Getting Started with Disability Services

Any student who has a physical or mental impairment, which substantially limits one or more major life activities (walking, learning, seeing, hearing), is eligible for accommodations from Disability Services.

College students experience greater independence and greater responsibility, especially with regard to services and accommodations for a disability.

Civil rights laws provide for equal access, but in higher education, students must request any needed accommodations to begin the process. Hamline University does not provide testing or conduct evaluations for any type of disability. It is the responsibility of the student to obtain the appropriate disability testing/evaluation and provide documentation that supports the reasonable accommodations requested. IEP's and 504 Plans are not considered acceptable forms of documentation. Students who want more information on where to obtain disability testing/evaluation should contact the Disability Services office.  

The Law

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability against people in programs or activities receiving or benefiting from federal financial assistance. Section 504 states: "No otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities in the United States shall solely by reason of his or her disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 is a federal civil rights law that extends additional civil rights protection to individuals with disabilities. Together section 504 and the ADA prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability and require covered entities to provide reasonable accommodations to facilitate equal access and opportunity.

Individuals Protected in Higher Education

A "qualified individual with a disability" as defined by Section 504, is anyone who meets the academic and technical standards required for admission or participation in a post-secondary institution's programs and activities.

Registering with Disability Services

All students seeking reasonable accommodations must complete a Request for Accommodations Form.

The determination of eligibility for services is a two step process. Students must submit documentation and meet with a staff member of Disability Services (DS). The purpose of the meeting is for DS to know and understand how a student's disability may affect him or her at Hamline. Together, these two sources will be used to develop an accommodation plan with the student, which is an agreement between the student and DS regarding the accommodations and services that will be provided. The accommodation plan can be modified throughout a student's career at Hamline. If documentation is insufficient, DS may request additional information. Except in cases of obvious physical disabilities, documentation is required before accommodations will be provided. Meeting with students and reviewing documentation may take up to a week at the beginning of the semester. Additionally, some accommodations require advance notice and may take several weeks to arrange. Students are encouraged to request accommodations well before the semester begins. Accommodations are not retroactive. If classroom accommodations are granted, DS will prepare a Faculty Notification Letter for the student to provide to their instructors at the beginning of each semester which lists accommodations that will be required.

Rights and Responsibilities

Students with disabilities at Hamline University have the right to:

  • Equal access to courses, programs, services, and activities offered through the University.
  • An equal opportunity to learn and to receive reasonable accommodations if necessary.
  • Self-determine whether to seek services and whether to disclose disability-related materials and information.
  • All other rights and privileges available to other students at Hamline University

Students with disabilities at Hamline University have the responsibility to:

  • Meet qualifications and maintain essential institutional standards for courses, programs, and activities.
  • Self-identify as an individual with a disability and seek information, and assistance as necessary in a timely fashion if accommodations are sought.
  • Provide appropriate documentation on how the disability limits participation in courses, programs, services and activities.
  • Follow university procedures for obtaining reasonable accommodations and auxiliary aids and services.
  • Contact DS as problems or concerns arise about the accommodations process in order to resolve the situation as it is occuring.

Hamline University has the right to:

  • Identify and establish essential functions, abilities, skills, knowledge requirements, and standards for courses, programs, services, and activities on which to evaluate students.
  • Request and receive, through DS, current documentation that supports requests for accommodations and auxiliary aids and services.
  • Deny a request for accommodations and auxiliary aids and services if the documentation demonstrates that the request is not warranted, or if the individual fails to provide appropriate documentation.
  • Refuse an unreasonable accommodation and/or auxiliary aid and service that imposes an undue burden on or fundamentally alters a program or activity of the University.

Hamline University has the responsibility to:

  • Provide information to students with disabilities in accessible formats upon request.
  • Ensure that courses, programs, services and activities when viewed in their entirety are available in the most integrated and appropriate settings.
  • Evaluate students on their abilities and not their disabilities.
  • Provide reasonable accommodations and/or auxiliary aids and services for students with disabilities in courses, programs, services and activities.
  • Maintain appropriate confidentiality of records and communication except where permitted or required by law or when the student requests that such information be shared.
  • Work together with students, faculty and staff to resolve problems or concerns in the accommodation process.


All disability-related information including documentation, correspondence, and accommodation records are considered confidential. Access to disability-related information within Hamline is on a need-to-know basis and only for the purpose of assuring appropriate accommodations. DS is prohibited by law from releasing any disability records or identifying information to any outside entity. This includes documentation that the student provides to the DS office when requesting accommodations. The student may request, in writing, that information be released to specific persons or agencies by signing a "Release of Information" form.

Grievance Procedures

Any student who believes that he or she has been denied appropriate accommodations or discriminated against by Hamline University faculty or staff because of a disability, may pursue either informal or formal channels to address a complaint.

Informal Process: 

Hamline University strongly encourages students to use the informal complaint resolution process. Students are encouraged to speak directly with the faculty or staff member involved if possible, then direct his or her complaint to the department chair. Also, students may contact Kate Rainbolt, Director of Disability Services to discuss a complaint. Pursuing informal channels does not preclude a student from filing a formal complaint or grievance.

Formal Process: 

Denial of Requested Accommodation
Any student may file a formal grievance by writing a letter to the Director of Disability Services or the Dean of Students. Any complaint or grievance must be submitted within 60 days of the student's knowledge of the alleged violation. The formal complaint will then be referred to the Dean of Students Office. The Dean of Students or his/her designee shall conduct a review regarding the matter. The following is customary procedure for the formal grievance process:

  1. The Dean of Students or his/her designee shall meet with the complainant regarding the matter within 10 business days.
  2. Disclosure of documentation regarding disability to the Dean of Students or his/her designee is required and qualifies under the need-to-know exception.
  3. The Dean of Students or his/her designee will issue a written determination to the complainant and Disability Services within 10 business days of the initial meeting with the complainant.
  4. The Office of the Dean of Students will maintain files of all formal grievance complaints.

Discrimination in other Contexts

It is a violation of Hamline University employment policies and academic rules for any Hamline employee or student to discriminate against any member of the Hamline community with respect to any employment or educational opportunity on the basis of disability. Any student who believes s/he has been discriminated against based on disability should follow the procedures set forth in the Discrimination and Harassment Policy.