Student Disability Services

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Committed to providing equal academic opportunities and inclusive learning environments accessible to all, Student Disability Services at College of Western Idaho (CWI) supports the academic success of our students by:

  • coordinating accommodations for individuals with disabilities
  • providing disability information and resources to students, employees, and the community

CWI's Commitment to Accessibility

  • Disability Definition

    Federal law defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits or restricts the conditions, manner, or duration under which an average person in the general population can perform a major life activity, such as walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, or taking care of oneself. An impairment or diagnosis, in and of itself, does not constitute a disability: it must "substantially limit" activities of daily living.

    Disabilities do not necessarily impair the individual's performance but may require the individual to seek alternate methods of carrying out a given task. As a recipient of federal funding, the College of Western Idaho is required by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act to provide effective auxiliary aids and services for qualified students with documented disabilities if such aids are needed to provide equitable access to the College's programs and services. This includes academic programs as well as extracurricular activities.

  • Disability Laws

    Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 

    The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that governs early intervention, special education, and related services for disabled school children ages 3 – 21 or through high school graduation. The IDEA requires public schools to create an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for each disabled child. IEPs are developed by the educational team for the child and seek to tailor the child’s educational program to meet his or her individualized needs, which may include participation in a special education program. The IEP is designed to promote student success in the K-12 system.

    Section 504

    Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a law that protects individuals from discrimination based on their disability in connection with any public or private program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. The Act is divided into seven Subparts — Subpart D applies to K-12 schools, and Subpart E applies to postsecondary institutions. A 504 Plan is developed when a K-12 student needs certain accommodations and modifications to either the physical space in the school or the learning environment. This excludes special education programs, as these would be part of an IEP under the IDEA. Subpart E states that postsecondary students must be granted the opportunity to compete with their non-disabled peers.

    Americans with Disabilities Act

    The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is a federal civil rights law designed to provide equal opportunity for qualified individuals with disabilities, including students. The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of a qualified disability and ensures that qualified disabled students can have equal access and opportunity for participation in the programs, services, and activities offered by a recipient of federal financial assistance. The ADA was amended in 2008 by, among other things, expanding the definition of disability and what it means to be regarded as disabled under the statute.

  • Accommodations in College

    Different from accommodations provided for kindergarten through high school-aged students, college students must take the initiative to disclose their disabilities and request accommodations to meet their individual needs. Individuals may experience different services and levels of service at each institution they attend. 

    Understanding the Differences

    Process K-12 Accommodations College Accommodations
    • Accommodations are designed to maximize a student's potential.
    • Accommodations are granted to create equitable academic opportunities and inclusive learning environments for all. 
    • School is responsible for identifying students in need of accommodations.
    • Student must request accommodations and provide documentation to support the need for accommodations.
    • School is responsible for testing students to indicate needed accommodations.
    • Student needing additional or updated information to support accommodation requests, or who has never utilized accommodations, is responsible for paying for any needed testing.
    • School is responsible for arranging needed services and accommodations.
    • School must provide whatever services will help the student succeed in the classroom, while testing, or at any school-sponsored activity.
    • School must provide individualized tutoring.
    • Student must seek out accommodations.
    • Student is only allowed certain accommodations in classes and for testing.
    • Student must seek out tutoring, if needed, and must pay tutoring cost if the college does not provide tutoring services.
    • Individualized instruction is not guaranteed.
    • School must communicate with parents at regular intervals regarding the student's progress.
    • College may not contact anyone but the student regarding accommodations without a student's permission.
    Accommodation Arrangements
    • School must develop a formal plan. 
    • School is responsible for tracking the student.
    • Student must ask for and qualify for accommodations each semester.
    • Student is responsible for much of the accommodation process including, but not limited to:
      • providing course materials to be converted into an alternative format
      • dates and times of exams to receive testing accommodations
    Accommodation Differences
    • Students may be required to submit less work or have extended time to work on assignments. 
    • Grading adjustments may be made.
    • Format of tests may be changed with opportunities for repeated attempts to meet a passing grade. 
    • Assignments are not reduced.
    • Extended time to work on assignments is rare.
    • Grades are not adjusted.
    • Format of tests is not changed unless needed to provide equal access, and repeated attempts are not given unless promised accommodations were not provided during initial attempt.
  • Types of Accommodations

    Accommodations are tailored to an individual’s situation, taking into account the nature of their disability, their prior experience with specific academic adjustments or modifications, and the context of the learning environment and course content.

