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Oklahoma State University

SDS Handbook


The Handbook for Students with Disabilities has been developed to provide students with an outline of the services provided by Student Disability Services. Please familiarize yourself with the information outlined in the Handbook. If you have additional needs, please contact the office. Student Disability Services (SDS) is committed to providing a community that ensures full participation for students.  SDS provides assistance to students that will facilitate their independence and academic progress.  Additionally, Student Disability Services is a resource for faculty and staff members.

How Do Students Access Services?

Students with disabilities who wish to access services should contact SDS. Provision of services begins with an intake process during which the functional issues related to the disability are identified and appropriate strategies, resources and accommodations determined.

How do Students Qualify for Services?

Student Disability Services is committed to serving all students with disabilities as defined by federal regulations. Individuals with temporary disabilities are also served by SDS.

A qualified person with a disability is:

  • An individual who, with or without reasonable modifications to rules, policies, or practices, the removal of architectural, communication, or transportation barriers, or the provision of auxiliary aids and services, meets the essential eligibility requirements for the receipt of services or the participation in programs or activities provided by a public entity.

The federal legal definition of a disability includes a person who:

  1.       Has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activity.
  2.       Has a record of such impairment.
  3.       Is regarded as having such impairment.

Students must provide documentation of their disability and their need for accommodation before receiving services. In the case of a medical, physical, or psychological disability, students should submit documentation from a qualified professional stating 1) the nature and severity of the disability, 2) current functional impact, 3) the diagnostic procedures used, and 4) recommendations for assistance.

Students diagnosed prior to graduation from an accredited high school may submit the psychoeducational evaluation (or other existing documentation) on file at the respective high school.

Students diagnosed after the completion of high school should submit a psychoeducational evaluation performed by an appropriately qualified professional.

Information obtained is confidential and is used solely for the purpose of identifying appropriate support services. Information regarding a student’s disability is only released with permission of the student.

How Does a Student Obtain Services?

Services must be requested by the student each semester. Students must complete a Service Request Form (SRF) to initiate their requests, which should be done prior to or at the beginning of the semester to help ensure timely provision of necessary accommodations. Students must also identify themselves to their instructors to facilitate implementation of the identified classroom accommodations. Consultation among the student, his/her instructor(s), and the Coordinator of Student Disability Services may be necessary for some accommodations. Each student is encouraged to act as his/her own advocate and has the primary responsibility for securing assistance. Early and regular contact with SDS  will help ensure the timely identification and provision of services and accommodations.

What Services Are Available?

Assistance is tailored to the needs of the individual student. Services will be designed in a manner intended to remove barriers which hinder learning and which allow maximum independence. Reasonable accommodations will be based on need, not desire or convenience. Services are intended to provide equal access and equal opportunity.

Academic support services offered, based on individual need, include:

  • Campus Orientation
  • Instructor Notification
  • Notetaking Assistance
  • Alternative Testing Accommodations
  • Assistance in Obtaining Texts in Alternative Formats
  • Interpreter Services/CART
  • Priority Enrollment
  • Classroom Accessibility (table, chair, relocated room)
  • Accessible Parking Permits
  • Equipment Loan
  • Assistive Technology
  • Emergency Plans
  • OSU-Stillwater Transit System
  • Complaints
  • Testing & Documentation Standards for Disability Service Providers in Higher Education

Campus Orientation

The office will provide students with a detailed campus map that highlights accessible building entrances, accessible parking, and other access features.  Campus orientation may be provided upon request.

Instructor Notification

To aid students in securing appropriate services, our office provides instructors with written notification of the functional impact of a student’s disability without giving the specified disability. Our office also provides instructors with recommendations for academic accommodations. Students must also identify themselves to their instructor(s) for implementation of the identified classroom accommodations.

Note-taking Assistance

Students may arrange for note-taking assistance by securing a volunteer notetaker or by tape recording lectures. Working with SDS to obtain copies of instructor’s lecture notes, as available, is also an alternative.

