Disability Resources and Services (DRS) is dedicated to ensuring access and inclusion for students with disabilities at Mesa Community College. MCC strives to create a community of access and inclusion on campus. More students with disabilities and/or health conditions are working with DRS now than ever before. However, many students first disclose their disability to a faculty/staff member before establishing services with DRS. Below are some ways to help connect students with disabilities and/or health conditions to our office.
Making a Referral to Disability Resources and Services (DRS)
DRS works with students who have a wide variety of disabilities and/or health conditions that may require accommodations. A lot of disabilities are not obvious, or “hidden”. In addition to serving students with physical and sensory disabilities, DRS works with students who have:
- Mental health diagnoses such as Anxiety, Depression, or PTSD
- Learning disabilities such as ADHD or Dyslexia
- Chronic health conditions such as cancer, traumatic brain injuries, or diabetes
While this is not an exhaustive list, it does represent common reasons that students work with DRS. It is not uncommon for students to be unaware of DRS as many students did not engage with or were not qualified for resources in K-12. Faculty or staff are often the first people who students share health conditions and/or struggles related to disabilities in interactions. Below are some resources on how to refer a student to DRS to see if we can be of assistance and support for them.
When to refer students to DRS
- If a student directly discloses a disability, health condition, and or pregnancy to you or requires academic accommodations
- Example: a student shares with you that they are depressed, struggling to meet deadlines, and requests extensions for that reason
- Students discloses receiving past accommodations or services, either as a transfer student or in K-12
- Example: a student shares they previously had extra time on an exam in another course or school and want to use them here
- When a student makes a request for academic accommodations and you have not received a Faculty Notification Letter (FNL).
- If you see a student who is struggling, you engage with them directly and share campus resources available to them
- When a student who has an FNL is struggling academically and could use further intervention, such as referrals to campus and community resources.
- Faculty should avoid making assumptions about whether or not a student has a disabling condition based on classroom observations.
- Example: a student who appears to be easily-distracted and fidgets should not be referred to DRS under the assumption that the student has ADHD
How to document a referral to DRS
- Refer a student to the Early Alert Referral System(EARS): Students are referred into EARS by faculty when they have concerns about a student's academic/personal difficulties and the student has disclosed their disability with the instructor. If a student has disclosed a disability or you would like to alert DRS to a student, please submit a referral.
Please note: DRS does not typically respond to referrals where a student’s direct disclosure to the faculty has not been made.
- Email the student and DRS directly. Copy and paste this template, with necessary edits related to your situation, and CC DRSFrontDesk@mesacc.edu in an email to the student. We will follow up with an outreach directly. If a student shares information with you about a disability, making this direct referral is not a violation of confidentiality; rather, you’re giving them the resource who can best help them explore options.
- Email Template:
Hello Student, Thank you for our conversation yesterday it was great to learn more about you and discuss aspects of the class. I wanted to follow up with information about an office on campus who you can connect with to discuss resources that could be helpful in your academic pursuits.
Disability Resources and Services (DRS) works with a wide range of disabilities and health conditions either on a temporary or permanent basis. Their focus is to ensure access for students. You can learn more about them by visiting the DRS. They will be reaching out to you as well, as I have included them in the email, in case you want to get any more information. Thank you.
Students right to self-disclosure & confidentiality
Students may respond best to private conversations in which you use an inquiring and supportive approach and share information about the existence and location of the DRS office. Only the student can decide to disclose their disability or to pursue information about services available in the DRS office. Therefore, it is essential that disability information be kept confidential as it falls under FERPA. Again, making the direct referral to DRS is not a violation of the student’s confidentiality but at no time should the class or other students be informed that a student has a disability, except at the student’s request. All information that a student shares with a faculty member is to be used specifically for arranging reasonable accommodations for the course of study.
What is the privacy requirement for health information provided to DRS?
All information and documentation submitted to the DRS office is kept separate from an academic record and is considered private under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). HIPAA Privacy and confidentiality guides do not apply to documents submitted to DRS for they are not being used for treatment. Under FERPA guidelines DRS cannot guarantee complete confidentiality as there may be times when College officials may have an educational need to know in order to facilitate access or services for the student. Instructors should not ask to see a student’s documentation nor require additional documentation outside of DRS before providing accommodations.
Instructors may ask students for a doctor’s note to verify absences in the event of an illness like a cold or flu if they would ask the same of their non-DRS students or students without modified attendance accommodations. To best serve all MCC students, instructors should consider non-medical forms of verification, such as a receipt for cold medicine, instead of requiring students to engage in a burdensome process for common illnesses.