Eastern Michigan University

Frequently Asked Questions

What constitutes a disability?

An individual with a disability is defined as anyone with a physical or mental impairment that substanially limits one or more major life activities, such as walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, working, or learning. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) further defines "disability" as broadly covering people in three categories:

  • people who currently have a disability;
  • people who have a history of a disability; and
  • those who are regarded* as having a disability whether or not they actually have a disability.

*According to the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments, individuals who are regarded as having a disability are protected from discriminatory treatment but are not entitled to reasonable accommodations.

What is the role of the Disability Resource Center (DRC)?

The DRC recognizes that some students have a disability that impacts their academic or campus experience due to an incompatible environment. The DRC advocates for an accessible educational environment by working collaboratively with students and EMU faculty, staff, and administration to coordinate reasonable accommodations that allow equal access and opportunity to our courses, programs, and services. Ultimately, this can improve a student's ability to learn, study, and participate in campus activities.

What is the accommodation process?

Students who have a disability are responsible for contacting the DRC to request accommodations. Students will meet with a Disability Advisor to discuss their disability and accommodations that would reduce the impact of the environment on the disability. Once the student has gone through the process and reasonable accommodations are determined, the student will receive an accommodation letter from the DRC to provide to each instructor. The student is responsible to then initiate a conversation with the instructor to determine how accommodations will work for their particular course.

How are accommodation decisions made for students with disabilities?

The DRC determines accommodations on an individual basis. When evaluating a request for accommodations, the following are considered:

  • barriers resulting from the interaction between the disability and campus courses, programs, services, and activities;
  • possible accommodations that may remove the barriers;
  • whether or not the individual has equal access without accommodaitons;
  • whether or not the essential elements of the program or course are fundamentally altered by the accommodations;
  • reasonable and unreasonable accommodation guidelines.

As previously mentioned, the student is responsible for contacting the DRC to request accommodations. If the student does not initiate this process, accommodations are not provided.

What are reasonable accommodations?

Accommodations are modifications to the ways in which things are usually done. The purpose of effective accommodations is to provide students with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate and benefit from college. The following are examples of the most common accommodations that permit a student with a disability to effectively participate in the educational process:

  • Changes to a classroom environment or task:extened time for an exam, the use of a dictionary or spell checker, materials in alternative format;
  • Removal of architectural barriers:adapting a classroom to meet the needs of a student who uses a wheelchair;
  • Exceptions to policies, practices or procedures:priority registration or accessing assignments early;
  • Provision of auxiliary aids and services:providing a sign language interpreter, or providing a note-taker or scribe.

In accordance with the law, there are some modifications that the college or university does not provide. Examples include:

  • personal devices, such as wheelchairs;
  • personal services, such as private tutoring or personal attendants;
  • accommodations that would place the student or others at health's or safety's rist as a result of the accommodation; for example, a science lab or medical program scenario;
  • modifications that lower or change course standards or program standards (including waivers);
  • modifications that would change the essence of a program (including waivers);
  • services that are unduly burdensome - administratively or financially.
What is considered an unreasonable accommodation?

Eastern Michigan University is not required to offer or provide an accommodation, to admit or continue to admit an individual with a disability to any course, program, service or activity, or to provide educational opportunities and other services when:

  • the educational standards or mission of Eastern Michigan University would be substantially altered;
  • the nature of the course, program, service or activity would be fundamentally altered;
  • the student is not otherwise qualified (with or without accommodations) to meet the academic and technical standards required for admission or participation in an education course, program, serivce or activity;
  • an undue financial or administrative hardship (college-wide) would be caused by the accommodation; and
  • if the individual would pose a direct threat to the health or safety of self or others.

Additionally, EMU is not required to provide accommodations of a personal nature, such as a personal care attendant or personal use equipment.

What types of accommodations are available?
  • Extended time on exams;
  • Quiet testing outside of the classroom;
  • Use of a computer for essay exams;
  • Volunteer note taker services;
  • Use of a scribe and/or reader for exams;
  • Attendance accommodation;
  • Early course registration
  • Use of equipment/software such as a tape recorder, FM loop, Dragon Naturally Speaking
  • Talking calculator;
  • Books in alternative format

Other accommodations may be available on a case-by-case basis.

What are the grievance procedures?

Students who have questions or concerns regarding the denial of accommodations or possible discriminatory action may request a review of the situation by contacting the DRC. This review will include consultation with the director of the DRC and any other relevant parties. If, after this review, the student continues to believe he/she has been discriminated against due to disability, he or she may contact the EMU Ombudsman in a timely manner to file a complaint.





Eastern Michigan University recognizes its responsibility to help facilitate a campus-wide climate that does not discriminate against anyone on the basis of disability. The responsibility of upholding a climate that allows for equal access to all campus opportunities is share equally among all faculty, staff, and students.

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