Welcome to the ADA Distance Learning series hosted by your regional Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center. Today we are going to talk about accommodating students with psychiatric disabilities in the classroom. Joining us today is Scott Lissner, hi Scott.
Scott is the ADA Coordinator for Ohio State University, but we will not hold that against you. Before joining Ohio State, Scott was the ADA coordinator for Longwood University in Virginia. Scott is responsible at the university for ensuring university compliance with state and federal mandates, through policy development, training and consultation. The scope of his responsibilities include faculty staff and student employment, as well as public and student access to programs and facilities. So with that, Scott, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to join us and talk about this issue. It sometimes can be very sensitive issue, especially when you talk about higher education environments and so we appreciate your candor. I will just turn it over to you to talk about the issue a little bit and give us some practical applications in the classroom environment. Then about halfway through we will open it up to question and answer from our audience. I will also give a little teaser to our audience right now to not hang up until the very end of today''s session, as we do have some announcements about the new season kicking off in October and want to give people kind of a sneak peak of all of the sessions that we have scheduled for the coming year. With that, Scott, I will turn it over to you.
Thank you, Jennifer. I would like to take a few minutes and kind of lay a map of the area out. I am going to focus primarily on issues in higher education, but it is difficult to talk about higher education without spending at least a little bit of time talking about public schooling K through 12. Even though the primary legislation in K through 12 is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the primary legislation governing higher education, is Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. I think it is important to lay those out because there is some issues around that transition that I think are particularly important for students with psychological disabilities. The other reason it is important to lay those out is that most of the actual demographic data that we have that is solid and that we can count on relates to that K through 12 population and students being served by the public school system. For those of you who did not catch one of the announcements, fortuitous coincidence for today''s presentation was that the National Council on Disability released its report "Well-being of Our Nation: An Intergenerational Vision of Effective Mental Health Services and Supports" yesterday. And while it was not on the resource list that I sent in in advance, it does have a lot of really good references and a very good bibliography and some of the statistics that I am going to use. Some of the demographics came from that report or its references. And I will add that link to the list of resources after the presentation. Roughly 20 percent or about 7 million children under the age of 17 suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder. Of 9 to 17-year-olds, somewhere between 5 and 13 percent, that would be 2 to 4 million, approximately, depending on whose research you look at, have a substantial emotional disorder that results in a functional impairment. And that is an important piece of information as we move into looking at how the legislation interacts with these individuals. While I am kind of doing the run down of the statistics, roughly 55 percent of students who have emotional disorders drop out of school compared to 25 percent of students without disabilities. That ties in with kind of last bit of K through 12 data I am going to mention in terms of throwing numbers at folks and that is that between 50 and 75 percent of incarcerated juveniles, have a diagnosable mental health disorder compared to kind of 20 percent as the prevalence in the general population, which I mentioned above. So, it is a serious problem. The data collection at the college level is less focused on collecting by that category of psychological disability. And it tends to be folded in to chronic health issues and other issues in kind of data collection in higher ed. But as I talked to service providers, both on my campus and at other campuses around the country, it is clear that it has been a growing category, both in terms of the numbers of students choosing to come to college and identify that they have a psychological disability and the range of severity of those disabilities, the range of impacts that those disabilities have has also expanded. So it is not just the numbers of students, but also the types of issues that they bring forward. In K through 12, the primary legislation is IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and its primary mandate is a free and appropriate education. So, there are a number of ways that it differs from Section 504 and the ADA which governs higher education and mandates equal access and nondiscrimination. The range of services that are provided in some sense are wider under IDEA when it is working the way it was written, that is certainly not always the case. Two primary supports for students with psychological disabilities are emotional disabilities under IDEA that were built into the legislation in its 1997 reauthorization, was functional behavioral assessments to assess the impact of psychological disabilities and encouragement and the use of positive behavioral interventions and support. Those are the language used within the regulations and the legislation for the IDEA. It focuses on doing an individual analysis of what the impact is for the student, and what supports an interventions will minimize that impact and allow a student with a psychological disability that impacts learning to be successful in the K through 12 system. That is the eligibility under IDEA, is not just having a diagnosable mental health disorder, but having one that interferes substantially in learning and in taking advantage of the K through 12 system. Under the ADA and 504, the modifications that are available do not extend to providing support services in a broad sense. Beyond the kinds of services that colleges provide in general. Its eligibility is a mental health impairment that is a substantial limitation on one or more major life activities. One of those is learning but