Disabilities Services

Request for Reasonable Accommodations

In compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, and the amended ADA of 2011, Johnson University ensures that students with disabilities have equal access to educational opportunities. In accordance with these laws, no qualified individual shall unlawfully be denied access to or participation in any services, programs, or activities of Johnson University on the basis of his or her disability. These laws require institutions of higher learning to provide reasonable accommodations for the needs of qualified students as they pursue postsecondary education.

A student is considered a person with a disability, eligible for protection under the laws, if the student has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Disabilities include impairments caused by accident, trauma, genetics, or disease that substantially limit major life activities such as seeing, hearing, speaking, walking, breathing, performing manual tasks, learning, caring for oneself, and working. Disabling conditions include epilepsy; paralysis (e.g., cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis); HIV infection; AIDS; a substantial hearing or visual impairment; intellectual disability; psychiatric disability; cancer; heart disease; diabetes; or a specific learning disability. Conditions not considered a disability include minor, non-chronic conditions of short duration, such as a concussion, sprain, broken limb, or the flu.

To ensure accessibility for students with disabilities, the University provides reasonable accommodations through Special Services. The University accepts students who meet its admission requirements without regard to disability. To ensure nondiscrimination, students must complete all prerequisites for admission before requesting assistance from Special Services.

On behalf of the University, Special Services seeks to eliminate the barriers encountered by students with disabilities and to work with them to achieve and maintain their autonomy. The University follows a self-advocacy approach, which means that students are responsible for disclosing a disability and requesting accommodations. To receive reasonable accommodations, students with a documented disability must submit a Request for Reasonable Accommodations within the first two weeks of the semester. First-time students who desire reasonable accommodations should submit their requests soon after they are accepted so that a plan can be devised before the start of the semester.

Current students who discover the need for accommodations may submit a request at any time during their academic progress but are encouraged to do so as early in the semester as possible. Students who have already received accommodations do not need to complete the process more than once, but at the beginning of each semester such students should notify Special Services to request that the accommodations be continued or modified.

With the Request for Reasonable Accommodations, students must submit current documentation from a physician, psychologist, or appropriate professional person defining and verifying the student's disability. Each document must include the name, title, and professional credentials of the evaluator, including information about licenses or certifications. The documentation must adequately verify the nature and extent of the student's disability in accordance with current professional standards and assessment tools. All documentation must clearly substantiate the need for each of the student's specific accommodation requests. For example, if academic accommodations are requested, learning must be one of the major life activities substantially limited.

Students requesting accommodations for multiple disabilities must provide documentation for each of them. The diagnosis must have been made or confirmed in the last three years. If the proper documentation appears on either an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan stating services that the student has received in high school or other educational institution, it may be used for documentation. If the initial documentation is incomplete or inadequate to determine the needs of the student, Special Services may request additional documentation.

On the request form, the student must provide a list of the accommodations that the student believes will help with current courses. A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a course, program, service, activity, assessment, test, or facility that enables a qualified individual with a disability to have an equal opportunity to attain the same level of performance or to enjoy the same benefits and privileges that are available to an individual without a disability.

Federal regulations allow three limitations to accommodations so that they are considered reasonable. First, the academic accommodation cannot pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others. Second, an accommodation is not reasonable if it substantially alters an essential element of the course or program. Lastly, an accommodation is not reasonable if it poses an undue burden on the institution. Accommodations provide an alternative way to accomplish the course requirements by eliminating or reducing disability-related barriers. They provide a level playing field, not an unfair advantage.

Examples of reasonable accommodations include the following: accessible facilities, extended test time, oral administration of tests, alternative testing arrangements or locations, preferential seating in the classroom, a note taker, permission to record lectures, alternative formats for printed materials, image-enlarging technology, advanced copies of materials that will be used in the classroom, and housing in a private room (at the student’s expense).

Students should be aware that reasonable accommodations in higher education operate differently than they do in high school. Reasonable accommodations ensure equal access to education but cannot alter the essential nature of courses or programs of study. The quality and quantity of work required of students with disabilities is equal to that of other students.

The student is responsible for the financial cost involved in obtaining documentation of a disability. While the University does not diagnose disabilities, Special Services can refer the student to local agencies and professionals who provide those services.

Special Services notifies appropriate faculty members of the accommodations needed by students with disabilities. Students may request an appointment with the faculty member to work out the details of the accommodations. The Counseling Center may be notified if the student believes counseling sessions will help with adjustment to higher education. The Academic Support Center provides academic coaching and testing accommodations. The University also provides various aids in certain locations, such as text-to-speech readers and text enlargement devices. Students who feel that instructors are not observing the reasonable accommodations should contact Special Services for assistance.

Students who feel that they have not received appropriate accommodations or who wish to lodge a complaint of noncompliance with ADA regulations should consult the Student Grievance Policy.

The Special Services Coordinator for the Tennessee and Online campuses is Dr. Jim Pierson. Since he works part-time on the Tennessee campus, he can be reached through

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. He can call those who request a conversation.

The administrator who oversees Special Services is Dr. Gregory Linton, Vice Provost for Academic Services, who can be reached through

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and at (865) 251-2364.