A-218 on the Benton Harbor Campus.
In fulfilling Lake Michigan College’s belief that education is for all who wish to develop their potential, the mission of Student Outreach and Support Services (SOSS) ensures full participation and meaningful access to all services, programs, and activities of Lake Michigan College.
The core functions of SOSS:
- Put into place accommodations which correspond with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, The Amendments Act of 2008, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968
- Partner with community agencies, schools, and resources to assist students’ transition to college, time in college, and career after college.
- Collaborate with students, faculty, and staff to educate through workshops, trainings, and programming.
- Work towards full inclusion in policies, procedures, and practices in context of accessibility while maintaining essential academic and technical standards.
- Serve Career and Technical Education majors who are having difficulty being successful in their academic program through tutoring, cost assistance, and academic planning under the Federal Perkins Grant.
How to request accommodations
Students must disclose in order to pursue accommodations
For students requesting accommodations for testing or classes, we ask that you:
- Contact the Student Outreach and Support Services at (269)927-8866 to make an appointment for an “intake” meeting.
- To expedite the process, students are asked to bring copies of documents indicating his/her disability eligibility, i.e., 504 Plan with medical/psychological reports, IEP and Psychological reports, medical reports, etc.
- If copies are not available, students will be asked to sign a release of information form requesting this information from the documenting source.
- During meeting with Coordinator student will complete the following forms:
- Accommodation Needs Intake Information Sheet (basic information)
- Exchange of Information form. This form gives SOSS staff permission to speak with Lake Michigan College faculty, staff, and/or other professionals, such as but not limited to: rehabilitation counselor, medical, and/or previous school personnel.
- Release of Information form. If the documentation is not available, the form will be used to request written information from specific schools, institutions, medical personnel, etc. regarding the student’s condition.
- Once documentation has been received by the SOSS Office staff or the Coordinator will meet with eligible students and create the Accommodation Plan designed to the student’s needs; this includes permission given to the Testing Center Staff regarding any placement test accommodation. Placement test accommodation permission is sent to the Testing Center via email.
- In addition to copies of the Accommodation Plan, students are given a copy of excerpts from Students with Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education: Know Your Rights and Responsibilities, U.S. Department of Education, September 2007.
- Since students self-identify, faculty and staff are not informed of a students’ accommodation needs by SOSS. The student must deliver the information personally.
- Accommodation Plans are not retroactive and should be handed to instructors as soon as possible, preferably, the beginning of the semester.
- Distribution of copies: Student, student’s instructors (one copy each) and Assessment Center
Know your rights
The following question and answers are excerpts from: Students with Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education: Know Your Rights and Responsibilities, U.S. Department of Education, September 2007. View the full publication.
As a student with a disability leaving high school and entering postsecondary education, will I see differences in my rights and how they are addressed?
Yes. Section 504 and Title II protect elementary, secondary, and postsecondary students from discrimination. Nevertheless, several of the requirements that apply through high school are different from the requirements that apply beyond high school. For instance, Section 504 requires a school district to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to each child with a disability in the district’s jurisdiction. Whatever the disability, a school district must identify an individual’s educational needs and provide any regular or special education and related aids and services necessary to meet those needs as well as it is meeting the needs of students without disabilities.
Unlike your high school, however, your postsecondary school is not required to provide FAPE. Rather, your postsecondary school is required to provide appropriate academic adjustments as necessary to ensure that it does not discriminate on the basis of disability. In addition, if your postsecondary school provides housing to nondisabled students, it must provide comparable, convenient, and accessible housing to students with disabilities at the same cost.
Do I have to inform a postsecondary school that I have a disability?
No. But if you want the school to provide an academic adjustment, you must identify yourself as having a disability. Likewise, you should let the school know about your disability if you want to ensure that you are assigned to accessible facilities. In any event, your disclosure of a disability is always voluntary.
What academic adjustments must a postsecondary school provide?
The appropriate academic adjustment must be determined based on your disability and individual needs. Academic adjustments may include auxiliary aids and services, as well as modifications to academic requirements as necessary to ensure equal educational opportunity. Examples of adjustments are: arranging for priority registration; reducing a course load; substituting one course for another; providing note takers, recording devices, sign language interpreters, extended time for testing, and, if telephones are provided in dorm rooms, a TTY in your dorm room; and equipping school computers with screen-reading, voice recognition, or other adaptive software or hardware.
