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Academic Resource Center

Disability Services

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Western values disability as an aspect of diversity and is committed to moving our campus toward an equitable and inclusive environment for all students. Disability Services works with students, faculty and staff to ensure that all students have equitable access to campus curricula, facilities, services and resources. Aligned with our commitment to diversity, we envision a welcoming campus that is readily usable and accessible by students with varied characteristics, strengths and challenges. We strive to provide access that is proactive, sustainable, equitable and inclusive to the widest population possible.

Request Accommodations

Disability Services is here to help accommodate you on your path to earning your degree at Western. We work to continuously promote values of inclusivity and equity both inside and outside the classroom, and we are here to offer assistance to any student seeking support while attending Western with a disability. Please use the links below to apply for accommodations or log into the Disability Services portal (MyDSO).

Apply Here

Login in DS Online Services Here

Academic Accommodations

Academic accommodations to meet every student’s individual needs.

Accommodations are personalized for each student and their needs. For all forms, including alternative text, alternative testing, note-taking request, release of information and requests for information please visit the Academic Resource Center in Taylor Hall 302 or email disability@western.edu. Accommodations may be finalized upon completion of the intake interview. Please allow 7-10 business days for review of request and disability accommodations.

Current students who have already registered with Disability Services do not need to re-register unless accommodation needs or documentation has changed. Remember to stop by the Academic Resource Center at the beginning of each semester to request faculty letters.

Western provides note taking services as an academic accommodation for students with a disability. Note taking services are typically for students who cannot physically write notes due to an impairment such as limited mobility of the arm or hands, visual impairment, hearing loss, or dysgraphia. Students who have difficulty taking notes due to an inability to focus or organize their notes are strongly encouraged to consider using a Smart Pen as an accommodation to help them develop effective note taking skills that are necessary for academic success. For more information about Smart Pens, please click on the Technology tab.

Note taking services are provided by peer note takers who are in the same class as the student who have a vested interest in taking notes. Peer note takers are recruited on an as needed basis from the Disability Services Coordinator upon request. To ensure the privacy of students with disabilities, note takers send their notes to the Academic Resource Center who will then share the notes with the student with a disability. The note taker does not know who they are taking notes for and the recipient does not know who is taking notes for them.

If you are interested in becoming a peer note taker for the Academic Resource Center, the general requirements are a 2.75 cumulative GPA, consistent class attendance, and the ability to take clear, legible, and well organized notes. Note takers are paid a $50 stipend at the end of the term. However, if a request is made late in the term after midterms have passed, the stipend is reduced to $25 per class. To be considered as a peer note taker, please contact the Office of Disability Services within the Academic Resource by email at disability@western.edu, by phone at 970.943.7056, or stop by Taylor Hall 302 for more information.

** Note taking services are NOT automatic and must be requested at the beginning of each semester. Due to the variance in course layout and content, it is may not be feasible to hire note takers for every course offered. Students who need note taking services should meet with the Disability Services Coordinator to request note taking services and complete a request form as early in the semester as possible.

*Students who receive note taking services as an accommodation are not eligible to become a peer note taker for other students.

The Academic Resource Center at Western has purchased assistive technology to encourage a more equitable and inclusive learning environment for students with disabilities.

LiveScribe Echo Smart Pen

The LiveScribe Echo Smart Pen is a specialized writing utensil that records audio and what is written simultaneously. This smart pen is used with desktop software that allows students to organize notes and convert handwritten notes to text that is legible. This software will also assist in organizing notes, has audio playback for recorded lectures and uses “bookmarks” to help the student review recorded lectures and notes for upcoming quizzes and exams. This may be helpful for students who have difficulty focusing and organizing notes for future review.

The smart pen also utilizes the LiveScribe Echo Desktop software that can be downloaded here. Click on the appropriate software version for your computer and follow the steps to install the software. This software is available for both Mac and Windows. Please do not register the pen under your personal name and information. The smartpen has already been registered with the University. If you have any technical issues, please contact the Disability Services Coordinator.

Downloading and Running the Echo Set-Up Software on Your Mac

LiveScribe Desktop is a legacy software that is not compatible with new Mac computers. Students should download the correct Echo Set-Up software for Mac computers at the following link: https://us.livescribe.com/pages/echo-set-up

Note: If you install the software on your Mac and receive a system message that states, “The source is not a known developer and this computer will not run the installer,” please be aware that this is not a software issue. However, this means your gatekeeper settings on your Mac must be adjusted to permit the software to run. Please click on the following link which will direct you to an Apple article that explains how to bypass the gatekeeper to run the LiveScribe software on your Mac. https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202491

If Mac users continue to experience issues with the smart pen software and their Mac, they should reach out the Disability Services Coordinator to schedule an appointment by calling the front desk of the ARC at 970-943-7056, by email at arc@western.edu, or by visiting the ARC located in Taylor Hall Suite 302.


eBooks are provided to students who have a print disability that prevents them from being able to read standard textbooks. eBooks are typically provided in accessible PDF format from the publisher that can be paired with a screen reader to have the textbook read aloud to them. This is especially beneficial for students who have dyslexia, reading comprehension disorders, as well as students who are blind or have low-vision.

Dragon Diction Software

Students who have difficulty writing or drafting papers or essay responses for exams may use Dragon Diction Software. The student can verbally dictate their responses via microphone and the Dragon software converts spoken word to text format within Microsoft Word. The student can then utilize the grammar and spelling correction in Microsoft Word to help them correctly format their text. This is helpful for students who may not be able to physically write or type papers or essay responses for exams as well as students who may have dysgraphia.

The Office of University Testing and Disability Services is committed to providing timely and secure testing services for students and faculty. In order to serve the needs of our students and faculty members, we adhere to the following guidelines for implementing test accommodations:

  1. The student must be registered with the Office of Disability Services and have the current semester’s letter of accommodation on file.
  2. Students should notify their instructor(s) in advance of the scheduled exam for which they plan to use an approved testing accommodation. Instructors should communicate to their students how much notice is required. Students should refer to the course syllabus or contact the instructor if they are uncertain of the instructor’s expectations.
  3. Identifying an appropriate time for testing is a shared responsibility between the student and the instructor. Generally, we cannot offer the option of taking an exam outside of the scheduled class time without approval from the instructor. Recognizing scheduling conflicts may arise. University Testing will proctor exams at other times upon notification from the instructor. A phone call or email from the faculty member will suffice as proper notification.
  4. All exams must be scheduled at least one week in advance of the test time/date. Students may schedule their exam time if they are testing simultaneously with the regularly scheduled class.
  5. Faculty, or designated staff are responsible for ensuring the test is delivered to University Testing. Delivery may be in person, via email (disability@western.edu), or exams may be faxed to 970.943.3409. If assistance is needed, please call 970.943.7056.
  6. Students should arrive at least 15 minutes before their scheduled exam to ensure that the student will be seated and can begin the exam at the scheduled time. Students who are unable to make their appointment are expected to notify their instructor and University Testing as soon as possible.
  7. Students must show a valid ID in order to take their test(s).
  8. Cell phones, smart-watches, fitness bands/trackers and all devices with recording, internet, or communication capabilities that are 1) not related to approved accommodations; or 2) are not approved prior to the exam by the instructor for the purposes of the exam; are prohibited in the Testing Lab and private testing rooms. A space in the hallway of the testing center is provided for storage of these and other personal items (including but not limited to hats, purses, backpacks, food, and drinks) during testing. This policy is in place to protect the student(s) and the integrity of the testing process and will be strictly enforced. Students may also be asked to remove all loose items from their pockets and place them in their bags and/or purses.
  9. Students are not allowed to take books, book bags/backpacks, notes or any class related material into a testing area unless their instructor has provided written permission on the proctor form.
  10. Missed exams may only be rescheduled with approval from the instructor.
  11. Tests may be scheduled during the following times: Mondays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.; Tuesdays between 11 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Wednesday-Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. If a student schedules an exam during a timeframe that does not allow for the full amount of allotted time, the student will forfeit the portion of the extended time that occurs after 5 pm. The Academic Resource Center operates on the university calendar.
  12. Students will NOT be allowed to deliver or return their own exams so as to maintain exam integrity throughout the testing process.

Testing Center Check-In Policy

The following items are prohibited in the test lab and private examination rooms:

  1. Cell phones, smart-watches, fitness bands/trackers and all devices with recording, Internet or communication capabilities that are:
    1. Not related to the approved accommodations; or
    2. Are approved prior to the exam by the instructor for the purposes of the exam; but are prohibited in the test lab and private examination rooms.
  2. A space is provided in the common hallway of the Academic Resource Center for the storage of personal items (including but not limited to: hats, purses, backpacks, food, and/or drinks) during testing.
  3. All electronic devices must be completely powered off prior to storing them.
  4. Please use the restroom prior to beginning the exam.
  5. Please have your photo ID ready. You will take your ID with you to the test lab or examination room.
  6. If you are taking a standardized exam, please have your receipt ready.

These are designed to protect the student and to ensure the integrity of the examination process. This policy will be strictly enforced.

Student Resources

Everything you need to facilitate your academic experience.

