Accommodations & Questions

Academic Advising

Students must contact the department of their scholastic major for advising information. ODA does not provide academic advising to students with disabilities. Because of regulations governing privacy, academic advisors will not be notified by this office of the names of students with disabilities. If a student believes that his or her disability should be considered while arranging course schedules, that student should disclose the disability to the academic advisor.

Students with disabilities are subject to the same process for scheduling advisor appointments as are other students. It is the responsibility of the student to make adviser appointments early enough that they may benefit from early registration on SOAR.

Academic Probation/Suspension

Students requiring additional information about appealing academic decisions should contact the department of their scholastic major.

Accessible Facilities

The university strives to maintain a fully accessible campus to ensure program access.  Students who have difficulty accessing classrooms or other campus locations should inform ODA as soon as the problem arises. Courses, programs and activities in rooms that are not accessible to a participating student with a disability will be promptly reassigned to an accessible location.

Accessible Furniture

Accessible furniture, including adjustable tables and desks, should be specifically requested through ODA by the student needing these accommodations. All requests should be made to ODA in advance, with students informing ODA of the classroom location and meeting times.  Students must make this furniture request each semester and should inform ODA of any changes in their schedules or in the location of their classes.

Admission Requirements

Southern Miss does not have a separate set of admission criteria for students who have disabilities.  Students seeking additional information about the admission’s process should contact the Admissions Office at 601.266.5000.

Alternate Format of Books and Information

Students requiring alternate format to access books, literature, and information must inform ODA in advance of their need, as the university requires a reasonable amount of time to obtain and convert the information into a usable form. All students receiving Document Conversion services must complete a Document Conversion Use Agreement form. A copy of this form can be found in Appendix B of the ODA Manual.

Textbooks are available in alternate formats through Learning Ally, Bookshare.org or textbook publishers, or can be converted by ODA. Students who use alternate formats of textbooks or reading materials should preregister and inform ODA of their schedule.

Students receiving notes from note-takers that will require conversion into an alternate format should inform ODA of this need and make plans on how the notes will be forwarded to or from ODA. For more information on note-takers, refer to Note-Takers in this section.

Instructors needing assistance to ensure that course materials are accessible (brailled, enlarged, e-text, etc) should contact ODA ahead of time. Guidance will be provided for the reformatting or conversion of materials.

Delaying Due Dates

Students are expected to carefully study the syllabi for each course at the beginning of the semester and use good time management and study skills to avoid requests for delays.  Requests for delaying due dates for course projects or papers will be evaluated on a case by case basis and only if the disability warrants the accommodation. However, there is no guarantee that due dates can be delayed. For consideration of such a request, students may be asked to obtain written information from a qualified health care provider supporting the request. In considering the request for delaying paper’s or project’s due dates, input from the instructor or head of the academic department is taken into account. When flexibility is given, it is done in a reasonable manner with a limit on the time extension granted.

Exam Modifications

Accommodations involving exam modifications include, but are not limited to, extended test-taking time, use of assistive technology, minimal distraction testing environment, oral examinations, use of readers and scribes.  If an instructor is unable to provide exam accommodations, ODA can assist. Before taking exams at ODA, students must sign a Student Testing Guidelines form. A copy of this form can be found in Appendix B of the ODA Manual. 

Procedures For Obtaining Exam Accommodations:

  1. Students deliver the accommodation letter to the instructor
  2. Instructors determine if they can implement the exam accommodations.
  3. If an instructor is unable to provide the accommodation, ODA can administer the exam.  However, the student’s schedule of other classes and ODA’s schedule may result in exams being administered on an alternate day or an alternate time.

To Take Exams with ODA:

Students sign a Student Testing Guidelines. A copy of this form can be found in Appendix B of the ODA Manual.

Students are encouraged to contact ODA five working days before the test to schedule the testing time, which is the same day and time as the class.  Students should remind instructors that it will be taken with ODA.

Instructors complete a Testing Instructions form (see Appendix B) for each exam that is forwarded to ODA. If the exam is not accompanied by a completed Testing Instruction form, then it may not be administered by ODA.

Students must arrive at ODA at the scheduled exam time. If a student is more than 15 minutes late for an exam, it may be regarded as a missed exam that may be rescheduled in accordance with ODA’s exam rescheduling procedures.

