Accessibility Resources

Welcome to Accessibility Resources (AR). We are glad you are here!

AR is a center for disability education, awareness, and resources for students, staff, and faculty. AR Staff are available to help students with disabilities (SWDs) as they move through college toward their academic goal. AR Staff accomplish this by facilitating accessibility and accommodations for qualified students, ensuring equal access for participation in all campus programs and activities.

IMPORTANT: Every individual situation is unique; regardless of what medical documentation you may or may not have, please contact our office to have a discussion about how we may be able to support your academic goals. We understand both generally - and during these times of COVID19 - obtaining documentation may be difficult and we want to work with you to address academic barriers you may be experiencing.

AR Facts and Figures

  • Over 300 students annually are registered with the AR Office and are qualified to use accommodations.
  • The overwhelming majority of SWDs at BTC have invisible disability conditions, like mental health conditions, learning disabilities, AD(H)D, chronic and acute medical conditions, and neurological conditions.
  • AR Students are retained at a higher rate than students without disabilities at BTC.
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Getting Started with AR

AR is a center for disability and accessibility education, student development, and resources for students. The professionals who work in AR ensure students with disabilities have equal access for participation in campus courses, programs, and activities. Once a student registers with AR, they are regarded as a student with a disability and receives protection against disability discrimination based on federal and state law.

To apply:

  1. Click on the “AR Application” button at the top of this page.
  2. Be sure to read all information before submitting the application.
  3. Completely fill out the AR Application.
  4. If you have documentation you would like to share with AR to support your application, you may upload it when you complete the AR Application.

Once AR receives your application:

  • You will be invited to an Access Planning Meeting (APM) by email where you will have the opportunity to discuss your history of disability, understand the purpose of academic accommodations in the college setting, learn what type of documentation works for college-level accommodations, and discuss the barriers you experience or may experience in the college classroom.
  • Based on your discussion, there will be a determination of reasonable accommodations based on your specific disability(ies). These accommodations are determined by (a) your self-report in your AR Application, (b) information obtained through your Access Planning Meeting, and (c) your disability documentation.
  • You will have access to myAR where you will be able to interact with AR staff, renew accommodations, and manage your AR requests.

If you have specific questions about this process, please email

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Student & Family Resources

Accessibility Resources (AR) at Bellingham Technical College is committed to providing a place for students with disabilities to grow and develop as adult learners. As students with disabilities become their own advocates, they take on specific responsibilities as college students and are responsible for much of their own learning. AR will do their best to help families understand the expectations we have for their students, as well as connect students and families with the resources necessary to promote student learning. The individual advising and collaborative interactions students experience with Accessibility Resources professionals are intentionally designed to help students identify and articulate their strengths and challenges as they prepare to pursue a career path.


We understand that the transition from High School to College can be difficult for parents as well as students. Please keep in mind, college students are expected to do their own work, fill out/submit forms, and engage with campus staff/faculty independently. College staff and faculty are not required to provide information to parents or third-party advocates on student progress, attendance, grades or accommodations. 

Any third party individual (parent, vocational counselor, etc.) who logs into any BTC student portal (Canvas, myAR, ctcLink, etc.) with someone else's student identification and credentials constitutes improper use and is in violation of State and Federal Privacy Laws. 

Accessibility Resources staff will not meet with parents or third-party advocates without the student present. Accessibility Resources staff also reserve the right to meet with the student alone. It is expected the student will communicate their needs to AR as an adult learner. Requests by parents or third-party advocates will not be accepted.

Future Students & Families

Current Students

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Returning AR Students

Renewing quarterly accommodations:

In college, accommodations do not roll over from quarter to quarter. It is the student’s responsibility to request accommodations each quarter they would like to use them. While AR does their best to remind students, it is ultimately the student’s responsibility. Accommodations are not retroactive.

How do I renew through myAR?

Go to the myAR page to renew your accommodation.

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Documentation, Rights & Responsibilities

Future Students

What Are My Rights?

Bellingham Technical College is committed to providing qualified students with a disability an equal opportunity to access the benefits, rights and privileges of college services, programs, and activities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and State of Washington Laws of 1994, Chapter 105 ensure that students not be discriminated against due to their disability.

