Counseling and Testing
Accommodations for qualified students
The Office of Counseling and Testing coordinates reasonable accommodations for qualified students with documented disabilities who are attending Francis Marion University.
Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact the office at least two weeks before starting classes at Francis Marion University.
To qualify for accommodations, a student must provide appropriate documentation from a qualified health services provider (i.e., physician, licensed psychologist). Psycho-educational evaluations for Learning Disabilities and for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) should be current, usually within the last five years. If a student has a Summary of Performance (SOP) from high school, it should be included with the primary documentation.
Quality documentation should include a diagnosis, an explanation of the disability’s effect in an academic setting, and recommendations regarding accommodations. Quality documentation will also include the following:
- The credentials of the evaluator(s).
- A diagnostic statement identifying the disability.
- A description of the diagnostic methodology used.
For learning disabilities, methodology should include a test battery with standard scores and/or percentiles reported. The battery should include the following (no brief or screening tests):
Measure of intelligence (e.g., WAIS).
Measure of achievement (e.g., WJ-R-ACH).
For ADHD, methodology should include a continuous performance test (CPT) or set of norm-referenced behavior ratings from the student, and preferably a parent, spouse, teacher, or significant other.
- A description of current functional limitations.
- A description of the expected progression or stability of the disability.
- A description of current and past accommodations, services and/or medications.
- Recommendations for accommodations, adaptive devices, assistive services, compensatory strategies, and/or collateral support services.
Each student’s documentation is presented to the Assistant Director of Counseling and Testing. In most cases, we will be able to approve the documentation.
At times, we may need to consult with other members of the campus community regarding a student’s specific requests or to determine whether a student’s documentation is sufficient for establishing a disability. If a student’s initial documentation is incomplete or inadequate to determine the extent of the disability, we will notify the student as to what is missing.
The cost of obtaining additional documentation is borne by the student. If a student’s documentation is approved, the student should make an appointment with the Assistant Director of Counseling and Testing Kayla Duncan at 843-661-1842 to set up accommodations for the academic year. Accommodations will not occur until this meeting has taken place.
Additionally, our office does not provide testing related to diagnosis of a disability (e.g., learning). We are happy to provide you with a referral if needed.
After a student’s eligibility has been approved, an appointment should be scheduled with Kayla Duncan, Assistant Director of Counseling and Testing.
Appropriate academic accommodations will be agreed upon at this meeting, based on an intake interview and a review of the documentation supplied by the student.
The student will be asked to complete several forms, including:
- Academic Accommodations Agreement
- Consent to Release Information
- Voter Registration (optional)
At the beginning of each semester, the Office of Counseling and Testing will write a faculty notification letter and will address it to each of the student’s professors. The letter verifies registration with the office and lists the accommodations a student is eligible to receive.
The letters are confidential and do not reveal the nature of a student’s disability unless a student has given permission for specific information to be shared (e.g, a list of seizure precautions for a student with a seizure disorder).
Letters are emailed to professors the day before classes begin.
In order to provide most accommodations, it is necessary for the Office of Counseling and Testing to notify professors that a student has registered with disability services. In most cases, this involves the sharing of a student’s name and disability-related needs, not the specifics of the disability.
A student’s qualifying documentation is housed in the Office of Counseling and Testing. It is rarely shared with other University staff, unless the student has given permission to do so. The documentation may be shared on a “need to know” basis in the case of an emergency or if a student complaint is being investigated.
A student is expected to work directly with each professor involved in the accommodations process. For example, if a student is eligible for alternate test-taking conditions (i.e., extended time, reduced-distraction environment), the student should let his or her professor know about the intention to use the accommodation(s) at least one week before a scheduled test.
If the student does not provide timely notice, the professor is not obligated to provide the accommodation.
Students should meet with the Assistant Director or Director of Counseling and Testing periodically to discuss academic progress. Please notify our office immediately if there are any problems in securing approved accommodations.
Types of Accommodations
Residence hall rooms with varying degrees of accessibility are available. Reasonable efforts are made to accommodate students with disabilities who wish to live on campus. Students with disabilities must follow the sign-up procedures established by the Housing Office.
Students must provide documentation from an appropriate professional indicating diagnosis and the need for housing accommodations. For further information, contact the following:
If accommodations are necessary (e.g., adaptive software in specific locations), students should submit their requests to the Assistant Director of Counseling and Testing Kayla Duncan at 843-661-1842.
After the student’s vehicle has been registered, the handicapped parking placard can be obtained from the Office of Counseling and Testing.
The placard must be displayed on the dashboard of the vehicle whenever parked on campus.
Students must meet eligibility requirements and must get a new placard at the beginning of each semester.
To obtain a handicapped parking placard:
- The student must present qualifying documentation.
- The vehicle must be registered on campus and display an FMU resident or commuter student decal.
Students needing special parking consideration, such as pick-up or drop-off at crosswalks in front of buildings, should present these needs to the Office of Counseling and Testing so that Campus Police can be notified. At no time should a crosswalk be blocked for periods longer than necessary to pick-up or drop-off a student with a disability.
Requests for interpreters should be submitted to the Office of Counseling and Testing as early as possible (e.g., right after pre-registration).
Any schedule changes must be communicated to the Assistant Director of Counseling and Testing, Kayla Duncan, immediately at 843-661-1842.
The Office of Counseling and Testing will help students in obtaining note takers, when this is an approved accommodation.
