Policies & Procedures

I. Introduction

A. It is the policy of Northwest Nazarene University (NNU) that no qualified persons with disabilities shall, on the basis of disability, be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination under any of its programs or activities. Any qualified student who has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of major life activities, such as walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and/or working, can receive assistance at NNU as provided in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the applicable provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The Academic Advising Office serves as the campus contact for disability related needs that a student may have.

B. A qualified student is defined is one who, with or without reasonable accommodation, meets the requisite academic and technical standards required for admission or participation in educational programs and activities.

C. NNU adheres to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the applicable provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 to provide requested auxiliary aids, services, and support for disabled students as specified by those legal mandates where necessary to afford such students an equal opportunity to participate in and enjoy the benefits of its programs and services. The university encourages disabled students or their parents to contact the Financial Aid office (208-467-8638) if special arrangements are needed in regard to financial aid advising. If special housing arrangements are needed, the disabled students or their parents contact the Director of Academic Advising, who collaborates with Residence Life to ensure housing arrangements are made appropriately. 

D. The office of Academic Advising makes available reasonable accommodations to students who submit appropriate documentation related to disabilities. This documentation is placed on file in the office of Academic Advising and the professional standards of confidentiality are maintained. Academic Advising attempts to ensure, through the implementation of accommodations, that discrimination on the basis of disability does not occur within any campus of NNU.

E. It is the responsibility of all faculty, staff, administrators, Academic Advising personnel, and students with disabilities to follow these stated policies and procedures in order to ensure that students are serviced in the most effective manner possible.

F. Inquiries concerning Disability Services for prospective students can be emailed, mailed, or called in to the office of Academic Advising, in care of Professor Heidi Tracht, Director of Academic Advising & Testing (208-467-8780, htracht(at)nnu.edu, or disabilityservices(at)nnu.edu). Written notification and/or documentation can accompany the health form after admission has occurred. Students must self identify for receipt of information or services from Academic Advising.

II. Documentation of Disability

A. NNU makes no preadmission inquiries as to whether a prospective student is disabled, and does not make admission decisions on the basis of disability or lack thereof. Accordingly, no documentation relating to disability should be submitted until after a student has been admitted. Following admission, in order to be eligible for Disability Services, a student must submit to the office of Academic Advising qualifying documentation of disability and come to Academic Advising to complete the respective NNU forms that apply to a student's particular accommodations. 

B. A student's documentation that verifies the existence of a disability must be submitted from a qualified professional and should include the date(s) of the evaluation, the diagnosis, reference to the types of evaluation procedures utilized and the evaluation results/scores (as appropriate), and limitations of student functioning (especially as related to the higher education environment). Recommendations and rationale for accommodations are helpful in assisting institutional personnel in determining appropriate and necessary support. 

C. The documentation must be current, giving an accurate picture of how the disability impacts the student at this point in time. In most cases, documentation should be less than five years old. For psychiatric disabilities the documentation should be current within the past year, with updates provided (as appropriate) during a student’s enrollment at NNU.

D. The documentation must be written by a professional who is licensed or credentialed to make the particular diagnosis (such as a physician, psychiatrist, or psychologist) and this professional must provide the written information designated above.

E. Confidentiality of documentation files is strictly maintained in the Academic Advising office. Access to files is available only to personnel in the office of Academic Advising who directly provide Disability Services. When the Admissions office, the Wellness Center, non-traditional programs, and graduate offices receive any documentation of disability, the documentation is sent directly to the Academic Advising office. All information regarding disability that is provided for purposes of triggering support/accommodation is to be held exclusively in the Academic Advising office.

III. NNU Assignment of Accommodation Form

A. Once Disability Services in the office of Academic Advising has received the documentation, the Accommodations Review Committee completes the NNU Assignment of Accommodation form, with consideration given to recommendations for reasonable accommodations made by the professional who evaluated the student.

B. The reasonable accommodations that are provided to the student by NNU will be listed on this form. The office personnel work together with the student to make arrangements for accommodations to be implemented in each course for each semester in a manner that enables the student to satisfactorily complete the course objectives.

