Students With Disabilities

Welcome to the Accessibility Resource Office (ARO) page. Below you will find the answers to many of your questions. If you have further questions please let us know at aro@saintmarys.edu.

Saint Mary's College (SMC) commits to complying with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) to provide accommodations to students with disabilities. SMC strives to provide equitable access to educational resources and reasonable accommodations to support an inclusive academic community. When self-identifying, students with disabilities can be referred to the Accessibility Resource Office (ARO) by admissions counselors, advisors, faculty, or staff. a referral in its self does not obligate the College to provide accomodations. The following policies and procedures outline how a student can request and receive accommodations.

Documentation

Below you will find guidelines for expected documentation. Please take a few minutes to read and understand them, as doing so will help expedite your review process. If you have any questions, please let us know.

Documentation provided must be current and specific with the impact of the disability clearly noted. You must upload documentation of your disability from a qualified professional. A list is provided at the end of this document. Documentation must include a formal diagnosis (ICD 10 or DSM-V) as well as a discussion of how the diagnosis is an impairment to a major life activity. All documentation will be kept confidential and separate from your student academic file. Once the documentation is submitted and reviewed, the student will be contacted by email to their Saint Mary's account to advise of the determination.
In an effort to help clarify what is expected for documentation, please review the following:

  • Letters or forms should be typed on healthcare provider letterhead, signed with an actual signature, dated and include the name, title, credentials, state and license number of the professional.​​
  • Letters or forms should include a clear diagnostic statement identifying the disability and a description of the diagnostic methodology being used.​
  •  Letters or forms should include a description of the current functional limitations impacting the student and a statement of the level of impairment to major life activity in terms of the severity, frequency and pervasiveness of the condition(s).
  •  Letters or forms should include a description of the expected progression or stability of the disability (i.e. any expected changes in the functional impact of the disability over time and context).
  • Letters forms should include a description of current and past accommodations and/or services. While these are not binding on the current institution, they may provide insight for current planning purposes.
  • A recommendation for requested accommodations and a rationale as to how these are logically and currently related to functional limitation. Recommendations should be from professionals with a history of working with the student as they may provide valuable information.
  • All documentation from clinicians must be written in English.

Please note that no academic adjustment can fundamentally alter the course or program.

ACCEPTABLE PRACTITIONERS

MD
DO
PhD
DDS
DMD
Psy.D
MSW
LCSW
Fully Licensed Counselor
Licensed Audiologist (Not Audiology Assistant)

Eligibility

A disability is defined by the ADA as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.
 

Students with disabilities are not required to disclose their disabilities to faculty, staff, or other college entities. To receive accommodations, students must disclose to and register with the Accessibility Resource Office (ARO). The ARO determines accommodations on an individual basis through the interactive process, including a documentation request and review, intake interview, and assessment of provided information.

Rights & Responsibilities

Students with disabilities have the right to enjoy equal opportunity and access to SMC courses, programs, and services. To do so, students with disabilities have the right to request and receive pedagogically appropriate accommodations. Students who disagree with a decision or denial of an accommodation request have the right to appeal such decisions through informal or formal processes. Students can expect the confidential handling of disability information.
 

Students are responsible for participating in the interactive process by self-identifying to the ARO, requesting accommodations, and providing appropriate documentation. Students are also responsible for making prompt requests, notifying the ARO when an issue arises, and meeting all technical standards for classes with or without accommodations. Students are expected to be the primary contact with the office.
 

SMC has the right to request and receive appropriate documentation to support accommodation requests. SMC also has the right to deny requests deemed unreasonable or unfounded, including requests that fundamentally alter an academic program's nature or cause an undue burden on the institution.
 

SMC's responsibility is to provide equitable access to all programs, activities, and courses it offers. The ARO will advocate for students and assist in coordinating with faculty, staff, and support services in providing clear expectations and the appropriate implementation of approved accommodations.
 

By registering with the Accessibility Resource Office, students with disabilities can speak with someone regarding strategies and accommodations to remove disability-related barriers by following the steps below. After a registration gap of more than one academic year, returning students must contact the ARO to discuss accommodation updates and reinstatement.

New Student Registration

New students must contact ARO@saintmarys.edu with their accommodation requests and provide documentation of disability. Students should refer to the Documentation Guidelines for appropriate sources of documentation. If a student does not have documentation of a disability, they should contact the ARO to discuss the next steps.
 

The ARO can provide a list of possible referral agencies for students without documentation; however, students are encouraged to contact their insurance company for an appropriate diagnostic agency.
 

When a request is received, the ARO will reach out to the student with an invitation to set up a confidential discussion to identify educational barriers and discuss accommodations. Students should plan accordingly, as a response could take up to two business days.

The Interactive Process

After students make a request, the ARO will contact them regarding an appointment. During the meeting, the student will have a confidential discussion to identify educational barriers and discuss what accommodations would best support them. The ARO will consider all provided information when making a determination, including documentation and the student's self-report, and will contact the student with the decision. Should a reasonable request be considered unfounded, the ARO may ask for additional documentation. Students may appeal denied accommodation decisions by contacting the Director of the Accessibility Resources Office.