To ensure your academic success, we’ve compiled some essential resources about how to request accommodations and where to find the best areas for studying. If there is anything else you may need to support your academic journey at Western, please contact the Academic Resource Center.

The Western Colorado University Office of Disability Services requests that students seeking accommodations submit information describing their disability, their past use of accommodations and the likely impact of the disability on their educational experiences. Types of helpful documentation supportive of such requests include medical records, psycho-educational testing reports and school records. If students do not have this documentation readily available, they are encouraged to meet with a Disability Services Coordinator to discuss other ways to demonstrate a connection between their condition and any academic barriers they anticipate in the university environment.

The Office of Disability Services will consider all forms of documentation including student self-report, observation and interaction with the student and external information from outside sources such as professionals who have diagnosed or treated the condition. External information can be a valuable tool for helping the Disability Services counselor understand the student’s barriers, identify strategies for success and assign reasonable accommodations which facilitate access.

We ask students seeking disability accommodations to submit documentation of disability to verify eligibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the ADA Amendments Act (ADA AA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Disability Services policy.

Documentation should include a description of the disability and its current impact in an educational setting, past use and effectiveness of accommodations and recommendations for accommodations that are logically related to the impact of the disability. Please keep in mind, however, that Disability Services will make the final determination of reasonable accommodations.

Types of documentation that may be helpful include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Educational, psychological or medical records
  • Reports and assessments created by healthcare providers, psychologists or the educational system (e.g., a psychoeducational evaluation)
  • Documents that reflect education and accommodation history, such as an Individual Education Program (IEP), Summary of Performance (SOP), 504 Plans and teacher observations

Documentation should be provided on official letterhead with the name, title, professional credentials, address, phone number and signature of the evaluator, as well as the date of the report. No handwritten notes or prescription pad notes will be accepted.

Please keep the following in mind:

  • Documentation should be submitted to Disability Services as far in advance as possible
  • Disability Services may ask for additional information if documentation is incomplete or does not support accommodation requests
  • Students who do not have documentation are encouraged to meet with the Disability Services staff to explore options for support
  • Documentation accepted by Western Colorado University might not be accepted by other institutions, agencies, and/or programs (e.g., testing agencies, licensure exams and certification programs). Please check with the specific organizations and/or programs to determine their documentation requirements

Outside documentation should be current and the healthcare provider who has diagnosed the student or currently treating the student should be licensed either in Colorado or in the student’s home state.

*Due to potential conflicts of interest, documentation from the Western Colorado University Campus Clinic for the Center for Mental Health for the purpose of obtaining an ESA will not be accepted. However, students are encouraged to utilize these services whenever needed to ensure their ongoing health and well-being.

Due to the nature of residence halls, it is not feasible nor logical to expect that a private room can guarantee undisturbed study time, therefore requests for private housing for this reason are not considered reasonable accommodations. However, the Leslie J. Savage Library has private study areas available upon reservation for students to utilize. Space is limited and rooms are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis. If you need to request a private study room, please contact Cheryl Dandel to reserve a room by calling 970.943.2053 or visiting her office in room 204 in the library. Her office hours are Tuesday–Saturday from 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

DS Exam Proctor Form

  1. The student will download and complete the top portion of the Exam Proctor PDF form.
  2. The student will then email the partially completed form directly to their instructor and their instructor will complete the second section of the proctor form.
  3. When the instructor has completed their part of the proctor form, they will email it to disability@western.edu.

Exam Proctor PDF form

Exams must be scheduled at least three business days in advance and will require that all proctor forms include a digital signature from their instructor on the form to ensure that the student and the instructor have been communicating.

Parent Resources

The information you need to support your student during their time at Western.

We know that you may have questions and concerns about your student’s transition to higher education. We hope that after reviewing the following information, you feel confident that your student is in good hands at Western.

The transition from high school to college can be a difficult time for the parents of a student with a disability. Up until now, you have been required to play an essential role in their academic life.

We recognize that you may have reservations about your student’s transition to higher education and may feel compelled to be a part of their accommodation planning at the post-secondary level. We want to assure parents that we have the student’s best interests in mind and given the opportunity, will assume the role of becoming the student’s advocate.

Understanding that you may be concerned about your son or daughter’s ability to effectively convey their needs and speak up on their own behalf, we ask for your assistance in preparing your student for the university experience by taking the following steps:

  • Assist the student in becoming informed about their disability and history of accommodations
  • Ensure the student understands and can effectively communicate their needs, strengths, interests and challenges
  • Allow the student the opportunity to practice stating their needs and asking pertinent questions

We believe taking these steps will help the student in becoming a competent self-advocate and pave the way for satisfying experiences with staff and faculty upon arriving at the university.

The initial interactions between DS staff and the student are crucial to all parties in building a solid foundation for future communications. We want students to feel comfortable coming to us for assistance should they encounter barriers in their learning environment due to their disability. The intake meeting is a critical first step in developing this comfort and rapport with the student. It also provides the coordinator with the opportunity to get a feel for how knowledgeable and confident the student is in sharing information about past services and what accommodations the student is seeking at the college level.

As such, we ask that you do not attend this meeting with the student. You are welcome to accompany them to our office and the DS counselor, with the student’s permission, will meet with you after the interview to answer questions or address concerns.

Recognizing that parents have a high level of interest in the student’s academic experience, we encourage students to maintain an open dialogue with you. However, the open dialogue must be between the student and their parent, as DS staff members are required to follow the guidance contained in The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA. Under FERPA, DS staff members are not permitted to share information with, or provide records to, parents unless we have the express written consent of the student.

We realize that many parents may feel frustrated by FERPA regulations. However, in order to protect the student’s rights and the relationship between them and their counselor, DS will hold the student’s educational records confidential. In those instances where a parent would like to speak directly with a DS counselor regarding the student’s accommodation records, DS will ask the student to be present.

An Open Letter to Parents of Students with Disabilities About to Enter College

Dear Parents,

I have been working in the area of students with disabilities at the college level for more than 30 years, but that is not why I am writing to you today. I am writing as a parent, and thus as someone who shares all your current anxieties. My daughter, who graduated from high school in early June, will be going away to college this fall. She has Cerebral Palsy, uses a wheelchair, and has limited speech capabilities, so you can be assured that I have been very involved in the educational programming and planning she has received during her years in the public school system. I wanted to be involved, but I also needed to be involved since, by law, the school could not do anything for, to, or with my daughter regarding her disability without my permission. I sat through countless IEP meetings over the years, I was insistent on certain issues of academic support when I needed to be, and I agonized over everything from teacher selection to her successful social integration with classmates. And now, as I prepare to pack her up and take her off to college in the fall, I recognize that this role has ended for me – and the word “anxious” doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings.

If you are worried that your child with a disability will have a difficult time making a successful transition to college without your involvement… then you are probably right to be worried. Very few children with disabilities can succeed at the college level. On the other hand, students with disabilities survive and thrive on college campuses across the country. If you still think of your son or daughter as your “child,” and they still are comfortable in accepting that role, it is time to take a careful look at where you have come from and what lies before you. As parents, it is time for us to step back and allow/encourage/gently nudge our SWD’s (Students with Disabilities) to assume significant independent responsibility for their own lives, both academically and personally.

As you and your SWD prepare to visit campus for that initial meeting with a disability service provider at the college, you would do well to think about what can be accomplished at this initial meeting, what needs to be said – and who is going to say it!!! As I approach that same milestone with my daughter, I find myself a little panicky, realizing that there are things about her disability and how it impacts on her functioning that I know and that the disability services provider needs to know, and that I may not have many chances to say. There is no doubt that I can explain those things more fully than my daughter can explain them (or even understands them!). And it doesn’t matter. Much as I hate it, I know that SHE has to be the one to convey all this crucial information (not me!), for a number of reasons.

First, colleges and universities provide services and support to SWD under very different laws than those that governed services in the K-12 system. As a parent, I have no rights under Section 504/ADA in speaking for my SWD who is in college. (If you aren’t sure what “Section 504/ADA” means in this context, perhaps the disability service provider you meet with will have gathered some information that helps explain the differences between settings, both legally and practically. Two of my favorite websites for learning more are at: http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/transition.html and http://www.heath.gwu.edu/).

The services and support available to SWD are sometimes very different than what was provided in high school, and the college is under no obligation to continue the services given in high school or to adhere to the recommendations of an outside diagnostician. The college will make its own determination of what services and support to offer, based on the documentation of disability and their interview with your SWD. There are no IEP’s in college, there is no place to sign off with my parental approval. Indeed, the college doesn’t legally have to care whether I am satisfied or not. My daughter is responsible for her own destiny now.

