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Frequently Asked Questions

Our Mission

Southern Adventist University values diversity and inclusion within its campus community and seeks to provide an affirming environment for all its students. Disability Support Services (DSS) facilitates equal access to Southern's learning community for students who have documented disabilities or suspected learning differences.  DSS promotes student responsibility and self-advocacy and provides relevant information to faculty and staff with Christ-like support and compassion. You are an important part of the Southern family and we are here to support you in your success.

Disability is defined under Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  According to these laws, no “otherwise” qualified person with a disability shall, solely by reason of their disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity of a public entity.

“Qualified” with respect to post-secondary education, means “a person who meets the academic and technical standards requisite to admission or participation in the education program or activity.

“Disability” a condition that significantly impacts your ability to think, eat, breathe, walk, work, see, speak, learn, etc.

  • A disability is a condition that can substantially impact your ability to:
    • breathe
    • hear
    • learn
    • perform manual tasks
    • see
    • speak
    • take care of yourself
    • walk
    • work
  • It could include conditions like:
    • attention deficit disorders (e.g., ADHD)
    • autism spectrum disorder
    • chronic medical conditions
    • learning disabilities
    • mental health disorders
    • neurological disorders
    • orthopedic conditions
    • sensory conditions (hearing/vision)
    • traumatic brain injury

No, the admissions process and criteria are the same for all students applying to Southern. Disability status is not a consideration in the admissions process.

No, documentation should be submitted to DSS only after you have been admitted to Southern and have decided to attend.

Yes, we are happy to meet with you to answer general questions about disability services and accommodations here at Southern. Call us to schedule and in person or virtual meeting.

Fill out and submit the forms
Provide us with a copy of any information or documentation you have. Review our documentation guidelines to learn what information is helpful to share. If you have not had any testing, please fill out and provide us with your autobiography, (see forms.) Students with a disability or suspected disability should schedule an appointment with DSS as soon as possible and not delay meeting out of concern for not having the correct (or any) documentation.  Our priority is to meet with you and provide accommodations as soon as possible. Provisional accommodations may be provided to allow time to procure any needed documentation

Make an appointment with DSS
Make an appointment to schedule a meeting with the Disability Support Coordinator (DSC) to discuss the impact of your disability, meetings may be in person or virtual.

If you are requesting accommodations or services, it is helpful for us to hear from you as early as possible. Certain accommodations can take a few weeks and others rely on making advance arrangements with your professor. The sooner we start working with you on an accommodation plan, the more likely it will be in place by the time you need it.  If you are experiencing difficulties, due to a disability or possible disability, please contact our office to discuss options.  If you would like to request disabilities services or accommodations, please follow the steps to register with our office.  Our goal is to understand how your disability impacts you so that an appropriate plan can be developed. We value hearing your experiences, history, and perspective. In addition, any form of documentation or information that you can provide can help us in working with you to develop an accommodation plan.

Examples of Helpful Documentation or Information

  • Educational records, such as a high school accommodation plan (IEP, 504 plan, etc.)
  • Neuro-psychological or educational evaluation
  • Medical records
  • Statement from a health, mental health, or other service provider
  • Audiology report and/or Vision assessment
  • Vocational assessment
  • Proof of accommodations used on standardized exams (SAT, ACT, etc.)
You must register with DSS before receiving accommodations and may need supporting documentation from your health care provider.
DSS does not assist with things like: typing homework assignments, personal assistance (e.g., laundry), or transportation to off-campus medical appointments. 

I am not sure if I have a disability, what do I do?
We ask that you provide us with your autobiography (see forms), this helps us understand you a bit more, as well as understanding what may be taking place.
How do I transfer my accommodations from high school to the University?
High school accommodation plan (IEP, 504, etc.) do not transfer. Please follow the steps to register with our office so we can begin working with you to develop an accommodation plan.
Can my parents fill out my documents and request accommodations on my behalf?
No, it should be completed by you, the student. You can have a parent help if assistance is needed, but we will be communicating with you regarding your request and it is important that we receive the self-disclosure form in your own words. 
What happens after I submit information?
Give us a call to schedule an appointment to discuss your access needs.
What services will I be eligible for?
Appropriate reasonable accommodations are determined on an individual basis and are based on each student's unique situation.

