Rights and Responsibilities

Educational access is the provision of classroom accommodations, auxiliary aids and services to ensure equal educational opportunities for all students regardless of disability. Creating equal educational opportunities is a collaborative effort between the student, the faculty member, and the Office for Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD).

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 protect students with disabilities from discrimination that may occur as a result of misconceptions, attitudinal barriers, and/or failure of the institution to provide appropriate accommodations, auxiliary aids, or services. Examples of accommodations and auxiliary aids include, but are not limited to: qualified interpreters, note takers, extra time for exams, and educational materials in alternate format (i.e. Braille, audiotape, electronic format, enlarged print).

Who Benefits?

  • Students with disabilities. A disability includes any physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or major life activity.
  • All Faculty and Teaching Associates. Instructors are assisted in their responsibility to teach all students in their classes and to provide equal access to education.
  • The Office for Services for Students with Disabilities. The office provides a system for service coordination in order to better meet student needs.
  • Columbia College of Chicago. By providing educational access for all students, the college meets its mandated responsibilities and enhances campus diversity.

Principles of ACCESS

A – Accessibility: Faculty members play a major role in making their classrooms accessible to all students.

C – Communication: It is imperative that students with disabilities, faculty members, and SSD communicate on a regular basis.

C – Confidentiality: All instructors and SSD staff must respect a student’s right to confidentiality.

E – Eligibility for Accommodations: SSD is the office designated to determine eligibility for federally mandated academic accommodations and services.

S – Student Responsibility: Students have a responsibility in ensuring they get the necessary services.

S – Support: Both faculty and SSD work together to support students in their legal right to access an education.

  • SSD Rights and Responsibilities

    SSD has the rights to:


    • Receive the appropriate documentation from the student prior to the services being initiated.


    • Expect students and faculty to work cooperatively with SSD to facilitate academic accommodations.
    • Deny unreasonable academic accommodations, adjustments, and/or auxiliary services. Accommodations can not impose undue hardship to, or fundamentally alter, a program or activity of the college.
    • Deny academic accommodations/services if appropriate documentation has not been provided.

    SSD has the responsibilities to:


    • Collect, evaluate, securely house disability documentation and determine eligibility for services.


    • Treat and protect all disability-related information as confidential medical information.
    • Meet with the student privately in an accessible location to discuss disability-related needs.


    • Administer exams as directed in a secure and monitored environment.
    • Provide appropriate accommodations in collaboration with the instructor and student.
    • Provide print materials in accessible format once the faculty member and student identifies them.


    • Communicate procedures clearly to the student and the faculty.


    • Assist students with disabilities in understanding their strengths and functional limitations. Provide them with the skills to become self-advocates.
  • Student Rights and Responsibilities

    Students have the right to:


    • Expect all disability-related information to be treated confidentially.


    • Receive appropriate accommodations in a timely manner from faculty or SSD. Students should have the opportunity to meet privately with faculty to discuss needed accommodations and any other concerns. Please keep in mind that SSD is the only office designated to review disability documentation and determine eligibility for appropriate accommodations.
    • Appeal decisions regarding accommodations and auxiliary aids.

    Students have the responsibility to:


    • Provide SSD with appropriate documentation of the disability.


    • Go to the instructor's office hours or make an appointment with the instructor to facilitate privacy when requesting accommodations.


    • Initiate requests for specific accommodations in a timely manner, preferably early in the semester.
    • Follow procedures with faculty and SSD in order to get the appropriate accommodations. When arranging for exam accommodations at SSD, first pick up a Test Scheduling Request Form from SSD. Then try to meet privately with the instructor to collaboratively fill out the Test Scheduling Request Form. Once the form has been completed, return it to SSD no later than 48 hours before the actual date of the exam.
    • Inform SSD of the materials you need in alternate format as soon as possible.
    • Notify faculty/SSD immediately when an accommodation is not being provided completely or correctly.
    • Notify faculty/SSD immediately when a decision has been made to not use an accommodation or the accommodation is no longer needed.
    • Provide for their own personal independent living needs or other personal disability-related needs. For example, coordinating services of personal care attendants or acquiring homework assistance are student responsibilities and are not the responsibilities of SSD.


