Disability Services

Concord University is committed to working with students with disabilities to assess their needs and to assist with academic accommodations that may be necessary and appropriate due to their disability. The Office of Disability Services assists in the coordination of appropriate services, based on the student’s individual documented needs. Education programs for the entire campus community highlight an understanding of disabilities and provide support within the campus community.

Where are you located?

The Office of Disability Services is located on the ground floor of the Jerry and Jean Beasley Student Center, Room 107. The phone number is 304-384-6086. Ms. Nancy Ellison, Disability Services Coordinator, can be reached via email.

Am I eligible for services?

If you have a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities, you may be eligible for services. Disabling conditions could include (but are not limited to):

  • Mobility impairment
  • Visual impairment
  • Hearing impairment
  • Learning disability
  • Attention Deficit Disorder
  • Brain injury
  • Psychological disorders
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Systemic medical disorders

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act guarantee persons with disabilities protection from discrimination based on disability. These laws, as they apply to colleges, protect otherwise qualified students (those who meet all the academic and technical standards of admission) in the areas of admission, recruitment, academic requirements, housing, financial aid and non-academic services.

What are accommodations and how do I apply for them?

Accommodations are a change in how things are usually done, and may be granted to a student with a disability if that disability affects his/her functioning in a university. You can apply for accommodations through the admissions process.

How does the accommodation process work?

At the beginning of every semester, the Office of Disability Services will provide you with a letter of accommodation. This letter lists the accommodations you have been approved to receive but does not disclose the nature of your disability or any details concerning your disability. You should email the letter to your professors and discuss how the accommodations will work in that class.

Is there a fee for accommodations?

Accommodations are provided at no cost to students.

What if I am not sure if I have a disability?

Many adults with undiagnosed learning or attention or psychological disabilities are able to cope in high school, but struggle with the additional academic demands in college despite their best efforts. If you think you may have a learning disability or an attention or psychological problem, we can connect you with the Division of Rehabilitation Services for an assessment.

What about my privacy?

We work hard to maintain your confidentiality and privacy, as mandated by federal law.

If I need test accommodation, where will I take my tests?

When you meet with each professor and show them your letter of accommodation, you will discuss this and decide if the professor can provide the needed test accommodations or if you need to take your tests in the Office of Disability Services. We have a test room and can provide test proctoring and test accommodations as needed.

How will test accommodations like extended time work for online classes or online tests?

The professor can adjust the timer to extend the time allowed to complete the assignment or test.

What if my disability causes me to be absent frequently?

Each professor has the right to set policies regarding attendance, notification of absences, acceptance of late work and make-up work for his/her class and to determine if a student has met the requirements of the class. The Office of Disability Services cannot override these policies. At some point in each class, no matter how valid the excuse, if you have missed too much of the class, you have missed too much to be successful. It is important that you review and understand the professor’s policies as outlined in the class syllabus. You do have the opportunity to drop any class for any reason or withdraw from all classes and receive a W grade. If you need to completely withdraw from school after mid-semester because of a medical disability or emergency issue, it is your responsibility to check with Financial Aid about your Standards for Academic Progress status and how your award is impacted by dropping classes or withdrawing from school. Dropping classes and withdrawing can impact your eligibility to live on campus too if you fall below twelve hours.

What are my basic responsibilities?

  • Provide documentation of your disability
  • Email your letter of accommodation to your professor at the beginning of the semester if you want accommodations for that class. Discuss how tests will be handled if you need testing accommodations.
  • Communicate on a regular basis with us and your professors so that we can help you effectively. Make sure we have up-to-date contact information so we can reach you.  Check your email and voicemail regularly for messages from the Office of Disability Services.
  • Uphold the academic standards and Code of Conduct of the university.

Students who have a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities, may be eligible for services. Such impairments include (but are not limited to) mobility impairment, visual impairment, hearing impairment, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, autism spectrum disorders, acquired brain injury, psychological disorders and medical disabilities.

Services are available to students who:

  • Self-identify to the Coordinator of Disability Services in the Office of Disability Services.
  • Provide documentation of the disability which supports the accommodations being requested.
  • Meet with the Disability Services Coordinator to discuss the accommodations needed.

Accommodations are determined on an individual basis, based on the documentation provided and the interview with the student.

