Disability Law and Grievance Procedures

ADA and Section 504 (Subpart E)

What is the intent of the law?
To ensure that no otherwise qualified person with a disability will be denied access to, the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination by any program or activity provided by any public institution or entity.

Who is covered under the law?
All qualified individuals with disabilities who meet the entry age level criteria or particular program entry criteria of the college and who can document the existence of a disability as defined by the ADA.

Who is responsible for identifying and documenting accommodation needs?
Students are responsible for self-identification and for obtaining disability documentation from a professional who is qualified to assess their particular disability. The student, not the institution, assumes the cost of the evaluation.

Who is responsible for initiating service delivery?
Students are responsible for notifying the Access Center (AC) staff of their disability and of their need for accommodations. Accommodations (not special education) are provided on a semester by semester basis in order for students with disabilities to have equal access to the institution’s programs, services and activities.

Who is responsible for enforcing the law?
Section 504 (Subpart E) is a civil rights statute enforced by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), U.S. Department of Education. The ADA is also a civil rights statute enforced by the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

What about self-advocacy?
Students must be able to communicate what their disability is, their strengths, weaknesses, and how the disability impacts and functionally limits major life activities. They must be able to identify and justify any requested accommodations.

Additionally, all colleges and universities are required by the law to publish grievance procedures for students to use if they feel they are the victims of discrimination, of any type. Students with disabilities who have concerns regarding accessibility or discrimination should follow the guidelines and procedures below:

Academic Accommodation or Access Grievances

If a student's approved classroom accommodations have not been provided by a faculty member, or if a student's disability prevents access to a course, course materials, program, building, service or event, the student should:

  1. Contact the manager of the AC immediately for assistance in resolving the situation and in gaining appropriate access.
  2. In cases where there is a disagreement concerning the provision of an approved accommodation, the AC manager will contact all parties involved to gather information, assess the nature of the situation and work toward resolution. A meeting to include the AC manager, student and instructor may be scheduled to establish and encourage a voluntary and informal resolution. If the complaint cannot be resolved voluntarily and informally, the student should complete a Disability Complaint form available in the Access Center, or provide other written notification to the AC manager of his/her intent to file a formal grievance.
  3. The Disability Complaint form will be forwarded to the Assistant Vice President of Student Services for review and resolution. If not resolved, the line of succession for the grievance will be to the Vice President of Student Services, followed by submission to the President. Personal meetings may be requested by the student at any time with these individuals.
  4. If the student has a grievance regarding actions by the AC manager, written notification should be submitted to the Assistant Vice President for Student Services, followed by the Vice President, and finally the President.
  5. Please note:  students with disabilities who have academic complaints not necessarily related to disability may still contact the AC manager, who will assist in clarifying the nature of the complaint. If the complaint is determined to be unrelated to disability, the student will be directed to the college's policies and procedures for filing academic complaints.

Disability-Related Discrimination or Harassment Grievances

However, if a student's grievance is not related to classroom, programmatic or physical access, but instead relates to discrimination or harassment based upon disability, the student should contact the Volunteer State Community College Title IX/EEO Coordinator or designee directly and immediately. More information on the procedures for filing discrimination and harassment grievances can be found in VSCC Policies VIII:04:00 and VIII:05:00. If requested, the AC manager will provide direction and assistance to the student in contacting the VSCC Title IX/EEO Coordinator.

Please always keep in mind, if a student is unable to resolve a grievance satisfactorily using either of the above procedures, a discrimination complaint can be filed with the federal Office of Civil Rights.  Online complaints may be submitted using OCR's electronic complaint form.