OSWD recognizes that deafness and hearing disability are classified as a disability under Section 504 of the ADA laws; however, certain views identify deafness, not as a disability, but rather as a culture.

In most cases, accommodations and special services for students who are deaf or hard of hearing tend to be consistent and uniform. At the same time, accommodations and special services can vary from university to university, depending on the type of institution and constituents served.

What makes Gallaudet University unique is the fact that it is a renowned institution of higher education for deaf and hard of hearing students. In a hearing institution, the deaf or hard of hearing student may require accommodations such as interpreting services and note taking services. Because Gallaudet employs bilingualism, all facets of academic life are fully accessible to deaf and hard of hearing students. Therefore certain accommodations, such as interpreting services and note taking services, may not provide any significant benefits unless the deaf or hard of hearing students have a disability such as low vision, deaf-blind, learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, chronic illness, or physical or psychological disabilities that require accommodation.

So, while OSWD recognizes that deafness or hearing impairment is considered a disability under the law, the principle activity of OSWD is to ensure equal access for deaf students with disabilities.
OSWD has the right to:

  • Determine reasonable, appropriate, and effective accommodations on an individual basis
  • Review disability documentation and assess student accommodation needs
  • Modify accommodations based on a doctor's documentation in compliance with ADA and Section 504 laws

OSWD has the responsibility to:

  • Inform students of office location and procedures for requesting accommodations
  • Accept and evaluate disability documentation to determine eligibility for OSWD services
  • Maintain medical, psychological, or psycho-educational documentation for each student
  • Approve appropriate and reasonable accommodations
  • Provide notification to faculty as directed by the student
  • Maintain appropriate confidentiality of records and information pertaining to a student's disability
  • Protect student privacy and confidentiality
  • Ensure equal access to programs and services to students with disabilities