Compliance & Core Principles

Disability Law Compliance

AccessAbility Services at Mount Holyoke College complies with all applicable laws, including but not limited to, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act, as Amended, the Fair Housing Act, and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

Section 504 states that “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States...shall, solely by reason of...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.”

The Americans with Disabilities Act, as Amended, defines an individual with a disability as a person with “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual.” “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, and working...A major life activity also includes 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.”

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. These rights belong to the student when they attend a school beyond the high school level, such as Mount Holyoke College. FERPA also ensures the confidentiality of students with disabilities’ by limiting access to disability-related documentation and records to appropriate college personnel. Students may elect to share information with their parents by signing a FERPA release form.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in campus housing, including the refusal to make reasonable accommodations when such accommodations may be necessary to afford a person with a disability the equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.

Our Core Principles

Individualized and Interactive Process

We follow an individualized and interactive process when determining reasonable accommodations. Each student meets individually with an AccessAbility Services coordinator who considers accommodation requests on a case-by-case basis after reviewing the student’s documentation and having a conversation with the student. AccessAbility Services collaborates with faculty and staff across campus to implement accommodations.

Confidentiality and Release of Information

We are committed to ensuring that all student disability information is maintained confidentially.

We securely file a student's documentation within the AccessAbility Services office. The documentation is not kept with any other student records on campus. The information can only be shared on a limited "need to know" basis within the Mount Holyoke College community.

Once a student matriculates they are protected by FERPA and AccessAbility Services legally cannot share information with a student’s family member or clinician unless we have a signed release from the student. However, we are always happy to share general information about our office and receive any information that a family member or clinician would like to share with us.

If a student authorizes disclosure of information pertaining to a disability, that authorization may be revoked at any time by providing written notification to AccessAbility Services.

Accommodation letters contain only the accommodation information, and not specifics of the disability or diagnosis itself. A student may choose to disclose more with faculty or staff but are not obligated to do so.