All disability-related information including Course Accessibility Letters, email, and consultations are considered confidential and must be managed in accordance with The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) regulations. This includes electronic, paper, verbal, and any other types of communication with or about students with disabilities.
In addition to fulfilling legal obligations, maintaining a high standard of confidentiality also serves to maintain an environment in which students with disabilities feel respected, safe, supported, and protected.
Unauthorized disclosures of student information must be documented and can result in the University being in non-compliance with federal regulations. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) may audit FERPA compliance and require corrective actions. Additionally, such disclosures may violate state privacy laws and may subject the University and the individual to liability.
Many disclosures of information are inadvertent. For this reason, a high level of vigilance to avoid unintentional disclosure of disability information must be maintained.
Disability Support Services offers the following guidelines for faculty, staff, and administrators to ensure that confidential student information is kept secure.
- Student disability information should not be visible on your computer or in any printed format that others might view.
- Course Accessibility Letters should be stored in a safe place on your computer.
- Requesting specific information about a student’s disability is not appropriate. Instead, faculty should focus any inquiry on how a student’s learning is impacted by their disability.
- Requesting a letter from the student’s physician is not appropriate. The Course Accessibility Letter is all that should be required to justify the accommodation and supersedes any letter from the student’s provider.
- If a student voluntarily discloses the nature of their disability to you, even if it is obvious, please do not share the information with others.
- Do not accept a student’s primary disability documentation, even if it is offered to you by the student. Instead, refer the student to DSS. CSU has designated DSS as the repository of all disability documentation for students with disabilities.
- Conversations, casual or otherwise with colleagues about a student’s disability status should only occur if expressed approval has been given by the student or DSS.
- When discussing a student’s disability related accommodations, do so in a private location, out of the hearing range of others (i.e. other students, faculty, staff, and student workers).
- At no time should the class be informed that a student has a disability, except at the student’s request.
Please contact DSS with any questions regarding maintaining confidentiality of information.