Policies and Guidelines

The DRC maintains updated information on policies and guidelines to help guide students, staff, faculty and interested community members through the accommodations process in terms of our legal and, more importantly, ethical responsibilities to provide equal access and the very best services possible. If you have questions or need clarification on any of the information provided on this page, please contact the DRC.

College and Department Policies, Guidelines and Processes

Federal and State Law

Commitment to Accommodation

"No student shall, on the basis of his or her disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subject to discrimination under any college program or activity."

That is Bellevue College's commitment to providing equal opportunity in accessing the benefits, rights, and privileges of college services, programs, and activities for every qualified student with a disability. The college is committed to providing reasonable accommodations for qualified students with disabilities. These will be provided in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Washington State law.

College Accommodations Policy

For further clarification of the guidelines related to student disability accommodations you may review the Bellevue College policies and procedures page and/or contact the DRC directly.

The BC Accommodations Policy states:

Bellevue College is committed to providing each qualified student with a disability equal opportunity in accessing the benefits, rights, and privileges of college services, programs, and activities. These will be provided in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Washington Law Against Discrimination, RCW 49.60, and RCW 28B.10.910, .912, and .914.


Eligibility is defined by the The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and is determined based on documentation. The ADA defines eligible persons as: "any person 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 an impairment."


As part of the eligibility process, the student is responsible for providing documentation. The documentation must be a clear, objective medical/clinical evaluation of the disability. This evaluation must reflect the functional limitations the disability presents in the educational setting. Our Contact page explains how to submit documentation.

We will look for the following information when establishing your eligibility for services. Please share this list with your physician or the professional who can document your disability.

With supporting documentation, suggestions regarding academic adjustments and auxiliary aids may be included. However, the final determination rests with the Disability Resource Center.

Learning Disability Documentation Must:

  1. Be prepared by a professional qualified to diagnose a learning disability. This might include, but not be limited to: a licensed neuro-psychologist, psychologist, or school psychologist.
  2. Be comprehensive. One test alone is not acceptable for the purpose of diagnosis. The test report shall include a DSM-IV (or subsequent edition) notation based on intake interview and testing results. Minimally, areas to be addressed must include, but not be limited to:
    • Aptitude. Testing must have been administered at the adult-learning level. The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised (WAIS-R) with sub-test scores is preferred. In lieu of a WAIS-R (or subsequent WAIS), two Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-III (WISC-III) tests correlated within 15 IQ points of each other may be acceptable.
    • Achievement. Current levels of functioning in reading, mathematics, and written language are required. The Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-educational Battery-Revised is preferred. The WRAT-R and the WRAT-III (Wide Range Achievement Test) are NOT comprehensive measures of achievement and therefore are not appropriate for documentation purposes.
    • Information Processing. Specific areas of information processing (e.g., short and long-term memory; auditory and visual perception/processing; processing speed) must be assessed.
  3. Be current. Testing must have been administered at the adult learning level. Since assessment constitutes the basis for determining reasonable accommodations, it is in a student's best interest to provide recent and appropriate documentation to serve as the basis for decision making about a student's needs for accommodation in an academically competitive environment.
  4. Present clear and specific evidence, which identifies a specific learning disability and reflects the individual's present (adult) level of functioning. That is, processing and intelligence, as well as achievement in written expression, writing mechanics and vocabulary, grammar and spelling, reading comprehension and rate. (Individual "learning styles" or "learning differences" in and of themselves do not constitute a learning disability.)
  5. Include the exact instruments used and procedures followed to assess the learning disability. Report shall include: test results (including sub-test score data); a written interpretation of the results by the professional doing the evaluation, name, title, and professional credentials of the evaluator, and date(s) of testing.
  6. Provide sufficient data to support the request for the particular academic adjustment. Requests which are not supported by documentation may not be provided without additional adequate verification.

Psychological/emotional Documentation Must:

  1. Specify the nature, severity, current impact, and anticipated duration of the disability;
  2. State the diagnosis in the nomenclature used by the DSM-IV, or successive editions;
  3. Address the student's current ability to function in the college environment (e.g. ability to focus, organize one's time, attend class, work in groups or alone, etc.);
  4. List medication and any current side effects that may impact the student in an educational setting.