To reschedule an exam with ODA, students may be asked to provide proof, written documentation, from an appropriate professional, of extenuating circumstances. ODA reserves the right to contact the professional to verify the situation and make a judgement about rescheduling with ODA. Exams must be taken by date given on the Testing Instruction form or obtain the instructor’s approval to take it later. If permission to postpone the exam is granted, then the student is responsible for having the instructor inform ODA of his or her approval. The student must also contact ODA to schedule another exam time. 

If academic dishonesty is suspected, it will be investigated immediately. Mirrors, cameras and observation may be used. Personal belongings (cell phones, books, purses, book bags, etc.) will not be allowed in the testing room unless specified on the Testing Instructions form that is completed by the instructor.

Excused Absences

At Southern Miss, instructors are allowed to set attendance policies, which are usually stated in course syllabi. Instructors have the right to follow their policies and respond to absences accordingly. Students with chronic illnesses can request flexibility in attendance. However, ODA cannot demand that instructors excuse illness related absences. When attendance is considered an essential part of a course, flexibility of the attendance policy can be denied. To determine if attendance is necessary, the following may be considered:

  • Is the class participatory or interactive?
  • Is participation part of the grade?
  • Is in-class work assigned and due before the end of the class period?
  • Is group work integral to the class?

Requests for excused absences are handled on a case by case basis and students may be asked to provide written information from a qualified health care provider explaining the absence.  In considering the request for excused absences, ODA may seek input from the instructor or head of the academic department. When flexibility is granted, it is done for only a reasonable number of absences. If absences occur on days of quizzes or exams, the exam make-up policy stated in the syllabus will apply.

Students likely to have disability related absences, can ask ODA to include a statement in their accommodation letters alerting instructors of this possibility. By doing this at the start of a semester or before an absence, instructors are advised that a legitimate, disability-related reason may cause the student to miss class.

The Office of Student-Oriented Services can also verify absences. For more information, please contact Alfreda Horton at 601.266.4025 or email, alfreda.horton@usm.edu.

Funding Opportunities

Students with disabilities who may require additional funding or support sources in order to attend school are encouraged to investigate the options below. 

Vocational Rehabilitation/Rehabilitation Services is a federal/state program which provides individualized support services and funding to qualified people with disabilities in order to assist them in becoming self-sufficient and self-supporting. Interested students should contact the Office of Rehabilitation Services for information regarding criteria and the application process or can visit the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services’ Web site.  Students may contact the Vocational Rehabilitation office in Hattiesburg, Miss. at 601.545.5619 or they may contact their state office. Contact information for each state's Department of Rehabilitation Services office by visiting the Job Accommodations Network.

The World Wide Web offers countless opportunities to research possible funding sources. A good place to start is the DO-IT Web site.

GRE, PRAXIS, GMAT Accommodations

For students registered with ODA, this office can complete the relevant sections of accommodation applications for standardized tests which may be necessary for graduate education or professional certification. However, it cannot guarantee that the testing agency in question will provide the requested accommodations. Students should be aware that the documentation they submitted for accommodations through ODA may not be sufficient to qualify for accommodations on some standardized exams.  Further, students should not expect to be eligible for an accommodation for standardized exams if they did not receive the same accommodation while they were served by ODA. Long before it becomes necessary to take one of these exams, students should research eligibility guidelines in order to avoid the last-minute denial of accommodations. To receive this assistance from ODA, the student must make the request in a timely manner. ODA recommends that students call ODA to schedule an appointment. ODA cannot help a student if the student fails to meet the application deadline.

Handicap Parking

Students with handicap parking placards or tags may park in any campus handicap parking space or legal parking space, excluding fire lanes, no parking zones, reserved parking areas, service zones, and in front of handicap curb cuts. Metered parking spaces are available at various locations on campus, but all students who use these spaces must insert the proper amount of money in the meter or they may receive a ticket.

All university students and employees parking on campus, including those who use handicap placards or tags, must obtain a Southern Miss parking decal by registering with the Department of Parking Management, located on the first floor of McLemore Hall. When students use campus handicap parking spaces without a visible Southern Miss handicap parking decal or a state handicap placard or tag, they are at risk for receiving a parking ticket and having their cars towed. For more information on parking on Southern Miss’s campus, visit Parking Management’s Web site.