Housing Accommodations

Students needing housing accommodations should request them no later than May 15th for fall and August 15th for spring semester accommodations. While students my request housing accommodation at any time, faliure to do so may result in students being put on a priority list if the room type is not available. Requests for service or assistance animals or ESAs or other housing accommodations should be made to aro@saintmarys.edu.

Emotional Support Animals

Saint Marys College recognizes the importance of “Service Animals” as defined by the Americans with Disability Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) and the broader category of “Emotional Support Animals” (ESAs) under the Fair Housing Act that provide physical and/or emotional support to individuals with disabilities. Saint Mary's College is committed to allowing individuals with disabilities the use of a Service Animal on campus to facilitate their full participation and equal access to the College’s programs and activities. Saint Mary's College is also committed to allowing Emotional Support Animals when necessary to provide individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to use and enjoy College housing. Saint Mary's College reserves the right to amend this policy as circumstances require. This policy applies solely to Emotional Support Animals, which may be necessary in College housing. It does not apply to “Service Animals” as defined by the ADAAA.
 

Although it is the policy of Saint Marys College that individuals are generally prohibited from having animals of any type in College housing, Saint Marys College will consider a request by an individual with a disability for reasonable accommodation to allow an Emotional Support Animal. However, no Emotional Support Animal may be kept in College housing at any time prior to the individual receiving approval pursuant to this policy.

Definitions

Pets: A pet is any animal kept for ordinary use and companionship. Animals, as defined below, are not considered pets. As described in the Saint Mary's College Housing and Dining Regulations, “Fish and other aquatic animals that can only survive in water are the only pets permitted by students in college housing.”

Emotional Support Animals: An Emotional Support Animal (or ESA) is an animal selected to play an integral part in a person’s treatment process. The animal demonstrates a good temperament and reliable, predictable behavior in the context of housing.  An emotional support animal is prescribed to an individual with a disability by a mental health or health care professional. This animal is not a service animal, and unlike a service animal, an emotional support animal does not assist a person with a disability with activities of daily living, nor does it accompany a person with a disability at all times. Laws protecting service animals do not cover emotional support animals, and therefore emotional support animals are not permitted in any Saint Mary's facility or in any residential dwellings outside of the student’s assigned housing. Based on the

Fair Housing Act, for a student to have an emotional support animal in housing on campus:

  • The student must have a disability as defined by the ADA, and
  • The animal is documented as necessary to provide the student with a disability “an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling,” and
  • An established relationship exists between the assistance the animal provides and the disability of the student.

Owner: The Owner is the individual who has requested the accommodation and received approval to bring an ESA into College housing.

Accessibility Resources: Accessibility Resources (ARO) collaborates with individuals, faculty, and staff to ensure that individuals with disabilities have equal access to all College programs and activities.

Policies

An ESA may reside in college housing when it may be necessary to afford the person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy residential housing. Before an ESA can move into college housing with a person with a disability, a request must be submitted to Saint Mary's College’s Accessibility Resources, and approval must be granted. The ARO requires documentation from a licensed physician or mental health provider with whom there is an established therapeutic or medical relationship, including without limitation a qualified psychiatrist, social worker, or other mental health professional, to provide sufficient information for Accessibility Resources to determine: That the individual qualifies as a person with a disability (i.e., has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities); and that the animal may be necessary to afford the person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy College housing (i.e., that the animal would provide emotional support or other assistance that would ameliorate one or more symptoms or effects of the disability).
 

If the request for an ESA is made fewer than 60 days before the individual intends to move into College housing, Saint Mary's cannot guarantee that it will be able to meet the individual’s accommodation needs during the first semester of occupancy.
If the need for the accommodation arises when an individual already resides in College housing, they should contact the Accessibility Resources Office and complete the Request Form as soon as practicably possible. Saint Mary's cannot guarantee that it will be able to meet the accommodation needs during the semester or term in which the request is received.

 

College housing is unique in several aspects, including the mandatory assignment of roommates for many individuals and the mandate that individuals must share a room or suite in certain residence halls. To ensure that the presence of an ESA is not an undue administrative burden or fundamental alteration of College housing, Saint Mary's College reserves the right to assign an individual with an assistance animal to a different room. 
Like all disability accommodations, the determination of whether or not an ESA will be permitted in Saint Mary's College housing is made on a case-by-case basis through an interactive process between the student and the ARO.

Procedures for Requesting an ESA

A student who wishes to request an ESA must complete and submit an application via the ESA Documentation Form to Accessibility Resources. Professionals filling out this document must have a minimum three month history of a therapeutic relationship with the student.The form must be completed by a professional such as a counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, or general care practitioner, e.g.,  MD, DO, Ph.D.​ If at anytime the student wishes to utilize a different species, they must go through the documentation process again, documenting the relatonship and functional need of the new animal. 
 

