Discrimination based on disability is prohibited by university policy and local and federal laws, including the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, and the DC Human Rights Act (collectively "Disability Laws"). The university is committed to providing equal educational opportunities and nondiscrimination protection for qualified individuals with disabilities. This statement identifies university resources for students with disabilities, provides general information about the university's procedures for requesting accommodations, and describes informal and formal means of resolving complaints related to requested accommodations.
A person with a disability is one who (a) has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of such person's major life activities, (b) has a record of such impairment, or (c) is regarded as having such impairment.
"Physical or mental impairment" means (a) any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory (including speech organs), cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genito-urinary, hemic and lymphatic, skin and endocrine; or (b) any mental or psychological disorder, such as intellectual disability, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities.
"Major life activities" include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, working, and the operation of a major bodily function, including but not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel , bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.
"Qualified person with a disability" as applied to students means a person who meets the academic and technical standards requisite to admission or participation in the university's educational program or activity, with or without reasonable accommodation.
"Reasonable accommodation" means the provision of certain necessary and effective adjustments to the known physical and mental limitations of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability, unless the accommodation would impose an undue burden or hardship on the university, or would produce a fundamental alteration of the university's programs or services.
*Definitions are taken from the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and its implementing regulations and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. These definitions are provided for informational purposes only and are not meant to alter existing local laws or regulations.
Section 504/ADA Compliance Coordinator
The Faculty Relations Investigator Deputy Provost & Dean of Faculty is the university's 504/ADA compliance coordinator. The 504/ADA Compliance Coordinator provides information about services and refers complainants to the appropriate office.
Proof of Disability
Students with disabilities are not required to notify the university or any of its offices or personnel of their disability either prior to or subsequent to their admission to the university. However, if students w ith disabilities request accommodations, the university must receive reasonable advance notice of such needs. Students must register with the Academic Support and Access Center (ASAC) through a three-step process. Specific information about documentation guidelines, procedures for requesting accommodations, and priority deadlines can be found by contacting the ASAC at 202-885-3360 or at this link.
Information and records about a student's disability and accommodations are treated as confidential information. All university employees are required to maintain the confidentiality of any disability-related information about a student. To that end, information is provided on a need-to-know basis solely to individuals who require such information as part of the accommodation process, or where permitted or required by law. To protect confidentiality, all disability-related and medical information must be filed with the ASAC, and generally not with individual offices.
The university's Discrimination and Discriminatory Harassment Policy protects the rights of individuals with disabilities to be free from harassment and discrimination, and to be reasonably accommodated by the university. Students who feel that their rights under that policy have been violated may use these grievance procedures to file a complaint. The university's Discrimination and Discriminatory Harassment Policy can be found here.
The law school will make reasonable accommodations for documented disabilities according to recommendations made by the ASAC. Academic modifications may include but are not limited to exam accommodations, access to adaptive technology, notetaking assistance technology, and materials in alternative format.
Class attendance is a fundamental aspect of legal education at WCL. The regulations of the law school and the accreditation standards of the American Bar Association require regular and punctual class attendance. Students are expected to attend classes regularly to receive credit. If a student accumulates an excessive number of absences without good cause, such as illness, he or she may be denied credit for that semester or be barred from taking a final examination in the particular course or courses.
Excessive absence means failure to attend a substantial number of classes, indicating a lack of seriousness of purpose on the part of the student. Faculty members may set more stringent standards as a matter of discretion, for certain courses in which case the more stringent standard will apply. See WCL Catalog, "Attendance".
Interaction with Faculty
Faculty are not generally informed about students enrolled in their class who are receiving accommodations. However, on some occasions, a faculty member may need to be consulted to facilitate the implementation of the accommodations. In most circumstances, this can be done without compromising the anonymity of the student receiving accommodations. All accommodated exams are administered by the WCL Office of Student Affairs.
The school is equipped with adaptive technology (hardware and software), available through the Pence Law Library and on American University's main campus. Students who require adaptive technology, or would like information about available technology, should contact the Office of Student Affairs at 202-274-4030.
- New students or students applying for accommodations for the first time at WCL should register with the Academic Support and Access Center (ASAC) on main campus to begin the process. Students can register with ASAC here.
- Students requesting accommodations will provide appropriate documentation and speak with the Associate Director (WCL) at the ASAC to determine the appropriate classroom and/or examination accommodations.
- The ASAC will provide the student with a confidential memo outlining recommended accommodations. All documentation will remain confidential within ASAC.
- The Student Affairs & Senior Accommodations Coordinator, with the guidance of the Associate Director, will implement accommodations.
- Questions may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or the Academic Support and Access Center (email@example.com or 202-885-3360).
The law school building has an underground parking garage with accessible parking spaces. General information on parking at the law school is available on the law school facilities management website. Students with questions regarding the parking policy and accommodations should contact the Office of Student Affairs at 202-274-4030.
