How To Request Services

Steps for Self-Identifying and Establishing Disability Status

There is an established procedure for arranging for disability-related accommodations and services at GTCC. Close adherence to this process will ensure a timely response to your request. Please note that the information below is intended to serve as a general outline of this procedure. All disability related requests are handled on a case-by-case basis.

How Do I Qualify for Services?

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 defines a person with a disability as, “any person who (1) has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities [including walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, caring for oneself, and performing manual tasks], (2) has a record of such an impairment, or (3) is regarded has having such an impairment.”

The law also states that, “no otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States shall, solely by reason of disability, be denied the benefits of, be excluded from the participation in, or be subject to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

Section 504 protects the rights of qualified individuals who have disabilities such as, but not limited to:

  • ADD/ADHD
  • Blind/low vision
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Deaf/Hard of Hearing
  • Epilepsy or seizure disorder
  • Orthopedic/mobility disabilities
  • Specific learning disabilities
  • Speech and language disabilities
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Traumatic brain injury

Section 504 also protects students with chronic illnesses and “treatable disabilities,” such as, but not limited to:

  • AIDS
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Cardiac disease
  • Diabetes
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Psychiatric disability

Note: Some medical conditions or disabilities are temporary (ex: a broken hand) and may only require accommodations for a limited time.  Each case is considered individually. 

Additionally, under the provisions of Section 504, institutions MAY NOT:

  • Limit the number of otherwise qualified students with disabilities admitted.
  • Make pre-admission inquiries as to whether an applicant is disabled.
  • Exclude an otherwise qualified student with a disability from any course of study.
  • Provide less financial assistance to students with disabilities than is provided to non-disabled students, or limit eligibility for scholarships on the basis of a disability.
  • Counsel students with disabilities into more restrictive career paths than are recommended to non-disabled students.
  • Measure student achievement using methods that adversely discriminate against a student with a disability.
  • Establish rules and policies that have the effect of limiting participation of qualified students with disabilities in educational programs or activities.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 extended non-discrimination legislation to include institutions of higher education. Since the enforcement of ADA in 1992, higher education institutions have been under a mandate to ensure equal access for students with disabilities.

The emphasis of the ADA is on accessibility for those who wish to pursue education at the postsecondary level. The disAbility Access Services office has been established to ensure compliance with this mandate. Access is facilitated through the provision of services, accommodations, and auxiliary aids. There is no obligation on the part of GTCC to make fundamental changes in its courses or curriculum for students with disabilities.

The passage of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) broaden the coverage of the Americans with Disabilities and Rehabilitation Acts in the following four ways:

  1. The definition of “disability” is broader to include impairments that are episodic or in remission and can be considered a disability if they would substantially limit a major life activity during times when it is active.
  2. Added concentrating and thinking to the list of major life activities.
  3. Eliminated consideration of mitigating measures, such as medication, hearing aids, etc. when making disability determinations.
  4. Clarified the laws’ position that an impairment does not have to limit, or be perceived to limit a major life activity for a person to meet the “regarded as having an impairment” definition.

If you have questions about any of the above or feel that you have a disability, and would like to request services, please contact a DAS staff member as soon as possible.

Documentation Guidelines

In most cases, in order to be determined eligible for accommodations through the DAS Office, an enrolled student (curriculum, continuing education or basic skills) with a disability or chronic medical condition should present documentation that contains information describing the student’s current level of functioning within and outside of the academic setting.

This documentation should be submitted by a professional who is licensed/certified in the area for which the diagnosis is made and who is not related to the student.  The report must be presented on practice letterhead and signed by the examiner. Examples of qualified professionals for different disability areas include:

  • For deaf or hard of hearing, a licensed audiologist.
  • For blind or low vision, a licensed ophthalmologist.
  • For cognitive disabilities, a licensed psychologist.
  • For physical disabilities, a licensed medical doctor that specializes in that particular physical disability.

For your convenience, the DAS Office has provided detailed Documentation Guidelines and Verification Forms for many of the major disability types. Please use these documents to aid you in obtaining the appropriate documentation to establish eligibility. You can access the guidelines and forms on our Documents and Forms page. Please print and review the appropriate Documentation Guidelines and Verification Form(s) for your physician/medical professional. If you have any questions, or would like assistance with determining the appropriate files for your condition, please contact a DAS staff member.

Note: Students who furnish false oral, written or forged documentation for a medical condition or disability to deliberately misrepresent, alter or modify forms and/or reports used to determine eligibility and/or accommodations will be reported to the Chief Disciplinary Officer for appropriate disciplinary action.

Information for the Examiner

Although this is not intended to be a template, we request that the information set out in this section be included in the report.