Purpose: To establish procedures for identifying students with disabilities and providing reasonable accommodations in compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Coordination of Service

Office of Disability Services Student Center, Ground Floor, Room 107

304-384-6086 | email Nancy Ellison


  • The Office of Admissions sends to all new student, upon acceptance, the Special Student Criteria Form, which provides students the opportunity to disclose a disability. This form, when returned to the Office of Disability Services, constitutes the student’s initial self-identification and request for accommodations. The timely submission of this form is encouraged but not a prerequisite for receiving services, nor does the submission of this form alone guarantee the provision of services. (see numbers 4-9 below).
  • Current students requesting services should contact the Office of Disability Services to register, provide documentation, and request accommodations. The office is located on the ground floor of the Student Center.
  • Faculty and staff, University offices, Student Support Services, Academic Success Center, Admissions, Counseling Center, and Student Affairs should refer any student who discloses a disability and/or requests accommodations to the Office of Disability Services.
  • After the student self-discloses (via the Special Student Criteria Form or contacting the Office of Disability Services), the student should make an appointment with the Disability Services Coordinator, who will accept appropriate documentation for the disability, and begin the process of determining and implementing appropriate accommodations.
  • Providing appropriate documentation of the disability is the student’s responsibility, although the Office of Disability Services may assist in this process by securing the student’s signature on the Office of Disability Services Permission for Release of Information Form and forwarding it to the applicable agency, school or professional. Appropriate documentation from a physician, therapist, vocational rehabilitation counselor, or other professional qualified to make the diagnosis must be current (no older than five years), be presented on letterhead stationery, state the specific diagnosis/disability, include the professional’s recommendation (if any) for accommodations needed to assist with the academic program, and list any medications the student is taking for the disability. A recent high school Individual Education Plan (IEP) or 504 plan may be used as documentation, but it must contain a diagnosis and recommendations for accommodations.
  • While awaiting requested supporting documentation, Concord University is under no legal obligation to provide services; however, some reasonable accommodations may be made at the discretion of the Office of Disability Services and other involved faculty, staff and administrators. In the event the student claiming a disability has never been professionally diagnosed and therefore does not have supporting documentation, Concord University is not obliged to provide or fund the required evaluation. However, the Office of Disability Services may assist the student in locating an appropriate professional to complete the evaluation or refer the student to a Division of Rehabilitation Services office for possible assistance with the evaluation and diagnosis process.
  • Within a week of the submission of documentation of the disability, the Office of Disability Services will provide to the student a response granting or denying the requested accommodations and begin coordinating the approved accommodations. Accommodations will be implemented in a reasonable time period specific to the request, and although coordinated by the Office of Disability Services may be provided by any number of University offices and personnel, including faculty, staff and administrators as well as the Office of Disability Services depending on the nature of the accommodations.
  • All documents, forms, and other written information regarding the student’s disability are considered confidential and will be stored securely in locked file cabinets in the Office of Disability Services.
  • If a student believes that the services or accommodations provided or recommended do not meet his/her needs. the student should consult the Concord University Grievance Procedure for Students with Disabilities  covered under Section 504/ADA.  Such grievances are processed by the 504/ADA Compliance Officer for students, Dr. Kathryn L. Liptak, Associate Provost.

Note: The University encourages students to request the desired accommodations as early in the semester as possible. In the event the student chooses to delay registering with the Office of Disability Services, providing documentation and/or making a request for accommodations, the University will not provide retroactive accommodations, but will upon the student’s request begin the procedure for approving and implementing future accommodations.

Documentation must be from a physician, therapist, school psychologist, vocational rehabilitation counselor, or other appropriate professional and meet the following requirements:

  • Be on letterhead stationary
  • State a specific diagnosis/disability
  • Include the professional’s recommendation for accommodations needed to assist with the student’s academic program
  • List any medications the student is taking for his/her disability
  • Be dated within the past 3 years (or from high school if an IEP)

It is your responsibility to provide appropriate documentation of your disability and functional limitations if you are seeking academic accommodations. It is important to plan for accommodations ahead of time since the process of documentation review and approval can take time.

