DSS Guidelines

Table of Contents

Statement of Nondiscrimination

In September 1973, Congress passed Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Section 504 states: “No otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States shall, solely on the basis of his/her handicap, be excluded from participation in, be denied benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”  The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and the Americans with Disabilities Amendment Act of 2010 (ADAA) gives individuals with disabilities civil rights protection that is similar to that provided to all individuals on the basis of race, sex, national origin, and religion. The act guarantees equal opportunity in employment, public accommodations, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications.

Consistent with Section 504, the ADA, and the ADAA the policy of East Carolina University (the university) is that no qualified individual with a disability may be discriminated against on the basis of his or her disability. Qualified individuals with disabilities are encouraged to seek admission to the university.   ECU is making affirmative efforts to accommodate qualified individuals with disabilities. Such efforts include elimination of physical barriers and the provision of individual accommodation. Our goal at the University is to promote institutional programs and employment practices that are accessible to all individuals with disabilities.


Through the Department for Disability Support Services (DSS), the university seeks to meet individual needs by coordinating and implementing internal policy regarding programs, services, and activities for individuals with disabilities. The department functions as a source of information and advice and as a communication link among individuals with disabilities, faculty and staff members, state rehabilitation agencies, and the community at large.

The philosophy of DSS consists of four basic elements:

  • No individual will be discriminated against, denied the benefits of, or excluded from participation solely on the basis of the existence of a disability
  • Physical and attitudinal barriers, inasmuch as possible, will be removed
  • Individuals with disabilities will have an equal opportunity to pursue their educational goals
  • Each person is unique with needs that are tailored to the individual

The Department is the centralized agency for receiving disability related documentation and the approval of requested accommodations. The process of documentation review involves an assessment of the individual’s disability with respect to the documentation presented and the accommodations requested.

Admission to ECU

Individuals with disabilities enter the university through the established admissions procedures that are required of all applicants. Neither the nature nor the severity of one’s disability is used as a criterion for admission. Applicants must meet the minimum admission requirements as established by ECU and the University of North Carolina General Administration Office.

Individuals requesting admission application materials should contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions in the Whichard Building at 252-328-6133 or the Office of Graduate Admissions in Ragsdale, Room 131, at (252) 328-6012.  Applicants may also apply online.  DSS is available to meet with prospective students to discuss the need for accommodation upon enrollment at ECU. Please call 252-737-1016 to schedule an appointment.

New Student/Transfer Orientation

Prior planning is critical to a smooth transition and adaptation to ECU. Accommodation planning should begin during New Student/Transfer Orientation or at least one month prior to the student’s arrival on campus.

New Student and Transfer Orientation sessions are offered throughout the summer and at the beginning of each new semester. Orientation is an excellent opportunity for the student to initiate the accommodation process. Students that have not received orientation session information can do so by contacting the Office of Student Transitions at (252) 328-4173.  Please be sure to check in with DSS during orientation so that we may begin gathering the necessary information for providing accommodations.  Students and parents are also encouraged to read the document in the Appendix A to learn about the differences between disability services in High School and College.

Accommodation Information & Processes

Accommodation Requests

Students requesting disability accommodations from the University are required to self identify. Students should complete the required “Request for Accommodation” form, which is available online.  Except in cases of an impairment that is readily apparent, documentation is required. Upon approval of accommodations, the student must schedule an accommodation meeting with a staff member of DSS.

DSS provides a wide range of accommodations which are determined on a case-by-case basis in consideration of the condition’s impact on the individual, history of accommodations and essential elements of ECU’s courses, programs and activities. Many accommodations have related procedures outlined below which must be adhered to in order for the individual to utilize the approved accommodation.

Adaptive Technologies

When appropriate and reasonable, access to adaptive technologies is available.  Staff at DSS are committed to accessing and maintaining appropriate adaptive technologies for student use.  Students are expected to communicate their adaptive technology needs with staff at DSS. Adaptive technologies for personal use are the sole financial responsibility of the student.  Classroom and exam accommodations may include the use of adaptive technologies like electronic text, accessible software (JAWS, Natural Reader, Dragon Dictate, Zoom Text, etc.), and auxiliary aids.

