ODAI Policies & Guidelines

University & Student Rights and Responsibilities

Since the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990, students with disabilities have rights and responsibilities associated with nondiscrimination and access within the higher education environment. The University also has rights and responsibilities when it comes to providing accommodations to disabled students. Those rights and responsibilities include:

Rights 

  • To request and receive documentation that supports current requests for reasonable accommodations, academic adjustments, and/or auxiliary services; 
  • To evaluate and/or identify functional limitations of the student’s disability to determine appropriate academic adjustments and accommodations needed for courses, programs, services, and university activities; 
  • To deny a request for reasonable accommodation, academic adjustments, and/or auxiliary services if the documentation demonstrates that they are not warranted or if the individual fails to provide appropriate documentation; 
  • To select among equally effective, reasonable accommodations, academic adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids and services; 
  • To deny a request for an unreasonable accommodation, adjustment, and/or auxiliary service or one that imposes an undue hardship or fundamental alteration of a program or activity of the university

Responsibilities 

  • To ensure that qualified students receive accommodation and/or academic adjustments for courses, programs, activities, and services in the most integrated and appropriate settings; 
  • To provide information, upon request, to students with disabilities in accessible formats; 
  • To evaluate each request for an accommodation on an individual basis 
  • To maintain appropriate confidentiality of records and communication except where disclosures are permitted/required by law. 

Privacy & Confidentiality

We know that as medical professionals you are experts in writing and reviewing medical documents. As clinical providers, many of you are also often the first ones ready and willing to help. However, when it comes to your students, your primary role at CU Anschutz is as a faculty member and educator to your students. Not only does this mean their medical information is confidential and legally protected under HIPAA, but it is also protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which restricts access to student non-directory information such as accommodation status and types of accommodations they are receiving. Only those with an educational “need-to-know” are permitted to access information regarding the specific types of accommodation a student receives so that they can participate in providing those accommodations. Anyone who is not directly responsible for providing accommodation or removing access barriers to a student may not receive or inquire as to their accommodation status.  

As faculty members, you may receive a Faculty Notification Memo (FNM)which notes the accommodation a particular student requires in your educational setting (classroom, lab, clinic, etc.). When you receive this FNM, you now have an “educational need-to-know” because you are responsible for providing these accommodations. You do not, however, have the right to know their confidential medical information or disability, as protected by HIPPA. ODAI will not share disability or medical information with you, but we will share helpful information for providing accommodation, accessibility and support to your students. Please do not share the FNM or student accommodation information with anyone outside of you, ODAI staff, and anyone directly coordinating accommodations (e.g., administrative support, teaching assistant, co-instructor).  

Here’s some additional guidance when it comes to private accommodation information: 

  • Do not leave student accommodation information visible on your computer or in any printed format that others can access. 
  • Refrain from discussing a student’s disability status and necessary accommodations within the hearing range of fellow students, faculty, staff, or others who do not have an “educational need to know.”  
  • Do not assume that students registered with The Office of Disability, Access, & and Inclusion are aware of other students’ disability status.  
  • Blind copy (BCC) students so they are not privy to other students’ information, or better yet, send separate emails to each student.  
  • At no time should the class be informed that a student has a disability.  
  • Discuss Faculty Notification Memos (FNM) and logistics of implementing accommodations with students in private. Make yourself available by email, during office hours, or by appointment to discuss. 
  • Do not request or retain physician/provider documentation  
  • Do not request specific disability information from students, such as diagnosis, prognosis, symptomology, or treatment, and do not offer unsolicited advice on these topics 

Some students may feel comfortable with disclosing their disability or medical information to you, even when it may seem obvious or when you can draw reasonable conclusions from your medical expertise. While this disclosure is optional, it should not inform your actions of whether you do or do not provide the requisite accommodation. We also ask that you do not share or discuss the student’s medical or disability information with anyone else, even while providing accommodation. This is between you and the student.  

In addition to fulfilling legal obligations, maintaining a high standard of confidentiality also serves to maintain an environment in which students with disabilities feel respected, safe, supported, and protected. If you have any questions or concerns related to privacy or confidentiality regarding student medical documentation or accommodation information, please contact us at disabilityaccess@cuanschutz.edu or 303-742-5640.

Fundamental Alterations

ODAI will not approve a requested accommodation that fundamentally alters an essential course program or objective.  Our staff makes determinations regarding fundamental alterations in conjunction with trained and knowledgeable program representatives.  This may include the ODAI liaison for the program, individual faculty members, or others who are in a position to help us understand essential course programs and objectives.  In making this determination, we will look at the course syllabus to determine what is being taught or measured, and what constitutes essential learning in the course.  We will then consider whether mastery of the material can be demonstrated in a different way (perhaps through simulation or oral recitation).  Students with and without accommodations must be able to demonstrate competence.  To that end, accommodations will not challenge the rigor of a program or change learning outcomes.  If ODAI and the program determine that a requested accommodation would constitute a fundamental alteration, ODAI staff will consider alternative accommodations that would not fundamentally alter the program but would ensure the student equal access to the educational program or activity.  ODAI will often solicit feedback from faculty regarding possible alternative accommodations, and we are always interested in partnering with faculty to determine how to make CU Anschutz more accessible for everyone. 

Service Animals

Students with service animals are welcome on the CU Anschutz campus.  Students should contact ODAI to obtain documentation of their service animal that can be presented to faculty in academic settings.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, if there is a question as to whether an animal is a service animal, two questions may be asked:

  • Is the animal a service animal required because of a disability? And
  • What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?

At no time may any person outside of the Office of Disability, Access, and Inclusion (ODAI) ask a student with a service animal questions that are intended to cause or have the effect of causing the student to disclose information about their disability.

  • Service animals in CU Anschutz facilities, including classrooms, labs, and simulation spaces, are governed by CU Denver | Anschutz Campus Administrative Policy 3051, Animals on Campus (“the Policy”). 
  • With limited exceptions outlined in the Policy, a student with a service animal may be accompanied by the animal when they are on campus.
  • If another student is adversely impacted by the presence of the service animal due to a severe allergy or other disability-related condition,  the impacted student should contact ODAI at disabilityaccess@cuanschutz.edu to determine available options.
  • In labs and simulation spaces, if faculty have questions about the logistics of the animal’s placement in the space, they may discuss those logistics with the student; a walkthrough of the lab or simulation space with the student and the animal may be appropriate.
  • If questions arise in the classroom, lab, or simulation space setting, please contact ODAI at disabilityaccess@cuanschutz.edu.

University Policies