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Transition Handbook

Frequently Asked Questions

How do students access services?

Students with disabilities who wish to access services may initiate their request by contacting the Office of Services to Students with Disabilities. Each school will have one or an individual designated with the responsibility of providing those services. Students can expect to meet with a staff member to discuss their academic needs. During this intake process, students will have an opportunity to identify specific academic accommodations and they will be asked to provide current documentation about their disability.

How do students qualify for services?

Colleges and universities are committed to serving all students with disabilities as defined by federal regulations. A qualified person with a disability means: . . .an individual with a disability who, with or without reasonable modifications to rules, policies, or practices, the removal or architectural, communication, or transportation barriers, or the provision of auxiliary aids and services, meets the essential eligibility requirements for the receipt of services or the participation in programs or activities provided by a public entity.

The federal definition of a disability includes a person who (1) has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of such person's major life activities; (2) has a record of such impairment, or (3) is regarded as having such impairment.

The student must provide documentation of an impairment and the documentation must show that the impairment restricts his or her ability to perform a major life function in comparison to most people. If a person does not have a physical or mental impairment or has a physical or mental impairment that does not substantially limit a major life activity the person is not entitled to ADA protection.

The determination of whether an individual has a disability under ADA is not based upon the name or diagnosis of the impairment, but rather upon the impact of that impairment on the life of the individual.

How often must a student request services?

Planned services are provided based upon the requests of the student. Since different classes may require different accommodations it is important to look at a student's needs on a semester by semester basis. Services, therefore, must be requested at least once at the beginning of each semester or at the time a need is identified within a semester.

Why is a diagnosis not enough? Joe has the same diagnosis and gets different accommodations.

The use of accommodations in post-secondary institutions is based upon more than just the diagnosis of a disability. It is based upon the severity of impact (Functional Impact) on a major life activity. This is why documentation for a post-secondary institution has to provide more information that just a diagnosis and must address the severity of impact. Another student with the same disability may be impacted differently by his disability; therefore, all accommodations are viewed on a case by case basis.

My parents have always taken care of my accommodations with the school. Can't they bring in the documentation and handle this for me?

No. Students at post-secondary institutions are considered adults. The agreement for services needs to be made with the person requesting the services and not at the request of a third party. The federal laws and FERPA are very clear that institutions are not to communicate to anyone but the student about that individuals academic progress and/or disability related needs. There is nothing that prevents a parent from accompanying his/her child or from being informed of/included in conversations or provided with information with a waiver of confidentiality signed by the student on file. Consultation by parents with students is common, and can be helpful as students learn to better self-advocate and learn independence. Unless the student is incapable of making independent decisions (i.e. power of attorney by another, incapacitated), actions regarding services, accommodations, and such will be done at the direct request of the student.

Are there special classes or programs designed just for students with learning disabilities?

No. The purpose of the accommodations is to provide each student with equal access to the information and course content. Given these accommodations a student who is otherwise qualified should be able to be successful within the context of a normal classroom setting.

Is there someone who will help me obtain accommodations if I run into problems?

Yes. Go to the Office of Services to Students with Disabilities or to the person with whom you arranged your accommodations. They will assist you in trying to resolve any conflicts that may arise.

Why can't I just do my work at home and come to class when I feel like it?

While in some classes attendance may not be a critical issue, in many classes it is considered to be a critical component of the curriculum. Examples would be when learning is a hands-on experience, involves group dynamics or interaction, and extends beyond just textbook knowledge of a subject. Many times some flexibility in an attendance policy might be negotiated with an instructor but in some cases that may not be possible.