Blind Or Visually Impaired Documentation Must:

  1. Reflect the date of the most recent visit, diagnosis of the eye disorder, and its pathology specific to this individual;
  2. A brief description of the severity of the vision loss, and current impact or limitations;
  3. Include any medically relevant testing results;
  4. Include a description of assistive devices or services currently prescribed or in use, including the possible effectiveness of these devices or services in an educational setting;
  5. Include a description of the expected progression or stability of the vision loss over time.

Deaf Or Hard Of Hearing Documentation Must:

  1. Include a copy of the audiology report;
  2. Include a brief description of the severity of the hearing loss;
  3. Describe the assistive devices/services currently prescribed or in use, including the possible effectiveness of these devices or services in an educational setting;
  4. Describe the expected progression or stability of the hearing loss over time.

ADD/ADHD Documentation Must:

  1. Be prepared by a professional who has comprehensive training in differential diagnosis and direct experience working with adolescents and adults with ADHD, which may include: clinical psychologists, neuropsychologists, psychiatrists, and other relevantly trained medical doctors;
  2. Be current. The provision of all reasonable accommodations and services is based upon the assessment of the current impact of the disability on academic performance. The diagnostic evaluation should show the current level of functioning and impact of the disability;
  3. Be comprehensive. Minimally, areas to be addressed should include:
    • Evidence of early and current impairment. Diagnostic assessment should consist of more than a self-report. A diagnostic feature as presented in the DSM-IV is that ADHD is first exhibited in childhood, and manifests itself in more than one setting. Therefore, a comprehensive assessment typically includes a clinical summary of objective historical information garnered from sources such as transcripts, report cards, teacher comments, tutoring evaluations, psycho-educational testing, medical history, employment history, family history, and third party interviews when available;
    • Alternative diagnoses or explanations should be ruled out. Possible alternative diagnoses including medical, psychiatric disorders, and educational or cultural factors affecting the individual that may result in behaviors mimicking ADHD should be explored;
    • Testing information must be relevant. Test scores or subtest scores alone should not be used as a sole measure for the diagnostic decision regarding ADHD. Selected subtest scores from measures of intellectual ability, memory functions tests, attention or tracking tests, or continuous performance tests do not in and of themselves establish the presence or absence of ADHD. Check lists and/or surveys can serve to supplement the diagnostic profile, but are not adequate for the diagnosis of ADHD;
  4. If applicable, present a specific diagnosis of ADHD based on the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria. The diagnostician should use direct language in the diagnosis of ADHD, avoiding the use of such terms as: "attention problems", "suggests...", or "is indicative of...".
  5. Provide a comprehensive interpretive summary synthesizing the evaluator's judgment for the diagnosis. The report should include: all quantitative information in standard scores and/or percentiles, all relevant developmental, familial, medical, medication, psychosocial, behavioral and academic information; and a clear identification of the substantial limitation of a major life function presented by the ADHD.

Health And Physical Disability Documentation Must:

  1. Include a clear statement of the medical diagnosis of the disability or systemic illness and information regarding how the disability limits a major life activity;
  2. Describe the type and severity of current symptoms;
  3. Provide a summary of assessment procedures and evaluation instruments used to make the diagnosis, including evaluation results and standardized scores if applicable;
  4. Provide information regarding existing side effects of medication on the student's ability to meet the demands of the postsecondary environment (physical, perceptual, behavioral, or cognitive);
  5. Describe the treatments, medications, assistive devices/services currently prescribed or in use;
  6. Describe the expected progression or stability of the disability over time.

All documentation guidelines were developed by the Washington Association of Post-Secondary Education and Disability (WAPED).


Information regarding your disability is considered confidential. This information will not be released to anyone without your written permission.

Bellevue College complies with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) which establishes that the educational records of students attending or having attended the college are confidential and can be released only with written permission of the student.

The college has adopted procedures to implement the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Questions pertaining to the procedures and their implementation should be directed to the Dean of Student Services.