More importantly, while this may be your last chance to convey all that important information on to the college, it is your SWD’s first chance to convey that information all by himself/herself. Don’t spoil that opportunity, and don’t interfere. Remember, while you and your SWD are learning more about the campus, the resources, and the people who will be there to help when needed, the disability service provider is learning more about your son/daughter, as well. You want their first impression to be one that is positive and reassuring. The service provider is anxious to find out whether your SWD is mature enough to handle the responsibilities and independence of college life. Here are some specific suggestions for helping your SWD to shine in this newly focused spotlight:

  • DON’T be insulted if you are not invited to sit in on the initial meeting between your SWD and the disability services folks. Some institutions have found that it is helpful for them to speak directly (and alone!) to the student in order to get a feel for how knowledgeable and confident s/he is in sharing information about past services, what works and doesn’t work, and what accommodations they hope to have at the college level. You will get a chance to ask your questions, but recognize that it may come later, rather than sooner.
  • If you are invited to sit in on the meeting with the disability services folks, DO acknowledge your SWD as the authority on their disability-related needs by making it clear that you believe they have all the answers! Try focusing your visual attention on your son/daughter instead of trying to make eye contact with the interviewer. If you look to your SWD, so will the professional.
  • DON’T begin any sentence with “S/He needs to have…” Instead, you can try, “In high school, s/he had…” or “The person who tested him/her suggested…” but it would actually be better if you said nothing at all! Try to talk as little as possible in the meeting. This is not your meeting. Remember, you are there as an observer, not as a participant.
  • DO take some time prepping your son/daughter in advance on the issues that you think need to be discussed – the things that you would say if you had the chance. Make a list of the topics you would bring up, explain why you think each is important, and make sure your SWD has the list in hand when s/he goes into the interview. Rehearse with your son/daughter, if they will let you. If they are typical teens and aren’t comfortable sitting through that kind of rehearsal, settle for making them sit and listen while you demonstrate how you would approach certain subjects. For example, “I think you should tell them about how the teachers arranged for extra time for you on tests when you were in high school. I’d probably say, ‘In high school, I was allowed extra time for tests in English because it takes me a long time to put my thoughts in writing, but I never needed it in math.’” Your SWD may not acknowledge the strategies you share, but you may be surprised to hear those words come out of his/her mouth at the interview!
  • DON’T interrupt. If you disagree with something the disability service provider says, or if your SWD says something that you know is incorrect, or if you see your SWD agreeing with/to something when you know they have no idea what they are agreeing to – DON’T INTERRUPT! Let the interview play out. Give the disability service provider a chance to draw your SWD out further, give your SWD an opportunity to clarify matters, or simply wait to see if the confusion/disagreement remains. It is important to know just how independent and accurate students are in describing their needs. You will get your chance.
  • DO prompt your son/daughter to speak up and share those important points as the interview progresses. Instead of explaining to the disability service provider why Johnny needs a calculator in math classes, turn to Johnny and say, “Why don’t you explain to Ms. ____ why it is important for you to have a calculator for math and science classes. Is it because you have trouble lining up the columns, or because you have trouble remembering basic math facts or ????” Give an open-ended question that encourages your SWD to flesh out the response. At the same time, you are hinting to the interviewer that there is an issue here to be discussed (See? I told you that you would get your chance!)

Why not take notes as the interview progresses? When your son/daughter has exhausted the list of topics to discuss, and the disability service provider has shared all the information they thought was important, it is YOUR turn to talk. Go ahead and ask your questions. The most important thing to remember now is that you do not want to undermine your son/daughter’s credibility. If you have more information to share on a given subject, try starting the sentence with, “As Susie told you, she has used…” and then add whatever you need to on top of information already given. If you think your SWD gave incorrect information, tread carefully.

You might say, “I was surprised to hear Jane say _____. I would have said _____, because…” You’ll get your point across without directly contradicting what your son/daughter said. Your goal is to assure both the SWD and the disability service provider that you are supportive of their budding understanding, and simply want to share another viewpoint.

An old adage maintains:
There are only two things a parent can give to a child…

One is roots. The other is wings.

It is time for our kids to solo. That is a scary thought for us, as parents, and it is sure to be scary for them, too. That’s OK. This is what we have all been working towards for a long time. Remember, your son/daughter will call, email, or text if they need you. They know what you can do for them, but now it is time for them to go it alone. Take a deep breath, cross your fingers, wish them well – and walk away. All will be well!

Best of luck,
Jane Jarrow
Proud (and Terrified) Mom

Faculty Resources

Helping support and guide all of your students equally.

To create a learning environment that is useable, equitable, inclusive and welcoming, we’ve provided the following essential resources for faculty members.

Students with disabilities glean a significant amount of information about a course and their instructor from the access statement. A well designed statement indicates the faculty member’s level of commitment to designing their course in a way that welcomes all students, including those with a disability and provides guidance to those students who experience barriers.

As a minimum, the statement should include contact information for the Disability Services (DS) office and be placed prominently (preferably within the first page) of the syllabus. Please contact the Office of Disability Services for any additional questions or resources.

Disability Services Recommended Syllabus Statement

Western Colorado University values diversity and inclusion and is committed to a climate of mutual respect and full participation of all students. Our goal is to create a learning environment that is useable, equitable, inclusive and welcoming. If there are aspects of the instruction or design of this course that result in barriers to your inclusion or prevent an accurate assessment of your achievement, please meet with me privately to discuss your needs and concerns. You may also contact the Office of Disability Services, located in Taylor Hall 302, or visit their website at www.western.edu/ds in order to initiate a request for accommodations.

Additional Recommendations

  • Use person first language. Terms such as handicapped, special needs and disabled should not be used as many individuals find them offensive.
  • Avoid wording that communicates the primary reason for providing access is a compliance issue.
  • Avoid wording that places all of the responsibility for access on the student. Equitable access is a shared responsibility between faculty, staff, the student and the Office of Disability Services.
  • Do not place time restrictions on the student’s right to request accommodations. While it’s preferable for a student to identify their need early in the semester, they have the right to seek accommodations at any point during the academic term if they experience barriers in the course due to their disability.

Additional Resources



If you have a student who needs to complete a make-up exam in our testing center, please email Cheyenne Terry at cterry@western.edu to request a PDF copy of an instructor accommodation form. The form should be completed by the instructor and submitted with the exam prior to the student’s scheduled the exam time. The student should work out a time to complete the make-up exam with their instructor as well as take responsibility for scheduling their make-up exam at the Academic Resource Center at least one week in advance of the exam date.

Additional instructor accommodations for students may include the use of translator software for foreign students, students with temporary injuries, or students who have a special circumstance that prevents them from completing the exam in the classroom but does not necessarily fall under the ADA. We will make every reasonable effort to accommodate the student to ensure equitable opportunity to complete exams as necessary.

Students who need to take exams in the testing center as part of their academic accommodation plan should pick up a yellow proctor form from the Academic Resource Center located in Taylor Hall 302 and complete it with their instructor and return it to the ARC at least one week in advance of their scheduled exam time.

Depending on the nature and immediacy of your concerns, there are several ways you can connect students to resources. After you make a referral to Disability Services, you are encouraged to follow up with the student and continue to express your support.

  • Should you have concerns about a student who is experiencing typical academic stress or developmental issues, you can inform the student of appropriate campus support services.
  • For counseling concerns, you can offer the use of your phone and have the student call Counseling Services (970.642.4615) from your office. Having the student make the appointment in your presence often reduces their anxiety and increases the likelihood they will keep the appointment. Usually appointments are available within 48 hours. You can also walk the student to the Counseling Services office (Crystal Hall 104 Escalante Complex) so that the student knows where to go and the first visit is less intimidating.
  • You can opt to complete a CARE Team Report by filing a report. Upon receipt of the report, the CARE Team will meet to discuss the student in question and formulate an intervention plan for that student.
  • If the student is in crisis or you feel the situation needs immediate attention, call Counseling Services, explain the situation and make an immediate referral. The counselors will make every effort to be available and you can walk the student to the Counseling Center.

What if I think it is an Emergency?

  • If you receive a phone call from a student threatening suicide, do your best to keep the student on the line. Try and get the person’s name and location. Calling 911 (or having a colleague call 911 while you keep the student on the line) is the best course of action in such a crisis. Follow-up your 911 contact by consulting with Counseling Services staff.
  • In many instances, the distressed student is not threatening immediate harm to self or others, and you will have time to connect the student with Counseling Services for assistance. When possible, walk the student to Counseling Services. If you are transferring a phone call to Counseling Services, please be sure to stay on the line with the student until you are sure the transfer was successful.
  • Other Western employees can also be contacted to assist you:
    • Associate Vice President for Student Affairs: Gary Pierson 970.943.2011
    • Director of Student Health and Wellness: Scott Cantril 970.943.2891
  • Off campus agencies are also available:
  • Colorado Crisis & Support Line: 1.844.493.TALK (8255)
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1.800.273.TALK (8255)
  • Be sure to communicate to the student what you are doing and why: “I can hear that you are very upset. I want to connect you with a professional staff person who can help you. I am going to stay on the line with you until I am sure you are speaking with someone who can help.”

When Should I Be Concerned About a Student?

It is difficult to make a judgement about a student’s personal issues or how he or she is coping. After all, students show a broad range of behaviors and coping skills. Taken alone, any one of the following indicators is not necessarily a sign of significant distress. However, a student exhibiting significant changes in their behavior or experiencing a number of these factors in combination may need assistance.

