2021-2022 Catalog

Academic Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

It is the policy of the Disability Resource Center (DRC) program at Berkshire Community College to provide reasonable academic accommodations to students who are: blind or visually impaired, deaf or hearing impaired, physically disabled, learning disabled, as well as to students who have: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), psychiatric disabilities, illness-related or temporary disabilities. Services are provided as long as accommodations are warranted, reasonable and appropriate given the purpose of the course. Students with disabilities requiring accommodations must initiate a request for services through DRC.


In order to be eligible for protection under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and to support requests for reasonable accommodations a student must submit documentation that indicates his/her disability:

  • substantially limits one or more major life activity and;
  • validates the need for accommodations based on his/her current level of functioning in an educational setting.

Students with learning disabilities must submit diagnostic information, which includes:

  • current levels of functioning in reading, mathematics and written language,
  • overall cognitive ability, and
  • specific areas of information processing.

A copy of their most recent Individual Education Plan (IEP), if applicable, and high school transcript is also helpful. The diagnostic report must contain clear and specific evidence and identification of a learning disability. Individual "learning styles" and "learning differences" in and of themselves do not constitute a learning disability and will not be acceptable. For specific guidelines on the assessment of adolescents and adults with learning disabilities, please contact the DRC Coordinator.

Because the provision of all reasonable accommodations and services is based upon assessment of the current impact of the student's disabilities on his/her academic performance, it is in the student's best interest to provide recent and appropriate documentation. All documentation must be on official letterhead from a licensed or certified professional appropriate for evaluating the student's disability. The names, titles, and credentials of the licensed or certified professional, as well as the date(s) of evaluation, must be included.

If the initial documentation is incomplete or inadequate to determine the extent of the disability and reasonable accommodations, DRC reserves the right to require additional documentation. Any cost of obtaining additional documentation is borne by the student. Students reporting learning or attention difficulties without documentation are interviewed and screened by the DRC free of charge, and when appropriate, are given referrals for comprehensive and diagnostic testing in the community. The student is responsible for assessment costs after the initial screening.

Students referred for diagnostic testing will receive temporary accommodations for one semester, if appropriate.

If a student should require the assistance of a Personal Care Attendant (PCA) to achieve full educational access and opportunity, the student must contact the DRC prior to the onset of classes. PCA employment arrangements and costs are the responsibility of the student.

Confidentiality and Release of Information

The DRC is committed to ensuring that all information regarding a student is maintained as confidential as required or permitted by law. Any information collected is used for the benefit of the student. This information may include test data, grades, biographical history, disability information, and case notes.

The following guidelines about the treatment of such information have been adopted by the DRC and are rigorously followed and shared with students. They incorporate relevant state and federal regulations and guidelines established by relevant professional associations.

  • No one has immediate access to student files in the DRC program except staff from the DRC. Any disability-related documentation will be considered confidential and will be shared with others within the institution on a need-to-know basis only. Disability-related information will be treated like medical information. Examples include the following:
    • College faculty and staff do not have a legal right to disability-related documentation. They only need to know the documentation has been appropriately verified by the individual (or office) assigned this responsibility on behalf of the institution (i.e., DRC).
    • Administrators may have a need to collect data such as how many students are being served, the nature of their disabilities, and recommended accommodations. However, under typical circumstances, this data is for purposes of statistical or survey reporting and administrators do not need to know who those students are.
  • Information in files will not be released except in accordance with federal and state laws, which require release in the following circumstances:
    • If the student states he/she intends to harm himself/herself or another person(s);
    • If the student reports or describes any physical abuse, neglect, or sexual abuse of children or vulnerable adults;
    • If the college is issued a court order or subpoena.
  • A student may give written authorization for the release of information when he/she wishes to share it with others. Before giving such authorization, the student should understand the information being released, the purpose of the release, and to whom the information is being released. Information will not be released without consent unless it is required by federal or state law.
  • A student has the right to review his/her own file.

Policy for Academic Accommodations

In accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, qualified students with disabilities are entitled to reasonable academic accommodations unless they fundamentally alter the nature of a course. It is the responsibility of the student to make a request for academic accommodation through the Disability Resource Center. Upon review of the request and disability documentation, when appropriate, an academic accommodation form will be completed and signed by the staff of the DRC. At that point, the student will be required to submit the accommodation form to his instructor. If the accommodations are accepted, the instructor will sign the form and return it to the student who will then return it to the DRC. If the accommodations are rejected, the student must inform the DRC staff immediately. A DRC staff member will meet with the instructor to negotiate a reasonable alternative. If a reasonable solution cannot be reached, the DRC Coordinator will inform the college's Affirmative Action/504 Coordinator. During the time the adjudication is in process, the faculty member will allow the accommodation as recommended until a solution is determined. Within two weeks, the Affirmative Action/504 Coordinator will meet with the Disability Review Board to determine appropriate action.