Grievance Process

Any student who believes that he or she has been discriminated against may file a formal discrimination complaint with the ADA Compliance Officer. Bellevue College has adopted an internal grievance procedure providing for the equitable resolution, within a reasonable time, of complaints by students with disabilities alleging violations of their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Students also have the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education and/or seek other legal remedies under state and federal law. The Department of Education requires complaints of discrimination to be filed within 180 days of the last known incident of discrimination. For further information regarding external complaint mechanisms, please refer to RCW 28B.10.910 through RCW 28B.10.914 and the Washington Law against Discrimination, RCW 49.60.

Additionally, complaints can be registered with the Office for Civil Rights, since the OCR is the regulating entity over Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

What is it?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the civil rights guarantee for persons with disabilities in the United States. It provides protection from discrimination for individuals on the basis of disability. The ADA extends civil rights protections for people with disabilities to employment in the private sector, transportation, public accommodations, services provided by state and local government, and telecommunications relay services. The significance of this legislation is no less than the civil rights acts in the 1960's for minorities.

Who are individuals with disabilities?

A person with a disability is anyone with a physical or mental impairment (has a history of such a condition, or perceived by others to be disabled) that substantially impairs or restricts one or more major life activities such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working. The term physical or mental impairment includes, but is not limited to: speech, hearing, visual, and mobility impairments, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, AIDS, mental retardation, emotional illness, and specific learning disabilities such as perceptual handicaps, brain injury, dyslexia, minimal brain dysfunction, and developmental aphasia.

Does the ADA affect students at post secondary institutions?

Post secondary institutions that receive federal money have been required to comply with a similar disability nondiscrimination law -Section 504 of the Rehabilitation act of 1973. The ADA upholds and extends the standards for compliance set forth in Section 504 to employment and promotion practices, meeting planning, and communications.

What specifically will the ADA mean to post secondary education communities?

Renewed attention will be focused on disability access to the institutions facilities and programs; as well as employment and promotion issues. Personnel will be asked to make some of these "reasonable accommodations" for persons with disabilities qualified to work in campus offices and departments. Some elements of these changes might be:

  1. Changes in examinations, training materials, and training policies.
  2. Providing qualified readers or interpreters.
  3. Reassignment of disabled employees to fill positions.
  4. Job restructuring.
  5. Making existing facilities readily accessible.
  6. Part-time or modified work schedules.
  7. Altering equipment or devices where necessary to accommodate disabled employees.

Personnel in the campus disability services office, who are a prime resource for campus accessibility, may also be called upon for information on accessibility to business and public accommodations in the campus community.

Because the ADA will increase access to employment, public accommodations, transportation, and telecommunications, there will be a marked increase of persons with disabilities on the campus and in the surrounding community.

How will post secondary institutions benefit from the ADA?

Improved access by private business and public transportation will increase use of campus education, recreational, and cultural facilities and programs, possibly generating new income and increased enrollment. Also, an increased number of qualified students with disabilities will enhance the cultural diversity of campus.

By educating and graduating a larger number of persons with disabilities, post secondary institutions fill a need in business and industry by providing a qualified pool of workers for an anticipated labor shortage in the next decade. Alumni with disabilities who are working in business and industry are highly credible endorsements for an institutions' programs and faculty.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation: The Law and Its Impact

What Is The Law?

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states that:

"No otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States...shall, solely by reason of his handicap, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

One of the first areas that required further elaboration in the Act concerned the term "qualified handicapped individual." Congress passed the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1974 in an attempt to clarify participant eligibility.

Section 7 (6) of the Act was amended by adding the following new sentence: "For purposes of Titles IV and V of this Act, such term means any person 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 an impairment."

Who Is Protected Under The Law?

A "qualified handicapped person" is defined as one who meets the academic and technical standards requisite to admission or participation in the institution's programs and activities. This would include students with any of the following disabilities:

  • AIDS
  • Alcoholism
  • Attention Deficit Disorder
  • Blindness/visual impairment
  • Cancer
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Deafness/hearing impairment
  • Diabetes
  • Drug addiction
  • Epilepsy
  • Heart disease
  • Mental illness
  • Mental retardation
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Orthopedic, or speech problems
  • Perceptual handicaps, such as dyslexia, or developmental aphasia

What Is The Impact Of The Law On Post Secondary Education?