If the volunteer note-taking option is selected, it is the student’s responsibility to contact SDS. A letter will be sent to the student’s instructors requesting an in-class volunteer notetaker solicitation. It is then the student’s responsibility to obtain the volunteer’s name and number from the instructor.

If the recording option is selected and a student does not have a recorder, students may check-out a Livescribe Pen from Student Disability Services as available. Students are responsible for the return of tape recorders and tapes at the conclusion of each semester, or they will be billed for the cost of the equipment.

Alternative Testing

Students with disabilities may request accommodations in course examination requirements or formats. Authorized testing accommodations are designed to assist students in demonstrating skills or acquired knowledge rather than the impact of the disabilities.

For students with disabilities requiring exam accommodations, a test proctoring service has been developed as a cooperative effort between University Assessment and Testing  (UAT) and Student Disability Services. If testing assistance is necessary, UAT can provide testing accommodations for approved students with disabilities as an alternative examination arrangement for students and their instructors. In conjunction with SDS, UAT provides scribes, readers, closed circuit monitors, and computers with assistive technology, spelling and grammar check as testing accommodations for authorized students.

The University Assessment and Testing Center is located at 1524 W. Admiral Ave., 744-5958. UAT schedules examinations for students from 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, and requires that tests begin no later than 3:00 p.m. and end no later than 4:45 p.m. Examinations are administered and timed according to the specifications of the student’s instructor and Student Disability Services.

The following procedures have been established for students and instructors to follow to utilize alternative testing in UAT. Students seeking testing accommodations are responsible for speaking with their instructors regarding their requests far in advance of scheduled examinations, preferably at the beginning of the semester. Students must also request appropriate services from SDS on a timely basis. The Coordinator of SDS will notify the student’s instructor(s) and UAT of testing provisions and auxiliary aids. Consultation among the student, his/her instructor(s), and the Coordinator may be necessary before some testing accommodations are authorized.

Students approved to use UAT should obtain a “cover sheet”  or “bookmark” from SDS and must give this information to their instructors. The student and instructor(s) should agree upon the dates and time periods for scheduling course examinations in UAT. Exams should be taken at the regular class time unless a scheduling conflict exists. The student is then responsible for contacting UAT to schedule examinations. This should be done as far in advance as possible to ensure scheduling needs can be met. The instructor is responsible for delivering examinations and written test instructions to UAT in advance of scheduled exams, utilizing the “Cover Sheet” or online submittal process.  If students have additional questions, a complete outline of UAT procedures are available at

Alternative Format Text Materials

More information on alternative format books.

Student Disability Services provides assistance to students in obtaining texts in alternative formats (i.e., e-text, digital recording,  braille). If a student is eligible to obtain alternative textbooks and equipment, SDS will assist the student in processing application(s) to Learning Ally, formerly RFB&D, and/or Bookshare, or with other publishers if necessary. SDS will work with students to order books through his/her own membership, OSU’s institutional membership(s), publishers, and other available resources to obtain required texts.  Students need to identify the required texts as soon as possible to begin this process. Early identification and requests are important in order to ensure timely receipt of materials. Priority enrollment is meant for this purpose.

Students may check-out equipment to play accessible textbooks or use available Assistive Tech Software. Students are responsible for the return of equipment and materials at the conclusion of each semester.

Student Disability Services will scan and/or provide e-text copies of the required text materials. Use of Assistive Technology by students is expected as a means to provide access to printed material. (See “Equipment Loan.”) Training on equipment software use is available.

Interpreter Services

In addition to the Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing Specialist, freelance interpreters/real-time captionists and local agencies are utilized to provide interpreter services. Students using interpreters/real-time captionists must notify SDS, (744-7116 v/t) as soon as possible of needs. Priority enrollment is meant to assist in early notification. If a class is missed, at least 48 hours advance notice is expected. A “no show” or notice less than 48 hours will be counted as a “miss,” save extenuating circumstances. Three misses will result in suspension of services until the student meets with the Coordinator of Interpreting Services.

Priority Enrollment

Students with disabilities may be eligible for priority enrollment. Determination is made on an individual basis pertinent to the functional issues of the disability and the impact on access/accommodation needs.

