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The Guide to Assisting Students With Disabilities

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The Guide to Assisting Students With Disabilities

SKU# 9780826123749

Equal Access in Health Science and Professional Education

Author: Lisa M. Meeks PhD, Neera R. Jain MS, CRC

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"This is a valuable resource for administrators, faculty, disability service providers, parents, and students. Easy to read and understand, it is supported by many tables, examples, tips, and case studies. This is a much-needed resource, especially for nursing programs."

Colleen Manzetti, DNP, MSN, Monmouth University School of Nursing and Health Studies, Doody's Reviews


Students with disabilities studying health sciences face unique challenges within their educational environments that require distinct accommodations. This manual is a vital resource for administrators and faculty in health science programs that describes how to create accommodations that meet the needs of students with disabilities in academic health science settings. Grounded in federal disability law, case law, and Office for Civil Rights (OCR) determinations, this highly practical manual is written by experienced disability service providers from some of the most prestigious health science schools in the country. In a clear, well-organized format, they bring their expertise to bear on all aspects of disability and disability law in the health science setting. Citing legal cases and real-life scenarios, the manual describes best practices for good decision making, how to avoid problems by implementing strong accessibility-focused policies, and how to resolve problems in difficult cases, with a focus on providing effective services for students while protecting the institution from potential liability.

Each chapter is replete with illustrative examples, including tips for creative accommodations, advice for troubleshooting, and specific guidance for working with students with all types of disabilities. The book describes the process for determining disability accommodations and provides examples of typical accommodations in didactic as well as clinical and laboratory settings. Tools provided in the text include sample letters and procedures, lists of nationwide professional resources, flowcharts, graphs, and worksheets to assist disability service providers with determining and implementing appropriate student accommodations. Additionally, it discusses myths about disability, the importance of professional communication around disability, and how to encourage a culture of disability acceptance within schools. With its concrete framework, this book will help disability service and administrative professionals move away from a mode of "putting out fires" and toward establishing a welcoming environment where students feel safe to disclose their disabilities early and seek the support and accommodations needed to facilitate equal access.


  • Addresses all aspects of disability and disability law for students in the health science setting
  • Includes clearly written Dos and Don'ts
  • Presents examples of accommodations that are appropriate in the classroom, clinic, and laboratory
  • Provides easy-to-follow flowcharts and worksheets
  • Includes resources for students and legal case examples throughout

Product Details 

  • Publication Date August 13, 2015
  • Page Count 266
  • Product Form Paperback / softback
  • ISBN 13 9780826123749
  • EISBN 9780826123794

About The Author(s) 

Lisa M. Meeks, Ph.D.

Dr. Lisa Meeks is currently on staff with the University of California, San Francisco. She provides disability services to the schools of Medicine, Dentistry and the Graduate Division, while overseeing all of UCSF’s student disability programs as the program’s director. She also consults with private industry, other educational institutions, and government agencies.

Through her service to the University via the Chancellor’s Committee on Disabilities, and as the co-founder of the Coalition for Disability Access in Health Science and Medical Education, Dr. Meeks has helped shaped the future of health science education for students with disabilities. Her expertise is recognized by some of the leading educational, governmental, and private institutions in the United States.

Her most important contribution, however, is being a mother. She is the proud mother of two dynamic and amazing adult children and one very large dog. She splits her time between San Francisco, CA and the East Coast.

Neera R. Jain, M.S., C.R.C.

Neera Jain is a Rehabilitation Counselor by training and a passionate advocate for equal access in higher education, with a specialization in working with graduate and professional students in the health sciences.

She was the first dedicated staff member to serve students with disabilities at two major health sciences institutions in the United States - the Columbia University Medical Center campus in New York City, and the University of California, San Francisco. Formerly the Director of Student Disability Services at the University of California, San Francisco, she now consults for UCSF remotely from Auckland, New Zealand.

In New Zealand, she currently runs Auckland Disability Law, a specialist service that is part of the Community Law Centre movement. ADL is New Zealand’s only law practice dedicated to serving the unmet legal needs of disabled Kiwis.

She received her master’s degree from Boston University.

