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Academic & Student Affairs Handbook

3.11 Students With Learning Disorders

SOURCE:
BoR POLICY 4.1.5, STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES

The USG is committed to providing equal educational opportunities to all students. USG institutions offer students with disabilities a variety of services and accommodations to ensure that both facilities and programs are accessible. The information provided on working with students with disabilities is an overview of the resources available and the policies and procedures in place that are intended to facilitate accessibility and academic success.

All institutions of the USG shall adopt the common criteria for documenting disabilities and employ a common methodology for providing services to students with diagnosed disabilities.

The criteria for documenting disabilities can be found in Appendix D. Specific documentation guidelines for nine disability categories are described in Appendix E.

3.11.1 Regents’ Centers for Learning Disorders

Last reviewed: January 2010

Learning Disorders include Learning Disabilities, Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorders, Acquired Brain Injury, and Psychological Disorders as described in Appendix E. The Board of Regents of the USG has established the following three centers for the provision of assessment, resources, and research related to students who have learning disorders that impact academic, cognitive and/or behavioral/emotional functioning.

  • Regents’ Center for Learning Disorders at Georgia Southern University
  • Regents’ Center for Learning Disorders at Georgia State University
  • Regents’ Center for Learning Disorders at The University of Georgia

Each Regents’ Center for Learning Disorders (RCLD) is responsible for serving designated colleges and universities (referring institutions) within a geographic region. The host institution serves as fiscal agent for each RCLD. See Appendix F for a list of RCLDs and their assigned institutions.

Purpose of the RCLDs

The RCLDs provide the following services:

  • Comprehensive standardized assessments for students with learning disorders
  • Review of documentation submitted by referring institutions in support of student requests for accommodations
  • Recommendations regarding appropriate accommodations and services
  • Assistance to students, faculty and staff at referring institutions through consultation, networking, and program development
  • Clinical training opportunities in graduate level psychology, education, and related programs
  • Research focusing on assessment and accommodation of students with disabilities in postsecondary settings

In addition to their primary mission of serving students enrolled in USG institutions, the Centers may be authorized to serve other groups of students. Current information on the availability of services for non-USG students can be obtained by contacting each RCLD directly.

Organizational Structure

The RCLDs consist of professionals who are specialists in the assessment of adults and in evaluation of disabilities that impair learning. Each RCLD has, at the minimum, the following personnel:

  • Director. The director is responsible for overseeing the daily operation of the RCLD and for carrying out USG policy regarding student disabilities. The Academic Vice President of the host institution is the supervisor of record.

  • Psychologist. The licensed psychologist oversees the evaluation process, including training, interviewing, scheduling, testing, staffing, and report writing. The psychologist ensures that the professional and ethical standards of the American Psychological Association are followed.

  • Liaison. The liaison promotes and maintains contact between the referring institutions and each RCLD, assists in the referral and feedback process for RCLD evaluations and RCLD review of documentation of disability, assists referring institutions in the development of policies and procedures to serve students with disabilities on their campuses, and provides community outreach and education to support the mission of the RCLD.

  • Other qualified personnel are involved directly in interviewing, testing, and writing reports for students who are evaluated in the RCLDs.

USG Accommodations for Students With Learning Disorders

In order to assure consistency throughout the USG, all RCLDs use the same general evaluation procedures, test battery and report format. This common evaluation methodology assures that all USG institutions employ the same definition and evaluation model.

Evaluations performed by external professionals or organizations will be reviewed using the same methodology as if the evaluation was conducted by an RCLD.

Some accommodations for USG requirements must be approved by an RCLD. Students with learning disorders, who are requesting the accommodations outlined below, are required to submit documentation to an RCLD for approval:

Each USG institution is responsible for providing approved accommodations or modifications, including assistive technologies. The Director of the Regents’ Testing Office, the RCLDs, and the Alternative Media Access Center (AMAC) are available to assist institutions with arranging for these accommodations.

Outside Evaluations

Referring institutions must have institutional policies and procedures for reviewing documentation of disabilities that is not based on an evaluation conducted by an RCLD. Institutional policies and procedures must be consistent with BoR policy.

Referring institutions are required to submit documentation of learning disorders to meet USG requirements to an RCLD when a student requests accommodations. Referring institutions may also elect to send outside documentation for review to the appropriate RCLD under other circumstances.

Referral for Evaluations

Referring institutions are required to submit a referral packet containing the following items to the appropriate RCLD to initiate the evaluation process:

  • Information letter and checklist completed by the Disability Service Provider (DSP)
  • Questionnaire on academic strengths and weaknesses, historical information, and behaviors that can affect learning (completed by the student)
  • Questionnaire on student’s functioning ability (completed by a person who knows the student well and can provide an independent view)
  • Academic transcripts from current and/or previous institutions
  • Recent vision and hearing sensory screenings
  • Samples of written work
  • Copies of previous medical or psychological evaluations related to learning difficulties

The DSP at the referring institution is responsible for coordinating the completion of the referral packet and communicating with the RCLD regarding the student’s referral, evaluation, and accommodations. See Appendix G for the referral process flowchart. For more information regarding disability documentation, see Appendices D and E.

