ADA Disability Accommodations at Caribbean Medical Schools

Sound Commitment

Caribbean medical schools can serve their students quite well. They generally have the curricula, facilities, staff, and commitments to graduate knowledgeable and skilled physicians who can qualify to practice medicine in the United States or abroad. Students matriculating at Caribbean medical schools have no reason to believe in anything other than their full capacity to complete all coursework, earn a medical degree, and qualify for medical practice with the full support of their medical school.

Consistent with those laudable commitments to provide quality medical education to diverse students, Caribbean medical schools regularly admit students with disabilities. To discriminate against applicants with disabilities would violate various laws and fundamental rights and values. Caribbean medical schools know that they serve students with disabilities and generally accept the obligations that go with that knowledge and commitment.

Challenges Beyond the Usual

Medical school challenges every student, although some students more than others. You don't have to have a disability to find medical school challenging. The knowledge base that a medical student must learn is vast. The skills are refined, technical, and subtle. Every medical student must work hard, long, and diligently to progress through the program to the point of graduation. Medical schools test their students frequently and rigorously. You can't fake and make medical school. Every student must meet rigorous standards. And most do, with their school's resources and commitment.

Medical students with disabilities, though, can face challenges beyond the usual hardships of medical school studies. By definition, a disability impairs the student's access to ordinary educational resources. Disabled students encounter barriers where other students do not. And those barriers occur for students all around the world. The common barriers that students of higher education face around the world include:

  • Physical inaccessibility. Buildings with stairs, multi-level buildings without elevators, no ramps or ramps too steep, tiered classrooms, bathroom stalls without railings, sinks only at higher levels, heavy doors, narrow and dark areas, and other barriers can all prevent access for a student who must use a wheelchair or similar assistive device
  • Resource inaccessibility. Schools may have abundant resources, but those resources may all require good eyesight and hearing, making them unavailable to the blind, visually impaired, or hearing impaired. Lectures without sign-language interpreters, reading materials without Braille or readers, and similar issues may place the hearing or visually impaired student at a constant and severe disadvantage
  • Electronic inaccessibility. Schools may require students to use abundant online resources, including for both studies and examination but may not have font size, screen format, and reader tools for the visually impaired
  • Awareness issues. Schools may have many of the accommodations necessary to serve disabled students but may not make those students aware of the availability of those accommodations or may refuse those accommodations out of a misunderstanding of their value and place. Schools may also fail to adjust accommodations to the individual student but instead offer only a one-size-fits-all approach
  • Educational disabilities. Schools may also fail to recognize and accommodate common educational disabilities such as ADD and ADHD. They may fail to provide reasonable testing accommodations such as extended time or isolated test conditions

If you are a student with disabilities at a Caribbean medical school, and your school has failed or refused to accommodate your disabilities in ways that have affected your ability to continue with and complete your medical education, then you need expert attorney help. You likely have laws, rules, and regulations that can assist you in gaining relief from your school. Retain national academic attorney Joseph D. Lento and the expert team at the Lento Law Firm to help you negotiate or win a resolution with your school. Your medical education is worth it. You've invested far too much to give up without a fight. Call 888.535.3686 or go online for help now.

The Americans with Disabilities Act

Title II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act require all public and private colleges and universities within the United States to provide equal access for students with disabilities. The Act does not apply beyond U.S. borders. But other U.S. laws, international laws, and school rules described below effectively extend the same protections as the Act to Caribbean medical schools. If you are a student with a disability at a Caribbean medical school, you can and should expect your school to provide protections like those protections afforded by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that all programs of an institution of higher education, including both curricular and extracurricular programs, be accessible to disabled students. Accessibility may require the school to modify access to educational and residential facilities. It may require schools to provide sign-language interpreters, note-takers, or similar aids and services. It may also require the school to provide Braille, large-font and large-format print materials, and auto-readers. Accessibility can also require a school to modify policies and procedures for testing and clinical work.

Generally, the school must fit accommodations to the individual student rather than taking a cookie-cutter approach. Accommodations can differ depending on each student's impairment and other circumstances. A school need not modify policies and procedures if doing so would fundamentally alter the educational service or create for the school an undue financial or administrative burden.

The Americans with Disabilities Act may not apply directly to your Caribbean medical school education, but its principles almost surely apply under other laws, rules, and regulations. Ross University School of Medicine, located in Barbados, is an example. Ross's Guidelines to Request Test Accommodations assure, “Ross University School of Medicine provides reasonable and appropriate accommodations to students with a demonstrated and documented disability.”

Expect your school to reasonably accommodate your disability. If it does not do so, and your school's failure or refusal threatens your medical education, then retain national academic attorney Joseph D. Lento and the expert team at the Lento Law Firm. Call 888.535.3686 or go online for help now.