  • All qualified students have the right to receive appropriate services under these laws.
  • All qualified students have the right to appeal any decisions made regarding accommodations.
  • All students have the right to confidentiality.

Under the ADA, a person with a disability is someone with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

What Are My Responsibilities?

The college will work collaboratively with each student in determining reasonable accommodations. To ensure the delivery of accommodations for which the student qualifies, students shall:

  • Provide timely notice and documentation of the nature and extent of their disability, and the services they are requesting to the Accessibility Resources office. Requests for accommodations should be received by the Accessibility Resources office four (4) weeks prior to the beginning of the quarter for which the request is made. Lack of advance notice may delay the availability of some accommodations.
  • Provide additional documentation if requested by the Accessibility Resources staff to determine appropriate adjustments. Such documentation may include, but is not limited to
  • Identification of tests administered
  • Test results
  • Description of the disability
  • Recommended accommodations
  • Cooperate with Accessibility Resources to develop an appropriate educational plan and any academic adjustments, auxiliary aids, or related services needed.
  • Follow through with additional tasks to ensure set-up of your accommodations (i.e. reduced-distractions testing, alternate text requests, etc.)
  • When receiving services provided by hired Accessibility Resources personnel, you are responsible for:
  • Exchanging contact information with your reader/scribe/note taker/interpreter/transcriber
  • Notifying your reader/scribe/note taker/interpreter/transcriber 48 hours in advance of a planned absence
  • Notifying your reader/scribe/note taker/interpreter/transcriber as soon as possible if you will have an unplanned absence.
  • Promptly notify Accessibility Resources of any problems encountered in receiving the agreed-upon accommodations.
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress.


All students are subject to the Academic Standards of Progress Policy and the Student Conduct Code as outlined in the current BTC Catalog.

Faculty and Staff

This information guide was designed to assist faculty and staff in interacting with students with disabilities at the post-secondary level.

While every effort has been made to insure completeness and accuracy, this is not a legal document nor is it intended to offer legal advice or a legal opinion.

What laws cover institutions of higher education?

Colleges and universities are covered under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. In 1994, Washington State passed legislation adding new sections to 28B.10 RCW that expresses the same intent as Section 504 and the ADA.

The Rehabilitation Act

Title V of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is generally regarded as the first civil rights legislation for people with disabilities on the national level.

Section 504 of the Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in any program or activity offered by an entity or institution receiving federal funds. Since 1977, all institutions receiving federal funding have been required to provide appropriate reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities.

Section 504 states:

No otherwise qualified person with a disability in the United States ... shall, solely on the basis of disability, be denied access to, or the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity provided by any institution receiving federal financial assistance.

Definition of a Disability

Section 504 defines a person with a disability as "... someone with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities."

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The ADA is a federal civil rights statute designed to remove barriers which prevent qualified individuals with disabilities from enjoying the same opportunities that are available to persons without disabilities.

Colleges are covered in many ways under the ADA. Employment is addressed by Title 1, accessibility provided by public and private entities Titles 11 and 111, and miscellaneous items are covered under Title V.

Definition of a person with a disability

Under the ADA, a person with a disability is someone with, a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. A person is considered to be a person with a disability under the law if he/she has the disability, has a record of the disability, or is regarded as having the disability.

Under both Section 504 and the ADA, the term "auxiliary aids and services" include: qualified interpreters, note takers, transcription services, written materials, telephone handset amplifiers, qualified readers, taped text, Braille materials, acquisition or modification of equipment or devices, or other similar services and actions.

Washington State Law

Under Washington State Law (28B. 10 RCW), "... institutions of higher education are obligated to provide services to students with disabilities." The definition of disability follows the federal guidelines. "Reasonable accommodations" include certain "core services" which are outlined in the statute. It also establishes a grievance procedure for students to follow if they believe discrimination has taken place.

Commonly Asked Questions

How do these laws relate to each other?

Institutions that receive federal funds are covered under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The ADA does not supplant Section 504, but in those situations where the ADA provides greater protection, the ADA standards apply. Washington State law does not confer any new or expanded rights, but is intended to provide a clearer, more succinct statement of those rights than previously existed.

