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Student Disability Services
University of Mississippi

Defining Essential Course Elements

Faculty and academic departments determine the essential elements of courses and programs of study; however, federal regulations require that those essential elements be reasonable and practical within the context of the curriculum, evaluation standards and expected outcomes of the course or program of study. There must have been a “determinative effort” made when deciding what is essential and decisions cannot be arbitrary or capricious. The ADA is a remedial statute written to address discrimination toward people with disabilities. As such, it requires colleges and universities to question their notions of what is truly essential and to provide, if possible, for alternate methods for students to demonstrate their knowledge, or lack of knowledge, as regards the course content.
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