Academic Accommodations Request: Disclosing a Disability Effective January 2003
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability and require the University to make accommodations for those otherwise qualified individuals with a disability who request accommodations. An academic accommodation is a modification or adjustment that allows an individual to gain equal access and have equal opportunity to participate in the University's courses, services, activities and use of the facilities.
The University is not obligated to provide an accommodation that requires a substantial change in the curriculum or alteration of any essential elements or functions of a program. Students requesting accommodations must do so by registering with Disability Resources and Services in a timely manner. Students shall also be required to provide documentation of their disability that 1) meets the University of Pittsburgh's established guidelines for documentation of a disability, and 2) demonstrates or documents how their disability functionally impacts their participation in courses, programs, jobs, activities and/or the use of facilities at the University.
Procedure for Requesting Accommodations
For further information about Disability Resources and Services, contact Carma Horner, DRS Coordinator, at (814) 362-7609..
Academic Accommodations - Disputes
The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford provides both informal and formal processes to attempt to resolve disagreements regarding academic accommodations. The University's formal grievance procedure for challenging a decision regarding academic accommodations can be found at Section 504/ADA - Grievance Procedure. The University also strongly encourages individuals to attempt to resolve issues informally, though the informal process need not be pursued prior to filing a formal grievance. In addition, pursuing the informal process will not delay the time within which a formal grievance must be filed, which is within 30 days after a complainant becomes aware of the disputed decision.
The procedure to be followed for the informal process is as follows:
The DRS coordinator will provide general information regarding determination and implementation of accommodations. The faculty chairperson or designated representative of the Department offering the course(s) in which the accommodation is requested may be asked to provide information to the committee.
At Pitt-Bradford, a request for text material to be provided in an alternative format is considered an accommodation. Students seeking alternative formats must follow the process for
Academic Accommodations Requests: Disclosing a Disability. Once the accommodation is approved through DRS, the procedures below should be followed.
Procedures for Requesting Materials in Alternative Format
New as of Summer 2016: The University of Pittsburgh has partnered with SensusAccess to offer a file converter tool that makes inaccessible documents (such as Word or PDF files) into more accessible media (such as searchable PDFs, audio MP3 files, Braille, or e-text). SensusAccess is available to all Pitt faculty, staff, students, and alumni that have an active University email address. Please note that the quality of the converted document depends on the quality of the original document, and all conversion files will be delivered via email. To try it out click:
Find the list of your required course materials.
Check if your course materials exist already in an accessible format. You can order books directly from the following sites:
Assistive Technology refers to any item or equipment to improve the access and capabilities of individuals with disabilities.
Campus Computing Labs
Accessibility software is available in campus computing labs. This software includes: JAWS, MAGic and Kurzweil 3000. Headphones are not provided.
For information on how to modify your my.pitt display preferences and Student Center information (PeopleSoft) with assistive technology, please go to:
Free Text-to- Speech Software
Students who utilize print materials in an alternative formats should consider downloading free text-to-speech software, including the following:
Other assistive technology items are available through Disability Resources and Services. Please contact DRS Coordinator, Carma Horner, 202 Hanley Library, 814-362-7609 for more information.
Confidentiality and Release of Information
Disability Resources and Services established policies and procedures regarding confidentiality and releasing information from a student's file.
Students with documented disabilities can access support services through Disability Resources and Services (DRS) located in 202 Hanley Library. The goal of DRS is to provide students with the opportunity for the development of skills and strategies that will assist them in successfully fulfilling University policies and requirements. In instances where the documented disability precludes learning with accommodations, the University will permit the substitution of specific courses in order to best serve the student. Because these requirements are important elements of a program, each case must be carefully considered on an individual basis before a decision can be made.
The following are procedures that must be adhered to if a student with a documented disability is seeking a modification of course requirements:
Directory Information Notice
The University may establish categories of information known as "Directory Information" and release this information without student consent, upon request. A student may request, in the format provided below, that the following categories be excluded from Directory Information that would be released without the student's consent if requested by a third party.
The University designates the personally identifiable information contained in a Student's Education Record listed below as "Directory Information":
When the Office of the University Registrar receives a student's refusal to permit the release of "Directory Information," no further disclosures of directory information are made without that student's written consent (except to parties who have legal access to student records without written consent.) A student may rescind this action by submitting the request in writing to the Office of the University Registrar. Note that the following procedures apply:
If you choose not to have Directory Information released, complete and return this form to Hangar Building (Office of the University Registrar).
