Counseling and Testing

Disability services

Accommodations for qualified students

FMU is committed to making programs and activities available to qualified students with disabilities. The university makes efforts to ensure that university grounds, major buildings, and classes are accessible to individuals with disabilities.

The OCT coordinates services for students with disabilities, assists students in determining reasonable accommodations on the basis of disability, and acts as a liaison between students and faculty/administration on concerns related to appropriate accommodations.

The process for establishing academic accommodations is both individualized and collaborative. Our staff works with each student to select accommodations that best fit their unique needs and maximize their chance for success.

In order for a student with a disability to receive academic accommodations, the following requirements must be met:

The request for accommodations should be made as soon as possible (preferably at least 2 weeks before classes begin). If a request is submitted after classes have begun, reasonable efforts will be made to provide accommodations. However, there may be some requests that cannot be met because of the delayed request date.

Students can request accommodations by contacting the Director, Assistant Director, or scheduling an appointment via the website/phone. The Director or Assistant Director will conduct an intake interview and gather information about a student’s history of disabilities and past accommodations. Appropriate academic accommodations will be agreed upon based on this meeting and documentation recommendations. Please see the Types of Accommodations section below for a non-exhaustive list of possible accommodations.

Please note that accommodations and services received during K-12 education do not automatically transfer; students must reach out to the OCT to establish services.

Students must provide documentation related to the disability. Such documentation can be from a variety of sources and may take many forms, and OCT staff will work individually with students and examine if there is sufficient information to establish the presence of a disability and need for specific accommodations.

Documentation must be from a qualified health services provider (e.g., physician, licensed psychologist) and should include a diagnosis, an explanation of the effects of the disability in an academic setting, and recommendations regarding accommodations. If a student has a Summary of Performance from high school (or any other IEP/504 Plan documentation), this should be included; however, an IEP/504 Plan or SOP is not sufficient documentation in itself. The cost and responsibility for providing documentation is borne by the student. The OCT will provide students with a Medical Documentation Form for a qualified health services provider to complete if needed.

Quality documentation will include the following:

  • The credentials of the evaluator(s).
  • A diagnostic statement identifying the disability.
  • A description of the diagnostic methodology used.
  • A description of current functional limitations in major life activities directly related to the disabling condition.
  • 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.

For diagnoses of learning disabilities and ADHD, additional documentation may be necessary. Any psychological evaluations should include an intellectual/achievement battery (learning disabilities) and/or a continuous performance test with observational rating scales (ADHD). Documentation from a current treating physician will be considered sufficient if there is an established history of the diagnosis.

The OCT does not provide testing for these evaluations, and we will provide students with appropriate referrals if requested.

Each student’s documentation is presented to either the Director or Assistant Director of Counseling and Testing. 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 Director or Assistant Director to discuss specific accommodations for the academic term.

Accommodations are not retroactive and are not considered active until this meeting occurs.

When a student strongly feels that reasonable accommodations have not been made, the student should seek resolution within the administrative channels for the area in which the accommodation is in question.

The first contact should be the Director, who will meet with the student to problem-solve any accommodation issues and will serve as a liaison to the professor to advocate for the student and find reasonable alternative accommodations.

If a satisfactory outcome is not attained, the student may request a meeting with Dr. Charlene Wages, ADA Compliance Coordinator (Dr. Charlene Wages, Vice-President for Administration, 843-661-1140).

Students may contact the Director or Assistant Director at any time during the semester to discuss issues with accommodations and their implementation.

After a student’s eligibility has been approved, an appointment should be made with the Director or Assistant Director by contacting the office or using the online scheduler.

Appropriate academic accommodations will be agreed upon at this meeting based on the intake interview and a review of the documentation supplied by the student. The student will be asked to complete several forms, including:

  • Student Responsibilities for Testing Accommodations (if applicable)
  • Consent to Release Information

Accommodations Process

At the beginning of each term, the OCT will write an accommodations notification memo addressed to each of the student’s professors. This letter verifies registration with the OCT and lists the accommodations the student is eligible to receive.

Memos 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. If a student’s schedule changes during the semester, it is their responsibility to notify the office to send a memo to the new professor.

