Program for Academic Support and Services (PASS)
The Program for Academic Support and Services (PASS) is dedicated to improving the educational development of students with documented disabilities and to enhancing understanding and support within the campus community. As Notre Dame de Namur University strives to value, embrace and reflect human and intellectual diversity, the PASS strives to accomplish this through the principles of equal access and opportunity.
Notre Dame de Namur University’s PASS, as required under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, makes every reasonable effort to provide appropriate accommodations and assistance to students with disabilities. The objective is to ensure that our students receive equal access to all NDNU programs and services. To that end, we seek to balance the student’s right to access with our obligation to protect the integrity of NDNU’s programs and services.
Definition of Disabilities
NDNU is required by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act to provide effective auxiliary aids and services for qualified students with documented disabilities if such aids are needed to provide equitable access to NDNU’s programs and services. Federal law defines a disability as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” Major life activities are defined as the ability to perform functions such as walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working or taking care of oneself. It is important to note that an impairment in and of itself does not necessarily constitute a disability. The degree of impairment must be significant enough to “substantially limit” one or more major life activities. Therefore, documentation provided by a qualified professional must address the substantial limitation posed by the student’s impairment.
Besides impairments pertaining to vision, hearing, physical well-being and perception, individuals with disabilities may also include those with emotional or mental illness; illness such as cancer, heart disease or AIDS; learning disabilities such as dyslexia and dysgraphia; and physical impairments such as repetitive strain injury (RSI) or carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). These and other types of disabilities do not necessarily impair the individual’s performance but may require the individual to seek alternative methods of carrying out a given task.
PASS Policy Statement
NDNU is committed to compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
A. Section 202 of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act:
“No qualified individual shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs or activities of any public entity, or be subject to discrimination by any such entity.”
B. Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act:
“No otherwise qualified, handicapped individual in the United States shall solely, by reason of his handicap, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”
Policy on Providing Services
Accommodation decisions are the product of an interactive process which involves students and their past academic history, parents, PASS office, academic advisers, faculty members and, where necessary, outside experts. Students who provide incomplete documentation are offered assistance and guidance, such as referrals for additional testing. Academic accommodations that are judged to have a negative impact on the academic integrity of the educational program (e.g., those that would fundamentally alter the program of study) will not be honored. The final determination for providing appropriate and reasonable accommodations rests with NDNU. The PASS ensures that the ultimate decision conforms with well established practices in the field and pertinent legal precedents.
Eligibility Policy for PASS Services
All students must meet the requirements for admission to NDNU. After being accepted for admission to NDNU, the student should bring or send a copy of their documentation of disability immediately. A student with a disability needs to meet the qualifications set by PASS for learning support and services.
PASS is committed to:
- Compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, and Section 202 of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended
- Informing students of services available for disabled students
- Providing written verification relative to the student’s eligibility to receive reasonable accommodations
- Evaluating the information provided by the appropriately credentialed professional to determine eligibility and reasonable accommodations
- Keeping the information regarding the student’s disability confidential until the student signs a release of information form
- Maintaining the academic integrity of its programs
The PASS Coordinator
The PASS Coordinator is a qualified professional available to:
- Assist students who have a disability by reviewing documentation supplied by appropriate licensed professionals
- Consult with students to design and develop the Student Academic Accommodation Request (SAAR)
- Provide referrals to diagnostic services, campus resources and community resources
- Consult with faculty and staff who have questions and/or concerns regarding a student’s academic accommodations and other issues pertaining to a disability
- Design, develop and implement academic success plans
- Consult with the Registrar in gathering information regarding students who need accessible classrooms
- Coordinate academic support services
Karin Sponholz, M.S.W., Ph.D., Director of Counseling, Health and Disability Services