Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Section: III.  STSV - 100
Approved By: Dr. Pamela J. Transue, 9/26/06
Last Review: June 2011
Last Revision: none
Prior Revisions: none
Initial Adoption: 6/26/06


Tacoma Community College is committed to providing reasonable appropriate and timely accommodations, including core services, to qualified students with disabilities. TCC will provide each qualified student with a disability equal opportunity in accessing the benefits, rights, and privileges of college services, programs, and activities in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Washington Law Against Discrimination, RCW 49.60, and RCW 28B.10.910, .912, and .914.

  • Section 202 of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act states:

No qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from the 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.

  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act states:

No otherwise qualified, handicapped individual in the United States shall solely, by reasons of his/her 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.

Students are responsible for requesting accommodation and documenting the nature and extent of their disabilities in accordance with college procedures. 

To Whom Does This Policy Apply

Students who have disabilities and request accommodation for their disabilities.


This policy complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Washington Law Against Discrimination, RCW 49.60, and RCW 28B.10.910, .912, and .914.


A student with a disability is a student who: (a) has a physical, mental or sensory impairment that substantially limits one or more of his/her major life activities; (b) has a record of such an impairment; or (c) is perceived to have such an impairment; or a student who has an abnormal condition that is medically cognizable or diagnosable.  Additionally, a student with a disability is one who, with or without reasonable accommodations, meets the academic and technical standards required for admission to, participation in, and/or completion of the essential requirements of college programs or activities.

Core Services are those services listed in RCW 28B.10.912 that are necessary to ensure students with disabilities are reasonably accommodated at the college.

Course substitution is the replacement of a specific course required for a degree program with another course that measures the same learning objectives/skills as the required course.

Program accessibility means that all programs and services, when viewed in their entirety, are accessible to persons with a disability.

Accommodations in college programs and services are adjustments of those programs, policies, practices, and procedures that enable students with a disability to have an equal opportunity to have access to and benefit from college programs and services.  Accommodations mean academic adjustments and auxiliary aids and services.

Student is a person enrolled at the college.

A qualified professional is a person working in a profession who diagnoses disabilities relative to that person’s discipline.

Undue financial and administrative burdens are any excessively costly, extensive, substantial, or disruptive modification.

Fundamental alteration in the nature of a service, program, or activity is one that would substantially alter the nature or operation of the institution or any of its programs or services or threaten the health or safety of the college community.

Service animal is any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to a student with a disability.  Service animals perform some of the functions and tasks that the individual with a disability cannot perform for him or herself.


Obligations of the College

The college shall:

  • Comply with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Section 202 of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended, and the Washington Law Against Discrimination.
  • Notify students of the college’s policy of nondiscrimination on the basis of disability and of steps the student may take if he/she believes discrimination has taken place.  This notice shall be included in all formal correspondence that communicates decisions or policies adversely affecting the student’s status or rights within the college.  This notice shall include the telephone numbers of the United States Department of Education Office of Civil Rights and the Washington State Human Rights Commission.
  • Make available to all students information on the services available to students who have disabilities, including the name and location of the Coordinator of Access Services, and the process for accessing those services.
  • Work with the student, faculty, and staff on a case-by-case basis, to select and provide those accommodations and/or core services appropriate for each qualified student with a disability.
  • Develop procedures to protect the confidentiality of information regarding the nature and extent of the documented disability.
  • Maintain the academic integrity of its programs.
  • Make no pre-admission inquiry as to whether the applicant has a disability, except as provided by law.
  • Work collaboratively with eligible students to determine what accommodations are reasonable and appropriate.  In determining what type of auxiliary aid and service is necessary, the college will give primary consideration to the eligible student’s request; however, the final determination of the appropriate accommodations rests with the college.
  • Assist and advise each qualified student with a disability who requests accommodations under this procedure in identifying those reasonable accommodations appropriate for the student, and monitoring that the identified accommodations are provided.
  • Identify the accommodations that are reasonable based on the nature and extent of a student’s disability, the college requires specific documentation from the appropriate medical clinician which supports the students’ request for academic adjustments and auxiliary aids.
Obligations and Rights of Students