C. Institutional commitment for services provided by NNU will be outlined in the NNU Assignment of Accommodation form. In that Academic Advising authorizes the institutional commitment for specific accommodations assigned to each individual disability student, any department or office at NNU who interacts with a disabled student concerning disabilities must consult with the Director of Academic Advising on issues related to institutional commitment for accommodations for each student.

D. Students are notified when the documentation arrives in Academic Advising. Current students whose documentation arrives during a semester are encouraged to come to Academic Advising to fill out applicable forms subsequent to the arrival. Incoming students and returning clients are encouraged to fill out the respective forms the day before classes begin each semester.

IV. Types of Reasonable Accommodations Provided

A. Audio Textbooks - Students who have documented needs for auditory access of textbook material may have textbooks provided in audio format. After the documentation arrives, students are encouraged to complete the appropriate forms at least three weeks before the semester begins in order to assure access of this service in a timely fashion. The Audio Textbooks forms describe the process and policies for effective access to this accommodation in detail. Priority will be established based upon the earliest receipt of documentation and returned forms.

B. Student Note Taker in Class - Students who have documented needs for assistance with hand written notes in class may receive notes that are taken by another student in class. There are forms that a disabled student completes, preferably the day before classes begin, in order to access this service. These forms inform the professor of the service that is being provided, and specifies the process for the reproduction of the notes. Enlarged notes can be provided. 

C. Alternative Testing - Students who have documented needs for extended time on tests, rest breaks, oral testing, or testing in a non-distracting environment may have tests administered in an alternate location selected by the professor or in the Academic Advising office. There are forms that are used to access this service, which specify the process and policies in detail. One of the forms is designed to inform professors of the process as well. Students are encouraged to start the process of completing the forms the day before classes begin in order to coordinate the process in a timely fashion with professors' schedules.

D. Tutoring – Academic tutoring is a service that is available to all students on the main campus in traditional undergraduate programs who desire assistance with study skills, time management, or some general education courses. Tutors are student employees hired by the office of Academic Support who are trained to assist peers academically. Students make appointments with tutors by phone or in person. Disabled students are encouraged to make use of this resource. Students in the nontraditional and graduate programs follow the procedures for this type of assistance as outlined by those programs.

E. Supplemental Instruction (SI) - SI is provided for all students enrolled in the courses with SI attached in the traditional undergraduate programs. An SI Leader is a student employee hired by the office of Academic Support who has excelled in the designated course previously. The SI Leader holds group study sessions for specific courses. Disabled students are encouraged to attend any SI sessions available.

F. Other Accommodations - The list above represents the typical types of academic accommodations that are available to students at NNU. The reasonable accommodations that are not listed above are addressed on an individualized basis. NNU cannot provide attendants, individually prescribed devises, readers for personal use or study, or other devices or servers of a personal nature.

V. Self-Advocacy and Accessing Services

A. Self-Advocacy is an important aspect of Disability Services in higher education. In grade school and high school, services are typically provided with minimal student self-advocacy. In higher education, students must request the reasonable accommodations provided in the NNU Assignment of Accommodation form.

B. It is the student's responsibility to provide the Academic Advising office with appropriate documentation, to identify the services that he/she desires that are provided in the NNU Assignment of Accommodation form, and to request these services personally each semester. A student makes an official request when the designated forms are filled out for standard accommodations, or a written request is approved for individualized accommodations that are not standardized. 

C. When new documentation is submitted to Disability Services in the office of Academic Advising, the student is informed of its arrival. The student is encouraged to come to Academic Advising to discuss the contents of the documentation, the arrangements to be made for each course, and the processes for accessing the reasonable accommodations that are recommended.

D. It is the student's responsibility to communicate with each of his/her professors concerning disability related issues in the respective courses, preferably prior to the beginning of each semester. Forms are provided by Academic Advising that verifies a disability and that assist in this communication process with professors for the designated accommodations. Academic Advising employees are available to assist professors and disabled students with unusual situations that may arise.

E. Students who suspect that they have an undiagnosed disability may consult with the Director of Academic Advising for referral of qualified professional evaluators.

F. Professors are not obligated to provide accommodations for a student if the student does not follow the appropriate steps for receiving accommodations.

VI. Course Substitution Requests

A. A qualified student for admission to an NNU major, minor, or program of study is defined as one who, with or without reasonable accommodation, meets the requisite academic and technical standards required for admission or participation in a post secondary institution program and activities. 