  • Academic indicators
    • Marked decline in academic work or work performance
    • Pattern of dropping classes and/or asking for extensions
    • Frequent absences from class
    • Difficulty concentrating or finding motivation
    • Academic work with themes of depression, hopelessness, social isolation and/or despair
  • Emotional or physical indicators
  • Depressed demeanor, isolation, or withdrawal
  • Marked changes in personal hygiene, weight, or reported changes in eating/sleeping habits
  • Lack of energy, listlessness or falling asleep in class
  • Noticeable anxiety or panic, irritability, or aggressiveness
  • Inappropriate responses to the situation
  • Significant or sudden changes in mood
  • Lack of social skills
  • Sudden withdrawal from faculty, staff or peers
  • Friction with other students
  • Too frequent or too lengthy visits to your office
  • Social or interpersonal factors

How Do I Approach a Student Who May Need Help?

Students experiencing distress may not recognize their level of difficulty or know where to turn for assistance. Even when they recognize their distress, seeking assistance is too frequently seen as a sign of weakness and therefore ignored. You may make the difference by approaching and engaging the student to express your concerns in a caring and nonjudgmental way. Consider these guidelines when you decide to approach a student.

  • Be discreet. Find a private and comfortable place to talk with the student in person.
  • Be honest about your concerns. Be yourself and share your concerns without criticism.
  • Listen and ask open-ended questions. Some students will respond and some will not. But most will be relieved that you are showing an interest, trying to understand, and offering help.
  • Express acceptance, understanding and concern. Respond to what you hear without judgements.
  • Gently respond to resistance. Students will vary in their acceptance of your help for a variety of reasons. Some may feel shame or as if their issues are not important enough to trouble others. Others are concerned that receiving counseling will impact on their academic record or job prospects. You can help alleviate their fears by normalizing the need to reach out, reinforcing the benefit of seeking help and addressing confidentiality.
  • Assist them in identifying options and offer to help make the referral. Direct the student to Disability Services or other campus resources as appropriate.
  • Do not promise confidentiality. Certain situations, like threats or suicidal ideation, require professional intervention and make keeping confidences impossible.
  • Don’t expect immediate results. Your offer of assistance may even be rejected. In the large majority of instances, it is still the right thing to do. Continue to keep the conversation open. Changing and learning new ways of thinking, feeling and behaving takes time. Patience, understanding and follow up on the part of concerned faculty and staff is part of the helping process.
  • Recognize your level of responsibility. You are not solely responsible for solving the student’s problem nor are you responsible for counseling the student. You share responsibility for responding to the student’s need for help and connecting the student with appropriate resources.

If a student needs immediate intervention, please make a CARE Team Report. If they are threatening self-harm and/or suicide, call 911!

Common Accommodations in Higher Education

The purpose of academic accommodations is to provide an equal opportunity to learn by ensuring access to the learning environment and course content. Accommodations are not designed to provide an unfair advantage or to ensure success. Disability Services thoroughly reviews all information provided by the student, supporting documentation, and academic requirements when making accommodation recommendations. Instructor input is appreciated and may be sought out when there are questions about course requirements. Commonly recommended accommodations are explained below; however, the list is not exhaustive. There are times when a more individualized accommodation is justified. Please feel free to contact Disability Services if you have questions about the provision of a recommended accommodation for your class.

Note taker, recording services, or the use of a Smart Pen:

Students with processing deficits, hearing impairments or physical limitations may require assistance in recording the content of lectures. Providing a note taker and/or allowing an audio recording in the classroom gives access to the course information which would otherwise be unavailable to the student. Students are encouraged to manage this accommodation on their own, but for various reasons may choose not to do so. In those instances, the University is obligated to assist the student locate a volunteer note taker or otherwise make the lecture information available. If Disability Services is unable to solicit a note taker from the class, the instructor may be asked to make an anonymous announcement in class, such as

“A fellow student has requested assistance with note taking. If you are willing to provide a copy of your notes so that these notes may be used by another student, please see me after class.”
Disability Services can provide NCR paper and is available to provide note taker training, make copies of the volunteer’s notes and provide compensation to the note taker and/or verify volunteer hours for note takers.

Preferential Seating:

Students with attention deficits or physical disabilities may require preferential seating such as seating near the front of the room or visual aids, unobstructed view of instructor and/or sign language interpreter and seating near (or away from) windows and doors.

Accessible Print Materials:

Students with visual impairments or learning disabilities may require print material (texts, tests, handouts, etc.) converted to an accessible medium, such as Braille, audio books, electronic books or large print. Disability Services can assist in locating these materials. Disability Services can also produce some materials in Braille. Because alternative text production is a time consuming process, as much advance notice in identifying texts or other materials needed is greatly appreciated. Typically, students should make requests for alternative text 3-4 weeks in advance of the beginning of each term.

Lecture Transcription:

Students with hearing loss or auditory processing disorders may request lecture transcription. In these cases, the student may bring a recording device to class and Disability Services will transcribe the audio into typed format and email it to the student within 24-48 hours. Every effort will be made to have the transcript available prior to the next lecture for the student to review.

Permission to Record Lectures:

Students with visual impairments, learning disabilities or physical limitations may need to record the class lecture and discussions in order to have full access to the information. Students will provide their own recording device but may coordinate with their instructor about the best possible classroom placement. The recording device is typically placed on or near the lectern. Disability Services may provide the student with a recording device if a personal device is not available to them or in the instance that the instructor prohibits the use of cell phones during class.

Consideration for Absences:

Because of the impact on their ability to consistently attend class, students with physical/health impairments, psychiatric illness or other limitations may require flexibility in attendance requirements. Flexibility does not mean that attendance policies do not apply. Rather, it requires the instructor to consider the function of attendance for a particular class and make a reasoned decision for the requirement. For some classes (like primarily lecture based classes), attendance may not be essential, and a certain amount of leniency can be made. However, in a seminar class or class where group projects are completed, attendance becomes an essential function of the class and absences will interfere with the student’s (and other students’) educational experience. Disability Services will advocate for class attendance, discuss the potential implications of missed classes, encourage close communication with their instructors and inform students of drop dates and other academic options (Withdrawals, Incompletes, etc.)

Services for Students with Hearing Loss:

Students with hearing loss may require the combination of a variety of accommodations, such as preferential seating, use of a sign language interpreter, captioning/transcription services, or a note taker. Students and instructors are in the best position to manage note takers. Instructors and Disability Services can work together to arrange captioning or the provision of transcripts. Disability Services will coordinate professional services, such as sign language interpreters or CART providers.

Access to PowerPoint or Other Class Presentation Materials:

Students with learning, attention or memory difficulties may not capture all necessary information during a lecture and/or require frequent review of materials. They may request that course presentation materials be available for review. While instructors are not required to create new materials to meet this request, it is reasonable to either post available materials via Canvas Course Management System, distribute printed copies to students, place on reserve at the library or send to the student via email.

Permission to Leave or Move About in Class:

For students with chronic health problems or physical disabilities, sitting and/or remaining in the same position for the duration of a lecture can exacerbate symptoms of the disability. They may also require time to attend to medical needs or medications. It is reasonable to allow these students permission to briefly leave or move about in order to alleviate problems and increase their ability to concentrate. The student is encouraged to discuss seating arrangements and the timing of breaks with the instructor so that disruptions to the rest of the class are minimized.

Common Testing Accommodations

Extended Time to Complete Exams:

Used for students with attention deficits, processing disorders, and test anxiety.

Reduced Distraction/Alternate Test Setting:

Used for students with attention deficits (easily distracted by the sounds or movement of other students in the classroom), need for an alternate test location to facilitate additional accommodations. This is typically provided in the test lab.

Private Testing:

This is used for students with extreme test anxiety, and students who need private testing to facilitate additional testing accommodations such as the use of a scribe and/or reader.

The Use of Text-to-voice for Exams:

This is used for students with print disorders such as dyslexia, low-vision and other visual impairments. The exam is provided to university testing services in PDF format. Testing services will supply a hard copy to the student in addition to a digital copy that can be read with a screen reader. The student can highlight individual exam questions to have the question read aloud to them and they will mark their answer on the physical copy of the exam or scantron. This allows students who have difficulty processing written word due to a learning or processing disorder to reliably access the exam and demonstrate mastery of course content. After the student completes the exam, the digital copy is immediately destroyed to ensure exam integrity. The digital copy is stored on a flash drive during the exam and it NEVER leaves the testing center. It is NEVER stored on network drives for ANY reason. A live proctor is present in the test lab to ensure that the student does not access other computer programs to cheat on the exam.

The Use of a Screen Reader and/or Magnifier for Visually Impaired Students:

Typically used for students with visual impairments. Some students prefer that the exam be read aloud to them and a scribe will mark their answers on the exam. Others prefer to use a digital magnifier that enlarges sections of the exam on the screen and can display it in high contrast. Students are not able to take screenshots of the exam with their magnifiers. Often, students who prefer a magnifier will supply their own.

The Use of a Computer to Type Responses:

For use with students who have poor handwriting due to a learning disorder such as dysgraphia or from a physical disability such as Cerebral Palsy, and students who may not be able to physically write their exam responses.

The Use of a Scribe and/or Reader:

This is used for students who prefer to have a live reader and/or scribe during the exam. This is often facilitated in private with an exam proctor. Students who utilize this accommodation may include those who are blind, low-vision, processing disorders, physical disability such as reduced motor function/fine motor skills, immobility of a hand and/or arm, and students whose learning disorders may prevent them from being able to read and/or write despite having been able to master course content.

