Disability Services

Augustana values a learning community that is welcoming of all individuals — one that celebrates diversity and is supportive of individuals’ needs. To that end, the Student Success Center, in partnership with the campus community, creates an accessible, inclusive campus where all individuals have an equal opportunity to fully participate in and benefit from all aspects of the educational environment. We employ technical advances and provide accommodations to individuals with documented disabilities to fulfill our institutional commitment of equal access to facilities, courses, programs and activities. 

Contact Susan Bies, Director of Accessibility and Support Services, confidential consultation. You may stop by her office in the Edith Mortenson Building, Career Center Suite, Room 100, or call 605.274.5503.

Disability and the Law

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 define a disability as “having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” These life activities are functions such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, and learning. An impairment or diagnosis does not automatically establish a disability as it must substantially limit these activities.

Augustana is aware of the importance of remaining current with any laws regarding disabilities, including the American with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act. Disability Services strives to protect individuals with documented disabilities from discrimination. Therefore every attempt will be made to keep college policies formulated to coincide with any changes that may occur. 

Eligibility for Services

A student’s eligibility for services at Augustana College is determined by the following criteria:

  • Has a mental or physical impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities
  • Provides appropriate, current documentation of the impairment
  • Establishes the need for reasonable accommodations in order to participate fully in campus programs

SASS determines eligibility for reasonable accommodations on a case-by-case basis or, at times, course-by-course basis at no cost to the student. Therefore, students with the same disability or diagnosis may not receive accommodations or services that are exactly the same.

Rights and Responsibilities

This information identifies the rights and responsibilities for our students requesting accommodations, the SASS/Disability Services office  directs services, and  the faculty and staff who represent our living and learning community. Together, we will strive to work cooperatively to ensure an equal educational opportunity and participation in our programs, activities and services.


  • Identify your needs to Susan Bies in the SASS Office (Career Center Suite, EMC 100, or call 605.274.5503).
  • Follow documentation guidelines specific to your disability and submit to SASS.
  • Give adequate notice for services and accommodations.
  • Complete intake interview and all necessary office forms (self -disclosure consent for release of information).
  • Receive reasonable accommodations or auxiliary aids.
  • Inform disability personnel of any changes in your needs such as academic schedule each term or updates in essential contact information (cell phone or local address).
  • Develop self-advocacy skills and build relationships with faculty and staff and others in our campus community.
  • Observe all policies and procedures of Augustana College.
  • Treat community members with dignity and respect.

Student Academic Support Services

  • Guide students disclosing a disability through the accommodation process.
  • Maintain confidentiality of all student information and files.
  • Review documentation to determine if accommodations are appropriate.
  • Develop student’s accommodation plan.
  • Prepare accommodation letters for faculty prior to academic sessions.
  • Coordinate auxiliary services (ASL interpreters, scribes, readers, note-takers).
  • Teach students how to use adaptive/assistive software (Kurzweil reader).
  • Cooperate with agency personnel who support a student with disabilities if consent for the release of information form has been signed.
  • Assist students in developing self-advocacy skills in the post-secondary setting.
  • Support Augustana faculty members in implementing accommodations.
  • Educate Augustana community on disability awareness issues and initiatives.
  • Treat community members with dignity and respect.

Augustana Faculty and Staff

  • Keep accommodation letters in a secure location to maintain confidentiality.
  • Implement student’s accommodation plan.
  • Communicate directly with student to review and clarify any needs.
  • Maintain communication with SASS Personnel if questions arise.
  • Treat community members with dignity and respect.


All personal information or documentation regarding a student received by SASS is kept confidential as guided by Augustana College policies and federal law (FERPA). Information is only shared when absolutely necessary with other campus personnel on a “need to know basis”. Therefore disability personnel are very limited in the information they can share about students to anyone else including the student’s parents. Students however may choose to sign a consent form for the release of information to facilitate conversation between parents, treating specialists and disability personnel.


Any student with disabilities seeking reasonable accommodations must identify their needs to disability personnel in the SASS office. The College does not have any duty to identify students who may need academic accommodations or services. This process is different from the Free and Appropriate Education (FAPE) in the K-12 educational system under the Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA). Disclosure of a disability at the post-secondary level is voluntary. See Comparison Chart: Services in High School and College and the Self-Disclosure form.