B. If a disabled student (1) encounters a course that has objectives that he/she is unable to meet due to disability, even with reasonable accommodations, and (2) has substantial evidence that the same objectives of a major, minor, or program of study can be satisfied by an alternate course, then the student can make a course substitution request to Academic Advising.

C. A student may make a course substitution request by submitting the following information in writing: (1) the documentation relevant to the request, demonstrating the disability-related need for the substitution, (2) justification for regarding the request as reasonable, and (3) supporting evidence that the same objective of a major, minor, or program of study can be satisfied by an alternate course.

D. The Director of Academic Advising coordinates a collaborative process with the student, the chair of the department of the student, and the chair of the department that offers the course (if different from the student's departmental chair) to determine if the course substitution substantially alters the program of study. After a deliberation process, the departmental chair(s) will make the final decision concerning course substitution requests. 

E. Course substitutions are made only after every other option has been explored thoroughly, and the course substitution appears to be the most effective means for achieving the objectives of a major, minor, or program of study for that particular individual.

VIII. Appropriate Use of Disability Services or Institutional Policy

A. Students who request accommodations for the CLEP exam at NNU must have the documentation of the disability approved by the Accommodations Review Committee of Disability Services. The documentation must meet the standards described above. 

B. The student who requests accommodations on a CLEP exam should make the request to the testing office at least six weeks prior to the scheduled date of the exam.

C. To make the request, the student fills out the Request for CLEP Accommodations form available in the Academic Advising and Testing Office. Once the student has made the request, the office of Academic Advising will inform the student in a timely manner if the request is granted.

IX. Service Animals and Therapy Pet Policy

A. NNU policy in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA will permit service animals (such as guide dogs for blind or helper dogs for persons in wheelchairs) with proper documentation. NNU however will not permit therapy pets on campus in consideration of the health and safety of other students. In unusual circumstances, NNU may waive this requirement and permit a student who needs a therapy pet to live off campus in a home or apartment that does allow animals, but the animal is not allowed in the classroom or at official functions of the university (such as Chapel). All off campus locations of NNU will permit service animals in the same manner as the main campus.

B. An NNU student must provide a written request prior to bringing a service animal on campus, and the Accommodations Review Committee has several factors to consider before making a decision:

  • Does this student have a disability as defined by law?
  • What are this person’s functional limitations?
  • How is the institution going to provide equal educational opportunities?
  • What is the intuition doing to provide the student equal access?

C. There are additional steps to determine if a request for an animal is merited, using the same criteria for other types of accommodations:

  • The student must present up-to-date documentation of the disability, as described above.
  • The documentation should have a diagnosis from an appropriate medical provider, the credentials of the medical provider doing the diagnosis, and criteria used to assess the impact of the disability.
  • The Accommodations Review Committee will determine what accommodations can be provided to meet the student’s educational goals without the animal.
  • The Accommodations Review Committee will generate input from those who will be affected by the committee’s decision, such as Residence Life.
  • The Accommodations Review Committee will clarify with faculty members and Residence Life the guidelines and boundaries of the service animal.
  • The Accommodations Review Committee will determine if the service animal must meet a specific need of the disabled student and the service animal must be a necessary accommodation for completing the education.

D. Students are expected to provide appropriate care of the service animal, and appropriate action will be taken if the student does not provide appropriate care. Students are expected to consult with Student Development for assisting with daily needs of the service animal, so as not to disrupt institutional policies and procedures. Students are expected to ensure that service animals’ behavior is under control and do not disrupt the classroom environment, the living environment, or other students on campus.

X. Appropriate Use of Disability Services or Institutional Policy

A. Students with disabilities have the responsibility to adhere to the same academic standards, behavioral expectations, and ethical conduct as all other students on campus. Students who use Disability Services must follow the Disability Services Policies and Procedures of the Academic Advising office so that services can be provided in the most effective manner possible. 

B. All course requirements, as stated in course syllabi, are required by students with disabilities, subject to reasonable accommodations which do not substantially alter the course requirements or expectations.