      Auxiliary Aids

      Auxiliary aids and services are those items and services which, if provided, a student with a disability would have equal access to education and/or activities for which the student is eligible and may include, but are not limited to: 

      • note-taking
      • American Sign Language interpretation
      • speech to text interpretation
      • use of a computer for in-class exams and in-class writing assignments
      • a reduced distraction environment, whenever possible, for in-class exams
      • extra time for in-class exams and in-class writing assignments
      • alternative book and test formats

      Auxiliary aids and services do not include personal attendants, individually prescribed devices, readers for personal use or study, or other devices or services of a personal nature such as tutoring or typing.

      Extent of Accommodations

      Accommodations are not considered reasonable if: 

      • making the accommodation means making a substantial change in an essential nature of a program or element of the curriculum
      • the accommodation poses an undue financial or administrative burden
      • the accommodation creates a direct threat to the health or safety of others
    • Service Animals

      CWI recognizes and supports the assistance a trained service animal can provide a student with a disability. In order for a service animal to be allowed on campus, certain conditions must be met. Requests for service animals will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. It is the student's responsibility to supply required and requested information to establish this accommodation.

      What is a Service Animal?

      A service animal is any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals with impaired hearing to intruders or sounds, providing minimal protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, or fetching dropped items.

      Animals used for the expressed purpose of companionship pets or emotional support/therapy dogs DO NOT qualify as service animals as they are not providing a service. As such, companion animals are not allowed on campus. 

      Service Animal Documentation

      While documentation for a service animal is not required under the ADA, the College may ask if the animal is a service animal and/or what tasks the animal has been trained to perform. Other than these two basic questions, the College is not permitted to ask for any specifics pertaining to an individual's service animal.  

      A student with a disability may be asked to remove their service animal if:

      • the animal is out of control and/or if the the owner is not taking effective action to control the animal's behavior
      • the animal poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others

      Student Responsibilities

      Service animals will be viewed by CWI as an extension of the student and are, therefore, subject to the Student Code of Conduct. Service animals are not permitted to roam free. Animals must be leashed in public on a leash no longer than 10 feet unless in a car or under the control of a competent attendant. Animals running free are subject to impoundment. Violations of the Student Code of Conduct will follow established procedures set forth by the College. 

      Students using a service animal assume full responsibility for the care and management of their service animal including: 

      • food, water, and shelter
      • managing the animal behavior on campus and in the community
      • the animal's health and wellness
      • disposal of animal waste in an appropriate manner
    • Temporary Disabilities

      Student Disability Services provides limited services for students with temporary disabilities (e.g., inability to write due to a broken bone, inability to sit comfortably in class because of a recent surgery or any injury that is not permanent, pregnancy, etc.). Request accommodations as soon as possible to ensure your needs are met. 

       Request AccommodationsPregnancy Accommodations

      Types of Assistance

      Accommodations made for temporary disabilities are determined on a case-by-case basis and are not retroactive. Medical documentation of your disability may be requested prior to the provision of services.

      Accommodations may include, but are not limited, to the following:

      • extended time on testing
      • recorded lectures
      • alternative seating
      • adapted exams (e.g., reader, scribe, etc.)

      CWI does not provide personal assistance to students with temporary disabilities such as building-to-building transportation or the transport of books or other personal items.

