The University of Southern California is committed to full compliance with the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As part of the implementation of this law, the University will continue to provide academic adjustments and auxiliary aids for academically qualified students with disabilities, so those students can participate fully in the University’s educational programs and activities. Although USC is not required by law to change the “fundamental nature of essential curricular components of its programs in order to accommodate the needs of disabled students,” the University will provide reasonable academic adjustments and auxiliary aids. The specific responsibility of the University administration and all faculty serving in a teaching capacity is to ensure the University’s compliance with this policy.
Part 1, Appeals Process for Eligibility Determinations by Disability Services and Programs
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act provides that: “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States . . . shall, solely by reason of his or her disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance . . .”
Part 2, Grievance Process for Denial by Faculty or Staff of Approved Academic Adjustments and Auxiliary Aids
A student who believes that a faculty member or teaching assistant at the University of Southern California has not provided appropriate accommodation in the classroom may attempt to resolve the matter either informally or formally.
1.) Informal: A student may choose to resolve the problem of not being provided authorized auxiliary aides or academic adjustments in the classroom by speaking directly with the faculty member and requesting appropriate accommodations, as determined by DSP. A student may request advice, assistance, and/or advocacy from Disability Services and Programs.
Students may wish to discuss the situation informally with the student affairs personnel for assistance. Discussion with the faculty member, disability specialist, and/or department coordinators may lead to resolution of the matter without further procedures. If not, the student may choose to file a formal written complaint.
Note: If an instructor has concerns or questions about an accommodation that DSP has determined to be appropriate for a particular student, the instructor should contact DSP promptly. If, after adequately thorough and good faith discussion with DSP, the faculty member disagrees with the accommodation, the faculty member should seek its review by contacting the Provost or his/her designee within five University working days of being notified about it by DSP or the student. The Provost, or his/her delegate, will attempt to resolve the disagreement informally, and if that is not successful, will consult with the relevant faculty chair and dean and then make a final determination. The instructor must provide the student with the approved accommodation(s) until it is either set aside or modified by the Provost or the Provost’s designee.
The department chairs and deans are responsible for ensuring that the faculty of their units understand USC's full commitment to implementing Federal law and University policy assuring nondiscrimination for students on the basis of disability. If an instructor fails to provide an academic accommodation that is determined to be appropriate pursuant to this policy, the instructor's department chair (or dean), in conjunction with DSP, will ensure that the accommodation is provided in a timely manner.
Failure to provide a needed accommodation to a student with a disability is discrimination against someone based on a protected characteristic, in violation of Faculty Handbook 6-B (1), and should be reported to the Office of Equity and Diversity (OED). On a complaint to OED, a finding by the Designated Investigator that a faculty member’s action or inaction amounted to discrimination would lead to consideration of discipline by the designated Vice Provost under Faculty Handbook chapter 6.
2.) Formal: To initiate a formal complaint, the student will need to contact the Office of Equity and Diversity at equity.usc.edu. That office will investigate in keeping with established university protocols. A student may request advice, assistance or advocacy from the office of Disability Services and Programs.
Time Frame for Resolving Disagreements
In situations where there is disagreement concerning the appropriateness of a particular accommodation, every effort will be made to resolve the disagreement as expeditiously as possible. In consultation with DSP and the Office of Equity and Diversity, every effort should be made by the academic department to try to enable the student to continue in the course throughout the grievance proceeding.