Students with disabilities have rights granted by two civil rights laws.  These laws are the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.  Basically, these laws provide students with the following rights at a college or university:

  • Equal access to post-secondary education,
  • Non-discrimination
  • Appropriate and reasonable accommodations based on each student’s individual disability and how it affects learning and
  • The right to have information about the student’s disability kept confidential
  • The responsibility to disclose the disability
  • The responsibility to provide the Office of Disability Services with adequate documentation of the disability
  • The responsibility to meet with the Disability Services Coordinator at the beginning of each semester to set up appropriate accommodations
  • The responsibility to meet the academic and conduct standards in place at Concord University
  • Campus compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA is a shared responsibility.
  • Many students are very uncomfortable discussing their disabilities.  Be respectful and keep the information confidential.  Don’t press for more information.
  • Students do not need to disclose the nature of the disability and you should not ask for this information.  Don’t try to talk a student out of using his or her accommodations.
  • Carefully read the letter of accommodation and discuss with the student how the accommodations will work in your class. Maintain confidentiality at all times.
  • If a student approaches you and requests accommodations for a disability but does not have a letter of accommodation from the Office of Disability Services, refer them to the ODS and encourage them to follow through.  Do not give a student accommodations until the student has completed the process with the ODS.  If you have questions or if the student requests additional accommodations that are not mentioned on the letter of accommodation, call the ODS.
  • Consider adding a disability statement such as this to your syllabus: If you are a person with a disability and anticipate needing any type of accommodation in order to participate in this class, please advise me and make appropriate arrangements with the Office of Disability Services (304-384-6086).

Every student with a disability is different so blanket recommendations cannot be made.  However, when advising a student who discloses a disability, the considerations below may be warranted.

Learning Disabilities

  • Pay careful attention to reading load
  • Pay careful attention to writing load
  • Choose professors who allow opportunity for revision of written assignments

Attention Disorders (ADD/ADHD)

  • Avoid scheduling back-to-back lecture classes
  • Alternate lecture courses with activity-oriented courses (such as Personal Wellness, Art, Music or Lab courses)
  • If possible, avoid Tuesday/Thursday lecture courses and instead opt for Monday/Wednesday/Friday lecture courses

Physical and Health Disabilities

  • Early morning or late afternoon classes may be problematic
  • Select professors with less rigid attendance policies
  • Allow sufficient time between courses for students with mobility impairments (or some health disabilities) to get to and from different locations

Visual Impairments

  • Explore with students their accommodations plan

Hearing Impairments

  • Explore with students their accommodations plan (adaptive technology, transcriber, etc.)

Mental/Emotional Illness

  • Discuss with the student how the illness may affect academic performance
  • Attendance may be affected
  • If possible, avoid courses with problematic activities (those that heighten anxiety or aggravate condition)

NOTE: Faculty and staff must respect the privacy of students by maintaining strict confidentiality of his or her knowledge that a student has a disability.   Faculty should interact with a student in a way that does not bring to the attention of the other students that the person has a disability or that they are receiving accommodations. 

With respect to a request for a service animal, Concord University will determine on a case-by-case basis, and under applicable laws and regulations, whether such an animal is a reasonable accommodation on campus.  In doing so, the University must balance the needs of the individual with the impact of the animal on other campus community members.

Where it is not clear that the animal is a service animal as defined by the ADA, Concord may require sufficient information and documentation to determine whether the animal qualifies as a service or assistance animal under disability legislation.

Persons requesting permission for a service animal or emotional support animal must submit the following:

  • A form completed by a treating physician or mental health provider showing that the service or assistance animal is required for the student to be successful in completing his/her degree requirements, including how the animal assists the student, listing the appropriate training of the service or assistive animal. The form may be obtained from the Office of Residence Life located room 201 of the Jerry & Jean Beasley Student Center.
  • A form completed by a veterinarian verifying that the animal is current on vaccinations and all veterinary care, including flea and tick control.  This form must be kept up to date throughout the animal’s residency on campus.  The form may be obtained from the Office of Residence Life located room 201 of the Jerry & Jean Beasley Student Center.

For assistance animals that do not meet the requirements stated by Title II and Title III of ADA legislation, but which might meet requirements under the Fair Housing Act and have been approved by the Director of Residence Life, the following policy will be enforced:

  • Assistance animals will be permitted only in the residence hall in which the approved student resides and must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered when not in the resident’s individual room. Assistance animals will not be permitted in academic buildings, administrative buildings, or residence halls in which they do not reside.
  • To ensure the safety of others as well as the animal, assistance animals must be harnessed, leashed or tethered at all times on University Property, with the exception of the resident’s individual room. Assistance animals must also be kept in a cage or carrier in the room when the student is not present in the room.
  • For all residential students who are approved to have service or assistance animals living in their residence hall room, the following guidelines will be enforced:
  • Residents with service or assistance animals may be required to pay the additional private room fee unless they can provide a roommate who agrees to share a room with the service or assistance animal.
  • Residents may be subject to monthly health and safety inspections, in addition to the regular bi-semester inspections.