Enlarged Text on Exams:

This accommodation is typically used for students who have a visual impairment.

Considerations for Teaching Students with Disabilities:
  • Be supportive but do not be overly solicitous. Treat the student as any other student whenever possible.
  • Students are not obligated to reveal or discuss their disability with instructors. Some will choose to have a dialogue about their disability and accommodations; others will not. If a student chooses to openly discuss his or her disability, the content and discussion should be kept private and confidential. It is not uncommon for people to feel awkward when discussing disability. An open mind, avoiding stereotype images and experiences, and recognizing the student for his or her abilities are important in establishing a successful working relationship with each student.
  • Get more disability information. Understand the challenges and concerns these students face. Disability Services can provide disability specific information and discuss access options and legal obligations with you.
  • Make adjustments to policies and procedures to allow the student an equal opportunity to learn. Remember that identical treatment is not “equal” treatment.
  • Make adjustments when evaluating students’ performance by giving them an equal opportunity to demonstrate that they have mastered the course material. Do not, however, accept work of a lower quality simply because the student has a disability and do not give unearned grades by assigning a passing grade only because the student tried hard.
  • Do not waive academic requirements or overcompensate by doing things for students that they can and want to do for themselves.
  • Do not delve into students’ medical histories or inquire about their diagnosis. However, you have a right to enough information to conduct your duty and evaluate the student’s ability to function in your course.
  • Avoid embarrassing students by singling them out for special attention in class.
  • Use everyday words such as “see” “hear” and “walk” with students who have disabilities.
  • Do not discourage students from taking your course. If you foresee problems, discuss these but let students make up their own mind.

Additional Resources

Providing comprehensive information about disability services.

The following additional resources offer supplemental guidance to help support students with disabilities during their time at Western.

  • Handbook– A resource of Disability Service’s information about accommodations, documentation and policies.
  • Students with Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education – US Dept of Education.
  • Dragon Dictation / Dragon Anywhere– Free and paid dictation apps for IOS/Android.
  • Premier Literacy– Premier Literacy is available on all student computers. To access, click Start, All Programs, Accessories, Ease of Access, then Premier Tools. Click the link above to access training videos for the tools.
  • BeeLine Reader– From BeeLine Reader: BeeLine Reader makes reading faster and easier by using a color gradient that guides your eyes from the end of one line to the beginning of the next. With BeeLine Reader, you can finish your work faster- and with less eyestrain
  • Natural Reader– Claims to be the most powerful text to speech reader, free limited download to read PDF files and more.
  • ADA.gov– Americans with Disabilities Act homepage.
  • heath.gwu.edu– Online clearinghouse on postsecondary education for individuals with disabilities.
  • doit @ washington.edu– Resources and information for persons with disabilities from the University of Washington.
  • thinkcollege.net– College options for people with disabilities.

Housing Accommodations

Ensuring that all students have comfortable and accessible housing on-campus.

Our goal is to accommodate students who need housing accommodations due to a disability. We know that suitable housing is an essential element to ensuring all students’ personal and academic success during their time at Western.

By virtue of the shared facilities, resources and number of people living in close quarters in residence halls, it is not logical to assume that having a private room would provide for a quiet, distraction-free space to any appreciable degree beyond living in a standard double room. In addition to quiet study locations in the library and other on-campus study locations, Residence Life is also able to assist students in developing a schedule with their roommates to provide undisturbed time.

Although the University maintains a no-pet policy, Western recognizes the importance of “Service Animals” as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) and the broader category of “Assistance Animals” under the Fair Housing Act that provide physical and/or emotional support to individuals with disabilities. Western is committed to allowing individuals with disabilities the use of a Service Animal on campus to facilitate their full-participation and equal access to the University’s programs and activities. Western is also committed to allowing Assistance Animals (Emotional Support Animals, or ESAs) necessary to provide individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to use and enjoy University housing.

Before requesting a Service or Emotional Support Animal while residing on campus, students should carefully read the Western Colorado University Service Animal and Emotional Support Animal Policy and ensure that they fully understand it.

Emotional Support Animals and Service Animals

Providing accommodations for service and support animals on-campus.

We recognize the importance of Emotional Support Animals to guide and promote the mental and physical health of our students. Our goal is to accommodate students with Service Animals to the best of our abilities.

Western has a general no pet policy campus wide, including university housing. However, Service Animals are permitted to accompany their handler while on campus where the general public is permitted including classrooms, the University Center and offices. Students who utilize service animals on campus are not required to register with disability services, but they are encouraged to do so for resources related to accessibility and advocacy.

Western also recognizes the importance of Emotional Support Animals, but they must be requested as an accommodation in university housing through the Academic Resource Center with the Disability Services Coordinator. Additionally, Emotional Support Animals are not permitted to accompany their handler outside of their designated living quarters with the exception of toileting, moving the animal to and from campus, as well as during emergency situations such as fires.

All animals are required to be on a leash as per local law and campus policy, unless it prohibits the animal from performing a task related to a disability.

To request an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) as an accommodation for living in university housing, the student should complete the following steps:

  • Read the Service and Emotional Support Animal Policy.
  • Complete an online request for housing accommodations.
  • Provide supporting documentation from your healthcare provider that states the nature of the disability and demonstrates a clear connection, or nexus, between the disability and the need for an Emotional Support Animal dated within the last six months. Additionally, the student should also request a Healthcare Provider Request for Information questionnaire that their healthcare provider should complete and return to Western. This form is available upon request from the Disability Services Coordinator.
  • If the accommodation request is approved, the Disability Services Coordinator shall arrange a meeting with the student to discuss the needs of the student in detail.
  • Once the accommodation is approved and finalized, the Disability Services Coordinator will notify the student and the office of Residence Life in writing to then meet with their assigned Resident Director. The proposed ESA is NOT permitted on campus until the student has received their Housing Letter of Accommodation.

Western Colorado University is committed to allowing people with disabilities the use of a Service or Emotional Support Animal, as necessary, on campus to facilitate their full participation in University programs and activities. Set forth below are specific requirements and guidelines concerning the appropriate use of and protocols associated with Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals. Western Colorado University reserves the right to amend this policy as circumstances require.

Section I. Definitions

Service Animal

A Service Animal is “any dog or miniature horse that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not considered a service animal for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the Handler’s disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low-vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort, emotional support, well-being, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for purposes of this definition.” Service Animals may travel freely with their Handler throughout University housing (and other areas of the University, see Section VII part G. of this document).

Emotional Support Animal

Emotional Support Animals are a category of trained or untrained animals that provide therapeutic emotional support to an individual with a disability but are not considered Service Animals under the ADAAA and Western’s Service Animal Policy. Some Emotional Support Animals are professionally trained, but in other cases Emotional Support Animals provide necessary support to individuals with disabilities without any formal training or certification. An Emotional Support Animal may be a dog (most common), cat, small bird, rabbit, hamster, gerbil, fish, turtle, or other small domesticated animal that is traditionally kept in the home. All Emotional Support Animals be fully vaccinated and reliably housebroken. Emotional Support Animals must be contained within their privately assigned residential area (room, suite, apartment) at all times, except when transported outside the private residential area in an animal carrier or controlled by leash and harness. All areas except for privately assigned living space in housing are off limits to approved Emotional Support Animals without prior authorization from Disability Services, which includes all academic buildings, the University Center, all athletic facilities, and maintenance buildings. The term Emotional Support Animal will be referred to any animal not considered a Service Animal under the ADA.


A Partner/Handler/Owner is a person with a Service or Emotional Support Animal. (The term Handler will be used in this document to reflect any of these terms).


A pet is a domestic animal kept for pleasure or companionship. A pet is not considered a Service Animal or an Emotional Support Animal. Pets are not permitted on campus.

Approved Animal

An approved animal is a Service Animal or Emotional Support Animal that has been granted as a reasonable accommodation by Western Colorado University under this policy.

Section II. Procedures for Requesting to Have Support Animals in University Housing as a Reasonable Accommodation

Emotional Support Animals cannot be brought into University housing without approval of University officials. Western will approve only one Emotional Support Animal per student due to space limitations of residence halls and to ensure the safety and well-being of animals and students in residence. Failure to comply with this policy can result in a denial for a request for an Emotional Support Animal. Students are encouraged to ensure their proposed Emotional Support Animal meets policy before initiating a request to have an Emotional Support Animal in university housing to avoid the unnecessary costs and burden of boarding their proposed animal off-campus until the animal is approved. If the proposed support animal does not meet policy, it will not be approved. No exceptions will be granted to this policy.