Classroom Accessibility

If a student with a disability enrolls in a course that is scheduled in an inaccessible location, the student should notify SDS to obtain a change in classroom location.

Accessible Parking Permits

Purchase of a campus parking permit is required for all students/faculty/staff. Permanent or temporary University accessible parking permits are available through the OSU Department of Parking and Transit, 1006 W. Hall of Fame, 744-6525. Students who have a State accessible license plate/hang tag on their registered campus vehicle can provide documentation of this fact for purchase of a University accessible parking permit.  All other students must first be seen by and provide appropriate medical documentation to the University Student Health Center, 1202 W. Farm Road, 744-7665, for authorization for temporary or permanent University accessible parking.  After receiving a permit, students will be notified and can renew on-line.  This permit allows parking access in any accessible space AND in any faculty, staff, or student parking space.

Both accessible and temporary medical permits are for the absolute and specific use of the permit holder only.

Assistive Technology

Student Disability Services works closely with Oklahoma ABLE Tech to provide appropriate equipment for students. 


  • Voice recognition  (Dragon Naturally Speaking) - limited to 50 user licenses
  • Screen reader (JAWS) - campus computer labs
  • Screen magnification (MAGIC) - campus computer labs
  • Scanner/Reader (Open Book) - campus computer labs
  • Read&Write Gold (For PC and MAC)

Emergency Plans

Snow and Ice Removal Plan

Any difficulties, obstacles, or problems that arise due to the snow and ice removal are to be directed to SDS/ADA Compliance, 744-7116 (v/t) immediately. Such issues would include bus/transit, uncleared areas identified above, and academic dilemmas due to lateness/attendance.

Although it happens infrequently, it is important to be prepared and address the difficulty that inclement weather brings. This plan is OSU’s piece to help ensure access. Knowing how to use the bus/transit, allowing additional time for travel, being aware of how buildings “connect” and notifying SDS/ADA.

Emergency Evacuation Procedures

More information about Emergency and Fire Safety Procedures.

To ensure personal safety in emergency situations, the following guidelines should be observed by students with disabilities in advance of an emergency. Notify instructors and/or classmates of the type of assistance you need during an emergency situation.

In the event of a fire, immediate and complete evacuations are preferred if it can be accomplished in a safe manner. If immediate and complete evacuation is not possible, ask someone to assist you to a “safe area,” such as an enclosed stairwell, until emergency personnel arrive and complete evacuation. The assisting individual should stay with you until emergency personnel arrive. In addition, you should ask a second person to immediately notify emergency personnel of your location and the type of assistance required.

In the event of a tornado warning, you should utilize elevators and proceed to the lowest floor of the building. Request assistance from instructors or classmates if assistance is needed. If elevator use is not possible, then fire evacuation procedures should be followed. Once you have reached the lowest possible floor, remain in the corridors away from windows and exterior doors.

Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Response Plan

The purpose of the Oklahoma State University Emergency Response Plan is to provide a rapid, coordinated and effective response to dangerous man-made or naturally occurring incidents or events for the purpose of protecting the public health and safety, the University environment, to preserve and safeguard property.

Fire Safety Procedures

EHS personnel respond to all fire alarms and burning odors on campus 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week. Our duty is to assure the safety of everyone on the OSU Stillwater campus and to provide assistance in solving specific fire protection and safety problems on any campus in the OSU system or governed by the A&M Board of Regents.

Procedures for Emergency Evacuation of Individuals with Disability

This program establishes procedures for emergency evacuation of persons with disability from residence halls and other occupied buildings at Oklahoma State University and its entities. The guidelines set forth in this program are in compliance with NFPA 101 Life Safety Code, the Americans With Disabilities Act, and ANSI A117.1.

