Statement on Confidentiality

The Office of Disability Access at UNTHSC strives to treat all personal information with the strictest confidentiality. We respect the privacy of individuals and will err in favor of confidentiality whenever possible. It is the policy of the office to hold confidential all communications, observations, and information made by and/or between students, faculty, and staff whenever possible.

Disability information that ODA keeps about students are considered educational records and are governed by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99). FERPA is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student’s education records. As a result, ODA may release information to University officials on a “need to know” basis. The need to know must be based on compelling and legitimate educational reasons for the information disclosure. Generally speaking, faculty and staff do not need to know the student’s diagnosis. University officials merely need to know that ODA verified the disability and the student’s right to reasonable accommodations. Likewise, faculty and staff (outside ODA) do not have direct access to student files. An “Authorization for Release of Information” form shall be obtained from the student (with their consent) to release confidential information to persons or entities outside of the University. This includes parents, family members, and significant others.

In some instances, ethical guidelines may require us to release confidential information without your consent: (1) when there is imminent (immediate) danger to yourself or others; (2) when we learn that a child, disabled adult, or elderly adult has been abused or neglected; (3) when we are ordered to release information to a court of law; (4) when you disclose that an individual with whom you received counseling in the State of Texas has behaved in a sexually inappropriate manner towards you (your identity may remain anonymous); and (5) in some cases (but not all), if you are a minor (under 18), your parents or legal guardian must give consent and may access your records.