High School and College Differences

Due to the differences in the disability laws that govern high school and college, students entering college should not expect to receive the same accommodations or assistance that they experienced in high school. In high school, education is a right that must be provided to all students in appropriate environments. However, in the college setting, it is not. To gain entry into college, students must meet the school’s admission criteria. High school districts are responsible for identifying students’ disabilities, providing free testing and evaluations along with offering transportation to the educational programs. Whereas, colleges are not required to give this assistance. For more information on the differences between college and high school, visit http://www.mississippi.edu/thinkhigherms/disability-accomodations.php and http://www.mississippi.edu/thinkhigherms/disability-difference.php

Housing Accommodations

Physically accessible housing facilities for students with disabilities are available at Southern Miss. Students with special needs for housing should identify and request these needs on their housing application.

Applications to university housing are processed by date of receipt of the housing application and receipt of application fees. Therefore, it is important to submit the housing application prior to or by the priority deadline as stated on the housing application.  Submission of a housing application does not guarantee on-campus housing. Room or housing assignments are based on space availability.

Students requiring the service of a personal care attendant may note this requirement and the attendant’s name on their application. Students may request the attendant as a roommate.  There is a residence room charge for attendants.

The Department of Residence Life offices are located on the first floor of Hickman Hall; the telephone number is 601.266.4783 and e-mail address is reslife@usm.edu. For more information,  visit Residence Life website.

IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) or 504 Plan

While an IEP or a 504 Plan from a student's high school can be helpful in showing what accommodations a student received in the past, it is not sufficient documentation to determine a student's eligibility for accommodations at the college level. For more information on documentation required to verify disability status, please refer to the documentation guidelines.

Interpreters

Upon request, interpreting services are provided for students with supporting documentation. Procedures For Obtaining Interpreting Services:

  1. Students with hearing disabilities make requests to ODA for interpreters. When requesting, the students provide ODA with the exact dates, times and locations for interpreter services.
  2. ODA contacts interpreters to arrange the services.
  3. Interpreters maintain time sheets. Time sheets must be signed by the interpreter, the instructor, and the student requiring the service. Interpreters turn in time sheets to ODA.  Students qualifying for interpreter services are also responsible for keeping a record of interpreter hours. 

Instructors should notify ODA as soon as possible if interpreters miss class or tardiness is a problem

Students receiving interpreter services are responsible for notifying ODA of class cancellations, changes in schedules or absences. Assuming there is no emergency, ODA requires a 24-hour notification. Failure to notify ODA of cancellations, changes in schedules, or absences may result in loss of interpreter services. ODA schedules all interpreters. A student may only request services from an individual interpreter if he or she intends to assume personal financial responsibility or payment for requested services. Interpreters are not provided for personal use. Students using interpreter services must sign an Interpreter Use Agreement form. A copy of this form can be found in Appendix B of the ODA Manual. 

Sign language interpreters must have appropriate qualifications.  Qualified interpreters:

  • Interpret for classroom/lab and school-sponsored activities and events, workshops, meetings and campus activities when assigned
  • Provide information on how to maximize benefits or interpreter services
  • Understand and professionally comply with the Code of Ethics of the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf

Interpreters must be dependable, reliable, honest, and punctual in carrying out assigned duties. Interpreters are contracted employees of ODA. They are responsible for reporting to ODA, in a timely manner, conflicts that will prevent them from providing services so that replacements can be arranged.

Note-Takers

Note-takers are usually student volunteers enrolled in the same class section as the student requiring a note-taker.  The term Anote-taker@ is used to denote a Avolunteer note-taker.

Procedures For Obtaining Note Takers:

  1. Students requiring a note-taker deliver the accommodation letter to instructors.     
  2. Instructors make in-class announcements requesting a student to volunteer to be a note- taker. When asking classes for volunteers, students registered with ODA will not be identified as needing this accommodation. If there are no volunteers, instructors should contact ODA as soon as possible.
  3. ODA provides NCR paper (duplicate carbonless notebook paper) that is used by the note- taker. At the end of each class, there is a copy of notes for the note-taker and the student registered with ODA.  Students registered with ODA are responsible for transporting NCR paper from ODA to the note taker.
  4. Students usually receive notes at the end of each lecture.                
  5. Note-takers are asked to complete and return a form indicating that they have provided this volunteer service. At the end of each semester, ODA sends letters of commendation thanking volunteers.

It is the student’s responsibility to immediately alert ODA if accommodation problems arise. Instructors should also inform ODA about note-taking problems. Once informed, ODA will quickly facilitate the resolution of the problem. Note-takers should not provide notes for classes that students miss or for portions of the class that students do not attend.

