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UNM Policy Office

MSC05 3357
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131

Physical Location:
Scholes Hall
114 A and B

Phone: (505) 277-6531

Administrative Policies and Procedures Manual - Policy 2310: Academic Adjustments for Students with Disabilities

Date Originally Issued: 08-02-2004

Process Owner: Director, Office of Equal Opportunity

1. Policy

In keeping with the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, the University is committed to providing equal access to educational opportunities for qualified students with disabilities. The University shall provide reasonable academic adjustments as defined in Section 3.3. herein, to qualified students with disabilities as necessary to ensure equality of access to the courses, programs, services, and facilities of the University. However, students with disabilities are still required to adhere to all University policies, including policies concerning conduct and performance.

The student is responsible for demonstrating the need for an academic adjustment by providing the University's Accessibility Resource Center with complete and appropriate current documentation that establishes the disability, and the need for and appropriateness of the requested adjustment(s). The University is responsible for all costs of academic adjustments. The following sections provide procedures for students, faculty, and staff on academic adjustment requirements.

2. Procedures for Requesting and Determining Academic Adjustments

The first step in the process for a student who seeks academic adjustment because of a disability is to register with the Accessibility Resource Center and submit documentation of the disability from a licensed or certified professional in order to become eligible for services. Applicants to, or students in, the UNM School of Medicine and its programs and the Colleges of Nursing and Pharmacy should contact the Health Sciences Center Liaison to the Accessibility Resource Center for information on requesting academic adjustment. Applicants to, or students in, the UNM Law School should notify the Law School Registrar as well as the Accessibility Resource Center. Once a student establishes that he or she has a disability, the University will work with the student to determine what academic adjustments are appropriate and reasonable in accordance with Section 3.3. herein.

2.1. Student Responsibilities

It is the student's responsibility to demonstrate the need for an academic adjustment by providing the Accessibility Resource Center with complete and appropriate current documentation that establishes the disability, and the need for and appropriateness of the requested adjustment(s). The Accessibility Resource Center can provide information on the kind of documentation that is required. If the initial documentation is incomplete or inadequate, the student will be required to provide additional documentation at the student's expense.

The Accessibility Resource Center will determine a student's eligibility and, in consultation with the student, will determine effective and appropriate academic adjustments in accordance with Section 3.3. herein. The Accessibility Resource Center may consult with other University departments, as necessary, in order to make a determination of eligibility and what academic adjustments are appropriate and reasonable. The Accessibility Resource Center will send a letter, per the student's request, to faculty, with a copy to cognizant department chairs, informing the faculty members of what adjustment(s) the student is to receive. The Accessibility Resource Center is responsible for costs relating to academic adjustments that are part of instructional courses at the Albuquerque campus. Branch campuses are generally responsible for costs relating to academic adjustments for their students.

Once the student has established his or her eligibility for academic adjustments, the Accessibility Resource Center will provide appropriate adjustments as expeditiously as possible. Generally, adjustments will be in place within fifteen (15) working days; however, some adjustments can require a longer period of time to arrange. Therefore, students are encouraged to pre-register with the Accessibility Resource Center before classes begin so that adjustments can be in place when needed at the start of the semester. If pre-registration is not possible, students should register at the start of the semester or as soon as the need for an adjustment becomes known, and Accessibility Resource Center will make every effort to accommodate the student's needs as soon as possible. Requests received right at or after the start of a semester may result in the student being without the adjustment for part of the semester. Students should be aware that an academic adjustment does not apply retroactively, so that grades earned on exams, assignments, or other classroom activities before the adjustment takes effect will not be changed.

2.2. Faculty Responsibilities

Faculty members must provide students with the academic adjustments identified in the letter from the Accessibility Resource Center. If the faculty member has questions or concerns, or needs help with making the modifications called for, he or she should contact Accessibility Resource Center. If a student discloses a disability to a faculty member and requests an academic adjustment but the student does not have a letter from the Accessibility Resource Center, the faculty member should direct the student to the Accessibility Resource Center. It is not the faculty member's responsibility to decide whether the student has a disability and what adjustments are appropriate. Faculty can help the University meet its obligations to provide students with academic adjustments in a timely manner by stating on their class syllabus that students should inform them of any special needs as soon as possible. Students who do so should be referred to the Accessibility Resource Center.

2.3. Appeal

In most instances the academic adjustment determination made by the Accessibility Resource Center will be acceptable to the student and faculty. However, if that is not the case, the determination is subject to appeal. In addition, the student can appeal a determination by an academic unit that an adjustment would result in a fundamental alteration of a course or program. The Provost/HSC Dean, or designee, will convene an ad hoc committee to consider the appeal. Members of the ad hoc committee will include representatives from relevant University departments as determined on a case-by-case basis. The ad hoc committee will follow the appeal procedures listed in Exhibit A. The ad hoc committee will make a recommendation to the Provost/HSC Dean, or designee, whose decision on the appeal is final for the University. Every effort should be made to arrive at a determination of the appeal as expeditiously as possible. 

3. Criteria for Determining Academic Adjustments

The University shall make academic adjustments for the known physical or mental limitations of a qualified student with a disability, unless the University can show that providing an adjustment would result in:

  • a fundamental alteration of the service, course, program, or activity;
  • an undue financial, administrative, or academic burden, and/or;
  • a direct threat to the health or safety of the student or others.

3.1. Individual with a Disability

An individual with a disability is a person who has, or has had a record of, or is regarded as having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, or working.

3.2. Qualified Student with a Disability

A qualified student with a disability is a student with a disability who meets the academic and technical standards required for admission and participation in the programs and activities of the University of New Mexico. 

3.3. Academic Adjustment

An academic adjustment is a modification or adjustment to instructional methods and/or to a course, program, service, or facility of the University that enables a qualified student with a disability to have equal access and opportunity to attain the same level of performance and to enjoy equal benefits and privileges as are available to similarly-situated students without a disability. Determining reasonable academic adjustments must be done on a case-by case basis and in consultation with the student. The University is not required to provide the specific adjustment requested, but the adjustment must be effective to enable a qualified student with a disability to enjoy equal opportunity and access. All offers of adjustments are subject to applicable University policies.

3.3.1. Course or Program Modifications

The University shall provide such modifications to courses, programs, or educational requirements as are necessary and appropriate to enable a qualified student with a disability to enjoy equal opportunity and access. However, the University is not required to fundamentally alter the essential nature of a course or academic program. Reasonable academic adjustments may include, but are not limited to, extended time on an examination or paper, and oral instead of written examinations, where appropriate.

3.3.2. Auxiliary Aids and Services

Reasonable academic adjustments in the form of auxiliary aids and services may include, but are not limited to: note-takers, readers, Braille or large print materials, and sign language interpreters. However, the University is not required to provide devices or services of a personal nature such as personal attendants or personal devices utilized in activities of daily living.

4. Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator for The University of New Mexico is the Director of the University Office of Equal Opportunity. Students who believe that they have been discriminated against on the basis of a disability may contact the Office of Equal Opportunity to file a complaint.

5. Attachments

Exhibit A. - Academic Adjustments for Students with Disabilities: Appeal Rights Procedures