  • History of personal, social, medical and education activities as it pertains to the causes of the evaluation.
  • Diagnostic statement identifying the disability (ICD-DSM classification).
  • Description of the diagnostic methodology used, including all data from appropriate instruments of evaluation. Information based on “screening” instruments is not acceptable.
  • Description of current substantial limitations as they relate to meeting the various demands of college life. The report should contain a discussion and evidence of impact as it relates to the actual achievement (or lack thereof) for the current time period and during the past year (indicate any accommodations and/or services provided).
  • Recommendations for accommodations/Services. Please note that any recommendations should be directly linked to the impact of the disability and associated issues (ex: medication) and not simply to the diagnosis.
  • Expected progression or stability of the medical condition/disability.
  • Medication – mitigation of impact and/or (expected) side effects.
  • Co-morbid conditions – if multiple diagnoses are present, please indicate the primary and secondary conditions and how each affects learning.
  • Explanation of differential or exclusionary diagnosis

Once you have obtained your supporting documentation, your next step is to “self-identify” to the college as a student with a disability. To self-identify you simply make contact with the DAS Office and arrange an appointment to discuss your needs and present your official documentation. In addition to presenting your documentation, you should be able to provide details about the following:

  • How your disability impacts one, or more, “Major Life Activities.” Major Life Activities include; walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, caring for oneself, and performing manual tasks.
  • How your disability impacts you in the educational setting.
  • The types of accommodations/services you have received in the past and how those accommodations/services enabled you to overcome barriers to access.

At this initial meeting, the DAS staff member will share information about DAS services, answer your questions, and set a date for your intake appointment. Between the initial meeting and your intake appointment, your DAS advisor will (in consultation with at least one other DAS staff member) review the documentation you presented to determine your eligibility for the accommodations/services you requested

At the Intake Appointment, your DAS advisor will share the findings of the documentation review and collect additional information about you and your needs. If it was determined that the documentation you provided was sufficient to support your requests, you will be asked to sign a Service Contract indicating your agreement with the accommodations/services you are eligible to receive and be presented with the necessary paperwork to give to each of your instructors. In cases where documentation is found to be insufficient, the student will be required to seek additional evaluation and/or clarifying information from the evaluator/medical provider regarding the documentation. The student is responsible for all costs associated with obtaining the reports, examinations, tests, etc.

Note: Generally, the Individual Educational Plans (IEP’s), 504 Plans, and Summary of Performance (SOP) are not sufficient documentation to establish that the student is eligible for services and accommodations.

Note: In most cases documentation consisting only of a diagnosis, case or chart notes, and/or prescription pad notations is insufficient to determine the impact of a medical condition/disability, to address the issue of substantial limitations, and to determine reasonable accommodations.

Note: The process explained above outlines the basic steps required to establish eligibility for disability related services. In practice, the process of identifying appropriate accommodations/services in an educational environment can include additional input from other individuals involved in your medical and educational history (i.e., doctors, therapist, instructors, etc.). The process is also ongoing, requiring your continued diligence and analysis. Your DAS advisor can assist you with this.

Note: Some accommodations/services require more time to arrange than others. Therefore, the DAS Office requests that you submit your requests for services as soon as you can (30 days prior to the beginning of the semester, if possible). While failure to submit your documentation/request in a timely manner will not impact eligibility decisions, it may result in a delay in services.

In most cases, you only need to establish eligibility once. However, depending on the nature of your disability/medical condition, you may need to provide additional documentation periodically.

Accommodations and services requests must be made every semester. Schedule a meeting with your DAS counselor after you register for classes to make a request for accommodations and services.

Each semester your DAS counselor will provide accommodation letters for you to present to each of your instructors. You will present these accommodation letters to each instructor and make plans for managing the accommodations/services you will need in their class. Your DAS counselor is there to assist you with this process, if assistance is needed. 

IMPORTANT: Failure to obtain accommodation letters each semester may significantly interfere with your receiving the accommodations/services your request.

What Else Do I Need to Know?

In accordance with the requirements of the federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the college protects each student’s right to privacy by limiting access to student records. For communication to occur with parents, medical providers, and/or therapist/counselors students have to sign a Consent for Release of Confidential information form. In addition, DAS requires that each student sign a Consent for Release of Confidential Information form before any information pertaining to accommodations/services can be released. You may request a printed copy from the DAS Office or Advisor.

No one expects an emergency or disaster to affect him or her – or the work area. Yet the reality is that emergencies and disasters can strike anyone, anytime and anywhere. A workplace emergency is an unforeseen situation that: threatens students, staff, faculty, and visitors; disrupts or shuts down part or all of the college community, or causes physical or environmental damage.

Students with disabilities at GTCC are expected to follow the same emergency response procedures as non-disabled students unless their disability dictates otherwise. It is strongly recommended that disabled students prepare for unexpected emergencies by becoming familiar with their surroundings (i.e., accessible evacuation routes, exits, etc.) and developing a personal emergency response plan. Your DAS Counselor can assist you with this plan.

The mission of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) ensures equal access to education and promotes educational excellence throughout the nation through vigorous enforcement of civil rights.

An individual can contact the Office for Civil Rights to report any educational discrimination on the basis of race, sex, disability, etc. and may also request information on civil rights compliance programs, procedures for filing discrimination complaints, or access to civil rights regulatory and policy documents. The Office for Civil Rights is located in Washington, DC. Information can be obtained by phone (1-800-421-3481), TTY (1-877-521-2172) or email at (ocr@ed.gov).

If possible, all concerns and complaints should be resolved in a respectful discussion at the most direct level. It is strongly recommended and expected that the student first discusses his/her complaint with the person against whom the complaint is being made. If circumstances of the complaint prevent the student from having this discussion, or if the complaint is not resolved, the student should discuss the complaint with the Department supervisor, and then the Division supervisor for that division. Refer to the student complaint policy for guidance.