What are reasonable accommodations?
A frequent term you will hear when you work with Disability Services staff is "reasonable accommodations." The definition of reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act is: "any modification or adjustment to any activity to allow equal participation in the activity by a person who has a disability." Equal participation means an opportunity to attain the same level of performance or to enjoy equal benefits and privileges as are available to a similarly situated student without a disability. The University is obligated to make a reasonable accommodation only to the known limitations of an otherwise qualified student with a disability. To determine reasonable accommodations, the Disability Services staff may seek information from appropriate University personnel regarding essential standards for courses, programs, services, activities, and facilities.
Not all students require the same accommodations, even if they have the same disability.
Determining reasonable accommodations is done on a case-by-case basis to address the individual needs of the student. Accommodations are determined by the functional limitations as noted in your documentation. Once you have provided documentation of your disability to the Disability Services staff person, he/she will review the documentation and recommendations that have been made by the medical professional that provided the documentation. In review of your documentation, the staff member will work with you to help you understand your academic strengths and areas in which you will need assistance due to your disability. You play an active role in determining what reasonable academic accommodations are effective for you. These do not remain static throughout your career at Penn State. You may find that in certain classes you do not need accommodations and in others you need additional accommodations than originally planned. The important thing to remember is that the accommodation requested and/or received should not fundamentally alter the nature or essential requirements of the class.
Welcome to the Disability Services at Penn State Altoona. At Penn State, we are committed to providing a welcoming, encouraging, and empowering environment for students with disabilities to ensure equal access, full participation and reasonable accommodations for their academic pursuits. Disability Services is responsible for coordinating support services, reasonable academic accommodations, and promoting disability awareness in the university community. I encourage you to consider participation on the Penn State Altoona Disability Services Advisory Board if you would like to have a more active role in enhancing the services to students at Penn State Altoona who receive services. Please contact Dr. Joy Himmel at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.