Reasonable Accommodation

Reasonable accommodations are made in order to level the playing field for qualified individuals with disabilities. As much as possible, accommodations are designed to minimize the functional limitations of an individual in a given task.These adjustments provide students with disabilities the opportunity to learn by removing barriers that do not change the academic standards. This is typically accomplished with services or strategies focused on reducing barriers that prevent equitable access to the course and materials. The ADA assumes that people with disabilities have every right to attend colleges and universities – regardless of whether they have a disability. Access means empowering students with disabilities to take better control of their academic environment, permitting them to demonstrate their skills and knowledge. It also expects, however, that they can meet the academic standards with appropriate accommodations.


When a student is accepted into a college or university, they have demonstrated that they are, in fact, a qualified individual, despite having a disability. This is different, of course, from the way things were when they entered public school. Whether or not the disability was known at that time, or whether they acquired a disability later didn’t matter. There was only one qualification for entry into public school: as children of the appropriate age, they were entitled to learn to the best of their ability. Following admission, each individual is expected to continue demonstrating they are otherwise qualified by meeting or exceeding the academic standards set by the institution, and they must do so whether or not they request accommodations.


Understanding this phrase is critical to understanding the distinction between a civil right and an entitlement. There is no guarantee of success at a college or university. Civil rights laws do not mandate that a student cannot fail. Students with disabilities must perform at the level that their academicand professional programs expect of all students. The college or university will strive to level the playing field, but ultimately the student’s work must be their own and be of a satisfactory quality.In addition to guaranteeing civil rights to reasonable accommodations, the ADA also guarantees any individual with a disability the absolute right to refuse any accommodation. That means that Disability Services or NDSU doesn’t have to make sure that a student requests accommodations.While our disability specialists rely on documentation of the disability when determining accommodations, they also rely on the student to discuss their functional limitations and possible strategies to overcome those limitations. If a student doesn’t request an accommodation, however, the consequences of that action belong to the student.

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