Guidance on Confidentiality

Confidentiality is of utmost importance in handling disability related information and in discussing access to accommodations. Disability documentation is kept secure within the DRO and separate from other records, including a student’s general academic file or transcript and general employment record. DRO records and information(including eligibility for accommodations, diagnosis, etc.) are confidential and fall under the provisions of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”) and/or Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”).

Once an individual is determined eligible for reasonable accommodations, an Accommodation Letter is created which outlines approved reasonable accommodations. An Accommodation Letter does not identify the person’s disability. Some individuals choose to disclose their disabilities to instructors; however, they are not required to do so. Any disability information which is disclosed must be treated confidentially. Conversations should be held in private.

DRO can communicate with university officials on a need-to-know basis only concerning relevant information, accommodations and or services. Every student who completes registration with DRO is asked to sign a release so that relevant information can be easily shared with third parties (including parents) when the need arises.

Conversations pertaining to a disability, eligibility and/or specifics of access to accommodations should be in private, rather than in the presence of peers and/or within the regular classroom. This includes situations where the individual’s disability is obvious.

It is appropriate to:

It is not appropriate to:

include a syllabus statement regarding the provision of reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities in the course syllabus; ask individuals with disabilities to raise their hands or stay after class;
discuss a request for or provision of accommodations in private; discuss a request for or provision of accommodations in the presence of others;
ask a student who discloses a disability to you to request accommodations through the DRO and discuss what accommodations they may need; ask what disability a person has;
wait until you are approached regarding accommodations by a student you suspect may have a disability; assume a student has a disability, even if the disability appears to be obvious;
ask clarifying questions regarding the provision of approved accommodations. question a student’s need for an accommodation listed in the Accommodation Letter.
ask a struggling student what they have used to achieve success up to this point and make referrals to appropriate campus resources (DRO, Counseling Center, University Tutorial Center, etc.) ask if a student has ever been diagnosed with a disability, or suggest testing for a disability.