C. Reasonable accommodations cannot substantively change a course. The boundaries of substantive change are at the discretion of the professor. Arrangements for accommodations must be made in a timely manner so that professors have adequate preparation time for reasonable adjustments.

XI. Resolution of Grievances

 A. If a student has reason to believe that he/she has been denied equal access to any NNU program, service, or activity due to disability, first he/she is encouraged to attempt a resolution of the concerns independently by initiating a meeting with the staff member, faculty member, administrator, or student with whom there is a concern or disagreement. Many times when both parties have the advantage of directly sharing their concerns, the matter can be resolved without further assistance.

B. If independent resolution is not satisfactory, and the student believes that his/her rights as defined under Section 504 of the Rehabilitations Act of 1973 or the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 have been denied, the student should submit a written account of the situation to the Director of Academic Advising. The report should be submitted immediately after the independent resolution process has been attempted, but in no case more than 30 days.

C. If a faculty member has questions, concerns, or objections to any accommodation of any student with a disability, the faculty member should discuss the issues with the Director of Academic Advising. The Director of Academic Advising will assist the faculty member in resolving the issue in a satisfactory manner so that course requirements or expectations are not substantially altered.

D. If a student disagrees with the denial of an accommodation, or if a student believes that a given accommodation is inappropriate, then the student may file an Academic Appeal through the Registrar's Office according to the policy listed below:

Academic Appeals Policy

Informal Appeal to Faculty Member. A student who believes that a faculty member has taken an adverse action against the student shall discuss the problem through an informal meeting with the appropriate member of the faculty. Such informal meeting need not be reduced to writing, and does not require a written decision from the faculty member. Any student who believes that the outcome of the informal meeting results in a decision of the faculty member which constitutes an adverse action may initiate a First Appeal by filing a timely notice of appeal with the faculty member's Department Chair or Program Director. Any failure by the student to bring such a first appeal within twenty-one days of the adverse action shall be deemed to be (a) a waiver by the student of any further appeal; and (b) a final action by the University.

First Appeal to Department Chair or Program Director. If a student is dissatisfied with the resolution determined by the faculty member under the Informal Appeal described above, the student may pursue a First Appeal, but only if the student files a Notice of Appeal with the Faculty Member's Department Chair or Program Director within twenty-one days of the adverse action. Any such first appeal shall be determined by the Department Chair or the Program Director. The Chair or Director shall provide the student notice of a hearing (if any) regarding such First Appeal, and shall issue a written decision regarding such First Appeal within seven days of the Chair's or Director's receipt of the Notice of Appeal or the hearing, whichever is later. Any failure by the student to timely file such a Notice of Appeal shall be deemed to be (a) a waiver of any further appeal; and (b) a final action by the University.

Second Appeal to Academic Unit Dean. If a student is dissatisfied with the decision rendered by the Department Chair or Program Director of the the department of the University within which the appeal is taken, the student may pursue a Second Appeal to the Academic Unit Dean, but only if the student files a Notice of Appeal with the Academic Unit Dean within seven days of entry of the written decision of the first appeal. Any such Second Appeal shall be determined by the Academic Unit Dean. The Academic Unit Dean shall provide the student notice of a hearing (if any) regarding such Second Appeal, and, if a hearing occurs, shall issue a written decision regarding such Second Appeal within seven days of such hearing. Any failure by the student to timely file such a Notice of Appeal shall be deemed to be (a) a waiver of any further appeal; and (b) a final action by the University.

Third and Final Appeal. If a student is dissatisfied with the decision rendered by the Unit Dean, the student may pursue a Third and Final Appeal, but only if the student files a Notice of Appeal with the Vice President for Academic Affairs within seven days of entry of the written decision of the Second Appeal. Within seven days of notice of the appeal the VPAA shall inform the Academic Unit Dean of the appeal. The Academic Unit Dean shall appoint an Academic Appeals Committee and appoint a chair. the Third and Final Appeal shall be determined by the Academic Appeals Committee. The chair of the Academic Appeals Committee shall provide the student notice of a hearing (if any) regarding such Third and Final Appeal, and the Academic Appeals Committee shall issue a written decision regarding such Third and Final Appeal within fifteen days of such hearing. Any decision by the Academic Appeals Committee shall constitute the final action of the University regarding the Academic Appeal.