certainly there are other activities that could go on that list. So those are some real basic differences between the legislation and certainly one of the things that happens in IDEA is the provision of counseling, psychological support services of a variety of sorts, assistance with medication issues, etc, that would not happen under 504 and the ADA which would define those things as personal services beyond the scope of what colleges tend to offer to their students. One of the hard things about talking about psychological disabilities and potential accommodations for psychological disabilities, is that they are such a varied group. The impact is such a wide range that it is difficult to do. One way to kind of chunk that, to think about what the impact is of those disabilities, is to think about the kind of four or five areas that seem most often impacting students with psychological disabilities and that can have an impact on the learning process. So it is not unusual for psychological disabilities one way or another, to affect stamina and attendance. Sometimes that is the byproduct of the medications that may be taken, sometimes that is the recurrent but not predictable episodes where a student may need hospitalization or may need to stay home. At the college level sometimes under self care rather than hospitalization or a doctor''s care but kind of recurrent episodes that may be triggered of a disability. Another category there that is often influenced is concentration and attention. The ability for students to maintain focused attention over an extended period of time that might be necessary for the school day or for college classes, screening out environmental stimuli, noises sound, sights, odors that might interfere with focusing on tasks, sometimes the ability to split attention and do kind of many of those things in school that require kind of multi-tasking kinds of issues may be an impact, may be difficult to do because of the impact of either the disability itself or the medication. The last category would be interacting with others. Very often there are either direct social skills issues, appropriate responses to feedback, sometimes it is maintaining that concentration or not maintaining that concentration in the course of the conversation that may influence that perception of behavior. That is another area that may interact certainly in the school system as a whole, and sometimes within class arrangements particularly when there is group projects, group presentations, peer editing kinds of tasks that are often used in the classroom these days. A final chunk may be responding to change, coping with kind of unexpected events in course work, changes in the environment, rooms being rescheduled, etc, can sometimes have a more significant impact and throw a student with a psychological disability who is counting on a fixed schedule and on a known quantity in date and time line further for a loop than the average student out there. So those broadly are kinds of the types of impacts that I think are associated. But a key issue that certainly reinforced in 504 and the ADA is a need to look at the real impacts on an individual student in the context of their college or their program and to see what the interactions are. Part of that is necessary simply because of the huge range of possible impacts and it becomes easier to talk about sometimes in the context of specifics. Most of the cases that have come before the office of civil rights on psychological disabilities tend to fall into issues of either attendance and those kinds of questions, the ability to attend class and to turn things in on time, etc. Or they seem to fall into issues of discipline and code of conduct behaviors, that might be viewed as disruptive, etc. Probably the largest set of cases as is true of most of the cases under disability with the Office of Civil Rights, is there tends to be a lot of procedural issues that sometimes get missed in the process of rule and policy making that wind up being what the cases may be about. So it may be a question on an admissions application that is essentially an inappropriate question about disability or it may be the way in which information was gathered for a case that started around, say, an attendance issue or discipline issue that are kind of procedural cases. With attendance, it is going to depends on the nature of the course as well as the nature of the student''s disability. There have been a series of cases that talk about chronic but recurrent conditions and certainly many psychological disabilities would fit that, that are not consistently acute but have recurring episodes over time can count as a substantial limitation even though for months at a time it may not be limiting, when there is an episode, it is of a significant intensity and duration, it may require temporary hospitalization or at least staying at home for a certain number of days. Those have been recognized as substantially limiting and as qualifying as a disability under 504 and the ADA. One of the issues that often comes up on college campuses with that is when and how you deal with attendance as an attendance requirement for the institution or the class. It has been upheld that a program that is an in class program that is not a Distance Learning Program, can legitimately have an attendance requirement. What has also been upheld in those cases is that that requirement needs to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, that means both the student and the specific course. So a program or college that has a standard rule that says if you miss 25 percent of the classes you automatically receive an F in the class, would need to look at the possibility of making an accommodation for a student with a disability. In the context of a particular class. And it may be that if they took my class in statistics, where if you can show up and pass the test you know what you need to know, 25 percent rule is easily accommodated in my class. If you can learn it from the textbook and do not need me, probably more power to you in statistics. On the other hand, in a class that is case study driven in counseling or one of the health programs, clearly if you are not there a certain level of evaluation and learning do not take place and so there are going to be more significant limits on attendance that may be enforceable as essential to the nature of that course. So the key rule there is that blanket policies need to have room in them for exceptions as an accommodation. The discipline cases have