Disability Services

Knowledge for All

Disability Services, located within the Academic Advising and Resource Center, provides resources, education, and direct support to ensure that students with disabilities achieve equal access to everything SMC has to offer. 

SMC is committed to complying with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, and with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) in providing reasonable accommodations to students with disabilities. 

  • How to Register with Disability Services

    Students can speak with Disability Services regarding strategies and accommodations to remove disability-related barriers by following the steps below.

    Students returning to SMC after being absent for more than one academic year should contact disabilityservices@swmich.edu to discuss accommodation updates and reinstatement.

    1. Complete the Disability Services Application.  An application is considered complete if it is filled out and contains documentation of disability.  Please refer to the Documentation Guidelines in the Policy and Procedures document for guidance on appropriate documentation sources. Students without documentation should contact disabilityservices@swmich.edu to discuss the next steps.
    2. Once the application is received, the Disability Services Coordinator (DSC) will reach out with an invitation to set up a confidential discussion regarding educational barriers and accommodations that would best remove them. The DSC will ask questions relevant to the impact of the disability on major life activities and concerns related to academic work. 
    3. Following the intake appointment, Disability Services will review and assess the requests. Students will receive an email regarding approved accommodations and a memo for communicating with instructors. If a reasonable request is considered unfounded, Disability Services may ask for additional documentation.

    Students may appeal denied requests following the Appeals Process outlined below.

  • Eligibility

    The ADA defines a person with a disability as any person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.

    Students are not required to disclose their disabilities to faculty, staff, or other college entities; however, they must disclose and register with Disability Services to receive accommodations.  Accommodations are determined individually through an interactive process consisting of documentation request and review, intake interview, and assessment of all provided information.

    High school students enrolled in SMC's dual-enrollment program, including Early Middle College and Academy students, are eligible to apply for accommodations.

    IEP's and 504's do not follow students into their college programs or courses. Disability Services determines accommodations for dual-enrolled students in the same way they determine them for traditional college students.

  • Documentation Guidelines

    Acceptable documentation includes assessments, reports, or letters from qualified evaluators.  Documentation should consist of clear diagnostic statements of disability, diagnostic methodology, functional limitations, and recommended accommodations. As conditions may change over time, we ask that documentation be current.

    Initial documentation may include IEP or 504 paperwork, but these often do not provide enough information to make a determination. If a request is considered unfounded or the documentation provided does not give enough information, a student may need to provide additional documentation.

    The Disability Services Coordinator will review all relevant information provided when assessing accommodation requests and will consider exceptions to documentation guidelines on a case-by-case basis.

    Unsolicited Documentation or Incomplete Applications and File Maintenance

    Disability Services holds unsolicited documentation (sent via fax or email from an entity without the student's express request) for one academic year after receipt if a student does not complete an application.

    After one academic year, unsolicited documentation will be shredded or deleted.  Should students wish to register at a later time, they need to provide new documentation.

    Disability Services stores records in a locked cabinet and a secure electronic database. Transcripts show no indication of accommodations.

  • Housing Accommodations

    Students requesting housing accommodations should fill out the Disability Services Application unless requesting a service or assistance animal in housing. Students should use the Approved Animal Application for animal-related requests.

    Service animal requests do not need documentation. Students requesting assistance animals need to turn in the Required Treating Professional Documentation Form completed by their healthcare provider with their application.

    Housing accommodations should be submitted no later than May 15 for the fall and August 15 for the spring semester. Students requesting accommodations after these dates should apply at least 30 days before the animal is needed on campus, as the application and determination process can take two or more weeks. See SMC's Service and Assistance Animal Policy for additional information.

  • Placement Testing Accommodations

    New students needing accommodations for placement tests should email the Disability Services Coordinator and schedule an appointment to review documentation.

    Placement testing can take place in a quiet location or remotely without a time limit, so extended time and alternate site accommodations are unnecessary. Students approved for other accommodations should plan on making an appointment to test.

  • Rights and Responsibilities

    Student Rights

    Students with disabilities have the right to enjoy equal opportunities and access to SMC courses, programs, and services. They have the right to request and receive appropriate accommodations.

    Students can expect SMC to handle disability information confidentially. Students who disagree with a decision or denial of an accommodation request have the right to appeal the decision through the Grievance Process.

    Student Responsibilities

    Students are responsible for participating in the interactive process by self-identifying to Disability Services, requesting accommodations, and providing appropriate documentation.  Students are also responsible for making requests in a timely manner, notifying Disability Services when an issue arises, and meeting all the technical standards for their classes with or without accommodations.

    SMC's Rights

    SMC has the right to request and receive appropriate documentation to support accommodation requests. SMC also has the right to deny requests that are deemed unreasonable, unfounded, would fundamentally alter an academic program's nature, or cause the institution undue burden.

    SMC's Responsibilities

    SMC is responsible for providing equitable access to all programs, activities, and courses.  Disability Services will advocate for students and help coordinate with faculty, staff, and support services to provide clear expectations and appropriate implementation of approved accommodations.

    All SMC faculty and staff are responsible for referring students who self-disclose a disability to Disability Services to pursue appropriate and reasonable accommodations.

  • Appeals Process

    If a student is denied an accommodation after completing an intake appointment, the student has the right to contact the Dean of Student Development to file an appeal. The dean will have ten days to review the facts of the appeal and make a determination.

  • Grievances

    Any time a student is not receiving accommodations as outlined in his or her memo, the student must immediately contact Disability Services.

    Should an accommodation request be denied, students have the right to file a grievance through SMC's Grievance Procedure. Students may also follow this process should they feel that they have experienced discrimination in any college activities or educational programs. A grievance must be filed within 30 days of the alleged occurrence.

    Should students feel that SMC has not acted appropriately in their determination, the student has the right to contact the Regional U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights.

    Office for Civil Rights, Grand Rapids Office
    350 Ottawa, N.W.
    Grand Rapids, MI 49503
    Phone: 616.356.0380 | Fax: 616.356.0399 | TTY: 616.356.0391