Purdue University is committed to an inclusive and welcoming experience for all students. To that end, the Disability Resource Center (DRC) is the office designated by Purdue to provide services, resources, and programs to facilitate equal access for disabled students, resulting in their full participation in curricular and co-curricular offerings.
The DRC serves disabled undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at Purdue’s West Lafayette campus and Purdue Polytechnic Institute Statewide Programs, whether part-time or full-time (including students taking online courses). The DRC strives to proactively identify and remove barriers to access, promote inclusion and minimize the need for individual accommodations. The DRC also determines whether students are eligible for reasonable accommodation and, if so, the nature of the reasonable accommodation. The DRC does not test for, diagnose, or treat disability but relies on third-party documentation when determining accommodations.
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In general, it is the responsibility of the student to make their disability status and subsequent need for an accommodation known to the University. When determining accommodation, DRC access consultants follow professional standards and review student documentation as well as recent case law. The DRC also consults with the Purdue Office of Legal Counsel when needed.
Students may reach out to the DRC to self-identify or be referred by faculty, academic advisors, or other student support staff. Please note that students may request accommodation at any point during their Purdue experience, including at any point during the semester. Purdue is ethically and legally obligated to do its best to provide reasonable accommodation for qualified students at any time.
The DRC uses an interactive process designed to be convenient for students. A trained DRC access consultant meets with the student to gain a better understanding of the student’s unique request. If a student is new to the DRC, the first step in the interactive process is to fill out the Accommodation Request Form (ARF).
The DRC access consultant determines reasonable accommodations based on the conversation with the student, documentation, professional standards, and other applicable considerations. It is important to note that access consultants never test for or diagnose disability. If a student does not have documentation of their disability, the DRC can provide a referral for further evaluation.
After verifying the student’s disability, the access consultant writes a course accessibility letter and provides the letter to the student. The letter includes appropriate accommodations to ensure that the student has an equitable experience relative to their non-disabled peers.
The student determines the courses in which disability accommodations will be needed and shares the letter with selected faculty or course instructors. The DRC encourages students to discuss their accommodation needs with each faculty or course instructor during office hours.
After receiving the course accessibility letter (whether in person or by email), instructors may contact the DRC if they have questions about implementing accommodations. The course accessibility letter may be found on myPurdue by following these instructions.
Faculty and course instructors, in consultation with the DRC, implement the accommodations. Instructional staff are always welcome to contact the DRC to explore how to best implement accommodations. Accommodations can include, but are not limited to:
• Course materials (handouts, PowerPoint slides) in alternative formats, such as large print
• Accessible web-based materials
• Videos with closed captioning
• Alterations to test-taking (e.g., extended time, distraction-reduced environment)
• As a service to faculty and instructors, the DRC can provide proctoring and space for students needing distraction-reduced testing environments and/or extended time for course exams
• The DRC will provide and fund individual student supports, auxiliary aids and services: e.g. sign language interpreters
All of the previous examples stated are reflective of the more commonly used accommodations. Please note that through the individualized interactive process, accommodations can take many forms and these examples do not constitute an exhaustive list.
The DRC also determines appropriate accommodations in University housing and other aspects of student life at Purdue.
If students believe they are not being reasonably accommodated or if accommodations are not being implemented in an effective way, they should contact the DRC immediately. The student’s access consultant will work with the student, instructor, and other University staff as necessary to resolve issues.
The DRC is responsible for the final determination of what constitutes a reasonable accommodation. The DRC also consults with the Purdue Office of Legal Counsel when needed.
Upon request, the University will provide reasonable accommodation(s) to otherwise qualified students as required by law to ensure equal access to educational opportunities, programs, services, and activities in the most integrated setting, to the extent such requested accommodation(s) do not constitute a fundamental alteration to that activity. A fundamental alteration is a change that is so significant that it alters the essential nature of a course or other activity. One example of a fundamental alteration may be attendance flexibility for a student enrolled in a laboratory experience. This environment often relies heavily on interactions with peers and instructors. In some cases, the learning of all students could be significantly altered if the student is not physically involved in the laboratory experience.
The DRC is responsible for coordinating the University’s compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504 with regard to students. Purdue Human Resources coordinates on behalf of employees. Within this legislation, the terms “reasonable accommodation” and “fundamental alteration” are broadly defined and informed by case law. Neither faculty, program sponsors, service units nor unit administrators may independently deny a request for accommodation. In cases of disagreement or confusion, the DRC welcomes the opportunity to discuss with faculty how these terms apply to specific situations.
Although student accommodations are always individually determined, below are some of the most common examples of how faculty may need to implement course accommodations:
- Providing course notes to student
- Allowing student to record lectures
- Providing attendance flexibility
- Allowing student to walk out of class for movement/breaks
- Allowing student access to technology (computer, phone, etc.) while in class
- Allowing access to other support resources (sign language interpreters, lab assistants, etc.)
- Creating accessible course content
- Providing for extended time, alternative time or alternative environment for test-taking. Exam accommodations are discussed in more detail below.
Purdue's new Innovative Learning portal provides a variety of accessibility resources that may be helpful to faculty when implementing these and other types of accommodations.
One aspect of reasonable accommodation is in the assessment of learning, with exam accommodations being the most common form. Examples of exam accommodations include, but are not limited to:
- Providing extended time
- Scheduling alternative testing times
- Facilitating a student’s exam in a distraction-reduced environment
Purdue must ensure that students with disabilities have an equitable testing experience. If students are unable to take an exam due to disability-related reasons, they must be allowed to take the same or equitable exam at a different time. It is not equitable to deny a student the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of course content, nor is it equitable to redistribute the weight of the missed exam to a different exam. Accommodated exams should also be scheduled around students’ other academic pursuits. Accommodated exam times and dates may need to be adjusted to prevent students from missing class or components of other courses.
As a service to faculty and instructors, the DRC can provide proctoring and space for accommodated testing. For more information on accommodated testing at Purdue, contact the Disability Resource Center at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 765-496-6168.