Disability Services FAQs
WHAT IS A DISABILITY?
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a disability is a condition that interferes with a major life activity.
WHY SHOULD I MEET WITH THE LEARNING SPECIALIST?
The Disability Services Coordinator provides several services. In partnership with you, the student, accommodations that help support academic achievement are identified and put into place. We can review your documentation with you and help you to understand more clearly the kinds of challenges you face as a learner, as well as possible strategies to work around these challenges. We can assist you to be a more effective self-advocate.
WHAT DOES THE LAW SAY ABOUT STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES IN HIGHER EDUCATION?
The law says that students with disabilities in college need to complete the same requirements as students without disabilities, but they may have certain accommodations. Standards for individual courses and for graduation are not changed to help a student succeed. Accommodations are intended to increase access, not alter curriculum or course expectations.
HOW IS THIS DIFFERENT FROM HIGH SCHOOL?
In high school, a resource room teacher or special educator worked with your parents and your teachers to develop a plan for your education. It was the school’s responsibility to see that the appropriate people were informed about you as a learner. You were (hopefully) a participant, but not necessarily in charge of the decision making process. In college, you are responsible for your progress and success. You must self-identify as a person with a disability to the Disability Services Coordinator, and then to your instructors. For example, you are responsible for scheduling and following alternative testing procedures, if that is a supported accommodation. Students with disabilities must meet the same course requirements as other students in a class, but the ways in which take in information or demonstrate what they know may be adjusted.
WHAT DO YOU NEED IN ORDER TO ACCESS ACCOMMODATIONS AND SUPPORT SERVICES?
Please refer to the links for documenting a disability on the disability services home page. Once the documentation paperwork is on file, you will meet with Mary, the Disability Services Coordinator, to set up accommodations each semester, based on the classes you are registered for that semester.
WHAT KIND OF SUPPORT SERVICES ARE AVAILABLE?
Support services and accommodations are determined on an individual basis. Some examples of classroom accommodations are extended time on tests, access to a distraction- reduced testing area, note-takers, tape recording of lectures, and access to and training in the use of assistive technology. Assistive technology may include tape recorders, voice to text software, text reading software, book scanning and a variety of other options.
HOW MUCH INFORMATION WILL MY PROFESSORS RECEIVE ABOUT ME?
Your professors will know only what you choose to tell them. Your accommodation letter is created by you and the Disability Service Coordinator, and then you bring it to your instructors. The paper states that you are a student registered with our office and lists the accommodations that are legally supported by your documentation. Whatever else you choose to tell your professors is up to you.
HOW DO I DISCLOSE MY INFORMATION TO MY PROFESSORS?
Disclosing a disability to a professor can feel awkward and uncomfortable. The decision to do this is yours, of course, but there are several things you can do to make it more comfortable and productive. Face-to-face meetings with your instructors are an excellent way to explain disabilities and to help both of you feel at ease. You can even rehearse what you will say with the Disability Services Coordinator or a close friend.
Schedule your meeting as early in the semester as possible. This allows time to figure out accommodations and helps your plan to be implemented as quickly as possible. You do not need to go into great detail about your disability, but you should tell your instructor about the impact it has on you as you study and do class work. Be willing to discuss what is difficult for you, but also talk about your learning strengths.
Rely on your past experiences as well. Talk with the instructor about what works for you as a learner. For example, for students with auditory processing difficulties, adding written or visual instructions to verbal ones is very helpful. Many times professors will have worked with students who have issues similar to yours and will have additional ideas. Their input can be very valuable and they are most familiar with the demands of their course.
DO I NEED TO BRING A LAPTOP OR TABLET?
There are computer labs on campus which are available to all students, however, if you need assistive technology and there is one program in particular you are familiar with and use often, having a laptop or tablet with that software may help you to be more successful.
WHAT IF I DON’T WANT ACCOMMODATIONS?
A student has the right to not to use accommodations and it would be helpful to the disability services office if you informed the Disability Services Coordinator of this. Please keep the following in mind, however. If you do not request accommodations and perform poorly without them, you must live with the consequences of that action. Since college courses generally move faster and are more difficult than high school classes, it often makes sense to make use of accommodations early in your academic career. Later on, when you’re more acclimated to the academic environment, accommodations may not be needed as often.