Do I need to re-register every semester?
Yes, at the beginning of each new semester you must request your LOAs in order to receive academic accommodations. Keep in mind that different classes may require different accommodations.  If you are seeking new and/or different accommodations, be sure to schedule an appointment to come in and discuss your needs.

What is available?
Our office works with students to provide them with equitable access.  There are not certain services or accommodations that are automatically granted.  There are many factors that go into this, including the types of courses you are taking and the impact of your condition or disability. 
Are services through DSS free?
DSS does not charge for accommodations. However, you are responsible for aids or assistance of a personal nature such as wheelchairs, hearing aids, computers to be used at home, or attendants for services of a personal nature. 
Does DSS provide tutoring?
No but there are a number of tutoring resources available.
Who will know about my disability if I register with DSS?
The accommodation process may require that we disclose your accommodation needs (though, not your disability) to certain faculty or staff members who are helping to implement your accommodations. This is only done when needed. We recognize your right to determine who receives this information and your right to confidentiality. Your disability-related records are not stored in any central student database at the university, only within our office. 
Do I need to tell my professor about my disability or diagnosis?
You are not obligated to disclose what your disability is to your professor or other course staff. If you receive academic accommodations, you will need to provide your professor your LOA, which will detail your accommodations, but will not state what your disability is. Students are encouraged to speak with their professors about their accommodations, to ensure there is a clear, mutual understanding of the requested accommodations.

Will my disability or accommodations appear on my transcript?
Your disability-status or registration with our office will never appear on your University transcript or any other official document from the registrar’s office, neither will your accommodations.

Students With Disabilites Have The Right To:

  • Equal access to courses, programs and services offered through the University.
  • Reasonable accommodations and adjustments which will be provided when needed to achieve equal access.
  • Choose whether they want to use an approved accommodation.
  • All other rights and privileges available to other students at Southern.
Students With Disabilities Have The Responsibility To:
  • Meet qualifications and maintain essential institutional standards for courses.
  • Self-identify as an individual with a disability when an accommodation is needed and to seek information and assistance as necessary and in a timely fashion.
  • Provide documentation (from an appropriate professional) on the manner in which the disability limits participation in courses.
  • Follow University procedures for obtaining reasonable accommodations.
  • Inform DSS of any concerns over classroom accommodations, disparate or disparaging treatment related to disability, or access issues on campus as soon as the issue arises.

The University Has The Right To:

  • Identify and establish essential functions, abilities, skills, knowledge, requirements, and standards for courses and programs, and to evaluate students on this basis.
  • Request and receive, through DSS, current documentation that supports requests for accommodations.
  • Deny a request for accommodations if the documentation demonstrates that the request is not warranted, or if student fails to provide appropriate documentation.
  • Select among equally effective accommodations and adjustments.
  • Refuse an unreasonable accommodation that imposes a fundamental alteration of a program.
The University Has The Responsibility To:
  • Provide information to students with disabilities in accessible formats upon request.
  • Ensure that courses, when viewed in their entirety, are available in the most integrated and appropriate settings.
  • Evaluate students on their abilities and not their disabilities.
  • Provide or arrange for reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities in courses.
  • Maintain appropriate confidentiality of records and communication except where permitted or required by law or when the student requests that such information be shared.

What should professors do if a student who has accommodations is not attending class regularly?
All students should be held to the same standard with respect to class attendance. Please contact DSS if you have questions or concerns about how to appropriately assist a student who has an accommodation indicating that they may need to be unexpectedly absent due to disability.

What is the professor’s responsibility when a student has testing accommodations listed in their LOA?
Students may choose not to utilize the accommodations even though they are approved for them. If students choose to use their testing accommodations, they are responsible for making arrangements with professors and scheduling their tests with DSS, at least seven days in advance.  Once a student has scheduled to take an exam at DSS, you will receive a form to be filled out by you with regards to time and other issues, as well as instructions for testing.

What happens when professors refer a student to DSS for potential learning or attention difficulties?
Upon referral, DSS will reach out to the student.  If students comes in, DSS will discuss with them their needs and provide information about other campus resources.

I am aware that the student has a disability because he/she presented me an LOA at the beginning of the semester, but I'm concerned about their behavior.  How do I handle the disruptive behavior?
Standards of conduct for students are outlined in the Student Handbook, and all students should be held to the same standards of conduct.

For requests involving an emotional support animal (ESA), please be aware that we may have specific forms and deadlines for submission of paperwork.