Office for Disability Equity

Office for Disability Equity

Rights and Responsibilities

Faculty, students with disabilities, and the Office for Disability Equity have rights and responsibilities related to reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the Montana Human Rights Act. Collaborative efforts among these three parties will ensure equal access.

Faculty is responsible for creating and maintaining an accessible learning environment, while at the same time maintaining academic standards. Faculty expects the student to initiate accommodation requests and provides reasonable accommodations to ensure equal access. Faculty also refers students to the Office for Disability Equity when necessary and refrains from retaliation against individuals advocating for accessibility.

Students have the right to equal opportunities for education and participation in University activities. Students must meet or exceed the essential requirements of the University of Montana with or without accommodations. Students initiate the request for accommodations and/or services in a timely manner, communicate with faculty regarding accommodations and work with their coordinators as needed.

The Office for Disability Equity determines the students' eligibility, coordinates and provides reasonable accommodations. We respond in a timely manner to students who request accommodations and services. We emphasize collaborative partnership with faculty and other campus community members to assure that the UM programs are accessible and usable by students with disabilities.

When students get connected with us

When students get connected with the Office for Disability Equity, they are assigned to a coordinator. The coordinator provides a verification letter to the students. The students are responsible for reaching out to the instructor with the letter and requesting accommodations for their courses.

Student's Confidentiality and Faculty's Right

We treat all students' documents with strict confidentiality. We do not reveal the diagnosis of any student who is connected with us. Faculty members have the right to know the following:

  • The student has a disability verified by the Office for Disability Equity
  • How the disability or condition limits the student
  • Recommended reasonable accommodations or academic adjustments for the student

There must be a logical link between the functional limitations and the recommended accommodations or adjustments.

No documents will be released to any internal or external individual, departments or agency without the written permission of the student or the student's guardian. 

To protect students' privacy, instructors should not identify students with disabilities unnecessarily to their peers or other colleagues without the student's consent. For example, announcing at the beginning of an exam that all disabled students should come to the front of the class would violate the students' right to confidentiality.

Due Process for Students

If an instructor does not provide an accommodation which is reasonable and legitimate, the student has several options, both formal and informal. While the coordinators intervene the least between the student and the instructor, we also have an ethical obligation to inform students of their rights to due process under the law.

  • The coordinators clarify the student's rights in the situation at hand and coach them about how to best discuss the accommodations further with their instructor.
  • The Coordinators may contact the instructor to further clarify the issue and to ensure he or she understands the student's civil rights.
  • The student discusses the issue with the instructor.
  • The student may contact the Chair of the Department if a resolution is not possible or the instructor is unresponsive within a week.
  • The student may contact Dean of the College or School if the Chair is unable to resolve the matter.
  • The student may contact the Office of the Provost if the Dean is unable to resolve the matter.

The student may wish to file a formal, internal complaint with the Office of Equal Opportunity and Title IX. The EO/Title IX office will attempt to determine if discrimination on the basis of disability has occurred and to recommend a resolution.

The student always has the right to file formal complaints with either the Montana Human Rights Bureau or with the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR). This process takes longer before the situation is resolved, but carries with it greater threats to the University as a whole in the event of adverse findings.