    • Act as your own advocate. Work with SSD staff on developing advocacy skills and communicating your specific needs and accommodations to faculty.
  • Faculty Rights and Responsibilities

    Faculty have the right to:


    • Request verification of a student’s eligibility for any requested accommodations. Such verification will be in the form of a letter written by the SSD Office and delivered by the student. SSD is the only office designated to review disability documentation and determine eligibility for appropriate accommodations. Faculty should not view this documentation.


    • Expect the student to initiate accommodation requests.
    • If the student is taking their tests in the SSD Office, expect SSD to administer exams in source a secure and monitored environment.

    Faculty have the responsibility to:


    • Identify and establish essential functions, abilities, skills, and knowledge of their courses and evaluate students on this basis. Students with disabilities should meet the same course expectations as their peers.
    • Provide accommodations only to students who are registered with SSD. It is NOT your responsibility to provide accommodations to students who are not registered with SSD.
    • Use a syllabus statement and class announcements to invite students to disclose their needs. The SSD Syllabus Statement for Columbia College Chicago is as follows:
      Columbia College Chicago seeks to maintain a supportive academic environment for students with disabilities. If you need accommodations in this class, due to a disability, please present the instructor with a copy of your accommodation letter. If you currently do not have an accommodation plan with the Services for Students with Disabilities Office (SSD), please contact SSD via ssd@colum.edu, 312-369-8296, or visit the office at 623 S Wabash Ave, Ste 311 in order to create an appropriate accommodation plan to help you successfully navigate through your academic process.
    • Act immediately upon getting a student’s request for accommodations by contacting SSD (if unsure about request), by providing the service or by meeting with students to complete a Test Scheduling Request Form. The Test Scheduling Request Form is the form that facilitates exam accommodations and should be completed by the student and faculty member collaboratively. The student is responsible for returning the Form to SSD. If you have questions, contact SSD.
    • If a student needs alternative media, please provide SSD with syllabi, textbooks, course packets etc, well before classes begin to allow students with disabilities to use alternative media when all other students have course materials. With such timely consideration, students with disabilities who have alternative media needs for accommodations and instructional access will be best served. Converting print materials is both labor and time intensive. Alternative media may be print material in Braille, on audiotapes, scanned onto discs, or enlarged.
    • Work to ensure that all audio-visual materials used in class are accessible (e.g., that videos shown are captioned for students with hearing impairments and that the VCR equipment used has captioning capabilities, that videos shown will be made with auditory description in some way or that written transcripts will be provided, etc.)
    • Consider incorporating principles of Universal Design for Learning in your teaching.


    • Treat and protect all disability-related information as confidential information. For example, keep printed items, such as Test Scheduling Request Forms or Note Taker Request Forms or emails regarding student disability-related information in a protected location.


    • Clearly communicate your testing procedures with the student and with SSD by completing a Test Scheduling Request Form.
    • Consult with students with disabilities and SSD in providing appropriate accommodations.

    PLEASE NOTE: Faculty do not have the right to ask students if they have a disability. For those students with documented disabilities, faculty do NOT have the right to ask about the nature of the disability. However, if students choose to disclose their disability, this information should be treated confidentially.

  • Definitions of Terms

    Alternative media. Print material that has been converted to a format that enables a print impaired person to read the materials. This includes but is not limited to: taped materials, Braille, electronic text, and enlarged print.

    Auxiliary aids. Services, equipment, and procedures that allow students with disabilities access to learning and activities in and out of the classroom. They include but are not limited to: sign language interpreters, real time captioning services, adaptive technology, alternative media, exam accommodations, etc.

    Exam accommodations. Legally mandated services that allow students with disabilities to exhibit their knowledge on exams by using auxiliary aids which include but are not limited to: extra time, a reader/scribe, computers, large print, CCTV, distraction reduced environment, etc.

    Proctor sheet. The form that aids in the facilitation of exam accommodations at Columbia College. It must be completed by both the student with a disability and the classroom instructor together. Exam accommodations can not be scheduled at SSD without this form.

    Universal design. An approach to designing course instruction, materials, and content to benefit people of all learning styles without adaptation or retrofitting. Universal design provides equal access to learning, not simply equal access to information. Universal design allows the student to control the method of accessing information while the teacher monitors the learning process and initiates any beneficial methods.