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. Accommodating individuals with disabilities in a mainstreamed environment, is the overall objective of  DSS.

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 at http://www.ecu.edu/admissions.  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 at https://dss.ecu.edu/.   Except in cases of an impairment that is readily apparent, documentation is required. Upon approval of accommodations, the student must schedule an intake 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 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 DSS 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 documentation, signed and on letterhead from a licensed psychiatrist, therapist or mental health provider.  The following information is required:

  • Diagnosis and treatment history that indicates a continuing therapeutic relationship between the professional and the student.
  • The severity of the impairment and its impact on the student’s ability to reside in a communal living environment.
  • The provider’s confirmation that the ESA has been prescribed for treatment purposes and is necessary to alleviate symptoms associated with the person’s condition.


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 prescribed 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 following form:  https://dss.ecu.edu/request-electronic-textbooks/


Initiating the electronic text process requires the student to complete and submit the Electronic Textbook Request Form located at https://dss.ecu.edu/. 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 accessible here http://www.ecu.edu/cs-acad/oed/grievance-form.cfm , 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 at https://dss.ecu.edu.  In addition, students must complete the housing application online through OneStop.


Leniency for Attendance & Assignment Due Dates

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 “leniency for attendance” in a student’s accommodation letter. Reasonable Attendance Adjustments 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.  The Office for Civil Rights has provided the following guidelines when determining if attendance is an essential course requirement:

  • What does the course description and syllabus say regarding attendance?
  • To what extent is there classroom interaction between the instructor and students and among the students themselves?
  • Do student contributions in class constitute a significant component of the learning process?
  • Does the fundamental nature of the course rely upon student participation 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 elements of the course is are used to calculate the final course grade?

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

The ultimate decision regarding absences and the resulting influence attendance has on grades is at the discretion of the instructor after a comprehensive examination of the essential course requirements. When attendance is not essential to course requirements, instructors are encouraged to make reasonable considerations. However, when absences are believed to affect course integrity, instructors should consult with ODS to determine what course-specific adjustments may be applicable.


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 and personal auxiliary devices.



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 the Alternative Test Request form (ATR Form). These forms are located at http://dss.ecu.edu.  There are time constraints for submitting the ATR forms, 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.



High School
Applicable Laws
Section 504Section 504
Rehabilitation ActRehabilitation Act
Required Documentation
I.E.P. (Individual Education Plan) and 504 PlanVaries depending on the disability, I.E.P and 504 are not sufficient, must include the testing on which the accommodations are based.
School provides evaluation at no cost to student.Student must get evaluation at own expense.
School conducts evaluations at prescribed intervals.Student generally not required to be re-tested after initial documentation approved.
Student Role
Student is identified and supported by parents/teachers.Student must self-identify to the Disability Services Office or designated office.
Primary responsibility for accommodations belongs to the school.Primary responsibility accommodations belongs to the student.
Parental Role
Parents have access to student records and participate in the accommodation process.Parents do not have access to disability-related records unless student provides written consent.
Parents advocate for students.Students advocate for self.
May modify curriculum and/or alter pace of assignmentsNot required to modify curriculum.
Use multi-sensory approach.Tend to rely on lecture; may or may not use multi-sensory approach.
Weekly testing, mid-term, final, and graded assignments.Testing and assignment frequency vary.
Attendance taken and reported.Attendance often not taken; student is responsible for attending class.
Grades may be modified based on curriculum.Grades reflect the quality of work submitted.