Concord University utilizes the online platform Blackboard for the majority of its courses. To learn more about how to design accessible content on Blackboard, what accessibility features and display options the platform has, and how to interact with content on Blackboard with an impairment and/or disability, please visit https://help.blackboard.com/Learn/Student/Accessibility/Accessibility_Features.

For many students and their families, it can be difficult to make the transition from the laws and procedures in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to the approaches and legal protections that apply to college students. In K-12 education, special education and IDEA outline how educational supports are provided. Colleges and Universities are not subject to those laws and practices. In the postsecondary world, the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 form the legal foundation for protections to individuals with disabilities. These regulations are civil rights protections, not entitlement programs, and so are very different in approach. This distinction forms the basis for legal and procedural differences that every college student and their parents need to understand.

Beyond the legal differences are the developmental and philosophical differences that are just as important to understand. College students are adults and the expectations of them differ dramatically from what was asked in high school. Parents not only are not expected to advocate directly for the student, they may be actively discouraged from doing so. That is a big adjustment for the family, and an empathetic professional can assist them to maneuver these difficult changes to their role in their adult child’s life.

The following charts highlight some of the important differences between high school and college:


High School College
The law is the individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Laws are Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 540 of the Rehabilitation Act.
IDEA is about success. ADA is about access.
Education is a RIGHT and must be accessible to you. Education is NOT a right. Students must apply to attend.
Core modifications of classes and materials are required. No modifications are required-only accommodations.
School district develops Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and must follow this legal document in the provision of educational services. Students must identify needs and ask for services. NO IEP exists and is not considered legal documentation.


High School College
Student is helped by parents and teachers, even without asking directly. Student must request accommodations from the Disability Services Office.
School is responsible for arranging for accommodations and modifications. Student must self-advocate and arrange for accommodations.
Parents have access to student records. Parents have no access to student records without student’s written consent.
Parents advocates for student. Student advocates for self.
Teachers meet regularly with parents to discuss their child’s educational progress. College faculty members seldom, if ever, interact with parents and expect the students to address issues with them directly.
Students need parent’s permission to participate in most activities. Student is adult and gives own permission.

Differences in COST

High School College
High School is free. Student must pay for college through financial and other arrangements.

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973

In 1973, the Rehabilitation Act was enacted, describing the rights of individuals with disabilities to a fair and equal opportunity for education.  It was Section 504 of this document which directly affected higher educational institutions, by saying: “No otherwise qualified person with a disability in the United States shall, solely on the basis of disability, be denied access to, or the benefit of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity provided by any institution receiving federal financial assistance.

Americans with Disabilities Act

In 1990, the ADA expanded on the rights of individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life.  Title III of the ADA dealt with higher education and offered more comprehensive, detailed information on precisely what kinds of accommodation must be provided by a university and under what circumstances.
The law prohibits discrimination solely on the basis of handicap for otherwise qualified persons in admissions and recruitment, treatment of students after admission, academic requirements, housing, financial, employment assistance for all students, and nonacademic services such as physical education, counseling and placement services and social organizations.
When providing accommodations, colleges are not required to lower or effect substantial modifications to essential requirements.  For example, although a school may be required to provide extended testing time, it is not required to change the substantive content of the test.  In addition, a postsecondary school does not have to make modifications that would fundamentally alter the nature of a service, program, or activity or would result in undue financial or administrative burdens.

The ADA Amendments Act

This law, created in 2008, clarifies expands and defines terms in the original ADA.

person with a disability is someone with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or major life activities.  A person is considered to be a person with a disability if he/she has the disability, has a record of the disability, or is regarded as having the disability.

The term substantially limits refers to significant restrictions as to the condition, manner or duration under which an individual can perform a particular major life activity compared to most people.  Whether a condition is substantially limiting to support an accommodation request is a decision made by qualified professional(s) based upon multiple sources of information.

An otherwise qualified person with a disability is a person who, with or without reasonable accommodation, meets the academic requisite to admission or participation in the educational program or activity.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records.  The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education. FERPA information (including release forms) can be found by clicking on the following link: https://apps.concord.edu/ferparelease/
Records maintained at Concord University for the purpose of coordinating services for students with disabilities, including medical or clinical records will be kept confidential.   When you leave Concord University, there is no indication on your transcripts or diploma that you received accommodations for a disability.