NOTE: Private colleges and universities are covered under Title III of the ADA, unless they are wholly owned and operated by religious organizations.

What are the implications for higher education institutions?

  • Students with disabilities must be afforded an equal opportunity to participate in, and benefit from all postsecondary education programs and activities. That includes any course, course of study, or activity offered.
  • Rules or policies which would limit students with disabilities from fully participating in a program or activity may not be imposed.
  • Academic standards are not compromised, but accommodations must be provided, on a case-by-case basis, to afford qualified students with disabilities an equal education opportunity.
Can I ask a Student if he/she has a Disability?

No. However, it is the college's responsibility to notify students of services available for students with disabilities. You should inform all students of services and/or programs available at the college for students who need accommodations due to a disability, and how to access those services.

Do I have the right to know what type of disability a student has when they ask for an accommodation?

No. A student does not have to inform the faculty or staff member about their disability, but only the needed accommodations. If you have a question regarding the need for the accommodation, then you may contact your Accessibility Resources office. This office will have documentation regarding the student's disability on file. They cannot give details about the disability, unless the student has signed a written consent form, but can inform you if the student has a documented disability and if the accommodation requested is appropriate. The student may disclose their disability to you. You are then obligated to maintain confidentiality regarding the student's disability. It is important to remember that the confidential nature of disability-related information has been an overarching principle of nondiscrimination since Section 504.

What can I do if I disagree with the academic accommodation requested?

If you disagree with the academic accommodation requested, you should discuss your disagreement with the Accessibility Resources provider, but you should continue to provide the accommodation. An instructor may not forbid a student's use of an aid if that prohibition limits the student's participation in the school program.

Section 504 states:

A recipient may not impose upon handicapped students other rules, such as the prohibition of tape recorders in classrooms or of dog guides in campus building, that have the effect of limiting the participation of handicapped students in the recipient's education program or activity.

Often faculty members are concerned with the use of a tape recorder, in their classroom because it may infringe on their freedom of speech or potential copyrighted material. The instructor may ask the student to sign an agreement that states that they will only use the recordings for their personal use. It is important to remember that under the ADA it appropriate accommodations are not provided to the student YOU, as well as the institution can be held liable for monetary damages.

Does the student receive "special privileges" under this legislation?

Providing accommodations should not be regarded as giving students "special privileges", but rather as equalizing the impact of the student's disability to the greatest extent possible. Institutions are not mandated to make changes in requirements that would result in a major or substantial change in essential elements of the curriculum. The institution has the right to set academic standards, but the institution must prove that a requested accommodations would create a substantial change. The burden of proof lies with the institution.

It is important that the students be treated the same and with equity. The legislation does not intend that institutions pass students because they have a disability, and it is important to expect the same academic performance, with requested accommodation, from the student with a disability as from a student without a disability.

Does the student with a disability need to ask for accommodations in a certain time frame before classes?

Yes. Most institutions require that the student indicate the need for an accommodation within a reasonable advance time. This is not always possible, but it is important to provide the accommodations as soon as possible.

What can I do to make the classroom environment open to students with disabilities?

There are many that have had little or no contact with people with disabilities. It is important to remember that people with disabilities are just that-people first. Here are a few easy-to-remember tips:

  • Make a general announcement regarding the availability of accommodations at the beginning of class. Most institutions require a statement on all syllabi regarding requests for accommodations. Inform students of the Accessibility Resources office and how to contact that office.
  • Ask questions. The student is the best source of information.
  • Not everyone who has a disability is the same. It is important to look at the person first and not lump everyone together in the same category. This is also important when addressing accommodations. For example, not all students with learning disabilities need extended time, not all people with visual impairments need Braille, etc. Everyone is an individual with individual needs.
How do I know what type of academic accommodation a student needs?

It is up to the student and the Accessibility Resources office to determine what type of accommodation is needed. If you question the accommodation, contact the Accessibility Resources office. There is not one type of accommodation for all students with disabilities. Each accommodation must be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Do I also have to provide these services to international students with disabilities who need auxiliary aids or services?