Documentation Review Board
Documentation is necessary to validate both the presence of a disability and the need for reasonable accommodations for candidates seeking to register for various services with Disability Resources and Services. Disability Resources and Services has adopted a standard set of criteria for documenting disabilities based upon consultation with various professionals and professional organizations including the Association on Higher Education and Disabilities. Disability Resources and Services recognizes that each student's circumstances are unique, and that a flexible approach to reviewing documentation is necessary.
Students are to submit documentation of their condition to the Disability Resources and Services office. The DRS Coordinator will compile the documentation and when it is reasonably complete the file will be forwarded to the Documentation Review Board for evaluation.
The DRB will verify that the information the student has provided meets the University of Pittsburgh's established criteria for the disability category under which it is submitted. The Board will also evaluate the accommodations being requested by the student and determine whether the accommodations are appropriate in light of the documentation and relevant applications of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 incorporating the changes made by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. If the documentation does NOT meet the established guidelines, the Review Board may grant provisional accommodations until the necessary information is submitted. Students will be notified in writing of the decision of the Documentation Review Board.
Section 504/ADA - Grievance Procedure
The University of Pittsburgh has adopted an internal grievance procedure for prompt and equitable resolution of complaints alleging any action prohibited by federal regulations implementing Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Section 504 and ADA state, in part, that "no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by such an entity."
Issues that are grievable include, but are not limited to, a denial of a requested accommodation, the inadequacy of an accommodation, the inaccessibility of a program or activity due to disability, or discrimination or harassment based on disability.
All such complaints should be addressed to the attention of the Office of Diversity Inclusion, c/o Cheryl Ruffin, Manager of Affirmative Action, 200 Craig Street 5th Floor Pittsburgh, PA 15260, Tel: (412) 648-7292, who has been designated to coordinate the University’s Section 504 and ADA compliance efforts.
The following steps explain the procedure:
Student Rights and Responsibilities
Students with disabilities at the University of Pittsburgh have the right to:
Students with disabilities at the University of Pittsburgh have the responsibility to:
Guidance on Service and Emotional Support Animals
The University of Pittsburgh complies with The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and amendments in allowing the use of Service Animals on campus. The ADA defines Service Animal as “…any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.” The work or tasks performed by a Service Animal must be directly related to the handler´s disability. A Service Animal is permitted to accompany the person with a disability at any time, which includes places where pets are not permitted.
Dogs that are not trained to perform tasks that mitigate the effects of a disability, including dogs that are used purely for emotional support, are not Service Animals. Students who require the use of a Service Animal on campus are encouraged to contact Disability Resources and Services (DRS). The Service Animal must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the Service Animals’ work or the individual’s disability prevents using these devices. In that case, the student must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal or other effective control.
Inquiries regarding Service Animals
Individuals cannot be asked about the nature or extent of their disability, but two inquiries can be made to determine whether an animal qualifies as a Service Animal
The University of Pittsburgh cannot require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a Service Animal. Also, individuals are prohibited from making inquiries about a Service Animal when it is readily apparent that an animal is trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability (e.g., the dog is observed guiding an individual who is blind or has low vision, pulling a person’s wheelchair, or providing assistance with stability or balance to an individual with an observable mobility disability).
Emotional Support Animals
The University recognizes the importance of emotional support animals to individuals with a documented disability. An emotional support animal may provide emotional support, stability and comfort. Emotional support animals are not required to be trained to perform a specific job or task and therefore they do not qualify as “Service Animals” under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Emotional support animals are only permitted in University of Pittsburgh residence halls if the animal has been determined to be a reasonable accommodation for an individual with a disability by DRS.
To receive housing accommodations, Disability Resources and Services requires that you submit appropriate medical documentation that confirms that you are an individual with a disability. Should the housing accommodation be deemed reasonable, you will be required to agree to the established Emotional Support Animal guidelines of the University.
University of Pittsburgh FERPA Notification of Rights
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students certain rights with respect to their education records. These rights include:
Questions concerning the University’s FERPA Policy may also be directed to the Office of the Registrar at 814-362-7602.
University of Pittsburgh Rights and Responsibilities
The University of Pittsburgh has the right to:
The University of Pittsburgh has the responsibility to: