1. Students and faculty file a complaint by completing the Disability Grievance form within 14 days of the alleged issue. Forms are available at the DSS Office. The completed Disability Grievance form should be submitted to the Director of the DSS Office.
  1. If appropriate, an investigation shall follow the filing of a complaint by the Disability Appeals Committee, led by the Dean of Students. The Committee shall interview all involved entities and ask them to submit evidence relative to the complaint.
  1. The Disability Appeals Committee shall issue a written description of the findings of the investigation and notify the student and faculty member in writing within 14 days of the form submission. 
  1. A request for reconsideration of the findings may be made to the Dean of Students within 14 days of the Committee’s findings.

The DSS Office shall maintain the files and records of complaints filed. 

The faculty member must continue to provide the assigned accommodation until the Committee finalizes the investigation.  

The DSS Office recommends using the above grievance procedure; however, students and faculty may file a grievance with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) at any time at the following address:

Office for Civil RightsU.S. Department of Education

Seattle Office
915 Second Avenue Room 3310
Seattle, WA 98174-1099

Telephone: 206-220-7900
FAX: 206-220-7887;

TDD: 877-521-2172
Email: OCR.Seattle@ed.gov


Additional Resources for Students