Animals on Campus

Service Animals

Service animals are permitted in University facilities for persons with documented disabilities. A service animal is a dog or in some instances a miniature horse trained to perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including but not limited to guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals with impaired hearing, providing minimal rescue or protection work, pulling a wheelchair or fetching dropped items. Individuals requesting the use of an animal to provide calming influence, affection, emotional stability, security, comfort, or friendship do not meet the definition of a service animal and will not qualify as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA.  Requests for such animals may therefore be denied.  Service animals whose behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others or is disruptive to the college community may be excluded.

Emotional Support Animals (ESA’s)

ESA’s are not service animals as defined in the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008 and are not afforded the same access to campus as a service animal.

ESA’s must be approved by Disability Support Services to reside in University Residence Halls but are not permitted in other facilities including classrooms, dining halls, libraries and student centers.

Requests for ESA’s require signed documentation, from a doctor or other medical professional, or a reliable third party who is in a position to know about the individual’s disability. Documentation from the internet (i.e. from websites that sell certificates, registrations, and licensing documents for assistance animals to anyone who answers certain questions or participates in a short interview and pays a fee) is not, by itself, sufficient to reliably establish that an individual has a non-observable disability or disability-related need for an ESA.

The following information is required:

  • In the instance that the impairment is not observable, ECU may request information regarding both the disability and the disability related need for the ESA. The impairment’s impact on the student’s ability to reside in a communal living environment.
  • A clear description of how the animal will mitigate functional limitations.

Course Registration

Students who qualify may request Priority Registration based on a need for the university to make advance preparations prior to the start of the semester. Students should first meet with their Academic Advisor to determine courses needed prior to the date of early registration for Special Populations. Once course selections have been made, students must provide DSS with their Banner ID and CRN numbers for these courses. Course prerequisites are the responsibility of the student.  DSS does not have the authority to “special add” students into full or restricted classes. The student’s desired schedule and choice of faculty member are not guaranteed by DSS.

Degree Requirement Modification

Students are expected to complete all degree requirements for graduation in their major. In accordance with university policy, only under unavoidable and exceptional circumstances will the faculty permit substitution for or exemption from the recommended curricula. Specifically, the study of a foreign language has been deemed a fundamental requirement for many degree programs within the university. The ADA requires that universities offer reasonable accommodation to qualified students; however, it does not require the adjustment of standards that would fundamentally alter degree requirements.  Any deviations from the applicable published degree requirements must have the approval of the appropriate departmental Chairperson or college/school Dean.

Dining Accommodations

ECU will consider reasonable food services/meal plan accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities. Requests will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis with respect to sufficient documentation meeting university guidelines and addressing the impact of the disability. Reasonable accommodations are determined individually and are intended to minimize the effects of the impact of specific limitations caused by a disability in order for a qualified individual to have equal access to programs, services and activities.

Electronic & Audio Text (E-Text)

Students with print related impairments may request textbooks in an electronic format compatible with screen readers.  Requests may be made by completing the Electronic Text Request form.

Initiating the electronic text process requires the student to complete and submit the Electronic Textbook Request Form. Incomplete forms will not be processed.  In the event an electronic version of text is unavailable and the book must be scanned, the binding will be removed rendering it ineligible for re-sale.  DSS will notify the student by email with a web link to the converted electronic versions of his/her textbooks.

Faculty Notification Letters

Students who receive an email notification indicating they are approved for academic accommodations must schedule an intake meeting with a DSS staff member.  At this meeting, staff will explain the procedure for accessing accommodations and services and compose the faculty notification letter.  Students present a copy of their accommodation letter to their instructors each semester.  Electronic copies of the accommodation letter are available for students who are taking online classes.  Faculty are not required to provide accommodations to students who have not presented this letter.  Changes or additions to the accommodation letter will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Field Assignments

It is the responsibility of the student to contact DSS to inquire about possible accommodations for a field assignment such as internships and practicum during the semester prior to the field assignment.  The student, the supervising instructor, and DSS should identify the accommodations needed, including resources and adaptive/assistive equipment, in advance of negotiations with the placement agency. The student and supervising instructor should seek a placement agency that (1) will provide an appropriate educational experience, (2) will make reasonable accommodations for the student, and (3) will negotiate with the student and the university to provide the services needed.  The student must be an active participant throughout the process of identifying a placement agency and identifying and negotiating accommodations.


Any student having a grievance related to a disability is entitled to prompt and equitable resolution of his/her complaint.