In providing an academic adjustment, your postsecondary school is not required to lower or substantially modify essential requirements. For example, although your school may be required to provide extended testing time, it is not required to change the substantive content of the test. In addition, your postsecondary school does not have to make adjustments that would fundamentally alter the nature of a service, program, or activity, or that would result in an undue financial or administrative burden. Finally, your postsecondary school does not have to provide personal attendants, individually prescribed devices, readers for personal use or study, or other devices or services of a personal nature, such as tutoring and typing.
If I want an academic adjustment, what must I do?
You must inform the school that you have a disability and need an academic adjustment. Unlike your school district, your postsecondary school is not required to identify you as having a disability or to assess your needs.
Your postsecondary school may require you to follow reasonable procedures to request an academic adjustment. You are responsible for knowing and following those procedures.
When should I request an academic adjustment?
Although you may request an academic adjustment from your postsecondary school at any time, you should request it as early as possible. Some academic adjustments may take more time to provide than others. You should follow your school’s procedures to ensure that the school has enough time to review your request and provide an appropriate academic adjustment.
Do I have to prove that I have a disability to obtain an academic adjustment?
Generally, yes. Your school will probably require you to provide documentation showing that you have a current disability and need an academic adjustment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Am I automatically eligible for services at Lake Michigan College if I received services in high school or at another school?
Having had disability support services in high school or at another post-secondary institution does not automatically qualify you for services at Lake Michigan College (LMC). The laws governing the provision of services for students with disabilities at the post-secondary level are much different than those for high school. Even if you had services at another college, you must disclose your disability and provide documentation to the Student Outreach and Support Services at LMC. Appropriate services and accommodations will then be determined for your specific courses here at LMC.
What information must I provide to receive services?
You will be asked to complete the Intake form, which requires a disclosure of your disability. You will also need to provide documentation from a qualified professional of your disability. See Documentation Guidelines for a description of the documentation requirements.
I think I might have a learning-related disability, but I’ve never been tested or diagnosed. Can SOSS help me?
In order to provide services through SOSS, we require that you provide us with documentation of a qualifying disability. However, we can refer you to community resources.
If I am approved for certain services or accommodations, will I be able to receive those services or accommodations throughout my time at LMC?
The determination of appropriate services and accommodations is made by considering the functional impact of the disability in relation to specific course requirements. Students are required, therefore, to meet with SOSS each year to determine services and accommodations. Although in many instances, the same services and accommodations will apply from one year to the next; this is not always the case.
Does the SOSS office provide tutoring assistance?
SOSS does not directly provide tutoring. However, peer tutoring is available for many courses through the Learning Assistance Center(LAC). The LAC offers assistance to students in the writing process, mathematics, study strategies, and individual subjects. These opportunities are all free.
Can I request special consideration with respect to class attendance if my disability causes me to miss classes?
Class attendance policies are determined by the instructor based on academic requirements. SOSS does not provide an accommodation that exempts a student from attendance requirements because of a disability. However, we can note in an accommodation letter that missed class time is possible due to the student’s disability. It can be helpful to the instructor to know that the student does, in fact, have a documented disability that may cause him/her to miss class. It is still the instructor’s decision, though, as to how he/she will act on the situation.
How much information do I need to tell my instructors about my disability?
The SOSS Office is the point of contact for the student in disclosing disability information. Although the student is certainly free to disclose information to faculty as they see fit, it is not required. If you are approved for an accommodation that involves a classroom modification, such as additional testing time, SOSS will provide you with a letter that you deliver to your instructor indicating the approved accommodation. The letter does not identify the disability. You are requested to speak with your instructor concerning the logistics of implementing the accommodation, but you are not required to discuss your disability, nor to defend or justify the accommodation.
What if I have a temporary disabling condition, such as a broken leg? Can SOSS still assist me?
Yes, you should contact SOSS if you need assistance as a result of a temporary condition. We may be able to assist you with alternate classroom furniture or other services. The SOSS office still requires the appropriate disability documentation, even if it is a temporary condition.
What if I am not satisfied with a decision made by the SOSS office concerning my request for services or accommodations, or if I feel that an instructor is not appropriately providing an accommodation?
In most cases, a disagreement, whether with SOSS or with an instructor, can be resolved through communication. If you have an issue with your instructor, you should first attempt to speak with your instructor while also informing SOSS of your concerns. SOSS will become involved as necessary. If you are dissatisfied with a SOSS action or decision, contact the office and let us know your concerns. We may be able to come to a resolution with additional discussion and clarification. Whether you have an issue with faculty or with SOSS, a complaint process exists for you to follow (see Complaint Procedures).
