Students with Disabilities Policy

<< Back to Policies Related to Student Rights, Procedures and Services

It is the goal of Washington University to assist students with disabilities in removing the barriers their disabilities may pose and provide support in facing the challenge of pursuing an education at Washington University.

Washington University recognizes and accepts its professional, legal and moral responsibility to avoid discrimination in the acceptance and education of qualified students with disabilities and to provide reasonable accommodations to such students consistent with the principles embodied in the law. These guidelines apply to students seeking admittance as well as to those who become disabled while they are enrolled.
Washington University makes every effort to insure that all qualified applicants and students can participate in and take full advantage of all programs and opportunities offered within the University. Washington University encourages and gives full consideration to all applicants for admission. Washington University does not discriminate in access to its programs and activities on the basis of age, sex, sexual orientation, race, disability, religion, color, or national origin.
All students in educational programs at the School of Medicine, those seeking admittance, as well as those who become disabled while they are enrolled, must possess those intellectual, ethical, physical, and emotional capabilities required to undertake the full curriculum and to achieve the levels of competence required by the faculty and the profession.
In this regard, we will be guided by the principles outlined below.

A. Responsibilities of the student

  1. Disclosure of disability
    It is the responsibility of a student who has a disability to disclose it and request accommodation from the Dean for Student Affairs or Program Director. The School encourages students with disabilities to identify themselves as early as possible in order to optimize the mobilization of resources and available accommodations.
  2. Diagnosis of disability
    Students who are in academic difficulty that might be a consequence of a disability are encouraged to avail themselves of diagnostic services that may lead to accommodations. Furthermore, such students are encouraged to explore with the administration of their academic unit the possibility of a disability if the inquiry is relevant to educational performance and there is evidence of educational performance problems.
  3. Documentation of disability and request for accommodation
    The disability, its functional impact and requested accommodation(s) must be documented. If the student discloses a disability and requests accommodation, the School requires documentation of the disability from a qualified professional. The student is financially responsible, unless there are extraordinary and compelling circumstances, for the costs related to the documentation by an appropriately educated and trained professional. The information provided by the professional must be factual, objective and technically valid, and must establish clearly that the disability substantially limits one or more of the student’s major life activities. The professional(s) who evaluate the student should identify options for management of the disability. Based on this information, the affected student then should request in writing the accommodations which he or she requests be made. The Dean for Student Affairs or Program Director and the student should work together to arrive at reasonable accommodations. The School may also require a second expert opinion for which the School may be financially responsible under extraordinary and compelling circumstances. The School reserves the right to request as much detailed information from the student and/or the professional(s) as is necessary to assess the scope of the disability and/or the reasonable accommodations.

B. Responsibilities of the school

  1. Review of requests for accommodation
    Requests for accommodations will usually be reviewed by the Dean for Student Affairs or Program Director. An ad hoc assessment team may be convened which may include the Dean for Student Affairs, the educational Program Director (or curriculum supervisor), selected members of the Disabilities Oversight Committee (See Section B.5 below) and other consultants as appropriate to the individual circumstances. The assessment team usually should include: (1) individuals who understand the curriculum in question; (2) a person who is knowledgeable about the Americans with Disabilities Act; (3) a person with authority to authorize accommodations and cause them to be implemented.
  2. Responsibilities for accommodation
    The School of Medicine is responsible for the costs incurred in making accommodations which are not unduly burdensome or unreasonable. Accommodations may include but may not be limited to academic modifications which do not fundamentally alter the nature of the program, auxiliary services, modifications of the circumstances and methods of qualification examinations, classroom modifications and others. The School’s responsibility to accommodate ends when a student with a disability: (1) refuses reasonable accommodations; (2) is unable, with reasonable accommodations, to fulfill the essential requirements of the program; (3) fulfills the essential requirements and graduates; or (4) transfers to another institution. The School is not required to provide an accommodation which fundamentally alters the nature of the program, is unduly burdensome or is unreasonable.
  3. Confidentiality
    Information pertaining to a student’s disability and accommodations will be maintained in a file that is kept confidential and separate from the student’s academic record. Appropriate faculty, staff and administrators may be informed regarding the disability, limitations, restrictions, and accommodations when they have a need to know such information.
  4. Application of the CAPES policies
    The policies and procedures of the School regarding promotion and retention are contained in the CAPES Policies for each academic unit. These policies and procedures govern the relationship between the School and all students, including those with disabilities. The School is not obligated to retain a student with a disability who poses a significant threat to the health or safety of others when there is no reasonable accommodation that either eliminates or sufficiently reduces that risk.
  5. Disabilities Oversight Committee
    There shall exist a standing Disabilities Oversight Committee composed of members designated by the Dean of the School of Medicine. The committee shall have the following responsibilities: periodic review of requests for accommodations and accommodations granted, provide recommendations regarding accommodations for disabilities, to serve as requested on disability appeals committee. This group serves as a resource regarding issues of significance to the institution and to students with disabilities.

C. Appeals

A student with a disability who believes that a request for accommodation has been improperly denied or who perceives that he or she has been discriminated against on the basis of a disability should direct his or her appeal to the Dean of the School of Medicine. As needed, the Dean of the School of Medicine may assemble an advisory group to review appeals and make recommendations. This group may include, but may not be limited to, the following: the chair of the committee that oversees academic evaluation and advancement of students for the particular academic unit, students, and/or representatives of the Disabilities Oversight Committee.