Access by Public Transit
Information about accessible bus and metro transit is available on the law school website, www.wcl.american.edu/direction/, and on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority website, www.wmata.com.
The law school building is accessible from the Warren Entrance (found on Nebraska Avenue), the Capital Atrium Entrance (found on Yuma Avenue), and the Yuma Entrance (found on Yuma Avenue). All of these entrances have power operated doors. In Warren, access to the upper floors from the Terrace level is provided via two elevators and three stairways. These two elevators also provide access to the underground parking lot. All floors of the parking garage have ramps accessing the elevators. Within the Warren building, the Pence Law Library elevator provides access to all floors of the library. Individuals needing assistance with the door to the library can push a call button to alert the library staff. At the Yuma entrance, an elevator is available to access the Terrace level, where there are three elevators providing access to all floors of the Yuma building and three stairways. From the Quad between the Yuma and Warren buildings, there are power operated doors to enter Yuma and Warren. When entering the Capital building through the Capital Atrium, there is an elevator providing access to the Terrace level, Atrium, and all Capital upper floors. An elevator to the Ceremonial Courtroom from the Atrium is also available. There are stairways from the Capital Atrium to the Terrace level, to the Ceremonial Courtroom and first floor administrative offices, and connecting the upper three floors. All elevator jams have Braille floor numbers. Signs on each floor and for each classroom are also in Braille.
There are restrooms with accessible stalls on every floor. In Warren, the Terrace and First floors have two accessible restrooms each, and the Second and Third floors each have one accessible restroom. In Yuma, there is one accessible restroom on each floor. In Capital, there is one accessible restroom on each floor. There are two Mother’s Rooms at WCL, one in the Terrace level of Capital (CT06) and one on the Fourth Floor of Yuma (Y406). In Capital, there is a gender-neutral restroom on the Terrace level. In Warren, each floor has a gender-neutral restroom. In Yuma, there are gender-neutral restrooms on each floor from the Terrace to the Third Floor.
All of the tiered classrooms are fully accessible and have ramps. Many classrooms are wired to provide network access and power for student laptop computers. Wireless networking is also available throughout the building.
"Once dismissed for academic deficiency, a student may be reinstated only by petitioning the admissions committee for readmission. Readmission is granted only in extraordinary cases of demonstrated, substantial improvement in a student's potential for continuing the study of law successfully. As a matter of policy, the admissions committee generally requires that a student dismissed for academic deficiency remain out of school for a minimum of two semesters (a summer session does not constitute a semester for this purpose) before a petition for readmission is acted upon. In cases where a substantial period of time has elapsed between dismissal and readmission, the "six-year rule" may result in the loss of some or all of the credits earned prior to readmission." See WCL Catalog, "Reinstatement."
If a student is dismissed for academic insufficiency and later petitions for readmission citing a disability as a causal factor in the dismissal, the student will be required to explain why the disability was not brought to the attention of the Associate Dean for Student Affairs if it had not been previously, why accommodations were not requested if they were not, or why accommodations that were provided were not adequate. Readmission petitions should be discussed with the Associate Dean for Student Affairs before being filed with the Committee on Admissions which considers and acts on such petitions.
Students seeking career counseling or information about career opportunities should contact the Office of Career and Professional Development at 202-274-4090. Information about career services at WCL is available at www.wcl.american.edu/career/. "Interviewing Tips for Law Students with Disabilities and Employers Who Recruit Them" is published by the National Association for Legal Career Professionals (NALP), and is a helpful resource.
Law students with disabilities who believe they will require accommodations when taking the bar examination should inquire early in their legal education as to the requirements for obtaining accommodations. In some cases, documentation provided to the university for purposes of obtaining academic accommodations will need to be updated. Information on how to contact bar examiners in all states is available from the Office of Career Services, the Associate Dean for Student Affairs, and on the American Bar Association website.
Many state boards of bar examiners will request that the law school provide information on accommodations received during law school. Such information will be provided upon a written release from the student to the Office of Student Affairs. Students should pursue securing accommodations on a bar examination as early as possible as it can take some jurisdictions months to confirm accommodations and additional documentation may be needed.
Students seeking accommodations on the basis of a temporary disability must notify the Associate Dean for Student Affairs. Students will be required to provide documentation to the Academic Support and Access Center on main campus verifying the nature of the condition, stating the expected duration of the condition, and describing the accommodations deemed necessary.
The information contained in this Handbook includes the university's interpretation of its obligations under the various local and Federal disability laws. The University does not intend to provide more or less than required by law. To the extent there is a conflict between the University's policy and the law, the law will prevail. Additionally, this Handbook may be amended from time to time with or without notice. This document is available in alternative formats upon request.