Suggestions for Obtaining a Note Taker:
- Students may approach a peer in class and request him or her to be a notetaker. (Students will need to provide the name of the notetaker to the Office of Counseling and Testing).
- If a student does not feel comfortable approaching other students, the Office of Counseling and Testing will recruit a note taker for the class.
- In order to receive a copy of a classmate’s notes, students must maintain reliable attendance. The notes are not a replacement for missing class. After the first week or two, students may want to approach the professor to see if the notes are adequate for the class.
- Any problems with the note taker must be addressed through the Office of Counseling and Testing immediately so we can fix the error or find a new note taker.
Personal care attendants assist individuals in completing daily living skills such as grooming, personal hygiene, meal preparation, medication monitoring, maintenance of personal living environment, lifting or turning pages, and transporting/escorting.
The cost and maintenance of the services of a personal care attendant are the responsibility of the student. To determine if a personal care attendant (PCA) is needed, students will need to assess their skills and abilities with their medical provider, vocational rehabilitation counselor, or case manager.
The Office of Counseling and Testing is willing to advise students on the recruitment and hiring of PCAs. For example, the office can provide a location for students to interview prospective PCAs and can generate ideas on how to advertise the position on campus.
Students with disabilities are the employers and set the wages, hours, job duties and conditions for employment. As such, students are expected to create their own fliers and applications for the position.
For classroom and general campus assistance, some students will find it helpful to recruit and hire other students. For more involved personal care needs, students can make arrangements through agencies or private contacts.
When students demonstrate that they have met with their faculty adviser, the Assistant Director or Director of Counseling and Testing, Kayla Duncan, will authorize priority registration on an as-needed basis.
Students with a service animal are strongly encouraged to voluntarily register with disability services by contacting the Office of Counseling and Testing. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a service animal has been trained to provide must be directly related to a student’s disability. Students who intend to live on campus are required to inform the Housing Office that they plan to have a service animal with them in housing.
Service Animal Requirements and Etiquette
- The animal should be on a leash, harness or other tether. It is recommended, but not required, that the animal wear some type of commonly recognized symbol, identifying that the animal is a working animal.
- The animal should respond to voice or hand commands and be in full control by the handler.
- To the extent possible, the animal should be unobtrusive to other individuals in the learning, living and working environment.
- The handler must adhere to and be aware of all applicable state and local laws regarding ownership of animals (e.g., leash law, proper identification, vaccinations, etc.)
- Cleaning up after the animal is the sole responsibility of the handler. In the event that the handler is not physically able to clean up after the animal, it is then the responsibility of the handler to hire someone capable of cleaning up after the animal.
Emotional Support Animals
Unlike a service animal, an emotional support animal does not assist a person with a disability with activities of daily living, nor does it accompany a person with a disability at all times. In order to receive permission to have an emotional support animal in housing, a student must provide documentation supporting the request. Preferably, the document will be submitted at least one month before the beginning of each semester. Documentation must be submitted through the Housing Office. Required documentation includes:
- Verification of the student’s disability from a physician, psychiatrist, or other qualified mental health professional. This assessment must be conducted by a third party that is separate from the University.
- Description of the type of animal requested.
- Statement on how the animal serves as an accommodation for the documented disability, e.g., alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability.
Emotional support animals are not allowed in other areas of campus (e.g., library, academic buildings, classrooms, labs, University Center, etc.), except on a case-by-case basis as an approved accommodation.
Once approval is granted for an emotional support animal, the student should be in contact with the Housing Office to make arrangements to bring the animal to campus. The student’s roommate(s) and/or suitemate(s) will be notified (if applicable) to solicit their acknowledgement of the approval, and notify them that the approved animals will be residing in shared assigned living space.
In the event that one or more roommates or suitemates do not want to reside with an emotional support animal, those individuals will be given the option to move to an alternate location. If roommates were assigned BEFORE the animal owner applied for housing, the original roommates will not be required to move, and the animal owner will have to accept another housing office.
The Housing Office will provide the student with specific requirements for having a support animal in the residence halls (e.g., waste disposal, pest control).
Responsibilities of Handlers
Handlers are responsible for any damage or injuries caused by the animals they are responsible for and must take appropriate precautions to prevent property damage or injury. The cost of care, arrangement and responsibilities for the well-being of a service animal are the sole responsibility of the handler at all times.
Removal of Service Animals/Emotional Support Animals
Service animals and emotional support animals may be ordered removed by the Housing Office or by Campus Police for the following reasons:
- disruptive or out-of-control animal
- non-housebroken animal
- perceived to be a substantial and direct threat to the health and safety of others.
Animals may not be left alone for unreasonably extended periods in a student’s room or apartment.
In the event that an animal is not being attended to as needed (left alone for longer than a reasonable time, creating a disturbance, etc.), the Housing Office may order immediate removal of the animal. If a student does not respond to this request, Florence County Animal Control may be contacted for assistance in removing the animal.
Any cost of removing a service animal, or emotional support animal, shall be the responsibility of the student.
If a professor is unable to provide a requested test-taking accommodation, or if other services are needed such as the use of a reader or scribe, the Office of Counseling and Testing will work with students to provide necessary accommodations.
Students found cheating on exams while using testing accommodations will be subject to the same disciplinary process and sanctions outlined in the Student Code of Conduct in Francis Marion’s Student Handbook.
The Student Conduct Code applies to all FMU students. Students with disabilities are no exception.