A student who seeks reasonable accommodation based upon a disability is responsible for documenting the nature and extent of the disability.  The student may request specific accommodations; however, the final determination of the appropriate accommodations rests with the college.  To ensure that needed accommodations are provided in a timely manner, the student shall:

  • Provide timely notice and documentation (by a qualified professional in an appropriate area) of the nature and extent of the disability, and the accommodations requested, to the Office of Disability Support Services.  Requests for accommodations should be received by the college six (6) weeks prior to the beginning of the quarter for which the request is made, when possible.  Lack of advance notice may delay the availability of an accommodation.
  • Provide such additional documentation on the nature and extent of their disability (as the college may require) to determine appropriate accommodations, including current information from a physician specific to the functional limitations and their severity within an academic setting.
  • Promptly notify the Office of Access Services of any problems in receiving the identified accommodations.
Office of Access Services

The Office shall:

  • Coordinate services to qualified students with disabilities requiring academic adjustments and auxiliary aids;
  • Keep information confidential regarding the nature of a student’s disability unless the student signs a Release of Information form.

Reasonable accommodations under this policy may include, but are not limited to: (a) requests for academic adjustments, such as modification of academic requirements and flexibility in test-taking arrangements; (b) adjustments in nonacademic services and other rules; and (c) auxiliary aids and services.

Service Animals

In accordance with the ADA, people with disabilities may bring their service animals into most TCC facilities, including places where animals are usually prohibited.  This is seen as a reasonable modification of policy and practice in accordance with ADA and state and college regulations.  A service animal is defined as “any animal that is individually trained to do the work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability.”  Under the law, a service animal is not considered a pet.  The most common service animals are dogs, but other species also can be considered service animals.  A service animal may perform tasks such as guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling wheelchairs, or performing other special tasks.  Therapy or companion animals are not considered service animals.  TCC faculty and staff questioning the feasibility of having service animals present will contact the Coordinator of Access Services.

Service Animals-in-Training

Service Animals-in-Training are animals being trained by a qualified trainer to become a service animal, and may be given permission through Access Services (when registered with the Coordinator of Access Services) to be on college property.

Accommodation – Examples by Categories

The process of selecting reasonable accommodations for each qualified student with a disability shall be made on a case-by-case basis depending on the nature and severity of the student’s documented disability.

Academic Adjustments.  Academic adjustments may include, but are not limited to:

  • flexibility in timelines for completion of courses, certification, and degree requirements;
  • substitution of specific courses required for the completion of degrees;
  • adaptation of the manner in which specific courses are conducted;
  • flexibility in teaching methods and test-taking arrangements; and
  • flexibility in credits required to satisfy eligibility for institutional financial aid (the college does not have the authority to modify federal and state eligibility requirements).

Auxiliary Aids and Services.  Auxiliary aids and services may include, but are not limited to:

  • flexible procedures in the admissions process (e.g., early registration or priority registration);
  • qualified sign language, oral and tactile interpreters, or other technological alternatives;
  • access to adaptive equipment including, but not limited to, TTY’s, FM communicators, closed captioned videos or access, amplified telephone receivers, closed circuit televisions (CCTV magnification devices), low-vision reading aids, player/recorders for 15/16 4-track tapes, photocopy machine able to use eleven-by-seventeen inch paper, and assistive technology and software for computer access;
  • textbooks and other educational materials in alternative media, including, but not limited to, large print, Braille, electronic format, and audio tape;
  • provision of readers, and/or note takers; and
  • release of syllabi, study guides, and other appropriate instructor-produced materials in advance of general distribution and access beyond the regular classroom session to slides, films, overheads, and other media and taping of lectures.