Subpart E of Section 504 is applicable to all post secondary educational programs and activities which receive Federal financial assistance. In brief, colleges and universities must be free from discrimination in their recruitment, admissions, and treatment of students. Reasonable accommodations in the academic program must be made by the educational institution to insure maximal participation by all students with disabilities.

Under the provisions of Section 504, colleges and universities may not:

  • Limit the number of students with disabilities admitted.
  • Make pre-admission inquiries as to whether or not an applicant is disabled.
  • Use admission tests or criteria that inadequately measure the academic level of blind, deaf, or otherwise disabled applicants, because special provisions were not made for them.
  • Exclude a student from a course of study.
  • Counsel a student with a disability toward a more restrictive career.
  • Measure student achievement using modes that adversely discriminate against the student with a disability.
  • Institute prohibitive rules that may adversely affect students with disabilities.

Colleges and Universities could be required to:

  • Extend the time permitted for a student with a disability to earn a degree.
  • Modify teaching methods and examinations to meet the needs of students with disabilities.
  • Develop course substitutions or waivers for students with disabilities.
  • Make available such learning aids as four-track tape recorders, word processors, and pocket spell-checkers for students with disabilities.

According to the NEW regulations, accommodations need not produce the "identical result or level of achievement."

What Can Colleges And Universities Do To Implement Program Modification Provisions?

Colleges and universities have sought to implement program modification provisions by developing affirmative programs that stress individualization and personal attention. For college students with disabilities "academic adjustments" may include adaptation of the manner in which specific courses are conducted, the use of auxiliary equipment and support staff, and modification in academic requirements.

These students need support services or programs that can provide them with sufficient flexibility to meet the demands of a post secondary institution.

"Reasonable and timely" accommodations that post secondary institutions can implement for program modifications may include these options:
  • Modify or substitute foreign language or mathematics course requirements.
  • Allow part-time enrollment instead of full-time study without affecting financial aid status.
  • Permit examinations to be proctored, read orally, dictated, or typed.
  • Allow the proctor to clarify examination questions that are unclear.
  • Allow extra time for completion of examinations. Increase the frequency of exams or quizzes.
  • Change the test format (e.g., multiple choice to essay).
  • Permit use of basic four-function calculators and standard desk dictionaries during examinations.
  • Use alternative methods for student to demonstrate course mastery (e.g., a narrative tape instead of a journal).
  • Review final drafts of term papers with a proofreader and make changes without altering content.
  • Provide specially trained tutors for content courses.
  • Provide readers, scribes, or note takers.
  • Secure removal of structural or architectural barriers.
  • Utilize computer software programs to assist in test-taking and study skills development.

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

To ensure that the federal government would not perpetuate the discrimination that the vocational rehabilitation system was designed to mitigate, Congress enacted civil rights protections for people with disabilities. On August 7, 1998, Congress amended Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (19 U.S.C. 794d) to expand the federal government's responsibility to provide electronic and information technology which is accessible to, and usable by, people with disabilities. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act specifically covers federal agencies but has an impact on the greater public.

Section 508 requires federal departments or agencies that develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology, to ensure that the electronic and information technology is accessible. Section 508 requires that individuals with disabilities seeking information or services from a federal department or agency, have access to, and use of, information and data comparable to that provided to individuals without disabilities. For example, government Web sites must provide access for blind users who use speech output systems. If any video clips are used they must have captions and descriptions. Visual images should also be audio-described so that people who are blind or deaf have equal access.

In response to Section 508 the AccessBoard has created accessibility standards for information technology. Although developed for federal agencies they have been adopted by some postsecondary institutions to assure the accessibility of information technology procured, developed, or used on campus.

To sum up, federal legislation requires that we accept otherwise qualified students with disabilities into our academic programs. Additionally, we should work with students to identify and implement reasonable accommodations that will grant them access to educational opportunities. There are experienced staff on campus to assist instructors in understanding the effects of disabilities on the learning process and of state, federal, and other relevant legislation. With your cooperation, together with the students and campus services, accommodation strategies can be implemented successfully.

Guide To Disability and Washington State Nondiscrimination Laws

The Washington State Human Rights Coalition has developed a document that seeks to clarify laws and relevant precedents in state disability law and interpretation. Please visit the The Washington State Human Rights Coalition online and view their document, Guide To Disability and Washington State Nondiscrimination Laws.