Carnegie Mellon University

To assist students with disabilities as they transition to CMU and navigate the process of meeting their physical, emotional and academic needs, we have provided the following information to frequently asked questions. In addition to the FAQ below, we strongly encourage you to know your responsibilities and those of postsecondary schools such as CMU under Section 504 and Title II. 

Yes. Section 504 and Title II protect all elementary, secondary and postsecondary students from discrimination. However, several of the requirements that apply through high school are different from the requirements that apply beyond high school. For instance, Section 504 requires a school district to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to each child with a disability in the district's jurisdiction. Whatever the disability, a school district must identify the individual's educational needs and provide any regular or special education and related aids and services necessary to meet those needs, as well as it is meeting the needs of students without disabilities.

Unlike your high school, your postsecondary school is not required to provide FAPE. Rather, your postsecondary school is required to provide appropriate academic adjustments as necessary to ensure that it does not discriminate on the basis of disability.

No. However, if you want the school to provide an academic adjustment, or to ensure that you are assigned to accessible facilities, you must identify yourself as having a disability. Disclosure of a disability is always voluntary and may be done at any time.
The appropriate academic adjustments are determined based on your disability and individual needs. Academic adjustments include reasonable modifications to non-fundamental academic requirements, and auxiliary aids and services. Adjustments may include arranging for recording devices, sign language interpreters, extended time for testing, or voice recognition or other adaptive software or hardware. In providing an academic adjustment, your postsecondary school is not required to lower or waive essential requirements. For example, although your program may be required to provide extended testing time, it is not required to change the substantive content of the test. In addition, your postsecondary school does not have to make modifications that would fundamentally alter the nature of a service, program or activity that would result in undue financial or administrative burdens. Finally, your postsecondary school does not have to provide personal attendants, individually prescribed devices, readers for personal use or study or other devices or services of a personal nature, such as tutoring and typing.

Generally, yes. Your school will likely require documentation that shows you have a disability that requires an academic adjustment.

Schools may set reasonable standards for documentation. Some schools require more documentation than others. They may require you to provide documentation prepared by an appropriate professional, such as a medical doctor, psychologist or other qualified diagnostician. The required documentation may include one or more of the following: the credentials of the professional, a diagnosis of your current disability, the date of the diagnosis, how the diagnosis was reached and how your disability affects major life activities or academic performance. The documentation should be current (within the last three years) and provide enough information for you and your school to decide on an appropriate academic adjustment.

An Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Section 504 plan may help identify services that have been effective for you. However, this is generally insufficient documentation. Postsecondary education presents different demands than high school education and what you need to meet these new demands may be different. Also, in some cases, the nature of a disability may change.

If your documentation does not meet the postsecondary school's requirements, a school official must tell you in a timely manner what additional documentation you need to provide. You may need a new evaluation in order to provide the required documentation.

Neither your high school nor your postsecondary school is required to conduct or pay for a new evaluation to document your disability and need for an academic adjustment. This may mean that you have to pay or otherwise find funding for the evaluation. If you are eligible for services through your state vocational rehabilitation agency, you may qualify for an evaluation at no cost to you. You may locate your state vocational rehabilitation agency through the Department of Education's Rehabiltation Services Administration.

If the initial documentation is incomplete or inadequate to determine the extent of the disability, Disability Resources may require additional documentation. Any cost associated with obtaining additional documentation is also borne by the student. If the Office of Disability Resources desires a second professional opinion, our office bears the cost.

The school will review your request, and the essential requirements for the relevant program, to determine an appropriate academic adjustment. If you have requested a specific academic adjustment, the school may offer that academic adjustment or a comparable alternative. While your school will work with you to identify an appropriate academic adjustment, you should not expect your postsecondary school to invite your parents to participate in the process or to develop an IEP for you.
Let the school know as soon as you become aware that the results are not what you expected. It may be too late to correct the problem if you wait until the course or activity is completed. You and your school should work together to resolve the problem.
No, there are no additional fees for services. Furthermore, no postsecondary school may charge students with disabilities more than other students to participate in its programs or activities.

Practically every postsecondary school must have an employee—frequently called the Section 504 Coordinator, ADA Coordinator, or Disability Services Coordinator—who coordinates the school's compliance with Section 504 and Title II laws. You should contact this person for information about how to address your concerns.

The school also must have grievance procedures that allow you to raise your concerns fully and fairly, and must provide for the prompt and equitable resolution of complaints. School publications, such as student handbooks, usually describe the steps you must take to start the grievance process.

If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of your school's grievance procedures, or you wish to pursue an alternative action, you may file a complaint against the school with the Office of Civil Rights or in a court of law.