Policies and Procedures

Notice of Non-discrimination Policy as to Students

Case Western Reserve University admits students of any race, religion, age, sex, color, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and national or ethnic origin to all the rights and privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the University. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, age, sex, color, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or national or ethnic origin in administering its educational policies, admission policies, employment, promotion and compensation policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic or other University-administered programs.


Case Western Reserve University is committed to providing all students (see below) with opportunities to take full advantage of the University's educational, academic, and residential programs. We recognize that students with documented disabilities may need assistance or accommodations in order to achieve this objective.

This document outlines the policies and procedures used in determining a student's eligibility for disability services. These procedures are applicable to all undergraduate students and all graduate students registered through the School of Graduate Studies, the Weatherhead School of Management, MSASS, the FPB School of Nursing, and the School of Medicine. The following graduate programs follow this policy, however the accommodation process may be modified to meet the unique needs of the programs: the School of Dental Medicine and the School of Law. Students in these programs should consult with their student services personnel for policy information.


Students are defined as those who are matriculating into or enrolled in courses of study on the Case Western Reserve University campus. This includes students who are not seeking a Case Western Reserve University degree, such as transient students, non-degree seeking students, and faculty or staff taking courses.

A disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, or having a record of such an impairment, or being regarded as having such an impairment. A physical or mental impairment is defined as any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following major bodily functions: neurological; musculoskeletal; respiratory; special sense organs; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; immune system; normal cell growth; brain; circulatory; bowel; bladder; genitourinary, hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine, or any mental or psychological disorder such as an intellectual disability, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities.

Major life activities include functions such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, standing, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.

A temporary disability is an acute illness or injury that impacts the student's ability to access the physical campus and/or the academic curriculum.

Initiating the Process

Students are never obligated to self-disclose their disability to Disability Resources, other staff members or faculty. However, students with disabilities who wish to obtain accommodations, auxiliary aids and/or services, must self-disclose their disability and direct their request(s) for accommodation(s) to the office of Disability Resources in Educational Services for Students (ESS). An appointment can be made by visiting ESS in 470 Sears, calling the office at 216.368.5230 or e-mailing the office at disability@case.edu.

In order to proceed with a determination of eligibility for services and the provision of applicable and reasonable accommodations, students must disclose their disability using the disclosure form available through the Disability Resources webpage. Newly admitted undergraduate students may also access the disclosure form through the orientation checklist. Under separate cover, students must submit documentation of their disability to the office of Disability Resources. (See below for information regarding necessary documentation.)

While students can disclose a disability and request an accommodation at any time during their enrollment, students are encouraged to disclose the need for accommodation(s) as soon as possible. Time for documentation review and arrangement of accommodation(s) is necessary, and may take four to six weeks.

Temporary Disabilities

Students should be aware that the University is not obligated to provide accommodations for students with temporary disabilities, but will attempt to do so when feasible.

As a courtesy, Disability Resources will attempt to provide services to students who experience acute illness or injury that will allow them to access the physical campus as well as the academic curriculum. For instance, if a student breaks the wrist of his/her dominant hand, Disability Resources may be able to provide a scribe for a test for the student. However, as is the case for permanently disabled students, the student would be responsible for all out of class work product.

If the injury or illness necessitates handicapped parking accessibility, and/or campus transportation services, the student should contact Disability Resources in ESS for assistance. Undergraduate Studies and Disability Resources will coordinate efforts to assist students needing any other services as a result of their temporary injury or illness. Graduate students should work with their respective departments or schools, and Disability Resources in ESS to obtain assistance in the event of a temporary illness or injury.


In order to seek appropriate accommodations for a disability, students are required to provide written documentation of their disability. Documentation must be from a qualified professional who has knowledge of the disability and of the specific student. The professional must be trained and qualified to render a diagnosis and to recommend accommodations for that particular disability. Since students with disabilities are a heterogeneous group, no single professional group is qualified to offer documentation for all disabilities. In fact, documentation concerning a student's needs may come from multiple sources. One individual may make the diagnosis, but a different professional may determine the practical limitations of that diagnosis. For example, a physician may diagnose a student with rheumatoid arthritis, but an occupational therapist may determine the physical limitations the student encounters in daily living.

Complete documentation should include a diagnosis of the disability and a prognosis indicating the current status of the disorder as well as the expectation for the stability of the condition. Information should also include an explanation of the nature of the physical or mental impairment and its impact on any major life activity. Any psychological or physical test data relevant to the diagnosis should be included. Finally, any history and/or recommendations for accommodations should be part of the documentation. Students are responsible for obtaining and providing Disability Resources with the documentation from a qualified professional. In addition, students may be asked to sign a release of information form, authorizing the qualified professional to disclose information to a professional staff member from Disability Resources.

The student is responsible for presenting documentation to the office of Disability Resources in English. The documentation must either be translated by a certified translator, or the disability condition and the functional limitations that result must be verified by a qualified professional who can provide written documentation in English.

The following forms may also be used by providers to provide qualified documentation:

Determining Eligibility and Accommodations

Upon receipt of the documentation, the professional staff of Disability Resources will review it to determine the following: 1) that the source of the documentation is appropriate, 2) that the documentation is complete, 3) that the information in the documentation is current, 4) that the student is a qualified person with a disability, and 5) that the documentation supports the requested accommodations. A professional member of Disability Resources will ordinarily have an initial meeting with the student to obtain complete information on the disability and the requested accommodations. If the documentation is incomplete or insufficient to make a determination, the staff member will either request that the student obtain and submit additional documentation or contact the student's health care provider for additional information. The office of Disability Resources may consult with appropriate University and community professionals when considering eligibility and reasonable accommodations. The professional staff of Disability Resources will then determine the student's eligibility and interact with the student as outlined in the following section to determine any necessary and reasonable accommodations.