The Rehabilitation Act

While the Americans with Disabilities Act may not directly apply to your Caribbean medical school to require that it accommodate your disability, other federal law likely does apply. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 USC §794, prohibits discrimination against any student based on a disability or disabilities in educational programs receiving federal funding. Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act in 1998 to guarantee equal access to electronic devices and similar information technology. The Rehabilitation Act's Section 504 mandates that institutions receiving federal funding provide a student with a disability with equal access to the school's programs, services, and activities receiving a federal subsidy.

These Caribbean medical schools currently receive federal funding and thus must comply with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act:

  • American University of Antigua School of Medicine
  • American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine
  • Medical University of the Americas
  • Ross University School of Medicine
  • Saba University School of Medicine
  • St. George's University School of Medicine
  • St. Matthew's University School of Medicine

Because Section 504's protections are substantially like the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act, you should expect your Caribbean medical school to reasonably accommodate your disability. If your medical school has not done so, then it risks violating Section 504 and losing its federal funding. A loss of federal funding could end your medical school's ability to continue its programs.

Your medical school is thus very likely to take any allegation very seriously made by you or another disabled student that it is not meeting its Section 504 requirements. Just be sure that you have the expert academic attorney help that you need to make your school pay attention to your disability rights, needs, and concerns. Retain national academic attorney Joseph D. Lento and the expert team at the Lento Law Firm.

Medical School Commitments

Your federal legal rights are not your only avenue for relief if you face an academic challenge relating to your medical school's failure or refusal to reasonably accommodate your disability. Caribbean medical schools are credible institutions. Their boards, faculties, and administrators generally profess and exhibit moral stances on issues including disability rights and equal access.

Thus, Caribbean medical schools, like the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine, generally make their own commitments to providing disability accommodations. The AUC School of Medicine's accommodations process expressly states that the school “is committed to providing reasonable accommodations for qualified students with disabilities. AUC maintains a process for students to use should they wish to request an accommodation.” The same policy promises that “AUC will not discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities on the basis of disability in its services, programs, or activities.”

These kinds of assurances can carry the force and effect of law. When schools accept tuition, they do so in a contractual agreement with the student paying the tuition. With the right attorney advocacy and representation, a disabled student may be able to use promises like the AUC one just quoted to obtain due accommodations. One doesn't always have to locate federal or other laws. Sometimes, the right on which the student's future depends is in the medical school's own policies and promises.

If you face probation, suspension, or dismissal because of your medical school's failure or refusal to reasonably accommodate your disability, then retain national academic attorney Joseph D. Lento and the expert team at the Lento Law Firm to advocate for your disability rights. Don't lose your investment in your medical education.

International Law Protections

International law, norms, and protocols can also provide disability protections at educational institutions, including Caribbean medical schools. The Organization of American States has adopted a legal framework that embraces a social model of disability. That model defines disability not as a static medical condition but instead as an interactive relationship between the impaired person and barriers that limit the impaired person's participation in society. When Caribbean medical schools like St. George’s University School of Medicine promise to accommodate students with disabilities, they do so out of an international legal obligation.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities also holds Caribbean nation institutions accountable to afford all rights and basic freedoms to persons with disabilities. The Convention's purpose is “to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.” The Convention specifically guarantees those rights in the context of education. Nations ratifying the Convention must adopt policies and legislation to preserve the human rights of people with disabilities. All Caribbean countries have ratified the Convention, making its guarantees legally binding for both public and private entities. Caribbean medical schools must comply with the Convention's terms when educating their medical students.

Get the Expert Help You Need

If you are a student at a Caribbean medical school, and your disability requires that your school reasonably accommodate your studies so that you can continue with and complete your medical education, then you have plenty of rights to enforce to gain those accommodations. You have a legal leg on which to stand, indeed, several legs. Don't let your Caribbean medical school shortchange you of those rights. Don't lose your medical education to a school's callous disregard of your natural rights. Reasonably accommodating your disability may cost your school some small-time and trouble. But your school owes it to you under federal law, international law, its own promises, and human rights.

Your challenge is not locating your legal and moral rights. Your challenge is ensuring that you get the expert attorney representation you need to regain your academic footing. You can readily meet that challenge by contacting and retaining national academic attorney Joseph D. Lento and the expert team at the Lento Law Firm. Attorney Lento, his team, and the expert educational consultants his team employs can help your medical school see the justice in providing you with the accommodation you need to complete your medical education. Don't go down without a fight. Retain a fighter who can help you win. Call 888.535.3686 or go online for help now.

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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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