made it clear that when behaviors violate a code of conduct for an institution, even if those behaviors are the results of or symptomatic of a disability, that an unacceptable behavior that is clearly in violation of a code of conduct, a student can be brought up on disciplinary, charges. The two caveats that go with that, the two procedural requirements that go with that, are that in that student discipline process that students judicial process, there needs to be room for you to accommodate the student''s needs based on the disability in this procedures themselves. So if they were to need a companion with them during the course of that to make sure they were getting the information they needed, if they needed some accommodation in timing and scheduling of the specific procedural elements, the hearings or whatever, that would need to be done. You could consider disability as a mitigating circumstance if you consider mitigating circumstances of other sorts. I know very few colleges and very few codes of conduct that do not consider mitigating circumstances whether they are a death in the family, personal crisis of some sort, that occurs as a mitigating explanation of the behavior so that the outcome of a student hearing is modified based on those kinds of pieces of evidence. If those kinds of pieces of evidence are considered, then you have to equally consider disability as a mitigating circumstance. So that has been another large cluster of cases with the Office of Civil Rights on college campuses have been around that set of issues. A third set has been asking questions that seem to relate directly to mental health on applications or as part of the standards for clinical placement, particularly in the allied health areas. And largely those questions when they focus on disability have been considered inappropriate and illegal questions. You certainly can expect the safe performance of the duties... those kind of statements, that are generic and would apply to all students and look at a variety of reasons why a student might not be appropriate for a placement other than just disability would be there. Probably one of the most significant issues facing college service providers is that there is a huge range of diagnosable conditions in the American Psychological Association''s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the DSM, that are legitimate disorders but would not reach the level of substantial limitation. There are very few that might not ever reach that level, so again that case by case analysis is important. But typically a student who comes in with very legitimate testing anxiety that only impacts test taking and maybe then only test taking in certain disciplines, say math anxiety, is probably most of the time not a significant enough limitation that it would be considered a disability under Section 504 and the ADA. It may be served under IDEA as an impediment to learning, but it would not likely fit Section 504. When you think about that range of impacts of disability, think about the learning situation, there are probably some typical accommodations that we provide in higher education and some that we provide under IDEA, some modifications we provide there that are less appropriate in higher education. I woud like to take a couple of minutes and kind of run through a list of typical accommodations and then try to encourage some questions by doing a couple of practical kind of case study examples. When you think about classroom kinds of accommodations for students with psychological disabilities, one of the ones that may often make sense is preferential seating. A student with a panic disorder, or a student who may suffer verbal ticks or other kinds of symptoms may want to sit in a seat located near the door based on an individual need and preference, it may be a seat in the back of the room with no one behind them. But there is a range of issues in which working with a student to allow preferential seating would make sense. Something that may be appropriate to the student is also a companion animal or a companion person. Clearly there are some circumstances in which a companion animal or a therapeutic pet may not meet the same level of access that you would provide to a guide dog or a service dog, in terms of laboratory settings and some others, restaurant settings, but in the classroom setting under some circumstances, a companion pet or therapeutic pet would be appropriate. And certainly someone that uses a human companion, and an accompanier it is sometimes called, which is probably used ore often in K through 12, but we would as a college you would need to allow that person to be present in the classroom present at events, etc. Certainly one of the things that sometimes go with medication is a need for scheduling or a need for frequent drinking, beverages or a particular eating schedule. So priority registration for those students which also reduces potentially line waiting and some other issues that are reasonably accommodatable there. And the ability to bring beverages into class or food or priority scheduling to make that eating schedule possible would be appropriate as a classroom accommodation. Sometimes note takers or tape recorders would make sense if you have a student who may have concentration or attention issues that we talked about before or stamina issues. Sometimes we would use in colleges volunteer note takers, sometimes photocopy another student''s notes, sometimes a tape recorder might make more sense, again it would depend on the individual student. Testing in an alternate location in a non-distracted environment or a room by themselves, both so the student can get up and walk around and make some noise if necessary. But also so that other people do not distract the student would be a very typical accommodation. And sometimes extended time if there is enough intrusion into processing speed from the disability itself, or from the medication, then clearly extended time would make sense. Used more frequently in K through 12 than this college, would be doing things like segmenting the test, breaking it up into either more frequent test or examinations, or within a testing period and this would be more typical at college, giving a student only one section of a test at a time so the number of test questions did not distract them or overwhelm them so they were getting only a few questions on a page, essentially, as a structural reformatting of the test. In K through 12, there may be a much wider range of accommodations made into how