Informal Grievance Process

An individual with a grievance or complaint is encouraged to make an appointment with the Director of DSS to discuss his/her concerns and explore resolution of the situation.

The individual may also choose to seek resolution through the Associate Vice Chancellor in the Dean of Students who oversees DSS.  The Dean of Students office is located in 125 Umstead Hall and can be reached by calling 252-328-9297 or via email dos@ecu.edu.

Formal Grievance Process

ECU has systems in place to receive and investigate discrimination and harassment complaints, as well as allegations of retaliation for filing or participating in these complaint processes.

If you feel that you have been harassed or discriminated against by a university employee or visitor based on one of the university’s protected classes outlined, or allege retaliation related to these complaints, you may fill out an online grievance reporting form, or you may contact the Office for Equity and Diversity by email at oed@ecu.edu or by phone at 252-328-6804.

Housing Accommodations

ECU will consider reasonable housing accommodations for students with disabilities. Housing accommodations may include room adaptation, adjustments or access to a single room. When the documentation shows that a single room is a necessary method of meeting the housing needs of a student with a disability, ECU will consider exceptions to its general room rate structure unless doing so would result in a fundamental alteration to the housing program. Each request will be individually evaluated annually with respect to the documentation presented and the accommodations needed.  The deadline for requesting modified housing accommodations is May 1st of each year.

A student requesting housing accommodation must submit to DSS a completed copy of the Request for Accommodation form.  In addition, documentation supporting the need for accommodation must be submitted to DSS.  The Request for Accommodation form and documentation requirements can be accessed online. In addition, students must complete the housing application online through OneStop.

Reasonable Attendance Adjustment Plans (RAAP)


Students are generally expected to be present at all regular class meetings and examinations for the courses in which they are registered. Each faculty member is responsible for setting the policy concerning the role of attendance in determining grades for their classes. It is the responsibility of the students to learn and comply with the policies set for each class in which they are registered. Students should familiarize themselves thoroughly with each course’s attendance policy, as explained in the course syllabus. Students should be aware that when a course policy allows for a specific number of absences with no penalty, that number typically includes absences for any reason (including those with documented justification). For many courses, absences beyond the allowed number mean that the student has not completed the same work as other students in the class and therefore cannot receive the same grade.

As stated in the undergraduate catalog, students are expected to punctually attend all lecture, laboratory sessions and field experiences in courses for which they are registered. Absences are counted from the first class meeting, and absences because of late registration will not be automatically excused. DSS does not issue official written excuses for absences. Additionally, students are expected to complete all assignments on time and in accordance with the due dates outlined by the syllabus.

Some students may have serious health related disabilities which can impact attendance due to their episodic nature. This may include, but is not limited to: inflammatory bowel diseases; seizure disorders; diabetes; mental health conditions experiencing acute exacerbation; various autoimmune disorders, or conditions requiring treatment such as chemotherapy or dialysis.  On a case by case basis, DSS may include “Reasonable Attendance Adjustment Plan (RAAP)” in a student’s accommodation letter. The RAAP accommodation does not permit unlimited absences and students remain accountable for all academic activities (assignments, assessments, required readings, etc.) and evaluation standards specified on the syllabus. Seasonal illness (IE. flu, mono), temporary impairments, health conditions not on record with DSS or non-disability related absences are not subject to reasonable attendance adjustments.  The appropriateness of this accommodation depends on a determination of whether or not attendance constitutes an essential requirement of the course.

In general, courses that involve significant interaction, in-class participation, or whose content mastery is reliant on attendance may limit what adjustment options are available. Examples of these courses may include:

  • Labs
  • Practicums
  • Internships
  • Foreign language learning
  • Math
  • Public speaking/communications

For some students with disabilities, such as those described above, a RAAP accommodation may be appropriate. Disability Support Services (DSS) has established the following steps for the request and evaluation of such requests for consideration for attendance adjustments:

