Massachusetts Maritime Academy is committed to providing reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities. The Director of Disability Compliance works in collaboration with the faculty and other campus departments to provide support for students with disabilities. This coordination of efforts complies with the mandates of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
At the post secondary school level, a student must disclose his learning differences in order to receive reasonable academic accommodations. The Voluntary Disclosure of Disability (Form 101) is available in the Disability Compliance Office (DCO) or for ready download on the MMA website.
Once the disclosure form is completed, a student must submit documentation from a qualified professional stating the nature of the disability and its impact on the student’s learning in the college environment. This evaluation documentation must be completed within three years of enrollment to Massachusetts Maritime Academy. An I.E.P. (individualized education plan) or 504 Plan without underlying assessment documentation is not acceptable. The specific documentation requirements are available for download on the MMA website.
Once documentation is received and reviewed by the Director, a support services plan is developed with the student. Depending upon the nature of the disability, students may be eligible for one or more of the following accommodations:
Documented students should take full advantage of the accommodations to which they are entitled during the first college year and also into the second year. During the third and final years at MMA, the Director encourages a gradual weaning from reliance on accommodations for two reasons: 1/ Depending upon a selected major, a Coast Guard licensing examination will be required in the senior year. As the Coast Guard does not allow accommodations for this exam, a student will be better prepared to pass the exam if (s)he has been weaned from accommodations in the year or two preceding 2/ Whether a selected major has a licensing exam or not, accommodations for learning disabilities are not a reality in certain professions. The DCO policy is to encourage a gradual weaning from accommodations as skill and confidence in a particular discipline increases in order to better prepare a student for employment in the Merchant Marine and to better prepare a student for life in general. MMA’s strong academic support programs can help this transition.
After a student has been admitted to MMA and the proper documentation has been submitted, an intake meeting with the student and the Director will be arranged. Preferably this will occur during the late spring or early summer before enrollment at MMA. Arrangements for an intake meeting with students who travel a great distance will be made during Orientation. An intake meeting will consider the learning styles of the student and a mutual agreement plan will be developed as to how best to accommodate those differences during the academic year.
During the first two weeks of class, a student should visit the Disability Compliance Office to pick up the green Faculty Agreement Accommodation forms (Form 105) that will require signatures by the student’s professors. The forms contain a menu of accommodations. The specific accommodation needed by the named student will be indicated by a bold X next to it along with an asterisk for any additional comments or suggestions (Writing Center or LRC appointments) that will help the professor support the student’s learning style. At the bottom of the form, there are spaces for signatures: the professors, the student’s and the Director’s. The student should present the accommodation form to each of his/her professors. Ideally, this should be presented during a meeting in the professor’s office so that a thoughtful and private discussion on how best the professor might accommodate the student’s learning style can be addressed. If agreeable to the stated accommodation, the professor will sign the form, as will the student. Once the professor signs the agreement, (s)he should make a notation on his/her roster indicating that the named student is entitled to accommodations. Once signed, the particular accommodations will be left up to the discretion of the professor to arrange with the student. If the professor requires assistance, the DCO will help with arrangements.
The signed form is returned by the student to the DCO where the signed copy is maintained in the files. When forms are returned, the Director will send an e-copy of the form to the professor so that the professor can maintain an electronic file of the accommodations for each class. The professor may also elect to make a copy for his academic files. With proper documentation, students are entitled to accommodations at any point during the semester. However, for students’ academic success and for administrative convenience, these procedures are strongly encouraged during the first two weeks of class.
Once email verification has been sent to the professor, a student’s responsibility may not end. Because classes are so tightly scheduled and space is limited, a student must notify a professor in advance of any test or quiz for which (s)he will require extra time or a separate, reduced-distraction room. This is in order that arrangements may be made ahead of time, if needed. For scheduled quizzes and exams, a professor should be notified one to two class periods beforehand, if possible. For a final exam, a professor should be notified a week in advance. Failure to give adequate notice to professors of the need for separate exam room accommodations may result in the lack of those accommodations.
Occasionally, a student may not want to disclose a known disability, expecting that (s)he will succeed without academic accommodations. When the academic workload, coupled with Regiment responsibilities, becomes overwhelming, a student at mid-semester may suddenly realize (s)he needs help. Provided that this disclosure and documentation submission is timely (timely is not considered to be the day of an exam), the same initial forms procedure is to be followed: documentation submission, intake meeting, form agreement signed by professors, and forms returned to the DCO.
As the semester progresses, a previously undiagnosed student may feel that the MMA workload is unusually difficult and that (s)he may have a latent learning disability. The student is encouraged to meet with the DCO. If testing for a learning disability is indicated, this can be arranged by the student through their home physician. All testing is done at the student's expense.
There are times when a professor is not in agreement with a student’s accommodation. A discussion between the student and the particular professor about the reasons for denial and any suggested alternatives should take place. If the matter is resolved satisfactorily between student and the professor, the Director will have no further involvement. A professor should note in writing on Form 105 why (s)he is not agreeable to the accommodation, what alternative, if any, will be made, and the professor should have the student initial it. This written explanation is necessary and is required by the Office of Civil Rights. A signed and dated written record may protect against potential personal and institutional liability at a later date.
Case law supports a professor’s denial of an accommodation if the essential nature of the academic class or program is altered by it. However, any denial or alternative adjustment must be supported with a written statement. If no explanation is given, if a student is not in agreement, or if the denial appears arbitrary and an essential nature of the class is not compromised, the Director will mediate the accommodations issue. If that discussion cannot reach a mutual resolution, a meeting with the Academic Dean and the Department Chair will be arranged to fully vet the issue. Since arbitrary denials of accommodations can violate civil rights afforded to disabled students under the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and can predispose parties to personal and institutional liability, a final determination by MMA legal counsel (Form 107) will be made, if necessary.
Employee and Student ADA Claims
Employees and students who have a disability or who suffer from a temporary disability may be eligible to receive reasonable accommodations in their work and study environment at MMA. The Director works interactively with all campus departments to ensure compliance under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Forms requesting such accommodations are available in the Disability Office and in the Human Resources Office. When a request is made to the Director, submission of supporting medical documentation may be necessary. Depending upon the particular nature and duration of the disability, periodic medical documentation and/or an independent evaluation may be required.
last updated 9-1-11 by email@example.com