Disabilities Services

From the Office of Disabilities Services


It is our intent at Washington Adventist University to provide an equitable and exemplary education for all of our students. To that end, we strive to provide reasonable accommodations to students with disabilities to ensure their academic success.  Ultimately, however, it is the student’s responsibility to disclose any disabilities he/she wishes to have accommodated.

All disability-related information is treated with the highest confidentiality and will only be provided to faculty, staff or other individuals with your permission, per a signed Release of Information form.

Reasonable accommodations provided to WAU students upon confirmation of a disability include:

    • Readers
    • Special registration services
    • Note-takers
    • Testing accommodation
    • Physical modification of classroom set-up
    • Assistive technology (i.e., Bookshare)

How to Apply for Accommodations

If you have a documented disability, it is important to contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) when applying to Washington Adventist University.  This is recommended to provide time for the ODS to review your application for accommodations, and ensure the services offered are sufficient for the student’s needs.

If you are already enrolled in courses, make an appointment to meet with the Disabilities Coordinator at the beginning of each semester to secure approved accommodations. All necessary application documents can be found at wau.edu/ODS/documents.

Step One:

Complete a Voluntary Declaration of Disability form (found either in your application packet or online).  While this does not make you eligible for accommodations, it does inform the ODS of your specific disability.

Step Two:

Apply for accommodations by completing and submitting a Request for Disability Accommodations form, accompanied by documentation of the disability provided by a medical or mental health professional (see Guidelines for Documentation of a Disability).  PLEASE NOTE: if you had an IEP in high school but have turned 18 years old since using those accommodations, you must be re-tested as an adult.   The resulting documentation will be used to determine the type and extent of accommodation currently most reasonable and effective for you.

About Required Documentation

Although the public school system provides an IEP (individualized education plan) for challenged students, an IEP alone is insufficient documentation for disability accommodations at Washington Adventist University.  An application for Disability Accommodations at WAU requires documentation from medical or mental health professionals able to provide diagnostic evidence of your presenting challenge.  In almost all cases, students aged 18 years or older must be re-tested against adult norms in order to be considered for disability resources.  Payment for such testing is the student’s responsibility and is not covered by the Office of Disabilities Services.

The following outlines the types of documentation you need to bring when requesting academic accommodations for any of the issues listed below:

Attention Deficit Disorder

    • A current report from a licensed professional documenting the disorder based on the DSM-IV criteria, medications (if applicable), and impact on academic abilities.

Hearing Impairments

    • A current letter or examination report from a medical doctor or speech and hearing center documenting the level of hearing loss.
    • A psycho-educational evaluation dated within the past three years and age-appropriate provided by a licensed professional.  Additional records from primary or secondary schools may be required.

Mobility Impairment

    • A medical report of describing the disability and the limitations it poses for the student.

Other Health Impairments

    • A current letter or report from a medical doctor documenting the disability and describing possible consequences impacting the student’s academic abilities.

For additional information or to schedule an appointment, please contact Fitzroy Thomas, Director of Disability Services at 301-891-4106 or by email at fthomas@wau.edu

Grievance Procedure for Reasonable Accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act:  Your Right to File a Grievance

Washington Adventist University does not discriminate against any person based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, marital status, age, veteran status, mental or physical disability, use of a guide or support animals or mechanical aids, or any other basis protected by applicable federal, state, or local laws. These laws include:

    • Title VI of the Civil Right Act of 1964 which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin
    • Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 which prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy, parental status, and sex stereotypes
    • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which forbids organizations and employers from excluding or denying individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to receive program benefits and services
    • Age Discrimination Act of 1975 which prohibits discrimination based on age
    • Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by public entities whether or not they receive federal financial assistance

The University has adopted an internal grievance procedure providing for prompt and equitable resolution of complaints alleging any action prohibited by law. Any person who believes that she or he has been subject to discrimination on the basis of disability may file a grievance under this procedure.

The grievance procedures outlined below are explicitly used to report and resolve incidents involving alleged denial of equal access in the form of appropriate accommodations, modifications, auxiliary aids, or effective communication. In addition, individuals should report alleged harassment or discrimination based upon disability.  The alleged harassment or discrimination will be resolved under Washington Adventist University’s policies on Equal Opportunity, Harassment, and Non-Discrimination. These can be found in the Academic Bulletin Operational Guidelines > see 1) Nondiscrimination Policy and 2) Freedom from Harassment, and Student Handbook, see 1) Harassment and Discrimination, 2) Equal Employment Opportunity, and 3) Nondiscrimination.