Yes. International students are entitled to the same protection from nondiscrimination on the basis of disability as are U.S. citizens. However, if a student has limited English skills due to being a non-native speaker, and not due to a disability, this would not qualify them as a person with a disability under the law.

Who pays for accommodations?

Each institution is responsible for the provision of appropriate auxiliary aids and services at no cost to the student. Each institution may determine which department pays for a particular accommodation. The institution cannot place a limit on its expenditure for auxiliary aids or services, or refuse to provide auxiliary aids because it believes that other providers of these services exist. The institution may work with an outside agency, such as Vocational Rehabilitation, to assist in obtaining an item or service.

What If I am unsure how to handle a situation with a student with a disability?

First ask the student. He/she is the best source of information about their disability. Second, contact the Accessibility Resources office or another office that acts as a resource for students with disabilities.

What are my responsibilities concerning field trips and outside programs?

The legislation is very explicit about this. Persons with disabilities are entitled to participate in the most integrated settings possible. If a teacher conducts field trips or special programs, accommodations must be offered. If an institution offers transportation to students going on a field trip, it must offer accessible transportation for students with disabilities. For example, a student who uses a wheelchair is enrolled in your class, and you decide to use a college van to take the students to a museum. You must offer transportation to the student with a disability. The student may accept or refuse the accessible transportation.

What are possible personal consequences if I do not provide the accommodation requested?

If a student is denied equal access, auxiliary aids, or services, they can file a complaint under Section 504 with the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education or under the ADA Titles 11 and III which is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice. The student may file with both offices. Under ADA, monetary damages may be enforced and the student may name both an individual, such as a professor, and the institution in the complaint. An employee can be personally liable, as well as the institution, if named in the complaint.

Do I have to provide academic accommodations if the student is taking the class for an audit?

Yes. The legislation states any student with a disability shall be given equal access to programs or services offered to all students.

Common Tips on Disability Etiquette

  • Treat adults as adults. For example, don't patronize people who use wheelchairs by patting them on the head.
  • Don't assume a person with a disability needs help. Ask first. Also, listen to instructions the person gives.
  • Talk to the person with a disability, not their friend or family member.
  • Relax. Don't worry if you use the term "See you later"; to a person with a visual impairment or "I have to be running" to a person who uses a wheelchair.
  • To get the attention of a person who is deaf or hard of hearing, tap them on the shoulder or wave your hand. Look directly at the person and speak clearly. Not all people with a hearing loss can read lips. Remember to speak directly to the person with a hearing loss, not their interpreter.
  • When talking for a long time with a person who uses a wheelchair, put yourself at eye level so they do not have to strain their neck to look up.
  • Don't hang on a person's wheelchair. That is part of their personal space.
  • Use "person first" language. Examples include person with a disability, student with a learning disability, or a student who is deaf. Many people find term "handicapped" offensive. A handicap refers to a physical or attitudinal barrier.
  • Remember: Treat them like a person
  • The number one tip on how to treat a person with a disability is like a person.
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  • What is Accessibility Resources (AR)?

    Accessibility Resources (AR) exists as a center of disability education and
    resources for students, staff, and faculty. The professionals in the AR Office are
    happy to help students navigate the landscape of higher education as well as
    locate necessary services. We are invested in your academic success and goal
    attainment. One of the primary functions of AR is to act as a facilitator for
    students to obtain and utilize accommodations necessary to ensure equal
    access for participation in campus programs and activities. Additionally, AR
    is a strong ally for students at every level of their disability awareness, student
    development, and academic pursuits.
  • What is the Mission of AR at BTC:

    Accessibility Resources promotes an institutional culture of disability education and
    accessible learning. We strive to help students develop the self-advocacy and
    communication skills necessary to succeed when they leave our institution and gain
    employment in the workplace. The individual advising and collaborative interactions
    students experience with AR are intentionally designed to help students identify and
    articulate their strengths and challenges as they prepare to pursue a career path.