Access Assistance.  Access assistance may include, but is not limited to:

  • ongoing review and coordination of efforts to ensure campus accessibility, including barrier-free design, signage, identification of hazards of mobility barriers, maintenance of access during construction, snow and ice clearance, and adequate disability parking for all facilities;
  • facilitating physical access to programs and services including relocating classes, activities, and services to accessible facilities;
  • referral to appropriate on-campus and off-campus resources, services and agencies; and
  • accessibility to tutoring, mentoring, peer counseling, and academic advising, if available on campus, for students with disabilities.
  • Allowing students with a disability to be accompanied by a service animal in a college facility.
  • The college will not provide attendants, individually prescribed devices, readers for personal use or study, or other devices of a personal nature.
Course Substitutions

Every student enrolled in a degree program at TCC must meet the essential requirements of that program to receive the degree.  Course substitutions will be approved only when such substitution is consistent with the essential degree requirements.

Requests for substitution for a required course shall be considered on a course-by-course basis after the student has attempted the course with accommodation.

  • All requests for course substitution shall be submitted to the Coordinator of Access Services in a timely manner.
  • The Coordinator Access Services shall submit the request for course substitution to the Dean or Program Chair in which the course is offered.
  • The Dean or Program Chair will review the course substitution request to determine if the proposed substitution meets the learning objective of the degree requirement.  In the absence of a proposed substitute course, the Dean or Program Chair will determine if a substitute course is available.
  • The Dean or Program Chair will inform the student in writing of her/his decision regarding the request for course substitution within two weeks after receiving the request.  This response shall include a brief summary of the basis for the decision.
  • Requests for substitution should be submitted to the Curriculum Committee at least two (2) quarters prior to the student’s graduation date and must include the following information:
  1. An explanation of the relationship of the disability to the lack of success in completing the course;
  2. Current relevant medical or psychological documentation which includes functional impact of the disability and its duration;
  3. A description of the accommodations previously received by the student in the course of relevant subject area, if attempted;
  4. A Release to Exchange Information signed by the student, authorizing the Curriculum Committee to review the student’s documentation and to contact the evaluating professional to the extent necessary to consider the student’s disability and request for substitutions;
  5. The student’s request may also include other relevant information , such as letters from Access Services, instructors, and tutors who have first-hand knowledge of the student’s attempts in the required subject area;
  6. Program requirement substitutions will be approved only when such requests are consistent with essential degree requirements.   

The Curriculum Committee shall, within four weeks, respond in writing acknowledging receipt of the student’s request.  The student will receive written notice of the Committee’s decision.  Appeals may be made to the ADA/504 Compliance Officer (Dean for Counseling and Advising)

Degree Requirement Waiver

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the college is not required to waive essential requirements of a student’s program of instruction.  Therefore, waivers of program degree requirements will not be made.

Appeals Process

Course Substitution:  If a student is not satisfied by the decision of the Dean and Program Chair regarding a request for course substitution, the student may appeal the Dean’s decision to the Vice President for Instruction and Student Services.  The Vice President for Instruction and Student Services will review the appeal and respond within ten working days.  The decision of the VP regarding a course substitution is final.

Other Reasonable Accommodations.  If a student believes that the Coordinator of Access Services has not identified or provided reasonable academic adjustments or auxiliary aids, the student has the right to appeal.

  • The student will submit a written appeal to the Coordinator of Access Services. S/he will review the student’s appeal and respond within five (5) working days.
  • If resolution is not reached by the student and the Coordinator of Access Services, the Coordinator of Access Services will refer the appeal to the TCC 504 Officer (Dean of Counseling and Advising) or her/his designee for student services accommodations, or the Vice President for Instruction and Student Services or her/his designee for academic adjustments.
  • The Dean of Counseling and Advising or his/her designee, will review the appeal and will determine the appropriate resolution of the appeal.  The Dean will notify the student in writing of her/his decision within two weeks of receiving the appeal.  The decision of the Dean will be final.

Complaints Concerning College Decisions.  Students have the right to file complaints concerning college decisions through the Office of Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education.