In the event that new accommodations are added during the semester, an updated memo will be sent to professors.

A student’s record of qualifying documentation is housed in the OCT. It is not shared with other University staff unless the student gives permission.

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. Students should meet with the Director or Assistant Director periodically to discuss academic progress and any additional needs. Accommodations can be updated and revised at any point during the school year.

Students should notify the office immediately if there are any issues in securing approved accommodations.

If a student is eligible for testing accommodations (e.g., extended time, use of the Testing Center or other alternative testing environment), the student should let their professor know about the intention to use the accommodation(s) as soon as possible before a scheduled test. Such accommodations are available for students to use as they need.

If the student does not provide timely notice, the professor may assume that the student is not wishing to utilize accommodations for a particular test, and they are not obligated to provide the accommodation.

During their disability services appointment, students will be given directions on how to schedule testing at the Testing Center and will agree to the Student Responsibilities for Testing 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. Contact the offices below for further information.

If technological accommodations are necessary (e.g., adaptive software in specific locations), students should submit their requests to the Director or Assistant Director of Counseling and Testing.

After the student’s vehicle has been registered on campus, an accessible parking placard can be obtained from the OCT. The placard must be displayed on the dashboard of the vehicle when 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 medical 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 OCT 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 OCT as early as possible (e.g., right after pre-registration).

Any schedule changes must be communicated to the Director or Assistant Directory.

The OCT will help students obtain note takers when this is an approved accommodation.

Students may approach a peer in class and request them to be a note taker. Students will need to provide the name of the note taker to the Office of Counseling and Testing. If a student does not feel comfortable approaching other students, the OCT 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 a couple of weeks, students may want to talk with their professor to see if the notes are adequate.

Any problems with the note taker must be addressed to the OCT immediately so we can resolve any issues 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 OCT 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.

Priority Registration allows students to register for classes on the first day of the registration period each term. This provides students the opportunity to arrange a schedule (to the greatest extent possible) that is suitable based on a student’s disability-related needs. This does not override any university or departmental policies regarding course permissions.

Priority registration does not guarantee that classes will be offered at specific times. Students who may qualify for priority registration include but are not limited to those with mobility difficulties, those who work with PCAs, students following a strict medication or treatment regimen. This accommodation is authorized by the Director or Assistant Director on an as-needed basis.

Additionally, based on the nature and functional limitations of their disability, students may be eligible to take less than a full-time cours eload while still maintaining the status as a full-time student. Students who qualify for a reduced course load with full-time status include but are not limited to those with mobility difficulties, those who work with PCAs, students following a strict medication or treatment regimen, students with significant energy limitations, and students with processing disorders.

In addition to discussing this accommodation with the OCT staff, students may need to talk with the Financial Assistance Office about how this accommodation may or may not affect financial aid and scholarships.

Service Animals

Students with a service animal are strongly encouraged to voluntarily register with disability services by contacting the OCT. 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

  1. 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.
  2. The animal should respond to voice or hand commands and be in full control by the handler.
  3. To the extent possible, the animal should be unobtrusive to other individuals in the learning, living and working environment.
  4. 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.)
  5. 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 Animal

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 (i.e. how it 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 a 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 (e.g., lack of food, 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.

Common test-taking accommodations include having additional time to complete a test (such as 50% or double time) and the ability to test in a reduced-distraction environment, such as the Testing Center. Please see the Student Responsibilities section above regarding testing accommodations.

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 OCT will work with students to provide necessary accommodations. The Testing Center is a secure, monitored environment.

Students found cheating 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. Students with disabilities are not exempt from FMU student conduct standards and policies.

Free academic assistance is available from the Campus Tutoring Center at 843-661-1675 and the University Writing Center at 843-661-1528.

Contact the Director or Assistant Director if you need assistance working with departments to secure a personal tutor.

FACULTY & STAFF

Will Hunter PsyD.

Director of Counseling & Testing

Office: EFB
Phone: 843-661-1841
Will.Hunter@fmarion.edu

Carolyn Bazen MS, LPC/A

Assistant Director of Counseling and Testing

Office: EFB
Phone: 843-661-1842
Carolyn.Bazen@fmarion.edu