Working with Students with Disabilities

General Information

Welcome to the pivotal partnership for fulfilling our institution's commitment and responsibility to ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to Mānoa's programs, activities, and services. You, your disabled student and KOKUA constitute the team that can address your student's disability access needs with confidentiality, respect and effectiveness.

The entire Mānoa experience should be one of equal access for all students. Please ensure that your course experience has been designed to be accessible to students with disabilities. All course materials, content, electronic resources, web content and access, and facilities should be accessible in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) as amended by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 and Section 508 standards.

Section 504 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs and activities that receive federal funding.

In order to be protected under Section 504, students must be considered "qualified" – i.e. they must be able to meet all academic and/or technical standards for admission or participation in the educational program or activity. In addition, they must have a "disability," which means that they:

  1. have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities,
  2. have a record of such impairment;
  3. are regarded as having such an impairment.

"Major life activities" include seeing, hearing, learning, reading, concentrating, and thinking.

Under ADA’s Title II regulations, institutions are also required to take appropriate steps to ensure that communications with individuals with disabilities are as effective as communications with others. The term "communications" refers to the transfer of information, including the verbal presentation of a lecture, printed text of a book, and resources of the Internet.

For more information about legal obligations for accessibility, please refer to:

Non-Discrimination Policy

UH Mānoa is an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution and is committed to a policy of nondiscrimination on the basis of race, sex, gender identity and expression, age, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, disability, genetic information, marital status, breastfeeding, income assignment for child support, arrest and court record (except as permissible under State law), sexual orientation, national guard absence, status as a covered veteran, and domestic or sexual violence victim status (includes stalking and dating violence). This policy covers admission and access to, and participation, treatment, and employment in UH Mānoa's programs, activities, and services. With regard to employment, UH Mānoa is committed to equal opportunity in all personnel actions such as recruitment, hiring, promotion, and compensation. Sexual harassment and other forms of discriminatory harassment are prohibited under the UH Systemwide policy.

The University of Hawaiʻi System’s commitment to nondiscrimination is stated in Board of Regents Policy 1.205 on Nondiscrimination and Affirmative Action

Student Responsibilities

Students with disabilities meet the same admission standards as do their peers without disabilities. They are therefore considered to be "otherwise qualified" and may not be discriminated against on the basis of their disabilities lest the institution have violated their civil rights as persons with disabilities.

Students with disabilities must self-identify to the KOKUA Program and complete the intake process before receiving disability access services (commonly referred to as accommodations, academic adjustments and auxiliary aides). To ensure prompt and effective provision of services, students should contact KOKUA as early as possible for initial intake and before the start of each term thereafter.

Students are expected to be equal partners with KOKUA and faculty in communicating access needs and requests in a timely way.

Identification of Students with Disabilities

You are likely to learn of your disabled student in one of three ways:

  1. KOKUA contacts you: (also known as KOKUA’s faculty liaison letter)
    You will receive confidential notification from KOKUA of disability disclosure regarding a particular student. That student has authorized KOKUA to verify his/her disability status based on documentation presented to and reviewed by KOKUA professional staff.
    Disclosure of disability status to faculty members is voluntary on the part of students for different reasons. Some KOKUA students ask us to refrain from disclosing their disability status to faculty members. In situations where students request exam accommodations or lecture notetaking, KOKUA has determined that faculty members "have a need to know" about this student and his/her disability status. The need for disclosure is explained to the student and subsequently their authorization is obtained.

  2. Student discloses to you:
    A student may privately disclose his/her disability status to you and request various accommodations.
    In the case of student disclosure, you may wish to refer the student to KOKUA noting that you would be happy to work with the student and KOKUA to address the student’s access needs. You are advised not to request the student’s disability documentation which should be received and reviewed only by KOKUA.

  3. Your speculation:
    Out of your knowledge and experience working with students, you may suspect that a particular student lives with a disability. If you suspect a student might have a disability, you might privately and respectfully suggest to the student that while you are not a disability specialist, you think that the student might benefit from contacting the KOKUA program. You are welcome to contact a KOKUA Counselor for consultation about how to refer a student to KOKUA.