The procedure for requesting Emotional Support Animals in University Housing are outlined below:

  1. A student requesting permission to keep an Emotional Support Animal in University Housing must make a formal request to the University’s Disability Services offices at least 63 days before housing for the animal is needed (no later than June 1st for the fall term and no later than Nov. 1st for the spring term). To do so, the student must submit the appropriate Request Form for Disability Housing Accommodations, as well as documentation of their disability to be reviewed by the Disability Services office. This form can be located on our website at https://elbert.accessiblelearning.com/Western/ApplicationStudent.aspx. Additionally, if a request is made with less than 63 days remaining in the term, the proposed support animal may not be approved until the following term.
  2. Documentation of the need for an Emotional Support Animal must meet the following documentation guidelines:
    • The student’s name
    • Information concerning the healthcare professional’s personal relationship with the student involving the provision of healthcare or disability-related services
    • The type of animal for which the reasonable accommodation is sought (i.e., dog, cat, bird, rabbit, hamster, gerbil, or other rodent, fish, turtle, other specified domesticated type of animal or another specified unique animal). The student must submit a full color photo of the animal dated within 30-days of the request to have their proposed ESA or Service Animal in residence. Additionally, the student must also submit the size of the crate, kennel, or cage required for their proposed animal.
    • Disability-related information which includes:
      1. Whether the student has a mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity or major bodily function and
      2. Whether or not the student needs the animal because it does work, aids, or actively performs one or more disability-related task that benefits the student because of his or her disability, or because it provides therapeutic emotional support to alleviate a symptom or effect of the disability of the student and not merely a pet.
      3. Additionally, if the specified animal is not a dog, cat, or other animal that is traditionally kept in a household, the healthcare provider needs to provide the following additional information:
        1. The date of last consultation with the student (must be within the last six months) and establish an ongoing relationship with the student).
        2. Any unique circumstances that justify the patient’s need for the particular animal (if already owned or identified by the student), or particular type of animal and
        3. Whether the provider has reliable information concerning the specified animal and why they specifically recommended this type of animal for the student.
    1. The Office of Disability Services has a form that requests the aforementioned information in a questionnaire format that must be completed by the student’s healthcare professional if a letter from the professional does not provide sufficient information in regard to the student’s need for a support animal in university housing as a reasonable accommodation. Letters solicited from online ESA letter providers that contain boilerplate language and do not specify the student’s individual need for a support animal in university housing may be rejected on the grounds of providing insufficient information regarding the student’s specific needs.
    2. Additionally, the aforementioned documentation must be submitted within 30-days of the initial request for a support animal in university housing, must be dated within the last six (6) months, and must be from any of the following sources as listed in the section below. The student must provide documentation from an active provider of care (meaning a social worker, counselor, doctor, or other mental healthcare provider who is licensed to make such a determination), that the student has met with in person for treatment before seeking an ESA letter.
    3. Students seeking documentation for the purpose of obtaining an ESA as a reasonable accommodation from a healthcare provider licensed in Colorado must meet with their healthcare provider in person to discuss their need for an ESA.

Sources of reliable documentation may include the following:

  1. A determination of disability from a federal, state, or local government agency.
  2. Receipt of disability benefits or services that may include Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), Medicare or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for a person under 65, veteran’s disability benefits (DD Form 214), services from a state vocational rehabilitation agency, or disability benefits or services from another federal, state, or local agency.
  3. Eligibility for housing assistance or a housing voucher because of a disability.
    1. This must be for the student; not the student’s parent or legal guardian.
  4. Information confirming disability from a health care professional such as a physician, optometrist, psychiatrist, psychologist, physician’s assistant, nurse practitioner or nurse.

Documentation from the Internet:

Some websites sell certificates, registrations, and licensing documents for Emotional Support Animals to anyone who answers certain questions or participates in a short interview and pays a fee. Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), a housing provider can request reliable documentation when an individual requesting a reasonable accommodation has a disability and a disability-related need for an accommodation that are not otherwise obvious or not-known. In HUD’s experience, such documentation from the internet is, not by itself, sufficient to reliably establish that an individual has a non-observable disability or disability-related need for an assistance anima. As such, Western Colorado University will reject such documentation from internet providers as unreliable under state telehealth laws and federal HUD guidelines.

Review of Proposed ESA Requests

  1. The Disability Services coordinator will review documentation and provide a written response to the student within 10 business days of receipt of documentation in support of their request. If the request is approved, the Disability Services Coordinator shall arrange a meeting with the student requesting that an Emotional Support Animal be housed in University Housing as a reasonable accommodation. The student requesting an Emotional Support Animal must sign a contract and acknowledge that they understand and agree to comply with University policy regarding Emotional Support Animals. Completing a request for an emotional support animal as a reasonable accommodation does not guarantee that the request of the proposed support animal will be approved. Students are encouraged to plan well in advance and ensure their proposed support animal meets policy to avoid unnecessary fees and burden of housing the animal off campus until the request and proposed animal can be approved. If the proposed animal does not meet policy requirements as outlined below, it will not be approved. No exceptions will be granted to this policy.
  2. The University may reject an animal that:
    1. Poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others;
    2. Would cause substantial physical damage to the property of others;
    3. Would pose an undue financial or administrative burden on the University;
    4. Would fundamentally alter the nature of University housing operations; or
    5. Does not comply with the requirements set forth in Section VII below.

Crate/Container Size of Proposed ESAs and Service Animals

The size of the crate that is needed for the Emotional Support Animal or Service Animal in residence will be contained in while the handler is not in the room will also be taken into consideration to ensure adequate living space for both animals and humans in the assigned living space. The crate cannot block any doors, windows, or emergency exits, and cannot be a trip hazard in the room. Crates must have a solid bottom and have adequate space for the animal to comfortably stand up, lie down, and turn around in. The crate must have a reliable securing mechanism that prevents the animal’s escape while the animal is crated. Animals may not be kept in vehicles.

Notification of a Proposed ESA/Service Animal in University Housing

  1. The student’s roommate(s) or suitemate(s) will be notified (if applicable) to solicit their acknowledgment of the service or emotional support animal in writing and to meet with the Disability Services Coordinator to share any concerns they may have, and notify them that the animal may be residing in shared assigned living space, including apartments and suites.
  2. Before the proposed ESA or Service Animal in residence is approved to move-in, the student must meet with their Resident Director to review the Service and Support Animal Contract and submit the completed contract with all required signatures to Disability Services.
  3. After the animal has been formally approved to reside in university housing as a reasonable accommodation, the student will receive notification from Disability Services that their animal has been approved and is allowed to reside on campus in University Housing. The Director of Residence Life and the building’s Resident Director will be notified as appropriate.
  4. After approval, the submitted documentation must be updated on an annual basis and provided to the Disability Services Coordinator at least 63 days before the start of each academic year or term. This includes summer terms and Maymester if the student will reside in university housing at any time from May through August of any calendar year.
  5. Students may be granted permission to move off-campus early for disability related reasons only in the extreme rare occurrence that Western cannot accommodate the student on campus.

Section III. Service Animal Use on Campus


Visitors to campus with Service Animals are permitted access to all public facilities, with the exception of areas where service animals are specifically prohibited due to safety or health restrictions, where the Service Animal will be in danger, or where the Service Animal’s use compromises the integrity of research.


Employees with a disability who wish to utilize a Service Animal as a reasonable accommodation in a University office or other areas of campus buildings not open to the general public need to contact Human Resources for assistance.


Commuter students with a disability who wish to utilize a Service Animal in a classroom are encouraged, but not required to register with the Disability Services office for access to resources, information, and advocacy around a range of disability-related dynamics, including Service Animals. Service Animals must follow the “Guidelines for Maintaining an Approved Animal at Western Colorado University” found in Section VII. Students who live in university housing who wish to use a service animal because of a disability are required follow the steps in Section IV below to have their service animal reside with them in university housing.

Section IV. Procedures to have an ESA or Service Animal in University Housing

Students desiring to bring their Service Animals to reside within University Housing are required to follow the steps outlined below:

  1. New students and students who have not registered with disability services who wish to keep an ESA or Service Animal in University Housing must make a formal request to the University’s Disability Services Office. To do so, students must complete the online student application located at https://elbert.accessiblelearning.com/Western/ApplicationStudent.aspx. Students can request an ESA or service animal to reside in university housing at any time but must do so at least 63 days before housing for the animal is needed.
  2. Requests for Service Animals in housing do NOT require supporting documentation of disability if the student’s disability is readily apparent and observable. However, students must answer relevant questions on the new student application regarding requests for Service Animals in residence.
  3. The Disability Services Office will review the request and arrange a meeting with the student requesting a Service Animal to live within University Housing.
  4. Upon approval of an ESA or Service Animal, residential building staff will be notified as appropriate.

Section V. Conflicting Health Conditions

Residence Life staff will make a reasonable effort to notify tenants in the residence buildings where the Approved Animal will be located.

Students with medical condition(s) that are affected by animals (e.g., respiratory diseases, asthma, severe allergies) are asked to contact the Disability Services office if they have a health or safety related concern about exposure to a Service or Emotional Support Animal. The University is prepared to also reasonably accommodate individuals with such medical conditions that require accommodation when living in proximity to Service or Emotional Support Animals.