If the animal is not legally permitted to be owned within the State of Indiana, the animal cannot be considered as an assistance animal at Saint Mary's. Additionally, ​animals that may pose a danger or potential danger to other residents will be prohibited. The College considers the size of the animal and whether it is too large for available assigned housing space in determining whether to approve the presence of an assistance animal. Owners of the animal are fully responsible for all care and behavior of the animal; this includes any damage or harm the animal causes. Animals deemed uncared for, or a threat to others will not be allowed. Assistance animals must be 12 months old or fully housebroken and fully immunized against diseases common to the species. An annual record of a clean bill of health from a veterinarian is required for submission to Residence Life.
 

As a general rule, reptiles (with the exception of turtles) are not considered an ESA. These animals can carry zoonotic diseases, which pose a health risk to the community at large. Local licensing and animal control requirements must be followed, and If the student resides with a roommate who has a disability or condition that does not permit living with an animal, the student with the emotional support animal as an accommodation may be asked to move into other college housing. Approved Emotional support animals may only be included in the student’s living space. Assistance animals are not permitted in common areas or in academic buildings.
 

The Accessibility Resources Office will provide approvals to Residence Life for processing.  Residence Life will work with the student to gather all additional documentation, roommate agreements and determine the date the animal is allowed on campus.

Responsibilities of Students Using Emotional Support Animals

Saint Mary's College is not responsible for the care or supervision of emotional support animals. People with disabilities are responsible for the cost, care, and supervision of the animals, including any damages the ESA may cause. Please be aware that the student who is approved for an accommodation of an assistance animal will be named handler.  The handler may also be a designee named by the owner in case of emergency.

The handler is responsible for the assistance animal’s care and behavior as well as costs associated with these.

When the handler is not present, the assistance animal must be caged or crated.

Compliance is required with any laws pertaining to animal licensing, vaccination, and owner identification.

Care and supervision of the ESA are solely the responsibility of the owner/handler.

Any vaccinations or preventative health measures are the responsibility of the owner.

The owner must be in full control of the ESA at all times.

ESAs may not pose a direct threat to the health and safety of persons on the college campus, cause physical damage to property, or fundamentally alter the nature of the College operations.

The ESA must be maintained and kept clean and free from fleas, ticks, or other health hazards.

An animal’s behavior, noise, odor, and waste must not exceed reasonable standards for a well-behaved animal. These factors should not create unreasonable disruptions for other residents. If noise is excessive as judged by residence life staff, it is grounds to remove the ESA from campus. ESAs may also be excluded from the college campus if the animal behaves in an unacceptable way and the student does not control the ESA. Uncontrolled barking, jumping on other people, or running away from the handler are some examples of unacceptable behavior for an ESA. Any suspected or observed issues related to animal abuse or neglect will be reported to the proper investigatory authorities and may subject the owner to college disciplinary action.
 

The student is responsible for immediately cleaning up and properly disposing of the ESA’s waste and is responsible for having the equipment to do so. People who are physically unable to accomplish this task are responsible for arranging for cleanup and for any costs incurred.  The College retains the right to designate a particular area for the ESA to relieve itself and/or for the disposal of its waste. ESAs are limited to the residential space (room) of the student except when exiting or entering the student’s residential building. The owner may not take the ESA into bathrooms, laundry facilities, indoor recreational rooms, lounges, hallways, computer labs, study rooms, or other areas of the residence hall. It cannot be taken into classrooms or other buildings on campus or allowed to roam freely on campus grounds.The owner, not the College, is responsible for the actions of the ESA, including, but not limited to, any bodily injury or property damage. 
 

Students with ESAs are likely to be charged if additional cleaning or damage occurs as a result of having the animal on campus. The student is expected to pay these costs upon repair or cleaning. For the safety of workers, any work orders submitted to the College must have an indication that there is an animal in the room. The work order should also indicate the type of animal.

Ethical Treatment:

Every year across the country, at the end of the school year, many ESA are abandoned to fend for themselves. This is not an ethical treatment of an animal. Please give thorough thought to the responsibilities and long-term commitment that having an ESA entails before requesting one.  

Restrictions

Saint Mary's may pose some restrictions on an animal under certain circumstances. Any animal may be excluded from an area in which it was previously authorized if:

  • The animal is out of control, and effective action is not taken to control it;​
  • The animal is not housebroken;​
  • The owner fails to maintain the cage or litter box such that the cleanliness of the room is not maintained;​
  • The animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others that cannot be mitigated by reasonable modifications of policies, practices, or procedures or the provision of auxiliary aids or services.​

In considering whether an animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, Accessibility Resources and Residential Life will make an individualized assessment based on reasonable judgment. If the student is told to remove the animal from the campus and has not done so within 24 hours, the College reserves the right to remove the animal and take it to a local humane society. The student will then be reported to judicial affairs for violation of the student code of conduct.