PACE Center Disability Services
Chatham University is committed to providing reasonable accommodations and services for students with diagnosed disabilities. In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and the ADA Amendments Act (ADA-AA) of 2008, the Chatham University PACE Center coordinates all academic accommodations for students with diagnosed disabilities who are enrolled in Chatham courses.
At the post-secondary level, disability services ensure equal access to courses and the college student experience, without altering the fundamental principles of courses.
We at PACE share the responsibility of equal access with you, the student. One of the skills the PACE Center will help you learn in college is how to become an advocate for yourself regarding your disability. The first step is you contacting us to talk about your disability and your needs. Please review all of the information on this page, and then contact us to begin the discussion regarding your disability support plan.
Registering for disability services is a three-step process:
- Schedule an intake meeting with the Director of Disability Support Services. At this meeting, you will be asked to discuss your experience with disabilities, including the impact the disability has had on your academic life, the challenges resulting from the disability, and any previous accommodations that you have utilized in past courses.
- You provide third party documentation of your disability. More information on acceptable forms of documentation is available in the Documentation Guidelines section below. The information obtained from this type of documentation will also be considered when making accommodation decisions. PACE must receive your documentation by the end of the semester in which you initially register for disability services.
- The PACE Center Director will send your instructors your official accommodation letter via email. Some accommodations may be arranged by the PACE Center (i.e. note takers). You may be responsible for arranging for some of your accommodations (downloading notes, scheduling testing rooms, etc.).
While specific accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis, the following list describes some common accommodations in college courses:
- Alternate text and exam formats, including audio, Braille and electronic versions
- Distraction-limited setting for testing
- Extended time for testing
- Note-taker services
- Assistive technology, including Kurzweil 1000 and Kurzweil 3000
- Sign language interpreting services
- Preferential seating in the classroom
- Regular meetings with PACE staff
Disability documentation is information provided by external or third parties to verify the student's disabilities and needs. This type of documentation may consist of medical or educational records, and reports and assessments from health care providers, educational psychologists, teachers, or the educational system. The information obtained from this type of documentation will also be considered when making accommodations decisions. You can view a detailed description of documentation by type of disability here.
- Documentation must be provided by a qualified, licensed professional with training and experience in the assessment of physical, learning, attention, or psychological diagnoses in adolescents and adults, as appropriate.
- Documentation must be current (actual age of documentation depends on the type of disability). Based on your specific situation and disability, we may request more recent documentation than what is initially submitted.
- Documentation must appear on official letterhead and be typed, dated, and signed by the professional.
- Documentation must disclose the nature of the student's disability and the functional limitations resulting from the disability.
- Documentation must list recommendations for accommodations, adaptive devices, and support services. Please note: While the professional must make suggestions for accommodations, the University reserves the right to determine what is reasonable and appropriate under the circumstances.
If your documentation does not meet the above criteria, the PACE Center may request additional documentation before implementing your accommodations. We strongly recommend printing this page and submitting it to the professional who will complete your documentation. Thorough documentation will speed up the accommodation process! Click here for a printable version of our Documentation Guidelines to submit to your health care professional.
Your health care professional can contact us with any questions at (412) 365-1523, or email@example.com
Examples of typically acceptable forms of documentation:
- Medical records
- Detailed letters, reports, and assessments from qualified health care providers
Examples of unacceptable forms of documentation:
- Documentation that is outdated (for disabilities that need periodic re-evaluation)
- Letters from non-relevant health care providers (i.e. a letter from your PCP verifying a psychological disability)
- Letters that do not discuss the functional limitations of the disability and how this supports the need for specific reasonable accommodations
- Letters that do not include all of the documentation requirements listed above
- IDEA or FAPE documentation
- Your ADA Section 504 Plan
Detailed information on disability documentation at the post-secondary level is available here.
Chatham University is bound by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). This law encompasses information regarding a student's disability and/or accommodations. It also includes information on whether students have visited our office for tutoring, writing assistance, or any other PACE service. If you would like your parents, academic advisor, instructors, or anyone else to be able to discuss your disability and accommodations with PACE Center staff, you must sign a PACE Center Information Release. This can be done by logging in to your Chatham Student Portal.
FERPA is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all educational agencies and institutions that receive funds under any program administered by the Department of Education ("Department"). FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children's education records at elementary and secondary schools that are subject to FERPA's requirements. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a postsecondary institution at any age ("eligible student").
Under FERPA, a parent or eligible student must provide a signed and dated written consent before a school discloses personally identifiable information from the student's education records. The term "education records" is defined as those records that are: (1) directly related to a student; and (2) maintained by an educational agency or institution, or by a party acting for the agency or institution. Accordingly, all records, including records on services provided to students under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and records on services and accommodations provided to students under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, that are directly related to a student and maintained by a school are "education records" under FERPA.Adapted from http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/pdf/ferpa-disaster-guidance.pdf
+Medical Housing & Dining Accomodations
Students are not permitted to have window air conditioners. If a student requires air conditioning for a medical reason, the student must submit a letter to the Director of Residence Life and documentation from a doctor explaining the medical need. Upon approval for the air conditioning unit, a student requiring an air conditioner for medical reasons must:
- Provide the air conditioning unit, a small unit of about 8000 BTUs.
- Once the unit is approved, it will be installed by a Facilities Management staff member. Residence Life will facilitate this process.
The housing and residential learning environment and the dining experiences on campus are integral parts of Chatham University programs. Staff and faculty are committed to providing access to these programs for all students. Some students at Chatham University may have medical, psychological, or disability concerns that present challenges in accessing the full benefit of the educational experience on campus. Chatham University has created a process for students seeking accommodations that will help provide them access. This process is separate from the academic accommodation request procedure.