    Contact Us

    Photo of Amy Erbeck
    Coordinator, Student Disability Services
    • Nampa Campus
    Photo of Cheryl Rose
    Coordinator, Student Disability Services
    • Ada Campus
    Photo of Kiana Shaffer
    Sign Language Interpreter

    Frequently Asked Questions

    • What is the Student Disability Services office?

      The Student Disability Services office exists to help ensure all students at College of Western Idaho have equal access to the programs and services the College provides according to law. In addition to providing auxiliary aids and services to students with documented disabilities, the office is a resource to the College about disability services.

    • Can students change their minds about using or not using accommodations?

      Yes. Once accommodations have been requested and the Letter of Accommodation has been sent out for the current semester, students can choose when to use their accommodations. Students are required to communicate with their instructors about how their accommodations work in their classes. For example: A student may choose to have extended testing time in their math class but not their history class, or they may only need extended testing on the midterm and final exams.

    • Who is responsible for making sure accommodation are put into practice?

      The student is responsible for initiating and carrying out their part in implementing their accommodations. This could include: setting up meetings with instructors or attending office hours to discuss their specific needs regarding accommodations, recording lectures or discussions, and having a plan in place for when they want to use their accommodations. Students must also notify instructors of testing accommodations at a minimum of 3 business days prior to their exams and work with testing services to schedule appropriate times. It is the students’ responsibility to understand their approved accommodations.

    • What kind of documentation is required to receive accommodations?

      Documentation from a qualified medical or psychological professional is required in most cases. Documentation should be current and be in the form of medical records, psychological evaluation reports, typed doctors notes on letterhead, and should include diagnosis, prognosis, and any functional limitations. Alternatively, the Verification of Disability form may be filled out by a qualifying medical provider and returned to the fax number listed on the form. Please visit Student Disability Services for more information.

    • When is the best time to request services?

      The best time to begin the accommodation process is after students have met with their academic advisor and enrolled in classes for the upcoming semester. Students who set up their accommodations prior to the semester start ensure accommodations are in place when they are needed. Accommodations can be requested at any time during the semester, however, accommodations are not retroactive and some accommodations can take four to six weeks to coordinate. We encourage all students who may qualify to fill out a New Student Accommodation Application as soon as possible. 

    • What types of accommodations are typically provided?

      Accommodations for students are approved on a case by case basis during an interactive process with a coordinator of student disability services. The interactive process is structured by what the student identifies as their needs related to their diagnosis. Coordinators may clarify with questions and offer suggestions. There is not a set list of approved accommodations for specific diagnoses. Some examples of accommodations that may be provided, but are not limited to, include: extended testing time, access to a reduced distraction testing environment, permission to audio record lectures, or alternative textbooks.

    • Do I have to inform the college that I have a disability?

      No, disclosure of a disability is always voluntary. However, in order to receive academic accommodations, students must make initial contact with our office and self-identify their disability status. 

    • What disabilities qualify for accommodations?

      Any health condition that substantially limits a major life activity, physical health conditions, chronic health condition, mental health conditions, and learning disabilities. Our office also provides accommodations for temporary disabilities. For more information, please email us at

    • If a student with a disability qualifies for accommodations in high school, will they receive the same accommodations in college?

      A students' history of accommodations is discussed during the intake process and is considered when applying accommodations in college. Colleges are not required to provide accommodations that fundamentally alter the nature of a class or activity. In addition, accommodations provided may not be the same at different post-secondary institutions.

    • What if I am not agreeable to a particular accommodation?

      Instructors are entitled to work with the student to provide reasonable accommodation. For questions about reasonable modifications or concerns, please contact Student Disability Services at 208.562.2410 or 208.562.2496.

    • Will other colleges or future employers know that I received accommodations in college?

      No. Accommodations remain private between our office and your instructors. We may notify club advisors, academic advisors, and other college personnel when necessary or at the request of the student receiving the accommodation. Accommodations or disability status are not listed on transcripts or other transferable documents. The only way future schools or employers would know is if you self-disclosed.