assignments are given or due dates for assignments, that is more limited in higher education. But certainly advanced notice of assignments, sometimes some extension of assignments, particularly when there has been a hospitalization or attendance issue, that may be particularly important. Sometimes for a student with severe concentration issues, books on tape may also make sense in terms of reading assignments and those kinds of things. Providing orientation to the campus and to administrative procedures, and perhaps some assistance, particularly in higher education in those points that we know are high stress, high frustration, line waiting points, registration, financial aid offices, etc, perhaps arranging priority scheduling, and individual appointment at financial aid rather than showing up and waiting in line would be reasonable accommodations. Along with allowing some flexibility, colleges are allowed to determine part-time versus full time status for the purposes of most types of financial aid and health insurance. And if the impact of the disability is such, that while normally 12 credits might be a full load, given the courses the student is taking and the student''s current condition, nine credits makes sense for this student at this stage of the game to treat this student as a full time student, even though they are in less than that traditional full time load as an accommodation is a reasonable accommodation. It is an accommodation that works generally for insurance coverage, for many types of institutional aid and benefits, like housing, eligibility for dean''s list, etc, it does not work for all forms of federal financial aid, some of them particularly PELL grants, are based on credit load rather than part-time versus full time status. But many of the institutional level types of aid and benefits of being a student are based on full time versus part-time status. So that is a context that that can be particularly reasonable accommodation in conjunction with advising about course load and cases and classes so that it may not need to be used every quarter, again that case by case extends to each semester or each registration cycle in that context. Those are probably the most typical accommodations that are used. I would like to just outline a couple of kind of specific case studies and then open up the audience to questions and answers from there. It is a big topic and I know I have kind of rushed through this but I think a couple of concrete practical cases may help this to make more sense. One case that I would like to do involves a student with a obsessive compulsive disorder and panic attacks. The student initially presented a request to not attend classes and had done some homework and had selected an institution that was primarily a Distance Learning Program. It was Empire State College in upstate New York and they have a Distance Learning Program where you learn locally. The student wanted to register for that program. The one residential requirement for that program was a one week orientation on campus at the beginning of the student''s program to meet your on campus advisors whom after that you would deal within e-mail and phone and from home, essentially. Along with the number of other kind of orientation activities about selecting your committee that was local and how they would interact with the campus committee, etc. The student requested that they participate in all the events by telephone, that they set up a speaker phone system and he be able to only listen to all of the events from afar. The college did offer to set up a safe place on campus, to allow the student to come early to identify a safe place where the student could retreat to when they felt a panic attack coming on, to minimize the number of programs the student would have to participate in live and to arrange a phone hook up for some of the information sessions that were not interactive. But insisted that the student would have to come to campus to accomplish a number of these things. It eventually went to court and was actually decided in favor of the college, that they had reviewed the individual circumstances, they had made a number of specific accommodations based on the student''s request, and had reasonably argued that some level of interaction was required in order to set up and establish the program that the student would follow then off campus. So even though a large portion of the program was distance learning, there was that one residential requirement and that was upheld as essential to the program. The other case I have in mind to set up is kind of a point and counterpoint is actually the same student in two different circumstances. In one circumstance this was a student who had bipolar disorder and could count on having an episode triggered sometime two or three episodes during the course of any given academic year, although you certainly could not predict whether they would be in September, October, November, or when they would fall. In one circumstance the student went to the professor in advance, with some documentation from the office for disability services on that campus and discussed the likelihood that they would wind up missing a fairly large chunk of class at some point in the semester. Not positively, but that it might happen and talked to the professor about making arrangements for an incomplete and setting some limits that if it was more than three weeks that she would retake the class if it was more than X weeks, less than three weeks, that there would be a series of make up assignments and shared notes that she could be tested on, etc. In the other class the student close not to disclose the disability in any way to the professor until after she had been absent for more than two weeks. So in the first class she had made advance arrangements, and under those circumstances those were real reasonable requests. The professor worked with the director of disability services on that campus to kind of work out with the student how many weeks would be so many weeks, that it would really need to repeat the class and giving the student an incomplete under those circumstances rather than an F for those extended absences. In the second case, the student came to the director of disability services and said professor B has given me an F after I missed two weeks of class. And now what can we do about it? It is very difficult to accommodate a student retroactively where no advance arrangements were made. It makes the kind of interactive process difficult, if not impossible and the student''s eligibility for coverage for reasonable accommodations is triggered by the student''s request for accommodations. When the professor gave that grade had no way of knowing. There is probably an in between ground for that student and that would have been to notify the professor that it was disability related after the first day or two of absence and before it had gotten into an extended absence. And if the episodes predictably made it difficult for that student to be responsible for notifying the professor, could have made those arrangements with their counselor in the disability services office at that college could have worked out in advance with that office to let them know in some way. So there would be a middle ground that would not require as much advance disclosure to individual professors, because certainly misunderstanding of mental health issues is still not an infrequent occurrence. So that that would be an issue that you might work out a system of notification after something within the kind of standard acceptable absence range so to speak. I think a key issue for students with disabilities as they move from K through 12 to higher education that is particularly true for or important for students with psychological disabilities is that in higher education they control the process much more than they may have in K through 12. And disclosing to the appropriate office of disability services is not going to provide information to any individual professor until the student clears that professor and that circumstance for disclosure. So probably one of the things that is important to convey to students as they move from K through 12 particularly students with psychological disabilities, is that disclosing to that office of disability services is not a public disclosure, it does not show up on a transcript or a roster for the professor and that is important for students to know, that they control that process. The average 18 year old wants nothing more than to be just like everybody else and to kind of blend in. So it is an opportunity for many of them to not disclose and then they may discover that they need accommodations or some assistance and it will complicate the process in terms of documentation and the time frame it takes to get accommodations in place if they have not at least disclosed to the appropriate office on campus. So that I do not eat up all the time and leave time for questions, I think I will stop there and we will see if there are any questions.
Thank you. What constitutes current documentation for psychological disability? Is there a guideline for that?
There is going to be a need to look at the specific individual and their history and documentation. I say that not to sound like a slippery administrator who does not like to set a fixed timeline, but there is a need for a case-by-case analysis and that is true of those of us who make rules about the time line for currency of documentation. A good rule of thumb and a reasonable policy, would be for psychological disabilities in most cases, a three to five year timeline, probably closer to three, would be a defensible time line because the nature of the disability and the nature of the medication may change with a great deal of frequency. That is going to be less true of some conditions than others and that is why I am not real fond of stating time lines for resency as opposed to making a statement in policy that documentation needs to be recent enough that given the nature of the disability it does a good job of capturing the current impacts of the disability. Then after that professional judgment could be used. So if I were writing a policy, it would very much be written in that kind of language and it might go on to say typically for a psychological disability, documentation within the last three years would be required. The famous Boston University case that involved students with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder did point out that given the progression of attention deficit disorder and its changeability and variability over time, that for it a three-year time line rule for documentation or at least validation, that the impacts are still current, was very reasonable.
Hi there. The question is two part regarding companion animals. First are colleges which offer student housing, specifically single family housing, one, two, three bedroom apartments, required to allow companion animals and in what situations are they required to allow companion animals in the classroom?
I am going to go out on a limb a little bit on this one and this is my opinion, I do not think there has been definitive case law on this. I think in housing situations a companion animal that is one, prescribed in some way by the treating professional, the treating professional has identified this as a therapeutic strategy for the individual. Two, within the boundaries of good conduct, so to speak, that in the same way individuals with disabilities can be held to conduct standards, companion animals can be held to a standard of behavior non-destruction, paper training, etc. that a guide dog or that a service animal might be held to. I think in those circumstances and particularly in housing that is apartment style housing rather than dormitory style housing that allowing a companion animal into housing would be a very reasonable thing. There might be some additional issues, depending on the animal and in a dormitory situation in terms of not infringing on the rights of roommates who are randomly assigned and the availability of single housing between the two of those might be an issue. But I would say under those circumstances the mandate in the ADA to allow therapy to take place, to not set up programs and policies that discriminate by essentially not allowing therapy to take place in that context would allow you to say in housing, yes. And then again, in the classroom I think a key issue is going to be those first two elements, a prescribed companion animal, are the conditions such in the therapeutic context it needs to be a relatively constant companion so that kind of case by case analysis. And then the nature of the classrooms themselves. In terms of laboratory classes where there may be some safety and hazard issues or food service areas and food service preparation as opposed to just a standard kind of reading lecture class. That in those circumstances as long as a companion animal is non-disruptive it would be reasonable to allow that animal in under section 504 in the ADA.
Those students identified under IDEA entering college and go on to be identified under 504, walking into your office as an ADA coordinator, what is the best case scenario to you as far as documentation that that student needs to bring?
Assuming that we are talking about a psychological disability, there would be two elements to the documentation that I would be looking for. One would be essentially that functional behavioral assessment that is done or that should be done under IDEA for students with emotional, psychological disabilities. Something that says here is the condition, it has been diagnosed and these are the impacts as best as we can describe them, particularly in the educational context. The second piece that I would be looking for is that that assessment in particular, those impacts, were validated at some level by a mental health professional, a social worker, a school psychologist, a psychiatrist, a licensed psychologist, an appropriate mental health professional. And that given the nature of that student''s particular condition, that there was still some resentency to that, so probably within the last two to three years. Those would be the two critical elements. If they were side effects from medication that were a series of issues that would be something I would like to see addressed in a focused sort of way and not just a copy from the physician''s ... from the PDR reference that says these are potential side effects of the medication. But some indication that those side effects have been observed in this particular student. So if we were looking at extended time on testing or individual testing rooms based on concentration issues from the medication, I would want to know that that were true of this student either through a direct accommodation history or some narrative observation.
Yes. One question we have has already been answered regarding the documentation requirements. But one other one that I had was when you were talking about an accommodation, taking less hours, the vocational rehab requires the individual takes a full load, how would you work that out with them?
If I heard you right, that is rehab services or voc rehab requires a full load?
Okay. Generally speaking, the definition of a student''s full time status is a college decision. Now, if in order to have developed an effective individual work plan or whatever that voc rehab plan is called in your state, the counselor and the student have defined a full time load as necessary to progress to towards employment, then I think that what probably needs to happen is the student disability services counselor from the college and their counselor from voc rehab need to get together and try to work that out. In the past what I have done at institutions I have worked at, is one that being considered full time with less than the standard full time load has typically not been a four-year whole college career kind of accommodation. If that were true you might choose to be a part-time student. There are other kinds of options for you. In the combination of advising, scheduling, priority registration, there are oftentimes where a particular sequence of courses has to be taken at the same time and those courses the load really appears to be too much for the student given the impact of the disability, and I think that is a, when you get to that level of specific, let us look at what is required from these three or four courses compared to these four or five courses, if we took a full time load, that that is an argument that I think most voc rehab counselors could be persuaded to support. And there is certainly a process in each state to appeal kind of a standing should be a full time student, which is best practices for most of the voc rehab but there is usually an appeals process to make an exception to that. Particularly one that is limited to a few chosen semesters in the course of the student''s career based on practicum classes or clinical based classes that present in that semester an unusual demands on the student.
Hi. Basically my question is a little bit more about the companion animals, I was wondering if you could expound a little bit more on the legal basis for some of the statements about companion animals. I know when we get questions about companion animals here as opposed to service animals, there is a lot of backing from say the Department of Justice under Titles II and III of the ADA about exactly what the rights of people who use service animals are and what constitutes a service animal, they have been pretty straightforward about that. There is a lot less documentation about companion animals. There were, you know, I was really interested in your statements about companion animals. I was wondering if you could give me a little bit of the background for some of the statements that you made.
Okay. I will try to do that.
Scott, excuse me one second let me also note we have done a Distance Learning Program on service animals we will have in our next season another ask DOJ on service animals versus companion animals, if you want to briefly touch on the background of that you do not have to get in depth in that.
I will go through and pick out in the next day or two the a couple of citations from things I have mentioned and provide one that is the couple that are the basis of my statements on companion animals. But if panic attacks, part of it is if panic attacks, I will pick on that aspect of using a companion animal for a moment. If panic attacks are an impact of the disability and if the presence of the companion animal reasonably reduces those panic attacks, reduces the impact of the disability and allows the student to learn or participate in the program, then at least on the surface that is a reasonable enough accommodation request that I think you have to do a case-by-case analysis. In that dormitory setting, there may be a series of health issues that might be particularly in need of addressing from the presence of an animal. And certainly there needs to be a clear set of guidelines on animal behavior. But one is it seems to be a reasonable accommodation request, there was also in the actual language of the legislation for Title II, I believe, and I am going to have to go back and check, it may have been in the technical assistance manual, I will have to dig out that citation, a statement about allowing a student to participate in therapy, the context that is often used then is a student or employee who may need some time off or some scheduling considerations to participate in therapy that that would be a reasonable accommodation and a reasonable request. If clearly a companion animal is a part of the therapeutic process in a structured way, I think it falls into that same kind of logic as making therapy appointments, etc.
Thank you, that is a complicated issue. Certainly. And something we will also look forward to addressing again in our next season. Scott thank you so much for taking time out of your day to join us, I know there are a wealth of questions still and certainly if people have additional questions you can either call directly to your regional DBTAC and they can forward those to me and then I will forward those to Scott if he would be willing to take additional questions that way.
I would certainly be happy to take a few.
We will put you on the spot a little more. Let me also take this opportunity to give people a preview of the new season of the ADA distance learning series. This October kicks off our 4th season for this program. So we are very excited to have you continue to join us. Earlier this summer the Great Lakes DBTAC conducted a survey of our regular program subscribers to find out what you were looking for from this program. And as a result we have made some changes and have those lined up for October and the coming season. First, you asked for more time and this is a really good example of a session that needed more time to get to all of those questions. So we have biggie sized our session, we are going from 60 minutes to 90 minutes starting in October to give you all the opportunity to ask more questions of our experts from around the country. And even better news than that, besides us biggie sizing the session, the registration fee has decreased, so you cannot ask for more than that. We have increased the time for the program, and decreased your registration fee. And so hopefully while the program is longer and our costs will go up, the regional DBTAC''s have committed to supporting the ongoing growth and development of this participation and so we hope that this is a way that will provide you an opportunity to continue to participate in the program. We are also currently working on digitizing and archiving our previous sessions in audio format. If you look over our past season transcripts, we have three years of sessions from experts in their respective fields and some fantastic information from those professionals, and so we look forward to using technology and using the digitizing process to make these archives available to you in an audio format so that you can go back and listen to the old sessions that you may have missed at your own convenience. And as a reminder the print transcript as always, is available on the Great Lakes web site. So what do you have to look forward to for the coming session? Well let me tell you. Kicking off on October 15th, a topic that is very near and dear to my heart, access to recreation. We are going to have Peggy Greenwell and Bill Botten of the U.S. Access Board joining us for our first 90 minutes session, they are going to give us an overview of the newly released accessibility guidelines for recreation facilities which would include everything from amusement parks, boating, fishing facilities, sports facilities, golf courses and swimming pools and so forth. So that is our first session on October 15. On November 19th, Marilyn Golden of DREDF is going to join us and talk about para-transit services. In December we will talk about creating access to temporary events. In January, a session that we have kicked around for a while and now is your opportunity to ask EEOC. We have two sessions that we will have representatives from both EEOC and DOJ on the hot seat, so to speak, for you to ask them any question that is burning on your mind, companion animals, that is a really good example of a question later for DOJ. But in January, ask EEOC and we are fortunate enough to have with us Sharon Rennert, from EEOC. She has joined us for several sessions before, so we look forward to having her on board to answer some of your questions. In February we are going to talk about going beyond web accessibility. What else is there that you can do to ensure that your web site is accessible. In March we will talk about achieving and sustaining accessible programs, strategies for state and local governments. And in April we will talk about best practices and reasonable accommodations. May 20th mark your calendar, ask the Department of Justice and we will have a representative from DOJ to answer all of your Title II and Title III questions. In June we are going to talk about demystifying the federal accessibility requirements everything from ADAAG to UFAS to the Fair Housing regulars. In July our traditional session, ADA update both with John Wodatch of the U.S. Department of Justice and Sharon Rennert from EEOC. In August we will talk about access to performing arts venues, and in September we will talk about best practices in accessible electronic and information technology policy. This session schedule is currently posted as of this morning to the Great Lakes web site at www.adagreatlakes.org. The registration form has also been updated so that you can go and register for the October session or for the entire series if you would like. Please make note that some of the sessions may be revised as we make final preparations in confirming speakers and so forth. So thank you all for your patience in joining us today. Please join us in October as we talk with Peggy Greenwell and Bill Botten. As a reminder the transcript from this session will be posted next week to the Great Lakes web site. In the events you have any questions about today''s session or upcoming sessions, please call your regional DBTAC at 800-949-4232. Thank you.