Policy on Disability and Accessibility

(January 2017)

 

Princeton University is committed to providing access to all individuals under the terms of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and applicable state laws. The ADA and Section 504 and their implementing federal regulations prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.  The University provides students, employees, and others with reasonable accommodations in accordance with the ADA/Section 504 and applicable state law.

The University’s compliance with applicable disability laws is implemented in the context of the University’s broader Policy on Discrimination and/or Harassment and its accompanying FAQs, which advise the University community of prohibited discriminatory and harassing conduct, as well as the resources and processes for addressing and resolving complaints of discrimination, harassment and related violations of University policy. 

I.           The University’s ADA/Section 504 Coordinator

The Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity in the Office of the Provost is responsible for coordinating the University’s compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and serves as the University ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (“University Coordinator”).

The University Coordinator, or a designee as appropriate, conducts activities such as (but not limited to):

  • Assisting University offices in making their programs and services accessible;
  • Overseeing communication to all University constituents and campus visitors regarding how they can access programs and services consistent with the ADA/Section 504;
  • Reviewing University policies, facilities, and activities to assure institutional compliance with the ADA/Section 504;
  • Responding to any complaint regarding the ADA/Section 504 made by a student, staff member, campus visitor, or other individual in order to assure prompt and equitable resolution.

The University Coordinator’s contact information is as follows:

Michele Minter
Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity
204B Nassau Hall
Princeton, New Jersey 08544
609-258-6110
mminter@princeton.edu

 

The Office of Disability Services' contact information is as follows:

Office of Disability Services
241 Frist Campus Center
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544
609-258-8840
ods@princeton.edu

 

II.           Definitions

A disability is a physical or mental impairment that prevents the normal exercise of any bodily or mental functions or is demonstrable by accepted clinical or laboratory diagnostic techniques.  Under applicable law, individuals are protected from discrimination based on a disability if they have such an impairment; have a record of such an impairment; or are regarded as having such an impairment.

Accommodations are modifications or provisions made for an individual with a disability to provide access or enable them to perform the essential functions of a role.  Depending on the specific circumstances and the documentation received, accommodations may include:

  • Academic accommodations;
  • Housing and dining accommodations;
  • Modifications to University policies, rules and regulations as applied to the individual;
  • Environmental adjustments such as the removal of architectural, communication, or transportation barriers;
  • Auxiliary aids and services;
  • Modified work schedules or job restructuring. 

Discrimination, harassment and retaliation are prohibited under this policy and the Policy on Discrimination and/or Harassment.  (See the Policy on Discrimination and/or Harassment for definitions.)

III.           Requesting an Accommodation

1.      Students Requesting an Accommodation (Through the Office of Disability Services)

The University is committed to providing students with disabilities equal access to the educational opportunities and programs available at Princeton. The University provides students with reasonable accommodations in a timely manner when such accommodations are necessary to afford goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations to individuals with disabilities, unless providing the accommodation would fundamentally alter the nature of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations. Students with disabilities may request academic accommodations; housing and dining accommodations; modifications to University policies, rules, and regulations; environmental adjustments such as the removal of architectural, communication, or transportation barriers; and auxiliary aids and services.

Students should submit all accommodation requests to the Office of Disability Services (ODS). ODS uses an interactive process of consulting with the student and conducts an individualized assessment of each student to determine whether and what accommodations can be made to allow students with disabilities to participate in the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations at the University, and to continue to participate in and benefit from the University’s goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations while receiving treatment for health conditions. In most cases, an outside consultant is engaged to review the student’s documentation as well. ODS communicates with the student about its decisions throughout the process.

See the ODS process by which students can seek accommodations for a disability for more information. 

2.      Employees Requesting an Accommodation (Through Human Resources or the Office of the Dean of the Faculty)

Princeton University provides reasonable accommodations for employees with a disability who can perform their essential job duties with or without modifications. In determining which accommodations are ‘reasonable,’ the University and the employee have a mutual obligation to engage in a good faith interactive process to explore and discuss options for reasonable modifications.  Reasonable accommodations are provided only when an employee self-identifies as a qualified individual with a disability and provides the appropriate documentation from a healthcare provider.  See the Human Resources process by which employees can seek accommodations for a disability for more information. 

3.      Accessibility of Campus Programs and Events

Princeton University will use its best effort to make appropriate campus programs and events reasonably accessible to individuals with disabilities.  Any individual, including visitors to campus, who requires an accommodation should contact the event planner at least one week in advance of the event.  Princeton cannot ensure accommodation on less than one week’s notice.  If it is not clear whom to contact regarding access to a campus program or event, contact ODS.

