swocc students graduatingFrequently asked questions about Service Animals and the ADA Disability Services at Southwestern

What is a disability?

A disability is a psychological, physical, or cognitive condition that substantially limits a major life activity. Examples of life activities are moving, communicating, seeing, hearing, thinking, sleeping, eating, etc. The disability can be temporary or permanent.

Mission of Disability Services for Students

The mission of the Disability Services for Students Office (DSS) is to create a barrier-free environment, to support and celebrate the uniqueness and individualism of students, and to challenge stereotypes and myths about disability. The mission of the DSS office is aligned with the mission of the college, fostering self-determination, lifelong learning and social contribution. The DSS office respects all people regardless of disability, economic status, gender, race, religion, political affiliation, ethnic background or sexual orientation.

Download a list of accommodations the College has in place and for information on disabilities etiquette:
Disability Accommodations and Etiquette 

What is Disability Services for Students?

Disability Services for Students (DSS), located in the Educational Support Programs and Services department in Stensland Hall, provides services, advocacy, and support to students with documented disabilities.

DSS also provides assistance to the general campus community in responding appropriately to students with disabilities by providing reasonable accommodations based on disability documentation.

What services are available to students with disabilities?
  • Note taking: DSS provides assistance to students who, because of their disability, are unable to take notes.  
  • Alternate print format: Students who have a disability that prevents them from reading standard print can access books on alternative format through the DSS Office and other organizations.  
  • Sign Language interpreter: DSS provides interpreting services for students who are deaf or hard of hearing.  
  • Equipment lending: DSS will lend equipment to students who are unable to afford assistive technology. The student will be responsible financially if the equipment is damaged or not returned.  
  • Alternative testing setting and extended test time: Students who require a separate and quiet testing area will be allowed to take their exams outside of the classroom. Extra time for exams will be provided when appropriate.  
  • Other exam modifications: When appropriate, students will be allowed to use a scribe, reader or adaptive equipment to assist them in the testing setting.  
  • Other reasonable academic accommodations will be provided on a case-by-case basis dependent on recommendations by the faculty and the DSS Office.  

What do I do if I think I need services?

If you think you are eligible for services, call DSS (541.888.7405) and make an appointment with the DSS Coordinator. At that meeting you will be able to discuss the documentation process, services available, and your educational goals. You and the coordinator will determine which services are appropriate for you.

What documentation do I need to receive services?
Eligibility Requirements for Academic Accommodations General Information

Reasonable and Appropriate Accommodation

Change or modification that enable a student with a disability to enjoy equal opportunity and/or access to college facilities, programs, and activities, provided fundamental alteration would not result from the modification.

Reasonable accommodations are required for students with known disabilities. Southwestern is not required to provide “best” or “most desired” accommodation but rather a reasonable accommodation sufficient to meet accessibility needs. Division director or higher administrative staff must prepare a written explanation and consult with the DSS Director before denying a students request for accommodations.  

Accommodations Request

Please complete the form on the reverse side to identify yourself if you have a disability or a chronic illness which might warrant accommodations while you are attending Southwestern Oregon Community College. The College is firmly committed to providing reasonable accommodations to those with properly documented special needs to ensure equal access to all programs.

If you have a learning disability, a visual, hearing or mobility impairment, a physical or mental illness or an invisible condition such as an eating disorder or allergies, you are encouraged to complete this form. Whether or not you are eligible for an accommodation, your completion of this form will assist the College in responding to your needs.

If you are requesting accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and/or section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; you must provide documentation of the existence of a disability which substantially limits a major life activity. Please note the following criteria:

  • Since the laws guiding eligibility for accommodations in grades K-12 and post-secondary education differ, current documentation (within 1 to 3 years depending on the nature of the disability) including recommendations which correspond with the demands of college will help to support your transition. The documentation must provide evidence of a substantial limitation to learning or another major life activity. If documentation is not current or relevant, the College will require an updated evaluation, the cost of which will be covered by the family.
  • The evaluation must be conducted by a professional with training and experience in the assessment of adolescents and adults. It must be submitted on the evaluator’s letterhead.
  • Documentation must include a description of the disability and the results of comprehensive testing, including standardized, professionally acknowledged measures for adolescent and adult assessment.
  • Documentation must include recommended accommodations which the College is being asked to consider providing. Each accommodation recommended should include a rationale that correlates with specific functional limitations which are supported by specific test results and clinical observations. The information you provide will be kept confidential except that which is relevant to faculty and staff who are expected to provide accommodations, or if emergency treatment might be required. If you are living in Student Housing and would like the College to inform your Resident Assistant of your disability, please note it on the form.

The Problem
If you are a student, employee or a member of the public with a disability and have a complaint related to the disability, fill out the Disability/ADA Complaint form. The form should be submitted to the ADA Compliance Officer.

Tell us
Once the form has been submitted to the Compliance Officer, you will be contacted within 5 working days. The Compliance Officer will determine if the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 cover you. If you are covered, the Compliance Officer will investigate the problem and possible solutions. This normally takes about 30 working days.  