In order to determine reasonable accommodations, the staff will give consideration to the student's preferred method. However, another suitable method of accommodation may be provided. If a requested accommodation is unreasonable, is an undue burden on the University, poses a direct threat to the student or others, or would result in a fundamental alteration of any University program, Disability Resources will determine a reasonable alternative accommodation(s), if any exists, to accommodate the student.

Policy on Dedicated Book Readers

The University will not purchase, require, recommend or promote use of a dedicated electronic book reader for use by students in its classes, curricula, or other programs unless or until such electronic book reader is fully accessible to individuals with visual impairments or the University provides a reasonable modification for this type of technology to individuals needing such modification due to visual impairments. A dedicated electronic book reader will be considered fully accessible to individuals with visual impairments if all uses of the device that are available to individuals without disabilities are available to individuals with visual impairments in a manner which ensures that its use in the University is equally as effective for individuals with visual impairments as it is for others. A "dedicated electronic book reader" means any wireless, hand-held, electronic book reader marketed as a dedicated device for the express purpose of being used exclusively as an electronic book. "Reasonable modification" means that visually impaired individuals may access and acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as sighted students with substantially equivalent ease of use.

Arranging Accommodations

Academic accommodations are determined via an interactive process based on the student's requested accommodations, the review by the professional staff of Disability Resources, the documentation from the qualified professional, and the course schedule of the student for the particular semester. Accommodations are not made retroactively.

In most instances, a memo from the student and a professional staff member from Disability Resources will be provided to the professor or teaching assistant for courses in which accommodations are needed. The memo sets out the classroom accommodations to be made for the student for that semester. No diagnosis is mentioned in the memo to the professor or teaching assistant. The student is responsible for giving the professor or the teaching assistant the memo and using it to initiate a dialogue about implementing the reasonable accommodations. As a result of this dialogue, the student and the professor or teaching assistant will determine reasonable methods for making the accommodation(s). Students are expected to self-advocate during this process; however, the professional staff of Disability Resources is available to assist both the student and the professor or teaching assistant in determining which accommodation method will be used. Students who are eligible for disability services and who need memos to present to professors to arrange for accommodations must make an appointment with the office of Disability Resources to develop a plan at the beginning of each semester.

Students needing non-academic accommodations such as housing modifications, special room assignments or housing releases, handicapped parking, responsive transportation, or other programmatic or physical access should follow the same guidelines for documentation as described above. Once a determination of reasonable accommodations is made, a staff member from Disability Resources will authorize the accommodation other University departments, as appropriate. Students are responsible for following all required procedures for obtaining services or products from other University Departments (e.g. completing a housing application, parking application, etc.).

If at any time a student's condition changes, it is the student's responsibility to contact Disability Resources to discuss possible changes to the current accommodations.

Eligibility and Accommodation Appeal Process

Students who are denied eligibility or who are dissatisfied with an accommodation method may request that the Associate Director of Disability Resources reconsider the decision. The Associate Director or designee will review the student file and any additional documentation provided by the student, and meet with the student if necessary. The Associate Director or designee will issue a reconsideration decision in writing.

If students are still dissatisfied after the Associate Director or designee reconsiders the issue, an appeal may be made to the Office of the Vice President for Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity, who is the University's designated Section 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act—Amended Compliance Officer. The Office of the Vice President for Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity is located in 310 Adelbert Hall.

The appeal request should be made within five (5) business days of receipt of notification of denial of eligibility or a decision on an accommodation method. The appeal must be submitted in writing to the Vice President for review and should state the grounds for the appeal.

The review by the Vice President will include meeting with the student, a meeting with the Associate Director of Disability Resources and other members of the Disability Resources staff as appropriate, and a review of the file and supporting documentation. The Vice President may also meet with faculty members and other persons with information about the issue. Based on this review, the Vice President will make a determination in writing, to grant or deny the appeal and/or to refer the matter back to the Associate Director for further consideration consistent with the Vice President's decision. The Vice President's decision will be forwarded to the student and the Associate Director of Disability Resources. The decision of the Vice President is final.

During a pending appeal, the student will be provided with the initial accommodations, if any, determined by the Associate Director.

Grievance Procedures for Disability Discrimination Complaints

Case Western Reserve University has adopted an internal grievance procedure for handling complaints of discrimination on the basis of disability. Students who feel they have been discriminated against on the basis of disability may contact the Office of the Vice President for Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity. The Vice President for Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity, or designee, will investigate student complaints of disability discrimination. In resolving such complaints, the University will use the Informal Grievance Process as outlined in the most current Handbook for Undergraduate Students.

Confidentiality and Protection of Privacy

All documentation provided to Disability Resources in Educational Services for Students to determine eligibility for disability services and appropriate accommodations is kept confidential. This information is not part of the student's academic file. It will only be shared with other administrators, departments, staff, and faculty who have a legitimate educational interest in the information and require information on academic restrictions, necessary accommodations or safety requirements. In other instances, students will be asked to sign a release of information form when they want information to be shared with other University departments, staff, or faculty. If a student presents documentation to University departments other than ESS, that documentation may be forwarded to Disability Resources in ESS; however, this does not constitute an official disclosure by the student of a disability, and the student must follow the stated process to request disability accommodations. Disability Resources in ESS is the department at Case Western Reserve University responsible for determining eligibility for disability services. It is not necessary for the student to disclose the diagnosis of the disability to any other Case Western Reserve University department, staff, or faculty in order to be accommodated.