To receive housing/dining that accommodates a student's disability or medical situation, Chatham University requires that he/she submit appropriate medical documentation that confirms he/she is an individual with a disability or specific medical condition. The following information is an outline of factors that Chatham University will consider when determining if the student's request for housing/dining accommodation is reasonable due to a disability or medical issue. Examples of accommodations include: single-resident room, private bathroom, strobe light fire alarm, air conditioner, or modified meal plan. An interview may need to be requested if the committee and/or student do not feel that the supporting documentation is a thorough enough description of the disability and accommodation request. All medical information will be kept confidential and will only be shared with other parties on campus on a need to know basis.
Requests for accommodations related to service or support animals are evaluated based on a separate policy.
Severity of the Disability
- Is the impact of the disability life threating if the request is not met?
- Is there a negative health impact that may be permanent if the request is not met?
- Is the request a vital component of a treatment plan for the condition?
- What is the impact on the student's level of comfort if the request is not met?
- Does the disability necessitate that the student lives in an on-campus residence hall?
Practicality, Availability, and Timing
- Does the available/requested accommodation meet the student's needs?
- Are there other effective methods/housing configurations that would achieve similar benefits as the requested accommodation?
- Does the requested accommodation create a safety hazard (i.e. electrical overload, blockage of emergency exit, etc.)?
- Was the request made prior to the designated deadline?
Requests for a need-based housing or dining accommodation must be accompanied by supporting, professional medical documentation. The committee will make a recommendation based on the documentation received.
The following procedure is in place for students who are requesting medical accommodations:
- The student will need to submit a cover letter to the Office of Residence Life (attn.: Assistant Director of Residence Life) detailing his/her medical request. The cover letter must be accompanied with medical documentation from a qualified professional. Please note: We will not accept documentation from a member of the student's family, regardless of his or her professional status. Please contact the Assistant Director of Residence Life if you would like to request a copy of the cover letter format expectations.
- The Assistant Dean of Students (or designee) will consult with the committee about whether or not a student's medical condition warrants the need for a medical single or other housing and/or dining accommodations.
- The Assistant Dean of Students will then contact the student via email to notify them regarding the decision.
- If the student's request is appealed, an additional cover letter may be written for further review.
PRIORITY DEADLINE for new students: Thursday, May 15 at 5 p.m. Please note: Need-based housing/dining must be requested and approved annually.
For information on obtaining a single dorm room as part of your disability accommodations, please refer to the Office of Student Affairs page on Medical Housing Accommodations.
For specific questions about residence halls, please email Heather Black, Assistant Dean of Students, or call (412) 365-2776.
+Disability Evaluation Testing
Though Chatham University does not provide disability evaluation testing, the following information can be used as a guide to help you find out where you can go to receive these services.
Factors to consider when deciding on a testing option:
- Will your insurance (or your parents' insurance) cover the cost?
- Have you compared costs of psychologists in the area?
- Have you checked to see if you already have a record of a disability on file somewhere?
- Do you need a medical referral for testing?
- Are adult measures being used in your evaluation?
- Did you bring Chatham's documentation guidelines with you to the testing center?
Please visit the Learning Disabilities Association (LDA) for information on the adult learning disability assessment process.
- Prior Evaluation: If you received accommodations at school or work in the past, you may have already had a disability evaluation established by a health care provider. If you do not have records of this, you can contact your health care providers, or the school(s) or employer(s) where you received accommodations to see if they have your documentation on file.
- Private Psychologist: This is often the quickest option. Click here for a listing of Pittsburgh area health care providers that offer psychological and psycho-educational testing and evaluation. You can find more names through a Google search, or by visiting your health insurance provider's website. Be sure to check with your insurance provider to determine whether this type of testing will be covered, and/or whether they have an approved list of providers.
- Pennsylvania's Office of Vocational Rehabilitation: OVR has offices throughout the state and serves people with disabilities. Check with OVR for an assessment of your eligibility for services. Their evaluations of your eligibility for client services are free, but scheduling can sometimes be difficult.
Temporary medical conditions such as a cold or the flu, broken or sprained bones, infectious diseases, general surgery, non-complicated pregnancy, concussions or other common medical conditions are not regarded as disabilities under the ADA. The degree of functional limitation and duration of the above-mentioned conditions, typically, does not cause enough impairment to qualify an individual as having a disability. Conditions lasting less than six months and having no long-term or permanent effects on the person's health will not typically qualify as disabilities.
We at the PACE Center understand that these conditions may impact your course performance and cause extra challenges. If you are suffering from a temporary condition, you are encouraged to meet with your instructors to discuss the nature of your limitations, the expected duration, the impact on each class, and to determine a plan for the completion of coursework. We highly recommend meeting with your instructors in person, but if your temporary condition prohibits this, you should contact them via email. We strongly recommend contacting your faculty as soon as you know that your temporary condition is going to impact your academic performance.
Under certain circumstances, the PACE Center can advocate for students with temporary conditions. While accommodations are not guaranteed for these ailments, you may contact us for advice and assistance as you develop a plan to manage your coursework while your temporary condition persists.
- Association on Higher Education And Disability (AHEAD)
- Achieving in Higher Education with Autism and Developmental Disabilities (AHEADD)
- Students with Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education: Know Your Rights and Responsibilities
- Auxiliary Aids and Services for Postsecondary Students with Disabilities
- Self-Advocacy for College Students
- Information on Assistive Technology
- IDEA & FERPA Confidentiality Provisions
- Americans with Disabilities ACT (ADA)
- ADA Section 504
- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
- Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation