If you have a disability, it is up to you to decide if an accommodation might be helpful to you while you pursue your college studies. To understand the purpose of accommodation as it applies to students with disabilities in higher education, it is important to understand the meaning of reasonable accommodation.
Remember, the focus of all accommodations is to mitigate the effects of the disability, not to make sure that all students with disabilities are successful in college.
Accommodations in the classroom allow students with visible or invisible disabilities the same learning opportunities as their classmates.
Students with disabilities often need support services and adjustments to enable them to learn at the same level as other students.
Anti-discrimination law protects students with disabilities from being denied equal access to academic material in the classroom. Accommodations promote full inclusion of the rising number of students with disabilities entering postsecondary academic institutions. The first step to requesting an accommodation is to make sure you have official documentation of your disability that establishes a substantial limitation in a major life activity. The final step is to make appointments with your professors to explain your disability and provide the letter of verification of accommodation. Tell the professor that you have met with the DSO to figure out an effective accommodation and want to make sure the recommendations will work. Ask if it will be ok to check back couple of times to discuss how the accommodation is working out. If you have worked with the disability services office (DSO) to request a reasonable accommodation and the request is turned down, find out why and continue to consult with the DSO for effective problem solving. However, if a solution cannot be found and you feel you have been discriminated against, you can approach the campus ADA compliance officer (often located in the Office of Equal Opportunity) and file a complaint.
While there are accommodations that are commonly helpful to people with certain disabilities, it is important to understand that accommodations are determined on an individual basis. Priority Registration: Students registered with their DSO are allowed priority registration (usually during the pre-registration period). Note taking: A fellow student volunteer may be recruited as a note taker or, if needed, a paid student or non-student.
Multiple methods of presentation: Presenting information and ideas in multiple ways to address different learning styles. Communication skills are essential in the process of advocating for what you need and want in college and in life. Communication is not just about getting your point across to someone else, it is also about truly trying to understand where the other person in coming from. In difficult situations remember to avoid pointing your finger at someone and blaming them or calling them a name.
When you slammed the door on me, I felt frustrated because we couldn’t work through our problems. You are frustrated that a classmate (Person B) has frequently asked to copy your statistics homework. Reflect what you have heard: It sounds like you are pretty stressed right now, and you are worried about getting behind and worried about keeping up with the homework. If you need to seek an accommodation the best way to make it happen is through direct communication.
Managing schedules and organizing time is often the most challenging part of being a new college student. The better you are at effectively managing your time the more freedom you will have to participate in extracurricular activities and still attain your academic goals successfully! Organization strategies vary from person to person; therefore, try to identify systems that work best for you. Eliminating distractions and clutter in your study environment will contribute significantly to your ability to concentrate and retain information over time.
Organize your schedule so that you are studying during times that accommodate your ability to stay focused. The way you set up your schedule each semester will impact your success semester to semester.
Develop memory strategies that work for you – Make up a story you can remember that includes pertinent facts, memorize a list by creating a word from the first letters of each word on the list, etc. Use study strategies that fit your learning style – Form a study group to discuss material. Staying organized and applying some of the suggested strategies will greatly reduce stress and anxiety while in school.
Seek support from friends, family or, on-campus resources (counseling center, disability service office, health center, wellness programs, etc.). If you can’t decide between two classes, here is an example of how the decision making steps may be helpful to you. This semester SOC 100 is only offered at 7:30 AM which may be difficult for me because I work in the evenings. Now that you understand the importance of communication skills, these skills can be applied toward problem solving. Just a reminder… When you feel frustrated by a problem, it is often helpful to ask a support person for help. To be effective and successful in life, it is important to realize that we are all connected to other people. As you grew up you probably had a support system in place that you may or may not have been aware in your daily life. Goal setting is one of the most powerful things you can do to impact the direction of your life.
You will have a greater likelihood of success if you consider your interests, skills and the job opportunity in the job market now and in the future, because an ideal major lies at the intersection of interests, skills and job opportunity. During your college experience make sure you take time to network, gain relevant experience, update your resume and practice interviewing. Can you refer me to other people in the field who might be willing to talk to me about their experiences? Many of the best career and life opportunities are never formally posted anywhere, but are discovered through networking. Make sure your resume reflects your strengths, is professional looking (no misspelled words) and makes the employer want to call you back. As a self-advocate, you should have a good sense of your strengths and challenges and what you need and want.
If you meet the definition of someone with a disability under the Rehabilitation Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (See Seek Accommodations above), you are eligible for reasonable accommodations in the workplace.
Under Title I of the ADA, employers cannot discriminate against a qualified job applicant or employee based on his or her disability.
If you believe you will need a workplace accommodation, it is up to you to talk to your employer. Offers online services such as Perfect Interview, a virtual interview simulation to critique your interviewing skills, as well as resume templates.


A source of free, expert, and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues.
These resources from the DO-IT program at University of Wasington can help students with disabilities prepare for college, succeed in college, and successfully transition from two-year to four-year postsecondary institutions.
