Disability Services strives to treat all personal information with the strictest confidentiality. We respect the privacy of individuals and will advocate in favor of confidentiality whenever possible.
Disability Services regards its information on students as educational records. Educational records fall under different rules than do medical records, and Disability Services advises students to note the difference. Thus, Disability Services prefers that documentation of disabling conditions provided by students should be limited to that which is necessary to establish the disability and the right to an accommodation in an educational setting. Please refer to the handout, "Disability Verification for Students," for more details on what is entailed to verify a disability and the right to accommodation.
Disability Services may release information to other University faculty and staff when a "need to know" some or all of that information is established by Disability Services. The need to know must be based on compelling and legitimate educational reasons for the information disclosure. Generally speaking, University faculty and staff do not need to know what the student's disability is. These University officials merely need to know that Disability Services verified the disability and the right to reasonable accommodations. Faculty and staff, outside of Disability Services, have no right to access student files directly. On occasion, internal auditing and monitoring of student information may occur, but only under the strictest confidentiality protections.
Written authorizations to release confidential information to persons or entities outside of the University will be obtained from the student before any such information is released. This includes parents. On occasion, third parties such as courts of law, civil rights investigators, etc. may legally order Disability Services to release information with or without a signed authorization from the student.
For each student served, Disability Services creates a paper file that contains internal and external documents. Disability Services owns and maintains these files in secure storage for up to five years after the last year in which the student was enrolled in the University. After that time, Disability Services destroys the physical file and all its contents.
Disability Services encourages students to obtain and keep copies of their documentation for future use. Students may receive copies of their files on request. In addition, students may give written permission for copies of the files to go to a third party however, only Disability Services personnel may directly access the file.
In addition to paper files, Disability Services keeps some electronic information on students. The electronic records are kept in an internal data base in Disability Services. Only Disability Services personnel access Disability Services internal database. It is used mainly for file management and service tracking purposes. Electronic records are not expunged.
Occasionally, a student's diagnostician has stamped the student's documentation with admonishments not to release copies of the documentation to anyone, including the student in question. Disability Services will not accept disability documentation marked with a stamp or some other means that the documentation may not be released without the permission of the diagnostician or other entity. Such documentation will be returned to the sender with Disability Services keeping no records of the restricted documentation. Disability Services will then inform the student that the documentation was unacceptable and request the student to provide acceptable documentation explaining the reasons the documentation was unacceptable. Remember that Disability Services considers the documentation as educational records. Thus, Disability Services will not accept any restrictions that may limit or deny passing information to the student and other appropriate parties.