  1. Students with disabilities that may impact attendance should request a Reasonable Attendance Adjustment Plan when completing the Request for Accommodations form. The student must engage with DSS in the interactive process, and submit documentation of their disability which indicates the need for this accommodation, including a rationale as to why the student may need to miss class, and to what extent attendance is anticipated to be affected. While it is understood that one cannot always accurately predict the number or percentage of absences anticipated, the student is asked to provide some indication of the scope, within the request.
  2. DSS will evaluate each request and any provided documentation to determine whether the student has provided a justifiable disability-based rationale for requesting consideration in attendance adjustments. Documentation is considered confidential and will not be shared with the faculty.
  3. If the request for accommodations is approved, the Reasonable Attendance Adjustment Plan (RAAP) accommodation will be added to the student’s accommodation list and available to be added to the accommodation letter each semester.
      • Each semester, the student receiving the RAAP accommodation will initiate the process by completing the RAAP request form. This form indicates that the student intends to utilize the RAAP accommodation in the course indicated, and prompts the instructor to respond to a series of questions regarding attendance, participation, exams, and assignments.
      • All requests for RAAP will be evaluated carefully, giving consideration to the following information offered by faculty:
        • Is there regular classroom interaction between the instructor and students and among the students themselves?
        • Do student contributions or interactions in class constitute a significant component of the learning process?
        • Does the fundamental nature of the course rely upon student participation or interaction as an essential method of learning?
        • To what degree does a student’s failure to attend class constitute a significant loss of the educational experience of other students in the class?
        • What does the course description and syllabus say regarding attendance?
        • What is the method by which the final course grade is calculated?
      • DSS will review the responses provided and either approve the plan, or follow up with the instructor for further discussion of potential adjustments.
      • If it is determined that an attendance adjustment is not possible or appropriate for a given course, the student will be so informed and given an opportunity to discuss other accommodation options with DSS staff.


  • Faculty must complete a Reasonable Attendance Adjustment Plan upon receipt of the request from the student and DSS. DSS staff may seek additional information or clarification in order to support both the student and faculty.
  • Students are responsible for abiding by the communication agreed upon in the Reasonable Attendance Adjustment Plan, which includes contacting the faculty member as soon as possible when a disability-related absence will occur/has occurred and, as necessary, informing the faculty member as to when the student will return to class
    [Students should cc: Dssdept@ecu.edu when emailing faculty regarding disability-related absences]
  • This request provides approved adjustments to attendance policies, however, the student remains responsible for any material covered or work done during such disability-related absences. Additionally, neither an extension of deadlines for assignments due, nor arrangements for making up tests and exams missed during such absence are assumed due to absence. Students must follow the guidelines laid out in the RAAP for missed work and exams, including contacting the instructor if an extension is needed in addition to the absence.
  • If, at any time, the faculty member believes that the student’s absences from class threaten the academic integrity of the curriculum or the accomplishment of learning objectives, or that the student is not abiding by the Reasonable Attendance Adjustment Plan, they should contact the Disability Support Services, AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. After consulting with the faculty member, DSS may determine it necessary to contact the student to review available options.

Note Taker Services

Access to note taker services are available. Students are expected to communicate their note taking needs with staff at DSS. Note taking accommodations may include access to class notes from a peer, access to carbonless paper for taking notes, and/or permission to utilize electronic note taking applications.

Personal Care Attendants/Devices

The University does not provide personal care attendants (PCA) and personal auxiliary devices. For official PCA Guidelines, please contact DSS at 252-737-1016.

Sign Language Services

Requesting an Interpreter

It is the responsibility of the student requesting interpreting services to provide the office with their schedule immediately after registration. In the event of late registration, every effort will be made to secure accommodations as soon as possible. Any changes to a schedule prior to, or after the start of a semester, should be reported immediately to the Assistant Director for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services. In addition and upon request, DSS will provide interpreting services for meetings, plays, presentations, or other functions sponsored by the university. While DSS will consider individual preferences in the assignment of interpreters, it reserves the right to make all interpreter assignments.  These assignments are in DSS’s sole discretion and may be based upon many factors which include availability, certification, qualification and appropriateness of the request based on actual or perceived conflicts of interest.

Interpreter/Student Relationship

Students and interpreters are expected to adhere to the following policies when working with one another.  Questions about class material should be directed to the instructor of the course not to the interpreter.  Interpersonal conversations with the interpreter should be avoided during class time; instead, use the time before class or after class to discuss these matters.  It is expected that the student and the interpreter behave in a professional manner at all times.

Interpreting Services during tests and final exams

When taking an examination in class, the student has the option to have an interpreter remain in class or be dismissed.  The student is responsible for making sure the instructor does not plan to lecture after the exam.  Students in classes with 2 interpreters should inform the Assistant Director of their needs at least 48 hours prior to the exam so that one of the interpreters may be released and rescheduled.