Section VI. Handler’s Responsibilities in University Housing

Service and Emotional Support Animals – Additional Items

In addition to the requirements set forth in Section VI 1-18, the following guidelines apply to All Service and Emotional Support Animals:

  1. The Handler is responsible for complying with Gunnison County and the City of Gunnison animal control and licensing laws for animal rights and Handler responsibility. All approved animals must be current with immunizations and wear a rabies vaccination tag.
  2. The Emotional Support Animal must be spayed or neutered and cannot pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others, must not cause substantial physical damage to the property of others, cannot pose an undue financial or administrative burden, or fundamentally alter the nature of the University’s operations.
  3. If the proposed service animal or emotional support animal does not comply with items 1 and 2 above, it will not be approved to reside in university housing. Students are responsible for ensuring their proposed animal meets policy to avoid unnecessary fees and burden of housing their proposed animal off-campus. If the animal not meet policy, the student is responsible for the cost of maintaining their animal off campus until it can meet the requirements listed above. Western Colorado University reserves the right to impose additional reasonable requirements for unique animals based on its characteristics. No exceptions will be granted to this policy.
  4. All animals must wear a collar that includes the handler’s first and last name and phone number, as well as a rabies tag, and city pet license in accordance to Gunnison municipal code.

All Emotional Support Animals must be crated when left alone in their handler’s dorm room anytime their handler is not physically present. The crate must include a secure locking mechanism that prevents that animal’s escape.

Approved Animals

  1. An Approved service or Emotional Support Animal outside of the Handler’s own residence hall room (if applicable) must have a harness, leash, or other tether unless a) the Handler is unable to use a harness, leash, or tether, or b) using a harness, leash, or tether will interfere with the animal’s ability to safely and effectively perform its duties. In that case, the Handler must maintain control of the approved service animal through voice, signal or other effective controls. Approved Emotional Support Animals are allowed outside of their Handler’s assigned residence hall room only for toileting, transport to and from campus, and must be on a leash or crated, and under the direct control of the Handler. No off-leash animals are permitted on campus.
  2. The Handler is responsible for the costs of care necessary for an Approved Animal’s well-being, including bathing and grooming as needed.
    1. The handler must identify a proxy who can care for the animal in an event that necessitates assistance with the care and well-being of the approved animal. This person must be identified and willing to sign a proxy agreement form. This proxy cannot be a Residence Life staff member or other University employee. Only the identified proxy will be permitted to care for the animal on behalf of the handler of the approved animal.
    2. Handlers cannot leave their animal overnight in university housing to be cared for by the identified proxy. If the handler must travel or be away from the university for extended periods of time, they must board the animal off-campus for the duration of their travel or plan to take their animal with them. The university is not responsible for the costs associated with boarding an approved animal off-campus. Animals may not be kept in vehicles overnight.
  1. The Handler is responsible for independently removing an Approved Animal’s waste. Waste must never be placed in a building’s garbage cans or other small trash cans available on University property. See Section VII B for more information (care and supervision).
  2. The Handler is responsible for ensuring that the Approved Animal does not interfere with the routine activities of the residence hall or cause difficulties for other students who reside there.
  3. The Handler is financially responsible for the actions of the Approved Animal including bodily injury or property damage. The Handler’s responsibility covers, but it not limited to, replacement of furniture, carpet, windows, wall covering, or other items damaged. The Handler is expected to cover these costs at the time of repair and/or move-out.
  4. The Handler is responsible for any expenses incurred for cleaning above and beyond a standard cleaning or repairs to University premises that are assessed after the student and animal vacate the residence. The University shall have the right to bill the student account of the Handler for unmet obligations. A hold will be placed on the student’s account until the bill is paid in full.
  5. The Handler must notify Disability Services in writing if the Approved Animal is no longer needed as an Approved Animal or is no longer in residence. To replace an Approved Animal, the Handler must file a new Request for Disability Housing Accommodations.
  6. The Handler’s residence will be inspected for fleas, ticks, or other pests once a semester or as needed. The Office of Residence Life will schedule the inspection. If fleas, ticks, or other pests are detected through inspection, the residence will be treated using approved fumigation methods by a University-approved pest control service. The Handler will be billed for the expense of any pest treatment above and beyond standard pest management in the residence halls.
  7. If the Handler lives on campus, he or she must feed and provide water for the Approved Animal inside his or her room. Food and water for the Approved Animal are not to be left outside the residence hall room.
  8. All roommate(s) or suitemate(s) of the Handler must sign an agreement allowing the Approved Animal to be in the residence room with them. In the event one or more roommates or suitemates do not approve, the non-approving suitemate or roommate will be moved to a different room or suite.
  9. Service Animals are permitted to travel freely with their Handler throughout University housing (and other areas of the University, see Section VII part G. of this document). Emotional Support Animals must be contained within the privately assigned residential area (room, suite, apartment) at all times, except when transported outside the private residential area in an animal carrier or controlled by leash and harness.
  10. When an Emotional Support Animal or Service Animal becomes lost while on campus, the handler must notify the on-call Resident Director as soon as possible to ensure that the animal can be found and returned. Failure to report missing or lost animals on campus can result in a fine or conduct meeting. The student will need to meet with Disability Services and Residence Life staff to give their account of how the animal became lost and the necessary steps they will take to ensure it does not happen again. The university is not responsible for any harm to the animal.
  11. Approved Animals cannot be left overnight in University Housing to be cared for by another person. Animals must be taken with the student if they leave campus for a prolonged period of time or placed with an identified person who resides off-campus while the student is traveling.
    1. Student athletes are not permitted to take their Emotional Support Animals with them on official university athletic travel and are responsible for planning to board their approved Emotional Support Animal off-campus for the duration of their travel.
    2. All students who request a Service or Support Animal in university housing are required to identify a local off-campus contact who can care for their animal during their absence from campus. This person cannot be another University student, staff, or faculty member unless they are a direct family member. Failure to identify an approved off-campus contact will result in the denial of the request until an approved off-campus contact can be named.
  12. The Handler is solely responsible for the care and maintenance of their animal. Students, or other persons, other than the handler or their identified proxy who enter residence halls, apartments, suites, or dorm rooms for the purpose of caring for an approved animal who have not been approved by University officials, will be subject to a conduct meeting and disciplinary action from the University.
  13. Handlers with service animals or emotional support animals are required to provide an adequate size crate for their animal while living on campus. All ESAs and Service Animals are required to be crated anytime their handler leaves them in their assigned dorm, suite, and/or apartment and the handler is not physically present. Residence Life staff will post a sign on the outside of the student’s room to notify maintenance that an animal is in the room. In rare occasions, depending on the work being performed, the student may be asked temporarily board their animal off-campus to ensure the safety of the animal while the work is being completed. The student will be responsible for the cost of boarding their animal off-campus during these times.
  14. Housing has the ability to relocate a Handler and their Approved Animal as necessary according to current contractual agreements.
  15. Students with service animals or emotional support animals that reside within University Housing are expected to abide by all University Residence Life policies and student conduct codes.
  16. Any violation of the above rules can result in an immediate removal of the Approved Animal from the University and will be reviewed through the Student Code of Conduct as outlined in the Student Handbook. Any violation of the ESA and Service Animal Policy will be considered a Level II Conduct Charge and the student may face conduct charge and sanctions in accordance to the Student Handbook.
  17. If the Approved Animal is removed from the premises for any reason, the Handler is expected to fulfill his/her housing obligations for the remainder of the housing contract.

Section VII. Policy for Maintaining an Approved Animal at Western Colorado University


The following policies apply to all Approved Animals and their Handlers, unless in extenuating circumstances the nature of the documented disability of the Handler precludes adherence to these policies, and permission for a variance from the guidelines has been granted.

Care and Supervision

Care and supervision of the Approved Animal are the responsibility of the individual who benefits from the Approved Animal’s use. The Handler is required to maintain control of the Approved Animal at all times.

The Handler is also responsible for ensuring the cleanup of the Approved Animal’s waste and, when appropriate, must toilet the animal in areas designated by the University consistent with the reasonable capacity of the Handler. Indoor animal waste, such as cat litter, must be placed in a sturdy plastic bag and securely tied up before being disposed of in an outside trash dumpster. Litter boxes must be placed on mats so that waste is not tracked onto carpeted surfaces.

Animal Health and Well-Being

  1. Vaccination: In accordance with local ordinances and regulations, the Approved Animal must be immunized against diseases common to that type of animal. Dogs must have current vaccination against rabies and kennel cough and wear a rabies vaccination tag. Cats must have normal shots required for a healthy animal. Local licensing requirements are followed.
  2. Health: Animals to be housed in University housing must have an annual clean bill of health or current vaccination record from a licensed veterinarian. Documentation can be a vaccination certificate for the animal or a veterinarian’s statement regarding the animal’s health. The University has the authority to direct that the animal receives veterinary attention. (Local licensing law is followed.) All Approved Animals must be vaccinated in compliance with state and local laws. Western Colorado University reserves the right to impose additional reasonable requirements for unique animals based on their characteristics.
  3. Leash: If appropriate, the Approved Animal must be on a leash, unless the leash would inhibit the Approved Animal’s ability to be of service. The leash must not be longer than eight (8) feet in length. E-collars and electronic leashes are not acceptable forms of leashes.
  4. All approved animals are required to wear a collar that includes the first and last name and phone number of the handler and must include a rabies tag and city pet license as required by Gunnison municipal code.
  5. Other Conditions: Disability Services may place other reasonable conditions or restrictions on unique Approved Animals depending on the nature and characteristics of the specified animal.