Evaluation Considerations

  1. Professional Standards and Confidentiality

    • American Psychological Association ethical standards are upheld.
    • Information gathered before, during, and after an evaluation will be kept strictly confidential.
    • Information will not be released to any person or institution without written permission of the student.
    • The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) provide additional guidelines on right of access and disclosure of protected information.
  2. Liability Issues

    • Neither the referring institutions nor the RCLDs are liable for students while they are traveling to and from the RCLDs for the evaluation.
    • A contact person at the referring institution must be designated for emergency purposes while the student is on the RCLD campus.
    • RCLDs require liability insurance coverage for all RCLD personnel involved in the evaluation process. This liability coverage is necessary to meet the standards of professional practice as outlined in State Licensing Law.
  3. Cost of Evaluations

    • Students are assessed a $500 fee for each evaluation (subject to annual review).
    • Payment schedules may vary across RCLDs.
    • Evaluation scholarships may be available at individual RCLDs and/or referring institutions.
    • Students may contact their local Georgia Department of Labor, Rehabilitation Services to determine if they qualify for services, which may include funding to offset evaluation costs.
  4. Appeals Procedure

    Students wishing to dispute a decision of an RCLD with regard to eligibility for accommodations may appeal by submitting a request for independent review of their documentation by the directors of the other two RCLDs.

    The request must meet the following conditions:

    • Specify the issue(s) of disagreement in writing
    • Be submitted to the DSP at the student’s home institution
    • Be initiated within 30 days of receiving the disputed decision

    A student wishing to appeal the decision of the independent review may appeal to the President of the home institution. The President’s decision is final. The Board of Regents does not hear appeals for eligibility for accommodation.

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3.11.2 Alternative Media Access Center

The Alternative Media Access Center (AMAC), an initiative of the USG, is committed to removing barriers and providing access to knowledge for individuals with physical, sensory, and learning print-related disabilities. AMAC serves individuals with print-related disabilities in a variety of ways.

AMAC works with all USG institutions serving postsecondary students as well as high school students transitioning to postsecondary institutions. AMAC offers a variety of services to meet the individual needs of students with print-related disabilities and the institutions serving them, including access to the following:

  • Alternative media production
  • Electronic files (e-files) requested from publishers
  • High quality scanned image files
  • E-text formatting services
  • NEON, AMAC’s online repository of available alternative media that tracks students, orders, and media production
  • Assistive technology software and hardware
  • Other national repositories, services and products (e.g., Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic)
  • Password protected electronic material delivery service
  • Monthly student services reports
  • Training and technical assistance
  • Braille text conversion or contract services. AMAC specializes in math, science, foreign language Braille transcription services.

AMAC services and costs vary depending on membership status. AMAC services help institutions to:

  • Protect themselves against copyright infringement laws

  • Comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act standards and provide students with print-related disabilities equal and timely access to materials

  • Increase the knowledge of institutional information technology departments, faculty, and staff on accessible digital media and accessible information technology through the incorporation of universal design for learning environments

AMAC is not a replacement for disability services, but a resource that offers expertise in alternative media production and assistive technology software and hardware. The AMAC team works closely with disability service providers and students to ensure that they receive high quality and timely services.

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3.11.3 Admissions Considerations

Applicants with disabilities are expected to have completed the Required High School Curriculum (RHSC) with the appropriate instructional accommodations. No exemptions or substitution are permitted for these required courses with the exception of the foreign language requirement.

Students who are unable to complete the RHSC foreign language requirement successfully due to a documented disability may petition for a substitution for the foreign language requirement (see Appendix H, Admissions Consideration Flowchart) using the following guidelines:

Foreign Language Requirement

Two years of a single foreign language or two years of American Sign Language is required for admission to USG colleges and universities. To receive permission for a substitution, students should do the following:

  • Notify the Office of Admission at the time of application that they are petitioning for a RHSC foreign language substitution
  • Contact the DSP at the institution for assistance in completing the petition.
  • Submit their petition documentation with the admission application

If the petition is approved, the student will be allowed to satisfy the RHSC foreign language requirement by substituting another type of course. The approval of a petition for substitution does not waive the requirement.

Approval of a petition for a course substitution for the RHSC foreign language requirement does not extend to the foreign language requirements of certain degree programs at the University level. Students must submit a separate petition, following their institution’s standard procedures for modifications to program requirements, to request a course substitution for foreign language coursework required for a specific program of study or degree.

Other Considerations

Students with disabilities will not be penalized for taking standardized admissions tests (e.g. ACT, SAT, GRE, LSAT, MCAT) with accommodations. Students seeking disability accommodation should contact the testing agencies (College Board and ACT).

To be considered for admission, students are expected to achieve the institution’s admission requirements, including minimum SAT or ACT scores with the testing accommodations.

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3.11.4 Regents’ Test Administration

The Regents’ Testing requirement for reading and writing skills courses may not be waived for students with disabilities, but appropriate accommodations will be provided. The Regents’ Testing Program Office does not have to be informed when a student takes or passes an alternative test. However, the student record system must indicate that alternative procedures have been used.

Accommodations for students with learning disorders that can be granted with institutional approval are outlined in Section 2.8.10, Special Administrations of the Regents’ Test.

For more information regarding special administration of the Regents’ Tests for students with disabilities as described in Appendix E, see Section 2.8.10, Special Administrations of the Regents’ Test.

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3.11.5 Learning Support Considerations

Students with documented disabilities, who are required to enroll in Learning Support (LS), must fulfill all stated requirements, including test (COMPASS or CPE) and course requirements. Students will be provided with appropriate test and/or course accommodations. Documentation of accommodations provided must be maintained at the institution and summarized in the annual report on accommodations. See Section 2.9.1, Administrative Procedures for Learning Support Programs. Accommodations for students with learning disorders that can be granted with institutional approval are limited to the following:

  • Extended time on COMPASS or CPE
  • Authorized use of a calculator for mathematic testing
  • Separate test administration
  • Maximum of two additional semesters of LS

Accommodations and test administrations other than those listed above must be approved by an RCLD.

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