Beauty Link - Volume 4, Issue 2 - (Page 70)
Accommodating Students with
THE INS AND OUTS OF THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT
BY EDWARD CRAMP
any students have disabilities—some are obvious and some are hidden. Regardless, federal and state laws require postsecondary schools—including cosmetology schools—to provide assistance. Those laws also provide students and the Department of Education with remedies or enforcement mechanisms if schools fail to interact with students or provide them with appropriate accommodations. The laws were designed to help students with disabilities. They require us all to overcome stereotypes and prejudices that we have towards disabled persons—they challenge our conventional thinking about who can do what. We cannot assume, for example, that the student with a twitch or palsy is incapable of cutting hair. Instead, we have to work with that student to determine what their limitations are and how/whether they can be overcome to allow them to complete their education. A qualified individual with a disability is essentially someone who is qualified to attend an educational program and can complete it either with or without a reasonable accommodation.
Disclosing Disability and Requesting Accommodation
Some students with disabilities may decide that they do not need any assistance. They are under no obligation to disclose a disability or request an accommodation. In that case, the school should respect the student’s decision and their privacy. Schools should not ask applicants or students if they have a disability or would require any accommodation to complete the program—federal law prohibits asking those questions. However, students who begin a program without asking for an accommodation can later change their mind and ask for help. When that happens, the student must be prepared to disclose the disability to the school, make a request for accommodation and provide evidence of the disability. Once that’s done, the schools must respect that decision and discuss options for accommodation with the student.
Disabilities Can Come in Many Forms
The law defines a disability as a physical or mental condition that substantially limits a person’s ability to engage in major life activities. However, schools should not spend too much time worrying about whether a particular condition is or is not a disability. The Department of Justice has recently issued guidance under the Americans with Disabilities Act indicating that covered institutions should not make decisions about this. Schools can ask for documentation to support that someone has a disability, but should not evaluate whether a particular condition is a disability under the law. Disabilities can be broken down into two broad categories: those that are obvious and those that are hidden. Obvious disabilities are ones that we can observe; for example, a paraplegic in a wheelchair has an obvious disability. Hidden or latent disabilities are ones that we cannot see, such as Asperger syndrome, HIV/ AIDS or a brain injury. We would not know about a hidden disability unless someone tells us. Individuals with hidden disabilities are entitled to the same rights as persons with obvious disabilities.
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Interactive Process Best Practices
This leads to a back-and-forth discussion between the student and the school, commonly referred to as the “interactive process.” The school and the student are required to engage in this dialogue about what the student needs to successfully complete the requirements of the educational program. Schools are required to have policies in place that provide the specifics of how the interactive process unfolds. The process should be outlined in the student handbook. It should begin with the student asking for an accommodation—preferably on a request form. The school should then respond to the student. How the school responds will depend on what the student says in the request. Sometimes the school will need more information about the disability in order to evaluate the request. Other times, the school may have enough information to make a decision. Every request must be evaluated on its own merits.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Beauty Link - Volume 4, Issue 2
Message from the AACS President and CEA Chair
Workings of Washington
CEA 2012 Convention Preview
A Student’s Perspective NEW!
A Beautiful Return
AACS Listserve Q & A
Building a Powerful To-Do List
Creating Agile and Efficient Meetings
Wearing Many Hats
Beauty Changes Lives
Your Career Center
Never Assume a Pitch Is Dead
Creating Green Value
And Then There’s Compliance
Voices from the Classroom
Behind the Scenes with The Hunger Games
Creating a Dream Career
Accommodating Students with Disabilities
Associate Member Profiles: Insurance and Legal Services
People & Places
New Products & Services
New School Members
Upcoming 2012 Events
Index to Advertisers
Beauty Link - Volume 4, Issue 2