IV.         Review of determinations regarding accommodations

1.      Students: Reconsideration through the Office of Disability Services

A student who believes that ODS did not follow its procedures in the determination regarding an accommodation or consider relevant information during the process may request a reconsideration of the decision. 

In order to request reconsideration of a decision regarding an accommodation, the student should request a meeting with the Director for Disability Services to present additional information and/or documentation and to discuss the nature of the issue or complaint. This meeting must be requested within thirty days of the determination at issue. In circumstances where there is a concern relating to denial of accommodations, ODS will engage a second outside consultant to review the documentation and provide recommendations to the Office. The Director for Disability Services may contact faculty, administrators or professionals who can provide information pertinent to the case. If confidential information is to be released to or received by a third party not affiliated with the University, the student will be asked to sign a Release of Information form. Following the review of the request for reconsideration, ODS will notify the student of its decision within thirty days.  See the ODS process for resolving issues for more information.

2.      Students: Requesting a review by the University Coordinator

In situations other than concerns involving discrimination by ODS staff, the student is required to first seek reconsideration by ODS. If the issue is not resolved through reconsideration, the student may request a review of ODS’s process by the University Coordinator within thirty days of receiving ODS’s decision on reconsideration.  The University Coordinator will make an inquiry into the complaint and may contact faculty, administrators or professionals that can provide information pertinent to the case. 

In the circumstance of a complaint that involves an allegation of discrimination by ODS staff or a discriminatory process or practice by Princeton University, the student may contact the University Coordinator directly without initial review by ODS (see section V., below).

The time required for the University Coordinator to review a decision regarding an accommodation will depend on a variety of factors, including the nature and scope of the matter.  Every effort will be made to resolve the matter within forty-five days or as expeditiously as possible. Throughout the process, the University Coordinator will, as appropriate, keep the participants informed of the status of the process.  The student will be contacted in writing with a final decision on the review.  There is no further appeal of the University Coordinator’s final resolution.

V.            Complaint reporting, investigation and resolution

Individuals who believe that they have been subjected to or witnessed discrimination prohibited by the ADA/Section 504 may make a complaint to the University Coordinator.  Complaints by students and University employees are reviewed according to the Policy on Discrimination and/or Harassment, which is summarized below. 

Individuals who have no formal affiliation with the University may also make a complaint as described below. 

Individuals who are considering bringing a complaint may at any time meet with the University Coordinator or a designee, who will discuss the matter and describe the complaint process. 

A complaint investigation is initiated when an individual submits a written statement alleging discrimination prohibited by the ADA/Section 504 to the University Coordinator, or provides similar information in an interview.  Prompt submission of complaints is encouraged. 

The University Coordinator will consider the complainant’s statement of concern, and may dismiss the complaint without further process or review if the University Coordinator determines that the complaint on its face is frivolous, not credible, clearly without merit, or outside the scope of these procedures.

If the complaint is not dismissed, the University Coordinator or a designee shall review the matter.  Depending on the circumstances, the University Coordinator may conduct interviews, review documentary materials, and take any other appropriate action to gather and consider information relevant to the complaint. 

The University Coordinator will determine whether the complainant was subjected to discrimination under the ADA/Section 504.  The University Coordinator will consult with other University offices as necessary in reaching a decision regarding the complaint.  The University Coordinator will prepare a written report setting forth findings, conclusions, and actions to be taken, if any, and will determine appropriate offices with whom to share the report.   The time required to investigate an ADA/Section 504 complaint will depend on a variety of factors, including the nature and scope of the matter.  Every effort will be made to resolve the matter within forty-five days or as expeditiously as possible. Throughout the process, the University will, as appropriate, keep the participants informed of the status of the process.

Following the review, the University Coordinator will, as necessary, take appropriate action to ensure that the University comes into compliance with the ADA/Section 504 in a manner that is prompt and equitable to the complainant.

Individuals found in violation of University policy may appeal the finding according to the Policy on Discrimination and/or Harassment.

VI.          Confidentiality

Individuals choose to self-identify as having a disability. A student seeking accommodations must register with ODS. ODS respects the sensitive nature of the disclosure and works to provide appropriate accommodations for students while maintaining the highest level of confidentiality possible. Requests made by visitors to campus are also handled by ODS.  Faculty and staff disclosures and requests are handled by Employee Health Services in conjunction with the Office of the Dean of the Faculty and Human Resources, and are treated with the same consideration and confidentiality.

VII.        Service and Assistance Animals

Princeton University maintains a policy regarding the presence of Service Animals and Assistance Animals on campus.  Such animals, as defined by the Service and Assistance Animals Policy, are allowed into some or all campus spaces according to specified procedures and parameters.  For more information regarding the Service and Assistance Animals Policy, contact the University Coordinator or ODS.