Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act states that "no otherwise qualified individual with disabilities in the United States...shall, solely by reason of his/her disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance" The ADA furthered this provision against discrimination by including all institutions, private or otherwise.

  • What constitutes a disability?

    A disability is defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as a mental or physical impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities. Learning is an example of a major life activity. If you have a mental or physical condition, a history of such a condition, or a condition which may be considered by others as substantially limiting, you may have a legally defined disability.

  • What does substantially limiting mean?

    According to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, substantially limiting is defined as being unable to perform a major life activity, or significantly restricted as to the condition, manner, or duration under which a major life activity can be performed, in comparison to the average person or to most people.

  • What is a major life activity?

    According to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a major life activity is defined as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working. The ADA Amendment Acts of 2008 expanded this list to also include eating, sleeping, standing, lifting, reading, bending, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working. In addition the ADAAA also includes major bodily functions (e.g., "functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions").

  • What are academic accommodations?

    Appropriate academic adjustments create an equal access to education, as long as it doesn't require a substantial change in an essential element of the curriculum. This is determined by the institution. Such modifications may include an adjustment in the amount of time allowed to complete a degree, substitution of degree requirements, and adaptation of the manner in which specific courses are conducted.

  • Can I get the same accommodations I had when I was in High School?

    The accommodations that you will receive are those that will help you to get the most out of your classes and college experience. To be able to receive services, you must first come to Disability Services and request services. During the intake interview, accommodations that are suited to your needs and disability will be drawn up. Students in grades K-12 are covered by IDEA laws and colleges/universities are covered by ADA, a very different law. Not all modifications allowed in the public schools are transferable to college level courses. The key point to remember is that the purpose of the IDEA is to ensure that students are successful in the K-12 system, whereas the ADA and Section 504 ensure access. Success in college is up to the student.



    FAQ for Parents and Prospective Students

  • How do the responsibilities of working with students with disabilities of Higher Education institutions differ from those of high schools?

    The responsibilities towards students with disabilities in Higher Education institutions are very different from those of high schools. High schools are required under IDEA to identify the educational needs of students with a disability and provide a free and appropriate education. This responsibility is not required of Higher Education institutions. Higher Education institutions are required to provide appropriate academic accommodations to ensure that a student with a disability is not discriminated against. The student is responsible for disclosing his or her disability to the institution.

  • What are the responsibilities of a student with a disability if he or she would like to receive accommodations?

    A student with a disability is responsible for requesting accommodations through Disability Services Office (DS). DS will not seek students out. A student with a disability is also responsible for providing acceptable documentation of his or her disability.

  • Can I request accommodations for my child?

    All requests for accommodations must come directly from the student.

  • Can I speak with my child’s DS Counselor in regards to his or her situation?

    As a young adult, the student may choose to have information about his or her case discussed with his or her parent(s) by signing an authorization for the release of information which can be obtained in DS.

  • Since the student is now in charge of his or her educational planning, what are some self-advocacy skills he or she should develop?

    Disability Services strongly encourages students to develop these self-advocacy skills:

    • Understanding Your Disability: A student should be able to articulate what his or her disability is.
    • Communicating Disability: A student should also be able to describe how the disability limits him or her functioning (functional limitations). A student should also be able to express some ways that he or she could be accommodated.
    • •Being Proactive: A student should provide acceptable documentation to DS and request accommodations. A student should learn to work collaboratively with professors to ensure his or her success with the accommodations. A student should also be able to identify if his or her accommodations are not being met.


  • What is considered acceptable documentation of a disability?

  • Does a student have to inform UT-Pan American that he or she has a disability?

    A student with a disability does not have to disclose his or her disability to UTPA or the DS office. Disclosure of a disability is on a voluntary basis. However, a student will not receive accommodations unless he or she registers with the DS office.

  • Is there a charge for receiving accommodations from The Disability Services Office?

    There is no charge for receiving accommodations from Disability Services.



    FAQ for Instructors and Current Students

  • What are the rights and responsibilities of a student with a disability?

    Students with disabilities have the right to equal access to courses, programs, activities, services, and facilities offered at UT-Pan American. Students are also entitled to reasonable accommodations. All information about the student’s disability is to be kept confidential. Students have the responsibility to provide acceptable documentation of disabilities and to register with the Disability Services office (DS) if they would like to receive accommodations. If students deem it necessary to receive accommodations for a particular class, students have the responsibility to inform the instructor, to deliver the accommodations letters that verify their approved accommodations, and to participate in the discussions about how their needs can be met.

  • What are the rights and responsibilities of an instructor when working with students with disabilities?

    An instructor has the right to confirm a student’s request for accommodations and to ask for clarification about a specific accommodation with DS. Instructors do not have the right to refuse to provide an accommodation or to review a student’s documentation including diagnostic data. Instructors have a responsibility to work with DS in providing reasonable accommodations, keep all records and communications with students confidential, and to refer a student to DS who requests accommodations but is not currently registered. Instructors do not have to provide accommodations for students not registered with DS.

  • Why does an instructor have the responsibility to make reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities?

    An instructor has the responsibility to make reasonable accommodations because accommodations make it possible for a student with a disability to overcome barriers enabling the student to communicate what he or she knows in the same way that glasses do not strengthen vision but help a person to see. The instructor also has a legal responsibility to provide appropriate accommodations. For more information, please go to the Americans with Disabilities Act website.

  • How are appropriate accommodations for a student determined?

    To determine appropriate accommodations for a student, the student must submit acceptable documentation to DS. The Documentation Review Committee (DRC) reviews the information and determines appropriate accommodations based upon the substantial limitations of the student and the essential elements of the course.

  • If an instructor feels that a particular student may have a substantially limiting disability, to where should he or she refer the student?

    If an instructor feels that a particular student may have a substantially limiting disability, he or she should refer the student to DS.

  • What if a student with a disability is disruptive in class?

    A student with a disability who is disruptive in class should be treated as an instructor would treat any student who is disruptive in class. If an instructor feels that there is a medical reason for the student’s behavior, the instructor can discuss this with the student’s DS Counselor to determine if there is a solution to the problem.

  • What if a student with a disability is failing?

    It is important for instructors to remember that providing reasonable accommodations to a student with a disability does not guarantee success in the course. Students with disabilities may not master the course material, just like any other student. Students with disabilities have the same right as other students to fail as part of their educational experience.

Contact Info

Student Accessibility Services Edinburg
Room: University Center 108
Phone: (956) 665-7005
Fax: (956) 665-3840

Student Accessibility Services Brownsville
Room: Cortez 129
Phone: (956) 882-7374
Fax: (956) 882-7861

Office Hours

Mon - Fri 8:00am - 5:00pm
Sat - Sun Closed