SOSS provides assistance to students who have disabilities. Registration with SOSS has four main components:
- Completing the SOSS application during the intake meeting.
- Submitting appropriate medical or psycho-educational documentation
- Engaging in the interactive process by scheduling an appointment to discuss your accommodation needs with the SOSS coordinator. Registration with SOSS prior to situations requiring accommodations is essential.
- Sharing the appropriate accommodation memo/letter with other college personnel as appropriate
If you need assistance with obtaining sufficient documentation, please review the relevant guidelines for documentation along with verification forms. These forms can be downloaded from our website below, or picked up from our office on the Benton Harbor campus. Completed paperwork can be faxed to 269.927.6536, emailed, or brought to our office on the Benton Harbor Campus.
Documentation for a Disability
Documentation of a disability must appear on official letterhead from a licensed physician, psychiatrist, social worker, or other mental health professional and include:
- A specific statement of the diagnosis
- A summary of related functional limitations
- Recommendations for accommodations
Forms are available below for specific disabilities:
For any disability not listed above please contact the SOSS Office at 269-927-8866.
- Civil Rights Complaint
- Equal Opportunity for Disabled Students
- Electronic Devices in the Classroom
- Accessibility for persons with a disability
- Acceptable Use for Technology Resources
The student must make an appointment to meet with the Coordinator, Student Development and Inclusion. At this stage (the “Informal Complaint Process”), the Coordinator will review the matter, allowing all interested parties an opportunity to submit relevant information, statements, and documentation. The Coordinator will make a decision regarding the informal complaint within seven (7) working days of the meeting with the student and attempt to notify the student immediately. The Coordinators decision will be in writing and may be sent to the student by their LMC email. If the student’s dispute involves a decision of the Coordinator, the student may forego the Informal Complaint Process and file a Formal Complaint (as defined below).
Lake Michigan College strives to resolve all student complaints in a fair and expedient manner. A complaint is any non-civil rights* related complaint generated by an individual student concerning the work-related activities/services of the Student Outreach and Support Office (e.g., intake process, untimed testing recommendation, etc.).
The following steps outline the requirements of a student to file a complaint as well as the timeline for the complaint process:
Students having concerns or complaints about services provided/not provided should first submit her or his complaint verbally or in writing to the Coordinator, Student Development and Inclusion, in an effort to resolve the issue(s) informally. The Coordinator, Student Development and Inclusion, will respond to the complaint within 7 business days.
If the student’s verbal and/or written complaint is not resolved to the student’s satisfaction and the student chooses to continue to pursue the complaint further, the student must submit a request in writing (making the complaint a formal complaint) to the Executive Director, Students or his/her designee requesting further resolution. The written request must be submitted within 10 business days of notification of the Coordinator, Student Development and Inclusion, resolution to the informal complaint. The written request must include the specific nature of the complaint, reasons for filing the complaint, all documentation supporting the complaint, and specific remedy requested. The Executive Director, Students or his/her designee will seek a resolution by using the following means:
- Arrange and facilitate a meeting between the parties involved to discuss a possible resolution. If at the end of the meeting, a satisfactory resolution is concluded than the complaint is closed. The Executive Director, Students will record the complaint and resolution in the LMC Student Complaint Log.
- Should a resolution not be reached, the Executive Director, Students or his/her designee will review the complaint and all supporting material and render a written decision regarding the complaint which shall include the basis of the decision. A decision to the formal complaint will be rendered within five (5) business days and will be communicated in writing to the student as well as the Coordinator, Student Development and Inclusion.
- Appeal Process: In the event the Executive Director, Students or his/her designee is unable to resolve the complaint; the complaint will be forwarded to the Vice President, Student Engagement and Support for review and action. The Vice President, Student Engagement and Support will review the complaint and all supporting material and render a written decision regarding the complaint which shall include the basis of the decision. A decision to the formal complaint will be rendered within five (5) business days and will be communicated in writing to the student as well as the Coordinator, Student Development and Inclusion. The decision from the Vice President, Student Engagement and Support shall be final. No further appeal will be considered. The Executive Director, Students will be notified and will record the complaint and resolution in the LMC Student Complaint Log.