Disability Services Center

Rights and Responsibilities

Rights and Responsibilities to Ensure Educational Access for Students with Disabilities


Educational access is the provision of classroom accommodations, auxiliary aids and services to ensure equal educational opportunities for all students regardless of disability. Creating equal educational opportunities is a collaborative effort between the student, the faculty member, and Disability Services Center (DSC) at USM.  DSC is available at 207-780-4706 or online

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 protect students with disabilities from discrimination that may occur as a result of misconceptions, attitudinal barriers, and/or failure of the institution to provide appropriate accommodations, auxiliary aids, or services. Examples of accommodations and auxiliary aids include, but are not limited to:  qualified interpreters, note takers, extra time for exams, and educational materials in alternate format (i.e. Braille, captioned videos, electronic format, large print materials).  

Faculty Rights and Responsibilities

Faculty have the right to:

  • Request verification of a student’s eligibility for any requested accommodations. Such verification will be in the form of a letter written by a DSC counselor and delivered by the student. DSC is the only office designated to review disability documentation and determine eligibility for appropriate accommodations. Faculty should not require students to show documentation beyond their faculty accommodation letter.
  • Expect the student to initiate accommodation requests. 
  • If the student is taking their tests at the DSC, expect the DSC to administer exams in a secure and monitored environment.

Faculty have the responsibility to:

  • Identify and establish essential functions, abilities, skills, and knowledge of their courses and evaluate students on this basis. Students with disabilities should meet the same course expectations as their peers.
  • Provide disability-based accommodations only to students who are registered with DSC.
  • Use a syllabus statement and class announcements to invite students to disclose their needs. A recommended syllabus statement is available on the DSC website
  • Meet with student to discuss implementing accommodations and consult with DSC as needed.
  • Treat and protect all disability-related information as confidential.
  • Clearly communicate your testing procedures with the student and with DSC by completing a Request for Instructions (sent to you electronically from the DSC).  DSC requests exam instructions at least 24 hours prior to the exam.

PLEASE NOTE: Faculty do NOT have the right to ask students if they have a disability.  For those students with documented disabilities, faculty do NOT have the right to ask about the nature of the disability.  However, if students choose to disclose their disability, this information should be treated confidentially.

Student Rights and Responsibilities

Students have the right to:

  • Expect all disability-related information to be treated confidentially. 
  • Receive appropriate accommodations in a timely manner from faculty or the DSC.  Students should have the opportunity to meet privately with faculty to discuss needed accommodations and any other concerns.
  • Appeal decisions regarding accommodations. 
  • Request assistance from the DSC as needed.

Students have the responsibility to:

  • Provide DSC with appropriate documentation of the disability.
  • Provide an accommodation letter to the faculty and initiate requests for specific accommodations in a timely manner, preferably early in the semester. 
  • Notify faculty/DSC immediately when an accommodation is not being provided completely or correctly.
  • Submit timely requests for note taking, testing taking, and alternative texts.  These request forms can be found on the disability services website.

DSC Rights and Responsibilities

DSC has the right to:

  • Receive the appropriate documentation from the student prior to the services being initiated.
  • Expect students and faculty to work with DSC to facilitate academic accommodations. 
  • Deny accommodations if they impose undue hardship to, or fundamentally alter, a program or activity of the college.

DSC has the responsibility to:

  • Meet with the student privately in an accessible location to discuss disability-related needs.
  • Review and maintain confidential records.
  • Administer exams as directed in a secure and monitored environment.
  • Provide appropriate accommodations in collaboration with the instructor and student.
  • Provide materials in accessible format upon request.

Information from this document was adapted from a publication funded by the U.S. Department of Education under grant #P333A020033-03, as well as through The Ohio State University's Fast Facts for Faculty: Rights and Responsibilities to Assure Educational Access for Students with Disabilities website.