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:
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 HIPAA. 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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-742-5640.
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.