The Solution
The Compliance Officer will recommend a solution to you in writing. A copy of the letter will be submitted to the VP of Administrative Services.

If you are dissatisfied with the Compliance Officer’s recommendation, you can appeal the decision in writing to the College President. The President will consider your appeal and respond to you in writing.

If you are dissatisfied with the President’s response, you can pursue other legal remedies. These could include submitting your complaint to the Civil Rights Division of the Oregon Board of Labor and Industries or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (employment issues); or the Office of Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education (access to college programs and services).

Southwestern Oregon Community College recognizes and supports the assistance a trained service animal can provide a student with a disability. In order for a service animal to be allowed on campus the following conditions must be met.

What is a “service animal”?

A Service Animal means any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals with impaired hearing to intruders or sounds, providing minimal protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, or fetching dropped items.

Documentation for a Service Animal

Documentation. Like any other reasonable accommodation, documentation specifying the necessity of the animal must be stated. It must be stated that the service animal provides an essential service reducing the substantial limitation(s) created by the disability. The documentation can not be more than one year old and must be updated on an annual basis.

Responsibility of the student with a service animal

The student will assume full responsibility for the care and management of their service animal. This will include, but is not limited to, food, water and shelter, managing the animal behavior on campus and in the community, animals’ health and wellness, disposal of animal waste in an appropriate manner. The service animal will be viewed by the campus as an extension of the student and therefore subject to the code of conduct of the college. Violations of the code of conduct will follow established procedures of the college. See student handbook.

Companion animals

Animals that are used for the expressed purpose of companionship (pets) do not qualify as service animals. Even though they may provide a benefit to the student they do not provide a service and will not be allowed on campus. Requests for service animals at Southwestern will be reviewed on case by case basis. Remember it is the student’s responsibility to supply the required information to the DSS office to establish this accommodation.

NOTE: For students, the applicable Section 504 regulations are 34 CFR 104.44 (which requires modifications of policies and references guide dogs, but should not be limited to dogs), as well as the nondiscrimination regulations at 34 CFR 104.4 and 28 CFR 35.130 of Title II of the ADA. When a qualified disabled student seeks modification of a campus policy prohibiting animals in order to regularly access programs or facilities, Section 504, 34 CFR 104.44 may be applied in the same manner as any other request for modification or auxiliary aids and services. Therefore, before modifying such a policy for a student, a postsecondary institutions may require a disabled student to provide documentation and engage in an interactive process to provide information and documentation to demonstrate: (1) the student’s qualification as a disabled person, e.g. that they have a "physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity," (2) the service animal’s individual training and the animals work, duties, or function, and (3) the nexus between the student’s disability and animal’s function that affords the disabled student access to the postsecondary programs, facilities, and activities.

Frequently asked questions about Service Animals and the ADA

Student Self Advocacy

Student Responsibilities  
  • Bringing proper documentation to the Office of Disability Services for Students to verify the disability as well as background information to help in planning for appropriate support and accommodations.
  • Knowing his/her specific needs as they relate to the disability.
  • Asking for help at the beginning of the quarter and not after he/she is failing.
  • Letting the professor know in advance the kind of accommodations needed to meet academic needs.
  • Understanding that he/she is responsible for choosing to learn or not.
  • Using an assertive approach to ask for needed help. This means knowing what their needs are, being respectful and polite, and being patient with other people who are trying to understand and help.
Faculty Responsibilities
  • To be aware of the laws that provide for students with disabilities in postsecondary schools.
  • To provide reasonable accommodations to students with documented disabilities, as indicated by the DSS office.
  • To provide a positive environment where students are encouraged to self-advocate.

Students with disabilities often create a unique challenge for faculty. Part of that challenge comes from a lack of understanding of the student and his/her particular needs. Developing basic knowledge of various disabilities helps dispel some of the mystery about how to facilitate students' learning. This understanding is the first step in increasing the comfort level of working with the student to achieve the accommodations and/or modifications needed to meet academic demands.

An equally valuable component in working with students with disabilities is understanding which responsibilities are the students' and which are the professors'. Often professors feel they are totally responsible for meeting the needs of all students. This is not true. If you are not sure of what your responsibilities are, contact the DSS office.

General Links

Grant Information  

Blanche Fischer Foundation has been around since the early '80s. Since that time, it is (conservatively) estimated that the Foundation has granted close to $1 million in individual grants to people with physical disabilities in Oregon. The average grant award is $600.

Applicants need to meet three criteria:  

  1. Must be an Oregon resident
  2. Must have a disability of a physical nature
  3. Must demonstrate financial need

The application is available on their website, www.bff.org. It is also available via the US mail. (Applications are mailed the same day they're requested.) Please call Kristi at 503.246.4941 with any questions.  

Screen Readers, Software  

Veterans Links

Transition from High School to College  

Scholarships offered by other organizations  

Improving Customer Service

Sensitivity Training for Interacting with Persons with Disabilities