For more information about students with disabilities and planning for an educational experience beyond high school, see the pamphlet prepared by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the U.S. Department of Education, which specifically addresses students with disabilities who are preparing for post-secondary educational experiences.

General Documentation Guidelines

Documentation requirements are different at every post-secondary institution. It is the student’s responsibility to know and understand the college’s documentation policy. Briefly, documentation should be current, verify the disability, describe the extent/severity of the impairment, provide information on the functional impact of the disability, and offer appropriate recommendations for reasonable accommodations to the post-secondary institution.

For students with disabilities at Augustana College, the following guidelines are provided in order to ensure that documentation verifies eligibility of a disability and supports any request for reasonable accommodations, auxiliary aids and services. An IEP or 504 plan alone is not acceptable documentation and must be accompanied by other supporting documentation.

Students are responsible for all costs associated with obtaining documentation. Augustana College does not provide any diagnostic services for students with learning disabilities, however disability personnel are able to suggest local professional resources for students to contact. Use the following checklist for your health care specialist who will be submitting the documentation on your behalf to the Student Academic Support Services office.

The diagnosis on a prescription pad or one- to two-line letters will not be accepted as documentation.

General Requirements

  • States a specific diagnosis according to the DSM-IV.
  • Is current by 3 years, (5) years for students out of high school for 2 or more years.
  • Describes the presenting problem(s) and developmental history, including relevant educational and medical history.
  • Describes the comprehensive assessments (neuropsychological or psycho-educational evaluations), including evaluation dates used to arrive at the diagnosis.
  • Describes functional limitations resulting from the disability, as supported by the test results.
  • Describes specific recommended accommodations and provides a rational explanation how these specific accommodations address the functional limitations.
  • Establishes the professional credentials of the evaluator, including information about the licensure of certification, education or specialization.

Specific Requirements

  • For learning disabilities, provide test results, with standard scores and percentiles (including subtests), from:
    • an aptitude assessment using a complete, valid, and comprehensive battery,
    • a complete achievement battery,
    • an assessment of information processing, and
    • evidence that alternative explanations were ruled out.
  • For ADD/ADHD, include:
    • evidence of early impairment,
    • evidence of current impairment, including presenting problem and diagnostic interview,
    • evidence that alternative explanations were ruled out,
    • results from valid, standardized, age appropriate assessment, and
    • number of applicable DSM-IV criteria and description of how they impair the individual.
  • For physical/chronic illness/sensory/allergies/asthma disabilities or impairments, provide results from a complete ocular, audiologic, or other appropriate medical examination.
  • For psychiatric disorders, a clinician’s diagnosed mental illness impacts academic performance plus- DSM-IV diagnosis.
  • Letters must be typed and on letterhead stationary and include the treating specialist's (physician, psychiatrist or clinical psychologist) certifying license number.

Accommodation Process

Qualified individuals are entitled to reasonable accommodations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the American with Disabilities Act of 1990. The office of Student Academic Support Services (SASS) serves as the link between enrolled students with disabilities and the campus community. Students disclosing a disability in other offices or campus locations will be redirected to the SASS office for assistance. Contact Susan Bies in the SASS office at 605.274.5503 or email at susan.bies@augie.edu.

Please follow these accommodation process guidelines:

  • Schedule an appointment for an intake interview and discuss possible accommodations.
  • Complete all necessary office forms including the Disability Self-Disclosure form and the consent form for the release of information.
  • Provide current and comprehensive documentation of your disability from a credentialed professional qualified to make the diagnosis to the SASS office. Generally speaking, documentation should be no more than three years old.
  • Receive a copy of the current accommodation letter sent to your professors and the accommodation plan that has been established.
  • Meet with each of your professors to review and clarify your accommodations.
  • Communicate with SASS office on course schedule updates or any concerns for each academic term (Fall, Interim, Spring, & Summer). Accommodations do not automatically carry over from term to term.

Short Term Medical Conditions

  • Students with temporary disabilities (injuries; health conditions) are encouraged to contact disability personnel in the SASS office for possible accommodations. Example: Students who sustain an injury that will impair their ability to write could be eligible for a note-taker and a scribe for exams.
  • Any campus member (faculty or staff) or family member may initially contact the SASS office on behalf of the student however all policies and procedures will need to be followed in order for an accommodation plan to be determined and established.