Personal Care Attendants

The university does not provide personal care attendants (PCAs) for students. If a student requires PCA services and requests a PCA as a roommate, there will be a residence room charge for the PCA. Locating and compensating the PCAs are responsibilities of the student, unless the student also receives services from Vocational Rehabilitation, who may choose to cover PCA services.

Readers

Readers are typically Southern Miss students. If requested, ODA assist students in finding readers. The reader’s role is to read, not to tutor. Readers are limited to a maximum of 40 hours per month. Hours over 40 a month must be justified. Readers may be paid from sources other than the university and are usually paid minimum wage.

Procedures For Obtaining Readers

  1. Students requesting readers provide ODA with advance notice. If not, ODA cannot promise to locate a reader.
  2. If requested, ODA assists in finding applicants to be a reader. Consideration is given to the student preferences. If students locate readers without ODA’s help and it is expected that Vocational Rehabilitation or the university will compensate the reader, students must inform ODA and follow all procedures outlined.
  3. Readers must complete employment forms at ODA with the reader’s compensation source determining what forms must be completed.
  4. Readers and students are responsible for keeping track of time spent reading. To record the number of hours read, ODA provides Support Service Logs. A copy of this form can be found in Appendix B of the ODA Manual.
  5. At the end of each month, completed Support Service Logs are turned into ODA. This form must be verified by ODA staff, the student and reader. If Vocational Rehabilitation is paying the reader, an authorization form must be completed each month by the reader. 

Readers will not be paid until all required forms (employment forms, tax forms, Vocational Rehabilitation’s authorization forms, and Support Service Log) are completed. If forms are turned in late, payment will be delayed.

Since readers are typically students, they may have demands conflicting with reading for the student. For this reason, students who rely heavily upon reader services, are encouraged to have at least two readers.

Registration Assistance

ODA can assist students whose disability prevents them from registering. Students requiring this help must first seek advisement, then make an appointment with ODA during the student’s assigned registration period, which can be found on students’ SOAR accounts.

Substitutions and Waivers

Requests for course waivers are not granted as accommodations for students’ disabilities.  However, requests for course substitutions will be forwarded to the department chair of the student’s major provided that the documentation of the student’s disability supports such a request. In reviewing substitution requests, the university also looks at the student’s history in taking the course with approved accommodations. ODA can only support the student’s request for a course substitution; it cannot be mandated. Course substitution decisions are made by the college of the student’s major, not ODA. If a substitution is permitted, the selection of alternate courses that can meet degree requirements is an academic decision made by the college of the student’s major that may require approval from the Office of the Provost.

Temporary Illnesses or Injuries

Students with temporary illnesses or injuries may not be eligible for formal accommodations with ODA. However, as a courtesy, ODA will provide some assistance with note taker paper, exams, or accessible classroom furniture.

Requests for excused absences and emergency notification are referred to the Office of Student-Oriented Services. For more information, please contact Alfreda Horton at 601.266.4025 or e-mail address, alfreda.horton@usm.edu.

Transportation

Transportation is not a university accommodation mandated under 504/ADA unless it is provided to all students. Transportation on campus is a personal responsibility. Students with mobility problems are encouraged to visit the campus before classes begin to assess their ability to move across campus. In some instances, students may need to explore the option of acquiring a motorized chair or scooter, or arranging for a friend or personal care attendant to assist them. Students with mobility problems are also encouraged to schedule free periods between classes to allow travel time or to schedule their back-to-back classes in buildings located in close proximity to each other. In the event of an emergency, assistance may be provided by the University Police by calling 601.266.4986.

Tutoring

Tutoring is not a university accommodation mandated under 504/ADA.  However, tutoring is available for students who qualify for services from Southern Miss’s Student Support Services.  Some academic departments also provide tutoring services. ODA is willing to act as a liaison with the faculty and campus organizations to assist students in locating a tutor. However, the student is responsible for compensating the tutor, unless the student also receives services from Vocational Rehabilitation. On occasion, Vocational Rehabilitation has paid for tutoring services.

Visitors with Disabilities

The reason for visiting Southern Miss’s campus will determine which department to contact about arranging accommodations or discussing access concerns. Persons with disabilities who plan to attend a specific event or conference should contact the department or organization sponsoring the event. For instance, if a prospective student wants a tour of the university, then the Admission's Office should be contacted. Or if a person with a disability will attend a Summer Preview session (orientation), then the First Year Experience should be contacted, and so on. Persons who are unsure about which office to ask for assistance can call ODA at 601.266.5024 or 228.214.3232.