OSU-Stillwater Transit System

OSU-Stillwater Transit System provides a fixed route service and a Paratransit service according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  For Transit information, call 744-2832 or refer to the website at


Addendum: Testing & Documentation Standards for Disability Service Providers in Higher Education

Standards and practices regarding how people are diagnosing Learning Disabilities (LD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD-with and without hyperactivity) still vary widely. For service providers in higher education it is a concern nationally. In addition to identifying the presence of a disability, the documentation is utilized to establish a "substantial limitation" to learning (due to the disability) as stated in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and to aid in determining appropriate accommodations. Having a disability diagnosis does not necessarily entitle a person to, nor require, accommodations. The presence of a disability and the fact that it "substantially limits one or more major life activity (e.g. learning)" establishes such a need. These are the criteria used in providing services in postsecondary education.

While it is not practical or desirable to create specific protocols for documenting every possible condition that might be considered a disability, it is helpful to provide a clearer understanding in the preferred profiles for the more common conditions. The Seven Essential Elements of Quality Disability Documentation noted below provides that direction in order to:

  • Help ensure that all documentation guidelines are consistent,
  • Offer direction for the case-by-case review of documentation that doesn’t fit the established protocol for a specific disability,
  • Clarify specific guidelines for diagnosticians, and
  • Provide information to individuals seeking services.

Preferred documentation is more helpful when it describes the condition, validates the need for accommodation(s) AND includes information to support educational planning. It also should anticipate accommodation needs in new contexts and facilitate referrals to outside services and agencies.

Disability documentation for the purpose of providing accommodations must both establish disability and provide adequate information on the functional impact of the disability so that effective accommodations can be identified.

All documentation should be reviewed on an individual, case-by-case basis. Examine the impact of a disability on the individual and within the specific context of the request for accommodations. There is no list of covered disabilities or accepted diagnostic criteria. OSU’s documentation policy is flexible, allowing for the consideration of alternative methods and sources of documentation, as long as the essential goal of adequately describing the current impact of the disability is met.

Determination of a disability doesn’t require the use of any specific language. Clinicians’ training or philosophical approaches may result in their use of euphemistic phrases, rather than specific diagnostic labels; this practice should not be automatically interpreted to suggest that a disability does or does not exist.

Presented documentation can be augmented through interview. Student Disability Services may contact the evaluator, as necessary, for clarification of any information (test results, conclusions, recommendations, etc.) contained in documentation. An interview, filtered by the professional judgment, is extremely valuable in substantiating the existence of a disability, understanding its impacts and identifying appropriate accommodations.

Determination of accommodations is an interactive process. The individual with a disability is an excellent source of information on strategies that maximize access. In the context of documentation and accommodation planning, the individual is a rich, reliable, and valid source of information on the impact of the disability and the effectiveness of accommodations. The individual may be provided with his/her first choice of accommodation or an alternative, effective accommodation determined by the institution. While objective confirmation (documentation) is legitimate, so are the lived experiences of individuals.

Documentation of a specific disability does not translate directly into specific accommodations.Reasonable accommodations are individually determined and should be based on the functional impact of the condition and its likely interaction with the environment (course assignments, program requirements, physical design, etc.). As such, accommodation recommendations may vary (for) individuals with the “same” disability diagnosis and from environment to environment for the same individual.

Disability documentation should be treated in a confidential manner and shared only on a need-to-know basis. Disability-related information will be collected and maintained in SDS in secure files with limited access.

Information on the individual’s disability is only one component of providing access. Many barriers to full participation reside in the environment (physical, curricular, attitudinal, informational) where proactive redesign can favorably impact sustainable access. Student Disability Services (SDS) works to increase overall accessibility through system change that makes the institution more inclusive and reduces the need for individual accommodation.

Seven Essential Elements of Quality Disability Documentation:

1. The credentials of the evaluator(s)

2. A diagnostic statement identifying the disability

3. A description of the diagnostic methodology used

4. A description of the current functional limitations

While relatively recent documentation is recommended in most circumstances, common sense and discretion in accepting older documentation of conditions that are permanent or non-varying is recommended. It is important to remember that documentation is not time-bound; the need for recent documentation depends on the facts and circumstances of the individual’s condition.

5. A description of the expected progression or stability of the disability

6. A description of current and past accommodations, services and/or medications

7. Recommendations for accommodations, adaptive devices, assistive services, compensatory strategies, and/or collateral support services