Requirements for Faculty, Staff, Students and Other Members of the University Community

Members of the University Community are required to abide by the following expectations:

  • They are not to inquire for details about the Handler’s disabilities. The nature of a person’s disability is a private matter.
  • They are to allow a Service Animal to accompany its Handler at all times and in all places on campus, except where animals are specifically prohibited.
  • They are not to touch or pet a Service or Emotional Support Animal unless invited to do so.
  • They are not to feed a Service or Emotional Support Animal.
  • They are not to deliberately startle a Service or Emotional Support Animal.
  • They are not to separate or attempt to separate a Handler from his or her Service or Emotional Support Animal.

Removal of an Approved Animal

The University will exclude or remove an Approved Animal when:

  1. The animal poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others.
  2. The animal’s presence results in a fundamental alteration of the University’s programs and/or services.
  3. The Handler does not comply with the Handler’s Responsibilities in University Housing.
  4. The animal or its presence creates an unmanageable disturbance or interference, (e.g. barking, wandering, displaying aggressive behavior) and the behavior is outside the duties of the Approved Animal on the Western Colorado University campus.
  5. The animal is not house broken.
  6. The animal is physically ill.
  7. The animal is unreasonably dirty, (e.g. matted fur, covered in fleas and/or ticks, noticeable dirt on the fur or skin of the animal).
  8. The animal is found by the university to be out of control and the animal’s Handler does not take immediate and effective action to control it.


Handlers of Approved Animals are solely responsible for any damage beyond normal wear and tear to persons or University property caused by their animals.

Areas Off Limits to Service Animals

The University can prohibit the use of Service Animals in certain locations because of health and safety restrictions, (e.g. where the animal will be in danger, or where their use compromises the integrity of research). Restricted areas include, but are not limited to, the following: custodial closets, boiler rooms, facility equipment rooms, research laboratories, classrooms with research/demonstration animals, rooms with heavy restricted areas will be granted on a case-by-case basis by contacting Disability Services and the appropriate department representative; the person directing the restricted area has the final decision.

Areas off Limit to Emotional Support Animals

All areas except for privately assigned living space in housing are off limits to approved Emotional Support Animals without prior authorization from Disability Services.

Section VIII. Advisory Notice of Colorado’s Law Regarding Service & Assistance Animals

Under Colorado Law it is a crime to knowingly take a non-service animal into a public business under the guise that it is actually a service animal. It is also a crime to intentionally misrepresent that your animal is an assistance, companion, or emotional support animal in order to avoid pet fees or to have an animal in housing that otherwise does not permit pets.

  1. On the first offense, the person will receive a written and/or verbal warning.
  2. From the second offense onward, the person can be charged fines ranging from $50-$500.

Section IX. Guidance on Documenting a Student’s Need for Emotional Support Animals in University Housing

This section provides best practices for documenting a student’s need for emotional support animals in university housing. It offers a summary of information that the Disability Services Coordinator will need to know from a health care professional about a student’s need for an assistance animal in housing. It is intended to help students with disabilities explain to their health care professionals the type of information that the Disability Services Coordinator needs to help them make sometimes difficult legal decisions under fair housing laws. It also will help a student with a disability and their health care provider understand what information is needed to support an accommodation request when the disability or disability-related need for an accommodation is not readily observable or known by the Disability Services Coordinator. The Office of Disability Services at Western Colorado University rely on professionals to provide accurate information to the best of their personal knowledge, consistent with their professional obligations.

When providing this information, health care professionals must use personal knowledge of their patient/client – i.e., the knowledge used to diagnose, advise, counsel, treat, or provide health care or other disability-related services to their patient/client. Information relating to an individual’s disability and health conditions must be kept confidential and cannot be shared with other persons unless the information is needed for evaluating whether to grant or deny a reasonable accommodation request or unless disclosure is required by law.

As a best practice, documentation contemplated in certain circumstances by the aforementioned policy is recommended to include the following general information:

  • The student’s name,
  • Whether the health care professional has a professional relationship with the student/client involving the provision of health care or disability-related services, and
  • The type of animal(s) for which the reasonable accommodation is sought (i.e., dog, cat, bird, rabbit, hamster, gerbil, other rodent, fish, turtle, other specified type of domesticated animal, or another specified unique animal).

Disability-Related Information

A disability for purposes of fair housing laws exists when a person has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Addiction caused by current, illegal use of a controlled substance does not qualify as a disability. Additionally, the use of marijuana for both medicinal use and recreational use are prohibited on university property including university housing. As a best practice, it is recommended that students seeking reasonable accommodations for emotional support animals ask health care professionals to provide information related to the following:

  • Whether the patient has a mental impairment or mental health condition,
  • Whether the patient’s impairment(s) substantially limit at least one major life activity or major bodily function, and
  • Whether the patient needs the animal (because it provides therapeutic emotional support to alleviate a symptom or effect of the disability of the patient/client, and not merely as a pet).

Additionally, if the animal is not a dog, cat, small bird, rabbit, hamster, gerbil, other rodent, fish, turtle, or other small, domesticated animal that is traditionally kept in the home for pleasure rather than for commercial purposes, it is helpful for patients to ask health care professionals to provide the following additional information:

  • The date of the last consultation with the patient,
  • Any unique circumstances justifying the patient’s need for the particular animal (if not already owned or identified by the individual) or particular type of animal(s), and
  • Whether the health care professional has reliable information about this specific animal or whether they specifically recommended this type of animal.
  • It is also recommended that the health care professional sign and date any documentation provided and provide contact information and any professional licensing information.

Disability Services Concurrent Enrollment

Disability services concurrent enrollment policy

Disability Services at Western Colorado University works with staff, faculty, and students to ensure that all students have equitable access to educational opportunities including high school students who are receiving college credit through Western’s Concurrent Enrollment program. Students with disabilities who enroll in collegiate coursework through Concurrent Enrollment are held to the same financial obligations, academic performance expectations and consequences for both success and failure as other college students enrolled in the same coursework. Concurrent Enrollment considerations should align with the student’s identified postsecondary goals as well as address any necessary accommodations and services.

Students and parents should be aware that some services provided in high school level coursework may not be considered reasonable for collegiate level coursework. In some instances, the university and the student’s school district may collaborate to provide services for students with disabilities. This may include extended time for quizzes and exams, note taking support, eBooks and other accommodations.

Students with disabilities who meet the prerequisites of a course will be provided reasonable accommodations that allow equal access to course content. However, the university will not provide modifications to change course content or performance expectations that would substantially alter the essential elements of the course. Students must understand that not all accommodations available at the high school will be allowed in college level coursework.

Students with disabilities who are enrolled in courses offered through Concurrent Enrollment should complete a request for academic accommodations with the university’s Disability Services Coordinator. The online request form can be found on our website at www.western.edu/ds. The university reserves the right request supporting documentation that may include 504 Plans, IEPs and/or psychoeducational evaluations that demonstrate a need for services.

Districts have a responsibility to ensure that all college credit hours earned through Concurrent Enrollment apply towards the student’s high school graduation requirements as defined in the student’s academic plan.

Disability services concurrent frequently asked questions:

No. Concurrent enrollment opportunities are dependent upon a cooperative agreement between the school district and the university.

The institution of higher education will utilize existing procedures and/or those in the cooperative agreement to determine if a student is qualified. Administrative approval is required at the high school level before a student can register for a class through Concurrent Enrollment.

No. If the class is for college credit, the participation rules apply regardless of the location of the class.

The legislation does not require a specific test; however, a student who intends to concurrently enroll in a postsecondary course must satisfy the minimum prerequisites for the course prior to enrollment. The institution may require testing or other means to demonstrate preparedness.

No. It is important to remember that the IEP does not continue to college or the workplace. Some accommodations provided at the high school may also be appropriate at the college level. However, at the high school, there may be supports and services provided that go beyond reasonable accommodation and would not be appropriate at the college level.

No. Although the IEP team plays a key role in providing recommendations and documentation for requested accommodations, decisions about the accommodations provided in college classes will be determined by the college.

The student must:

  1. Apply to the Disability Services Coordinator at the university to self-identify as having a disability.
  2. Complete an online request for academic accommodations at https://www.western.edu/disability-services/accommodation requests .
  3. Provide appropriate documentation that supports the request for accommodations. This may include clinic notes, psychoeducational evaluations, IEPs, and/or Sections 504 Plans.

It may be appropriate for the special education teacher to assist the student in this process as a transition service.

The college is responsible for providing any accommodations for the college course upon approval. However, there may be good reason for the college and the school district to collaborate on some services. Roles and responsibilities related to specific accommodations should be clearly defined in the Concurrent Enrollment agreement developed between the school, the student, and the parent.

Yes. Students with disabilities are held to the same standards of academic and behavioral performance.

Yes. This would not be considered Concurrent Enrollment as only classes that are taken for both high school and college credit are considered part of the Concurrent Enrollment program at Western. In order to determine funding eligibility, such a class would follow the requirements of contractual education services.

Requirements under IDEA concerning a Free and Appropriate Education (FAPE) do not apply at the postsecondary level. For more information about Concurrent Enrollment opportunities at Western Colorado University, please visit our Concurrent Enrollment page.

Department Information

Disability Services

Program Coordinator

Cheyenne Terry, M.S.

Disability Services & Testing Coordinator

Contact Information



Campus Location

Taylor Hall 302
1 Western Way
Gunnison CO, 81231

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