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Office of Disability Services

Field Experience Policy for Students with Disabilities


Messiah College is committed to making reasonable accommodations for qualified students with disabilities to assure equal access to all programs and services of the College. The College offers a variety of credit-bearing site-based learning experiences. For the purpose of this policy, “field experience” refers to internships and all other credit-bearing site-based assignments.  


Some programs and majors have mandatory site-based learning experiences, whereas students may enroll in similar types of experiences for elective credit. Those programs with mandatory field experiences may have additional requirements established by licensing agencies and/or professional standards.



The College does not have authority over cooperating agencies and cannot guarantee that all requests for accommodation can be honored. The College will work with students to locate suitable work-sites whenever possible.


Essential functions:

Students must demonstrate an ability to perform the essential functions of a specific assignment, with or without assistive technology. While some professions have reached general agreement about the essential functions of specific jobs, others remain diverse and each site or organization may have developed its own set of standards for performance. The College has no authority to compel changes to those standards for the sake of an individual student.


Site Assignments:

Different professions present unique challenges to students with disabilities, due in part to job expectations that vary significantly. Students may find certain work assignments outside the range of their abilities, while other situations may be more easily adapted to the individual. Students should be able to demonstrate mastery of essential skills before placements are arranged. Agencies are not required to provide technologies or an assistant to manage those details that the student cannot perform independently.


Programs with Mandatory Field Experiences:

Students wishing to complete a program with mandatory field experiences should discuss their needs for accommodation with their advisors, department chairs, program directors (if applicable), and the Director of Disability Services. Those conversations should take place as early as possible in the student’s program to allow sufficient time to plan or to consider alternative majors should a change be indicated. Early identification of areas of concern also allows the student opportunity to work to improve when improvement is possible.



In order to effectively represent the student's needs, the College will at times be required to reveal disability-specific information to an agency representative in order to determine whether a student can be accommodated. The College will use the "need to know" criterion for determining who is to be informed of a student’s disability to assure confidentiality and protection of personal information. That determination is left to the College representative, generally in consultation with the Director of Disability Services, and with the written approval of the student.


Approved by Risk Management Council: April 10, 2007