Disability Services

Knowledge for All

Disability Services, located within the Academic Advising and Resource Center, provides resources, education, and direct support services and accommodations to ensure that students with disabilities achieve equal access to the educational resources on our campuses.

SMC is committed to complying with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, and with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) in providing reasonable accommodations to students with disabilities. 

  • How to Register with Disability Services

    Students with documented disabilities can speak with someone regarding strategies and accommodations to remove disability-related barriers by following the steps below. Students returning to SMC after being absent for more than one academic year should contact Disability Services to discuss accommodation updates and reinstatement.

    1. Complete a Disability Services folder, providing documentation of a disability and filling out the Accommodation Request Form included in the folder, and turn it in to the Academic Advising and Resource Center (AARC) on the Dowagiac campus or the Student Service Center on the Niles campus. Folders can be picked up at the AARC or at the Student Service Center on the Niles Campus.

      A folder will be considered completed if it contains a fully completed Accommodation Request Form and documentation of disability. Please refer to the Documentation Guidelines for appropriate sources of documentation. If you do not have documentation of a disability, you may still contact Disability Services to discuss next steps.

      Accommodation Request Forms and documentation will not be accepted on their own and cannot be turned in to FYE, testing, or any other department on campus. Digital documentation received via email or fax and paper documentation sent via postal service that was received unsolicited and/or without the elements of a completed folder will be disposed of following the Unsolicited Documentation or Incomplete Folder guidelines (see Documentation Guidelines below).

    2. Make an appointment for an intake interview with the Disability Services Coordinator or an academic advisor. This can be done at the front desk of the AARC or with an advisor in the Student Service Center on the Niles campus.  You may also schedule via email at disabilityservices@swmich.edu or by calling 269-782-1303.

    3. Complete the confidential intake interview with the Disability Services Coordinator or an academic advisor to identify educational barriers and discuss what reasonable and appropriate accommodations would best support your time at SMC. At the interview, you will request accommodations and provide documentation to support the request(s). Questions relevant to your disability will be asked with specific emphasis on how the disability impacts major life activities and limitations related to academic work. If you are unable to provide documentation, Disability Services will provide a list of possible referral agencies, however, you are encouraged to contact your health care insurance for an appropriate diagnostic agency. This policy will be reviewed during the discussion.

    4. Following your intake interview, Disability Services will review and assess the requested accommodations and you will receive an email regarding approved accommodations and future memo. If a reasonable request is considered unfounded, you will be asked for additional documentation.

    5. If your request is denied, you may appeal the decision following the Appeals Process outlined below.
  • Eligibility

    The ADA defines a person with a disability as, “any person who has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.” 

    Students with disabilities are not required to disclose their disabilities to faculty, staff, or other college entities; however, in order to receive accommodations, they must disclose their disabilities and register with Disability Services. Accommodations are determined on an individual basis through the interactive process consisting of documentation request and review, intake interview, and assessment of provided information.

    High school students enrolled in SMC’s dual-enrollment program, including Early Middle College and Academy students, are eligible to apply for accommodations for their college courses.  IEP’s and 504’s do not follow students into their college programs. Accommodations are determined for these students in the same way they are determined for traditional college students.

  • Documentation Guidelines

    Acceptable documentation includes assessments, reports, or letters from qualified evaluators.  Documentation should include clear diagnostic statements of disability, diagnostic methodology, functional limitations, and recommended accommodations. As conditions may change over time, we ask that documentation be current and that documentation for learning, psychological, and/or emotional health disabilities be no more than three years old. Initial documentation may include 504 or IEP paperwork, but these often do not provide enough information for the Disability Services office to make a determination. If a request is considered unfounded or the documentation provided does not give enough information to make a determination, a student may be asked to provide additional documentation. Disability Services will consider all relevant information provided when assessing accommodation needs, participate in an interactive process, and determine case-specific accommodations. Exceptions may be made on documentation guidelines on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of Disability Services and based on the interactive process.


    Unsolicited Documentation or Incomplete Folders and File Maintenance

    Documentation and/or Accommodation Request Forms will be held by the Disability Services office for one academic year after they have been received if a student does not schedule an intake appointment or fails to complete an intake interview. If a student returns an incomplete folder, he or she will be contacted to pick up the folder, and an appointment will be rescheduled once the folder has been completed. After one academic year, unsolicited documentation (sent via fax or email from an entity without the student's express request), and incomplete folders will be shredded or deleted. If a student wishes to register with Disability Services at a later time, new documentation will be requested. 

    Disability Service records are stored in a locked cabinet and are not part of a student's academic record. No indication of registration with Disability Services or accommodation will be reflected in a student's transcript. All files are shredded or destroyed seven years after a student's last attended semester. 

  • Housing Accommodations

    Students needing housing accommodations due to a disability should contact Disability Services as soon as possible. Housing accommodation requests should be submitted no later than May 15 for fall and August 15 for spring semester accommodations.

     Students needing accommodations for service or assistance animals should see SMC’s Service and Assistance Animal Policy and contact Disability Services for assistance.

  • Placement Testing Accommodations

    If a new student needs placement testing accommodation prior to registration, an intake appointment with the Disability Services office is not necessary. Students requesting testing accommodations should contact the Disability Services Coordinator to set up an appointment to review documentation. Placement testing takes place in a quiet location without a time limit so extended time and alternate site accommodations are unnecessary. If a student is approved for accommodations beyond those previously mentioned, he or she will need to schedule an appointment with the Testing Center to test at a later time.

  • Rights and Responsibilities

    Students with disabilities have the right to enjoy equal opportunity and access to SMC courses, programs, and services. To do so, students with disabilities have the right to request and receive appropriate accommodations. Students who disagree with a decision or the denial of an accommodation request have the right to appeal the decision through the Grievance Process found in the Disability Services Policies and Procedures Guide. Students can expect disability information will be handled in a confidential manner.

    Students are responsible to participate in the interactive process by self-identifying to Disability Services, requesting accommodations, and providing appropriate documentation. Students are also responsible for making requests in a timely manner, notifying Disability Services when an issue arises, and meeting all technical standards for classes with or without accommodations.

    SMC has the right to request and receive appropriate documentation to support accommodation requests. SMC also has the right to deny requests that are deemed unreasonable, unfounded, or those requests that would fundamentally alter the nature of an academic program or would cause undue burden on the institution.

    It is SMC’s responsibility to provide equitable access to all programs, activities, and courses it provides. Disability Services will advocate for students and assist in coordinating with faculty, staff, and support services in providing clear expectations and appropriate implementation of approved accommodations.

    All SMC faculty and staff have the responsibility to refer students who self-disclose a disability to Disability Services to pursue appropriate and reasonable accommodations.

  • Appeals Process

    Anytime a student is not receiving accommodations as outlined in his or her accommodation memo, the student must immediately contact Disability Services.

    If a student is denied an accommodation after completing an intake appointment, the student has the right to contact the Dean of Student Development in order to file an appeal. The dean will have 10 days to review the facts of the appeal and make a determination. 

  • Grievances

    Anytime a student is not receiving accommodations as outlined in his or her accommodation memo, the student must immediately contact Disability Services.

    At the time a student's accommodation appeal is denied, the student has the right to file a grievance through SMC's Grievance Procedure. If a student feels that he or she has experienced discrimination in any college activities or educational programs, the student may also file a grievance. Grievance must be filed within 30 days of the alleged occurrence. 

    Should the student feel that SMC has not acted appropriately in their determination, the student has the right to contact the Regional U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, 1350 Euclid Avenue, Suite 325, Cleveland, OH  44114, by email at OCR.Cleveland@ed.gov or phone 216-552-4970.