Schedule Change/Cancellation of Interpreter Services

It is the responsibility of the student to inform DSS if he/she has a change in schedule or does not plan to attend the class/event for which an interpreter was scheduled.   3 consecutive  absences  without prior notification will result in a mandatory meeting with the Assistant Director.  Interpreters will wait 15 minutes for every hour of a class/event (or a maximum of 45 minutes).  Students are expected to notify DSS immediately if an interpreter does not show up for an assignment.

Students should email the Assistant Director immediately when a schedule change or cancellation of interpreter services is needed.  The Assistant Director will make every effort to secure an interpreter for students who are in situations where the interpreter did not show up for an assignment.

Testing Accommodations

Initiating the exam accommodation procedure is the responsibility of the student.  Exam accommodations may include extended time, low distraction test site, reader, scribe, and/or access to technology which assists students in performing reading and writing tasks.  Students are expected to schedule their exams at the same time as the rest of the class. A student who misses an exam scheduled with DSS will be required to notify the faculty member. DSS will not reschedule exams without the approval of the faculty. A student who is late for a scheduled exam must finish the exam in the time remaining.  Final exams will only be rescheduled in accordance with university policy.

Exam Accommodations are initiated by the student who must follow the procedure for completing and submitting a Test Booking Form in Clockwork. The form is located in the Clockwork Web Portal. There are time constraints for submitting Test Booking Requests, all requests should be submitted by the deadline established for both regular and final exams.

Tutorial Services

Tutorial services are available to all students at ECU through the Pirate Tutoring Center.  Private tutoring (outside what the university provides) is considered the financial responsibility of the student.  DSS will inform the student of the tutorial services located on campus by electronic mail. Students are responsible for checking their university assigned e-mail accounts for access to announcements regarding the Department.


Appendix A – Significant Differences Between High School and College for Students with Disabilities

Applicable Laws

High SchoolCollege
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of Rehabilitation Act of 1973Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act (ADAAA), Section 504 of Rehabilitation Act of 1973
IDEA is about SUCCESSADA is about ACCESS

Required Documentation

High SchoolCollege
Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan for accommodationsHigh school IEP and 504 Plans do not transfer directly to college, rather, colleges approve specific accommodations based on a current documented need
School provides evaluation at no cost to the student or the student’s familyColleges do not evaluate students; the student must seek evaluation if needed
Evaluation and documentation focus on determining whether a student is eligible for services under a specific disability category of IDEADocumentation must include information on the specific nature of the disability, functional limitations, and demonstrate the need for specific accommodations

Parental Role

High SchoolCollege
Parent advocates for student, attends IEP meetings, and is informed of changes to the student’s IEPParent does not have access to the student’s records without the student’s permission
Parent has access to student recordsStudent is responsible for advocating for themselves and asking for assistance

Student Role/Self Advocacy

High SchoolCollege
Student is identified by the school and parents are notified and included in the processStudent must self-identify to Disability Support Services
The school must arrange for accommodationsStudent has the primary responsibility for requesting accommodations, communicating difficulties, and advocating for themselves
Teachers will approach the student if they believe help is neededProfessors are almost always open and helpful, but the student is expected to initiate contact if they require assistance or support

Curriculum, Grades and Tests

High SchoolCollege
IEP and/or teachers may modify the content taught or alter the pace and/or content of assignmentsProfessors are not required to modify curriculum or content of assignments; accommodations may be available to alter the pace of assignments
Teachers remind you of due dates and provide chances to make up missed work and examsProfessors expect you to consult the course syllabus for due dates and grading policies
Exams occur frequently on small amounts of materialRequirements vary by course: some courses may have only one or two cumulative exams, others may have frequent exams, and others may have projects or term papers.
IEP/504 may include modifications to test length or gradingAccommodations typically alter only the manner in which the test is delivered (extended time, separate location).

Study Responsibilities

High SchoolCollege
Tutoring, study skills, and resource room may be included as services on the IEP or 504.Tutoring is not an accommodation, but is available to all students through the Academic Enhancement Center
Student’s time to complete work is often structured by others (teachers, parents, coaches, etc)Students manage their own time and complete readings and assignments independently
Students may study very little outside of classStudents should expect to spend 2 to 3 hours reading and studying outside of class