Rights of Students with Disabilities Policy


Office of Collegewide Disability Services


Director, Office of Collegewide Disability Services


Academic and Student Affairs



Effective Date:


Review Date:


Implementation History:


Disability, Reasonable accommodations, ADA, Section 504

Background Information:

The policy was first implemented to be in compliance with state and federal law related to the rights of persons with disabilities, notably Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended in 2008, and the New York State Human Rights Law.


The purpose of this policy is to assure college compliance with federal, state and local laws pertaining to the rights of prospective and current students with disabilities.


Disability: A diagnosed physical or mental impairment that affects the performance of one or more major life activities. Individuals with a history of impairment or regarded as impaired are also protected from discrimination on the basis of that disability. 

Qualified individual with a disability: A person with a disability, who with or without reasonable accommodation is able to perform the essential functions of his or her job.

Reasonable accommodation: A modification to an employee’s work environment or tasks that does not reduce standards, fundamentally alter the nature of the employee’s work or pose an undue burden on the institution.

Essential functions: Those tasks or functions that, if modified, would fundamentally change the nature of the job or occupation for which the position exists


Empire State College complies with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. These acts “ … no otherwise qualified handicapped individual … shall, solely by reason of his or her handicap, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance (29 USC Sect. 706).” Regulations implementing Section 504 and ADA establish standards for employment practice, accessibility of facilities, and education programs with which institutions receiving federal funds must comply (34 CFR Part 104).

In accordance with these regulations, a qualified person with a disability who meets the academic and technical standards required to enroll in and participate in the Empire State College program shall be provided an equal opportunity to obtain a degree in the most integrated setting appropriate to that person’s needs. Empire State College makes reasonable accommodation to meet the needs of students with disabling conditions. Reasonable accommodation does not include academic adjustments that would fundamentally alter the nature, essential requirements or academic standards of the program.

The college considers each student’s individual needs through consultation with the student’s center or unit and the director of Collegewide Disability Services.

The director of Collegewide Disability Services, coordinates the college’s compliance with Section 504, ADA and their implementing regulations with respect to students. Questions concerning the college’s policy should be directed to the director of Collegewide Disability Services, SUNY Empire State College, 2 Union Ave., Saratoga Springs, NY 12866-4390, 518-587-2100, ext. 2544 or email Disability.Services@esc.edu.

Applicable Legislation and Regulations

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008

New York State Human Rights Law

Related References, Policies, Procedures, Forms and Appendices

Empire State College provides educational services through regional enrollment centers throughout New York state and the Center for Distance Learning. Students with disabling conditions may work out informal accommodations with their mentors/tutors. To make a formal declaration of disability and request a student may contact the center’s disability representative (see A below).

  1. Requesting Accommodations
    1. The student may first contact the disability representative for his/her center or the disability specialist in the Office of Collegewide Disability Services. A list of the disability representatives and their contact information can be found in the student services section of the undergraduate catalog or online at www.esc.edu/disabilityservices.
    2. The student completes the Disability Declaration and Request for Accommodation form (available from disability representative or online at www.esc.edu/disabilityservices) to provide information about his or her disability and request accommodations. The student does not need to provide documentation of the disability at this stage.
    3. The disability services staff review the request and determine appropriate accommodations, consulting with the dean, the student’s mentor, and other faculty and staff as needed.
    4. The student, his/her primary mentor, other mentors, tutors or instructors the student is studying with and the disability representative are notified of the approved accommodations. The student contacts his/her mentors or tutors to discuss implementing the approved accommodations.
  2. ADA Grievances or Appeals

    Students who wish to file a complaint about their treatment at the college or the determination of their accommodation request are welcome to do so. Internally, students may access the college’s Student Grievance Procedure to do so.

    1. Informal resolution

      The student is strongly encouraged to seek informal resolution of a grievance by bringing it to the attention of the relevant center, program or central office administrator in a timely fashion. An attempt at informal resolution should begin no more than 30 days after the concern arises.

    2. Written Grievance

      If the student is unsatisfied with the response, the student may make a formal, written complaint to the relevant administrator.

      1. Any formal complaint must be submitted within 60 days of the concern arising. The student must state the nature of the grievance and the remedy s/he is seeking and describe any previous attempts to resolve the issue.
      2. The administrator reviews the situation and should provide a written response within 15 days of receiving the complaint.
    3. Appeal

      If the student is unsatisfied with the first level of administrative response, the student may appeal in writing to the appropriate Vice President.

      1. Appeals regarding academic services are to be submitted to the Vice President for Academic Affairs. Appeals regarding financial issues are to be submitted to the Vice President for Administration.
      2. Any appeal must be submitted within 30 days of the transmission of the first level administrative response. The student must state the nature of the justification for the appeal and describe any previous attempts to resolve the issue.
      3. The Vice President reviews the situation and should provide a written response within 15 days of receiving the appeal. The Vice President’s decision is final.

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