Table of Contents 



Foreword, L. Scott Lissner



Introduction, Alice Wong

1. Know Your Campus Resources

Jonathan D. McGough and Joseph F. Murray


The Role of Disability Services

Legal Compliance Responsibility

Student Support Offices on Campus

Supporting Students Experiencing Difficulty

Grievances and Formal Complaints

2. Disability Law and the Process for Determining Whether a Student Has a Disability

Elisa Laird-Metke and Gregory A. Moorehead


A Brief History of Disability Rights Laws

The University’s Legal Obligations to Students With Disabilities

What Is a Disability Under the ADA?

Disability Determination Process: Gathering Information

Making the Disability Determination

Obligations of the Student and the School

Temporary Disabilities


3. The Process for Determining Disability Accommodations

Elisa Laird-Metke, Jan Serrantino, and J. Leigh Culley


Gathering Information for the Determination Process

Determining Academic Accommodations

Key Considerations in Accommodation Determinations

What If There Is No Reasonable Accommodation Available?

Factors That Cannot Influence Accommodation Decisions

Implementation of Accommodations

Timing of Student Accommodation Requests and DS Provider Responses

Adjustments to Accommodations

Rights and Responsibilities


4. Accommodations in Didactic, Lab, and Clinical Settings

Jan Serrantino, Lisa M. Meeks, Neera R. Jain, Grace C. Clifford, and Jane Thierfeld Brown


Accommodations in the Didactic Setting

Accommodations in the Laboratory Setting

Accommodations in the Clinical Setting

Additional Accommodation Considerations Particular to the Health Sciences Environment


5. The Process of Requesting Accommodations on Certification, Licensing, and Board Exams: Assisting Students Through the Application

Neera R. Jain, Colleen Lewis, Lisa M. Meeks, and Thomas H. Tucker, II


Licensing, Certification, and Board Exams

The Process of Applying for Exam Accommodations

Supporting Students in the Request Process

How DS Providers Can Help Prepare Students

If the Application Is Denied: The Appeal Process


6. Learning in the Digital Age: Assistive Technology and Electronic Access

Michael J. Kenney, Neera R. Jain, Lisa M. Meeks, Elisa Laird-Metke, Joshua Hori, and Jonathan D. McGough


Ensuring All Campus Technology Is Accessible

Campus-Wide Accessibility Issues

Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) and Accessibility

Assistive Technology as an Accommodation

Determining the Student’s Assistive Technology Needs

Assistive Technology Accommodations to Improve Student Access


7. Professionalism and Communication About Disabilities and Accommodations

Lisa M. Meeks, Neera R. Jain, Erin K. Phair, and Shelby Acteson




Process for Disclosing a Disability

Communication About Disability Prior to Enrollment

Communication About Disability After Enrollment

E-Mail Communication Between Faculty and Students

Maintaining Confidentiality of Student Disability Information

Maintaining Appropriate Boundaries


8. Problem Solving Difficult Cases

Neera R. Jain, Barbara L. Hammer, and Shelby Acteson


Pathways for Complication

Issues That Originate With the Faculty/School/Program

Issues That Originate With the Student

Issues That Originate With the Disability Services Office

When to Involve the “Higher-Ups”

Establishing Good Partnerships


9. Debunking Myths and Addressing Legitimate Concerns

Timothy Montgomery, Lisa M. Meeks, and Elisa Laird-Metke


What Is a Myth?

Myth #1: Students With Disabilities Cannot Fulfill the Rigorous Requirements of Health Sciences Programs

Myth #2: Providing Accommodations to Students With Disabilities Compromises Patient Safety

Myth #3: Accommodations in the Clinical Setting Do Not Prepare Students for the “Real World”

Myth #4: Accommodations Lower Program Standards Such That Students With Disabilities Are Less Qualified After Graduation

Myth #5: Students With Disabilities Cannot Handle the Intensity of Health Sciences Programs


10. Dos and Don’ts for Working With Students With Disabilities

Elisa Laird-Metke, Lisa M. Meeks, and Grace C. Clifford


Do Provide the Accommodations Approved by the DS Office, and Contact the DS Office With Any Questions

Do Refer Students Who You Learn or Suspect of Having a Disability to the Appropriate Campus Office

Do Work to Ensure That Documents and Communication Pertaining to Accommodations Are Kept Confidential

Do Listen to Students and Offer Support as Appropriate

Do Create Materials and Assignments That Embrace Principles of Universal Design by Being Inherently Accessible to All Students, With or Without Disabilities



Neera R. Jain