    AR Office Staff at BTC view their positions and responsibilities as threefold:

    • Keep current regarding changes in disability law and maintain institutional
      compliance through consistent awareness of potential ADA concerns. Protect
      the institution, faculty, and staff from potential litigation by educating employees.
      This is accomplished by providing frequent educational opportunities for faculty
      and staff, using small and large group settings or individual consultations.
    • Promote a culture of disability education. This is accomplished through the
      facilitation of student learning and development as well as disability education
      opportunities for students.
    • Move students toward greater disability awareness, competence, and
      responsibility while simultaneously ensuring the protection of students’ civil rights
      by promoting a learning environment free from discrimination and barriers.
  • What is the Vision of AR at BTC?

    Through intentional conversation, collaboration, and the provision of academic
    adjustments and auxiliary aids, support students’ self-efficacy development, support
    students in order for them to regard themselves as capable learners, and aid in shifting
    the overall focus from accommodation to accessibility campus-wide.
  • What are AR's Student Learning Outcomes?

    By the end of the second quarter of access to the services, as well as interaction with
    the professionals, in the AR Office at BTC, students will be able to: 

    1. Identify their specific disability(ies).
    2. Describe the educational difficulties (i.e. functional limitations) they experience in
    academic settings.
    3. Articulate the steps required to initially secure disability services at BTC.
    4. Articulate the steps required for quarterly renewal of accommodations.
    5. Demonstrate negotiation of their academic adjustments with their instructors.
    6. Identify, locate, and utilize additional campus and community resources available
    to them

  • How do I register with the AR Office at BTC?

    • Complete the AR Application:

    • You will be contacted to schedule an Access Planning Meeting
      (APM). At this time, you will be asked about previous history of
      accommodation in prior academic institutions. You will learn what
      constitutes useful documentation of your disability and asked to
      provide a report written by a diagnostician. A diagnostician is a
      medical doctor, psychologist, or psychiatrist with the training and
      credentials necessary to diagnose your particular disability.
    • Submit recent documentation of your disability prepared by a
      medical doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist
    • Sign a Release of Information Form

    IMPORTANT: An Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) from K-12 does
    not qualify as documentation. We may gain information from a Summary
    of Performance, 504 Plan, or IEP to aid in accommodation determination.
    You may be asked to provide more recent, additional documentation in
    order for AR to determine reasonable classroom and program

    *Obtaining documentation can be a long process. Not having documentation at your first
    appointment will not create a barrier to accommodations for the current quarter.

    Provisional accommodations - for the first quarter only - may be approved until you
    acquire appropriate documentation. It is your responsibility to follow through on
    submitting documentation if you would like accommodations at BTC.

  • How will I know what accommodations I qualify for?

    Accommodations are determined using a three-pronged approach. They are:

    • Student self-report including academic history, accommodations used at
      previous educational institutions, and description of barriers the student
      currently experiences in the classroom environment
    • Professional judgment of the AR professional conducting the APM and
      application information
    • Third-party documentation prepared by a qualified diagnostician trained to
      diagnose the student’s specific disability

    During your Access Planning Meeting, you should be prepared to discuss:

    • The history of your disability;
    • The limitations or challenges you experience in learning environments due
      to your disability, and;
    • list of accommodations you have received in previous institutions of

    Appropriate accommodations will be determined in order to eliminate barriers to
    your education based on your documented disability. There are times when a
    facilitated discussion with your instructor may be requested in order to gain more
    information regarding the classroom environment and how accommodations will
    impact that environment.

  • How do I request my accommodations?

    Your first accommodation plan will be determined at your Access Planning
    Meeting. AR will send a Letter of Accommodation to your instructor(s) for the
    current quarter – the instructor will not honor your accommodation until they
    receive this notification. Students are encouraged to let their instructors know:

    • They have registered with AR
    • They are requesting academic accommodations for their current class


  • Do I have to request my accommodations each quarter I am a student at BTC?

    Yes! Your accommodations do not roll over from quarter to quarter. Just like
    submitting your financial aid application and registering for classes, it is your
    responsibility to make accommodation renewals a part of your academic

    IMPORTANT – Verbal requests for accommodation are not honored. All requests
    must be through the Canvas renewal process.

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