Other Information

  • Disclosure of a disability can occur at any time during the academic term however accommodations are not retroactive. In other words, the accommodation can begin when the documentation has been received and establishes the needs for reasonable accommodations and services.
  • Early disclosure is essential for establishing accommodations in a timely manner.
  • Accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis and reviewed each academic term.
  • Please direct any questions or concerns with regard to disability services to Student Academic Support Services.

For additional information, please contact:
Susan Bies Director, Student Academic Support Services,
Career Center Suite, room 100
605.274.5503 susan.bies@augie.edu

Reasonable Accommodations

The SASS personnel will discuss reasonable accommodations, auxiliary aids and other adjustments once a request for services has been received and supported by current, complete and comprehensive documentation. Please remember to complete the Disability Self-Disclosure Form which you may request from the SASS office or find online.

Accommodations provide equal access to the student with disabilities while not changing the integrity or content of an academic course. Accommodations may include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Preferential seating
  • Priority registration
  • Interpreters for the Deaf
  • Textbooks in alternate format
  • FM systems or other equipment
  • Extended time on test
  • Less distracted exam locations
  • Note-takers
  • Accessible desks/classrooms/furniture
  • Study strategies, time management assistance, and organizational planning
  • Other ongoing academic support through the SASS office

Accommodations for Specific Housing Requests

Dean of Students housing requests (single housing rooms) or exceptions to the current pet policy are considered in cooperation with College Housing personnel in the Student Services Division. The College has limited housing space dedicated to single living; however, priority will be determined by the documentation received and the specific needs of our students. Please contact Corey Kopp in the Residence Life Office at 605.274.5215 or corey.kopp@augie.edu.

Please be aware some accommodations such as securing alternate texts for a specific term require advanced planning. It can be difficult to provide reasonable accommodations if notification is not timely or if a student is diagnosed in the middle of a semester.

You are encouraged to discuss the need for alternative texts with disability personnel at least six weeks in advance of the beginning of any academic term. In addition, accommodations are not retroactive or, in other words, accommodations begin only after necessary documentation has been received and faculty have been notified. The Student Academic Support Services personnel will work with the student and their needs to the best of our abilities.

Disability Grievance Policy and Procedures

It is Augustana College’s policy to ensure that no qualified student with a disability is denied the benefits of, excluded from participation in, or otherwise subjected to discrimination in any college program, service or activity. The College aims to provide reasonable accommodations to students with qualified disabilities. A student has the right to file an informal complaint or a formal grievance if s/he believes equal access to an academic program, activity, resource or other service has been denied because of a disability.

Students are always encouraged to seek the assistance of the Director of Student Academic Support Services (SASS) in order to resolve any complaint informally. The Director will make every effort to resolve the disagreement informally between the student and whomever (faculty member, department, service) the dispute involves and will do so in a timely manner. It is our hope to resolve concerns and find an acceptable solution before the situation intensifies.

Should the informal process not satisfactorily address the student’s concerns or the grievance arises out of a decision made by the Director of Student Academic Support Services regarding a student’s eligibility for academic or other accommodations, the student may choose to proceed with the formal grievance process. A formal grievance must include the following information in writing: student’s name, address, phone/cell number, email address, and student’s college identification number.

Please provide a detailed response to the following:

  • Information about the alleged discrimination including a specific description regarding the action(s) or inaction(s) that precipitated the grievance as well as the date, place, and names of the persons involved;
  • Efforts made to settle the complaint informally;
  • Any documentation that supports the grievance;
  • Remedy sought.

The Associate Academic Dean or designee will convene a Disability Grievance Committee for the purpose of completing a thorough investigation of the complaint of discrimination based on a qualified disability. All relevant individuals including the complainant and other persons involved in the grievance may be in attendance to provide information.

After the investigation is complete, the Associate Academic Dean or designee shall issue a written response to the student/complainant within 15 academic days from completion of the meeting(s) with the student and other persons involved in the grievance. This is the final institutional level of appeal.

While it is hoped the complainant can resolve a grievance within the campus process, he/she has the right to file any grievance directly to the U.S. Office of Civil Rights at any time. The Statute of Limitations for filing a complaint with OCR is 180 days from the time the incident occurred.