Student Rights, Responsibilities, & FAQs

What constitutes a disability?

A disability is defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as a mental or physical impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities. Learning is an example of a major life activity. If you have a mental or physical condition, a history of such a condition, or a condition which may be considered by others as substantially limiting, you may have a legally defined disability.

What should I know when applying to UTSA? Are there any special procedures?

Students with disabilities must apply to UTSA through the regular admissions procedure. There are no special admissions procedures. A student may, however, apply to Educational Testing Services for provision of accommodations when taking standardized tests such as the SAT and GRE. Contact Educational Testing Services for further information.

What are the responsibilities of a student with a disability if he or she would like to receive accommodations?

A student with a disability is responsible for requesting accommodations through Student Disability Services (SDS). SDS will not seek students out. A student with a disability is also responsible for providing acceptable documentation of his or her disability. See specific documentation guidelines in Student Disability Services.

Why does an instructor have the responsibility to make reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities?

An instructor has the responsibility to make reasonable accommodations because accommodations make it possible for a student with a disability to overcome barriers enabling the student to communicate what he or she knows in the same way that glasses do not strengthen vision but help a person to see. The instructor also has a legal responsibility to provide appropriate accommodations. For more information go to the Americans with Disabilities Act website

How are appropriate accommodations for a student determined?

To determine appropriate accommodations for a student, the student must submit acceptable documentation to Student Disability Services. The Documentation Review Committee reviews the information and determines appropriate accommodations based upon the substantial limitations of the student and the essential elements of the course.

What are the rights and responsibilities of a student with a disability?

Students with disabilities have the right to equal access to courses, programs, activities, services, and facilities offered at UTSA. Students are also entitled to reasonable accommodations. Students have the responsibility to provide acceptable documentation of disabilities and to register with Student Disability Services if they would like to receive accommodations. If students deem it necessary to receive accommodations for a particular class, students have the responsibility to inform the instructor, to deliver the accommodations letters that verify their approved accommodations, and to participate in the discussions about how their needs can be met.

What are the rights and responsibilities of an instructor when working with students with disabilities?

An instructor has the right to confirm a student’s request for accommodations and to ask for clarification about a specific accommodation with SDS. Instructors do not have the right to refuse to provide any accommodations or to review a student’s documentation including diagnostic data. Instructors have a responsibility to work with SDS in providing reasonable accommodations, keep all records and communications with students confidential, and to refer a student to SDS who requests accommodations but is not currently registered. Instructors do not have to provide accommodations for students not registered with SDS.

The responsibility to provide disability accommodations to students is widely understood and accepted by UTSA faculty. However, if a faculty member seems resistant to meeting accommodation requests when the proper procedures have been followed, contact SDS immediately. It is much more effective to address situations as they occur than after an exam or at the end of the semester.

It is important for students to understand the purpose of accommodations and services as well as how their disability may require adaptations to a course or program. The disability accommodation process is intended to protect students from discrimination and provide equal opportunity to education. The accommodation plan the student agrees to with SDS is an agreement of approved accommodations. Students will want to discuss with instructors how to facilitate the accommodations. Instructors are not required or encouraged by SDS to provide extra credit or change essential course requirements for students with disabilities.