Any prospective, current, or former student who wishes to file a complaint regarding determination or the delivery of accommodations, or other access issues may use the grievance procedure below.

Informal Complaint Procedure

Students are encouraged first to discuss their concerns with the immediate teacher, staff, or administrator. If the student is not satisfied with the outcome, the student will reach out to the Director of Disability Services for assistance in resolving the issue. The Director will evaluate the complaint and determine an appropriate resolution.

If this informal process does not resolve the issue or the Director was the primary contact during the accommodation process, the student can file a formal appeal to include a written statement of the decision made, the rationale for disputing the decision, the adverse effects of the decision, and a proposed remedy to resolve the matter. It is at this point that the complaint becomes a formal grievance.

Note: A complainant has the right to bypass this informal process and file a formal complaint with the Director of Disability Services/ADA Coordinator Fitzroy Thomas (fthomas@wau.edu; Tel. 301-891-4115),  or with Dr. Betty Johnson, the Dean of the Betty Howard Center for Student Success (bljohnson@wau.edu; Tel. 301-891-0192).

Formal Complaint Procedure

The formal procedure involves the following:

    • The complainant will present relevant information in writing, containing the following information within 60 calendar days of the alleged violation:
    • The basis and rationale for the grievance
    • The specific facts or policies supporting the student’s position
    • Description of desired outcome or resolution
    • Any other relevant information that the complainant should be considered

Within fifteen (15) days of receipt of the statement, a review of the complaint will be conducted followed by interviews with all involved parties as appropriate, and a written decision communicated to the student by the Dean of the Center for Student Success or the Director of Disability Services, Fitzroy Thomas   (fthomas@wau.edu Tel. 301-891-4115).

If the complainant remains dissatisfied with the resolution of the matter, the complainant may appeal the resolution by filing a written appeal to the Provost. The students can also go directly to the office of the Provost if the Director of Disability Services or the Dean was the primary contact during the initial accommodation process.

Within fifteen days of receipt of the statement, a review of the complaint will be conducted followed by interviews with all involved parties as appropriate, and a written decision issued.

The written request for appeal must specify the particular substantive and procedural basis for the appeal and must be made on grounds other than general dissatisfaction with the decision. The review by the Office of the Provost will be limited to the following considerations:

    • Were the proper facts and criteria brought to bear on the decision?
    • Is there any new information, not previously available, that may change the outcome of the decision‐making process?
    • Were there any procedural irregularities that materially affected the outcome of the decision?
    • Given the proper facts, criteria, and procedures, was the decision reasonable?

After reviewing the matter fully, the Office of the Provost will issue a written decision affirming, modifying, or reversing the decision.

If longer than fifteen days is needed for the investigation and to render a decision and/or for the appeal process, the complainant will be notified in writing and given a specific time-frame for a final decision to be rendered. Good cause to extend this timeline includes, but is not limited to, the absence of parties and/or witnesses, the closure of the University for break periods, or accommodations for language/communication assistance, disabilities, or health conditions.

If after this review, the complainant is not satisfied with the outcome, he/she has the right to appeal directly to the Title IX Coordinator and Compliance Officer, John Cake (jcake@wau.edu; (571-225-8845). The complainant may also contact the Title IX Coordinator and Compliance Officer at any stage of the appeals process at the address below.  

John Cake

Director of Security and Public Safety

Washington Adventist University

7600 Flower Avenue, Takoma Park, MD 20912


Records Retention

Washington Adventist University will retain all written complaints received by the Director of Disability Services/ADA Coordinator and appeals to the Office of the Provost or designee, and respective responses for three years or for the retention period provided in Federal or State law, whichever is longer.

Additional Rights and Protections

Washington Adventist University will take steps to prevent the recurrence of any disability-based discrimination or harassment and remedy the discriminatory effects on the complainant and others, if appropriate.

It is a violation of this policy to coerce, intimidate, retaliate against, or discriminate against any individual participating in, or perceived to be participating in, this grievance process. Behaviors of this nature should be reported promptly to the Director of Disability Services/ADA Coordinator and may result in disciplinary action independent of the resolution of the original complaint.

The availability and use of this grievance procedure do not prevent a person from filing a complaint of discrimination based on disability with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). At any time, a student may choose to file with the OCR, separate from or in addition to utilizing the University’s grievance process.


Federal Office for Civil Rights

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Room 509F, HHH Building

200 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20201

OCRMail@hhhs.gov | www.hhs.gov

Toll-free: (800) 368-1019

TDD Toll-free: (800) 537-7697