Confidential Information Policies and Procedures
Disability Records and Disclosure of Accommodations
The university has an obligation to confirm that students receiving services have verified disabilities. For this reason, it is important for students to understand the confidentiality of their disability documentation.
Most commonly, students request through the Accommodation Request Portal (ARP) that a notification of their approved accommodations be sent to their instructors via email. This serves as the written verification that they have a disability and are eligible for the accommodations they are requesting. Additionally, if a faculty member wants to verify the legitimacy of a requested accommodation it may be appropriate for CSD staff to confirm that the student is receiving services from the Center for Students with Disabilities (i.e., has a disability). For example, confirming to a faculty member that a test accommodation has been recommended for a particular student is appropriate because faculty have a legitimate educational interest in test taking processes for all students.
A CSD staff member may also communicate with faculty prior to student disclosure in order to arrange essential classroom accommodations that take considerable time to arrange or produce (e.g., conversion of print to audio or Braille, captioned media, etc.). This disclosure assists the faculty or other school official in understanding the relationship between the disability and the accommodation and the need for academic information (e.g., textbook or video information) to provide mandated services.
It would not be appropriate however for CSD staff to disclose a student's disability status prior to the student's self-disclosure as a means for school officials to anticipate the need for an accommodation, when an accommodation might not be needed. A student is not required to disclose disability status when there is no need for an accommodation in a class or other campus setting (e.g., university housing, student organization, employment). For example, a student who is eligible for test accommodations may choose to forego disclosure in a class where grades are primarily based on projects and papers.
- Disability documentation is not a part of academic or health records at UWW.
- Disability documentation is utilized to determine eligibility for services and appropriate academic and access accommodations.
- CSD strives to maintain students' confidentiality by adhering to Family Education Rights and Privacy ACT (FERPA). Students requesting release of confidential information from the file to a third party must submit an Authorization for Release of Confidential Information form. Students requesting information be shared between CSD and their medical professional must submit a Medical Release of Information form.
- Students have the right to confidentiality. However, the students' rights to privacy are balanced against the University's need to know the information in order to provide requested and recommended services and accommodations.
- When a student notifies an instructor of their accommodations through ARP it is implying that CSD may communicate as needed with other University professionals as needed to facilitate services and accommodations.
- Records are kept for seven years after a student has left the University.
Disability documentation refers to any of the following: all records related to health, intellectual, emotional or physical well-being of an individual prepared by a health care provider, including but not limited to physicians, nurses, therapists, psychologists, social workers and counselors.
Confidential Student File Access Guidelines
Students registered with the Center for Students with Disabilities have access to their personal confidential file. The following guidelines apply to student file access:
- All requests must be in writing. Students must display photo identification and student ID. This is true for all requests including email, print mail, fax and walk-in requests.
- A CSD staff person must be with the student at all times while the student is reviewing the actual file.
- Students may add documents, notes or other appropriate materials to their files; however, at no time may they remove any part of the file.
- CSD will make one copy of documents in the file at no charge and attempt to provide the student with these pages within three (3) working days after receiving the written request.
- Generally, CSD attempts to provide students with their file as soon as possible. The law requires a response within 45 days. CSD policy is to set up a time when a staff person is available to oversee the student's file review. If a staff member is available at the time of the request, we may provide the file at that time. If not, we will arrange a mutually agreeable time, preferably within three (3) working days.
- Students requesting release of confidential information from the file to a third party must submit an Authorization for Release of Confidential Information form. Students should refer to the document "Disclosing Disability Information" for an understanding of guidelines applying to the disclosure of disability information to university personnel for the purpose of implementing accommodations. (Both documents available from CSD).