In order to register with the office, you must self-identify to ODS and provide documentation of your disability. The type of documentation required will vary, depending on your disability and the accommodations being requested. In general, documentation should adhere to the best practice standards developed by the Association on Higher Education and Disability.
Students are encouraged to develop a list of accommodation requests prior to visiting Disability Services. In developing the list, you may wish to consider the following factors:
- Accommodations used in high school, previously attended colleges, and other settings
- The impact of your disability on your current functioning
- Settings which may exacerbate or ameliorate the impact of your disability
- Strategies that have been successful or not successful in the past
- Recommendations of medical or mental health providers
After providing documentation, you will meet with the Director to determine the accommodations or academic adjustments that may be put in place. The Director will provide you with an “accommodation letter” to verify that you have completed the registration process.
Student Intake Forms are available from ODS, but no specific format for documentation is required.
Accommodation letters are the official form of communication between ODS and other members of the campus community. The purpose of the letter is to verify that you have registered with ODS and to delineate the accommodations you may be using in your classes. No information regarding the specifics of your disability will be contained in the letter.
- Seating near front of the class
- Large print exams, handouts, signs, equipment/material labels
- Electronic format for syllabi, assignments, readings, resources
- Electronic-formatted lecture notes, handouts, and texts
- Screen readers (JAWS, NVDA)
- Reduced-distraction testing environment
- Extended time (+50% or time and a half) to complete exams, quizzes, and in-class assignments
- Sign language interpreter
- Seating near the instructor/speaker with an unobstructed view of the speaker’s face
- Real-time captioning
- FM system
- Flexibility in attendance within reason- typically no more than 1-3 additional absences than are normally acceptable depending on the course requirements and format
- Audio recorded lectures
- Wheelchair-friendly furniture and room arrangement (e.g., adjustable tables, space for a wheelchair, lab equipment located within reach)
- Use of alternate format text (name the format) for all course materials
- Use of Assistive Technology
- Use of computer on exams and written work
- Service Animals
- Emotional Support Animals (Certifications are not acceptable forms of documentation)
Letters are effective for one semester only. At the beginning of each semester, you will need to come to the ODS office to discuss any changes that need to be made and to receive a new letter
It is your responsibility to share your letter with your instructors for each class in which you are requesting accommodations. ODS recommends that you make an appointment with each instructor during his or her office hours to review the letter and discuss how each accommodation will be implemented. Instructors are not able to provide accommodations until they are presented with a letter from ODS.
It is preferable to meet with instructors as early in the semester as possible, as some accommodations may take days or weeks to implement. Waiting until later in the semester, or waiting until accommodations are needed, may not provide the instructor or ODS with enough notice to implement accommodations in a timely manner.
Making Changes to the Accommodation Letter
Changes to your accommodation letter may be made at any point in the semester by requesting a meeting with the Shelly Gehrke, Director of Disability Services, to discuss the need for a change. ODS may request additional documentation to support the accommodation request.
How Can Parents Support Their Student Through This Transition?
- Encourage your child to register early during the process, especially if housing accommodations are requested.
- Review documentation together so that she or he is comfortable articulating both the diagnosis and requests for accommodation.
- Once your son or daughter is on campus, keep in frequent contact and if possible, plan regular visits to campus.
- Support them during their college career, but allow them the opportunity to take charge of their education.
College is also different than high school in regards to the law. It is important that students and parents understand these differences and plan for the transition to the post-secondary environment. Students in high school are covered under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA. IDEA provides all K-12 students the right to a free and appropriate education. This includes regular or special education, and related aids and services necessary to meet the needs of the student. IDEA does not apply to post-secondary schools. Students with disabilities are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. These regulations provide students at the post-secondary level the right to equal access to programs and services through nondiscrimination and accommodations.
For a more complete explanation, the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, furnishes a comprehensive publication.