The Faculty Room is a site for faculty and administrators at postsecondary institutions to learn about how to create classroom environments and activities that maximize the learning of all students, including those with disabilities. Provide a visual diagram to help students map out the positive and negative consequences of a choice in their behavior. This is a one day course on how to build on your existing problem solving and decision making abilities to develop new skills to improve how you work, both on your own and within teams. The course is suitable is suitable to a variety of audiences, employees and managers and can be used for training & management development programmes. A number of skills will help you address your needs and move toward making your hopes and dreams a reality. Reasonable accommodation refers to adaptations or modifications made to the environment or policies and procedures aimed at reasonably lessening the impact of a disability-related limitation.
The goal is to give students with a disabilities the opportunity to demonstrate their abilities and provide equal access to the learning environment, programs and activities. Other activities such as sitting, standing, lifting, or reading are also major life activities. If possible, try to do this before classes start or at the beginning of the semester to ensure a timely implementation. Again, if possible, try to communicate with professors before classes start to give all parties involved in making the accommodation plenty of lead time. This allows the student access to the registration system early to schedule classes according to their needs and desired work load.
Before ordering texts for your class, check to see what books have digitized material Consider the fact that some students need time to get books in digital formats. It is always recommended to take into consideration cultural values when communicating with someone from a different cultural background. In the college setting, texting and emailing are the most frequently used forms of communication. You are really struggling in your statistics class and have been copying a classmate’s homework to try and get back on track.
After meeting with the Disability Service Office, you will receive a letter stating your requested accommodation.
It is easy to find yourself overwhelmed with all the class work, outside projects, extracurricular activities and social obligations. Everyone is unique in how they best learn so identifying, early on, what type of environment works best for you will prove to be a great advantage.
If your schedule is too busy and too hectic it will be much more likely that you become disorganized and get stressed.
If you are constantly running late, try to build in a little slush time between activities and make yourself leave earlier than you are accustomed to leaving. Developing a consistent studying routine will help you stay organized, focused, and on target for reaching your goals. If because of your disability, you need more time than what is offered for a test, contact you Disability Service Office on how to request a testing accommodation. If you are only focused on one life area the other dimensions of your life may become problematic and cause stress. Making decisions in college can be overwhelming due to the quantity of choices and opportunities available to you. While being independent and self-reliant is important, a higher level of effectiveness and success is possible through interdependence.
Now that you have thought about where you are at this point in your life and where you want to be in the future, it is time to start making those dreams come true. For example, if you currently have an undeclared major, but know you might like to work in the outdoors, in conservation or, for wildlife preservation. College is an opportunity to get the education and training you need to make your career dreams come true. Use your knowledge of your strengths and challenges to choose a major that is a good match for you. Networking is an invaluable skill that will help you plan for your future and strengthen your ability to advocate for yourself. Make sure that you include all of the requested application information and that you meet the application deadline. Also, carefully consider the workplace climate, the physical environment, coworkers, the supervisor’s management style, job flexibility, etc. If you are receiving academic accommodations in the classroom, there is a good likelihood that you may benefit from accommodations in the workplace. Qualified employees must be able to do the essential job functions with or without a reasonable accommodation. Working toward practical solutions that benefit both employer and employee, JAN helps people with disabilities enhance their employability, and shows employers how to capitalize on the value and talent that people with disabilities add to the workplace. Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education(Grants P333A050015 and P333A080026).
This chapter will highlight the skills most often associated with college success and self-advocacy.
For example, a student with a visual impairment may need to have his or her textbooks made available on audiotape.
Individualized accommodations are not designed to give the student an advantage over other students, to alter a fundamental aspect of the course, or to weaken academic rigor.
If you are uncomfortable talking to your professors, the DSO can communicate with your professors for you about your need for accommodation. With a little modification you may be able to come up with an acceptable alternative that is agreeable to all parties. For instance, students with disabilities have filed complaints with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) within the U.S. Early registration also helps the DSO and faculty to make necessary accommodations as well as locate alternative text if needed. In the college environment, communication with a professor may be viewed differently depending upon your culture. You know that this is just a short-term resolution and need to figure out how to get more support in statistics so that you can truly learn and understand the assignments. Take this letter to your professor and discuss your learning needs, learning style and learning strengths. If you want to make a favorable impression, pay attention to how you dress and your overall appearance. For example, if you are fidgeting and cannot maintain eye contact, you may be perceived as lacking confidence or having anxiety. Organizing your time, classes, social engagements and environment in a logical and responsible manner will support your success in college.


Record lectures and listen to them again after class.Use movement while studying - walk around, squeeze a ball, kick a ball, etc. With patience and persistence you can experience greater success by improving your organizational skills.
Learning how to work through problems will help you move your life in a positive direction and help you get what you want and need. If one plan doesn’t work try a new plan until you feel that you have solved your problem. Interdependence acknowledges that independence along with support and relationships with other people, will ultimately lead to greater success.
In college and throughout the rest of your life it will be helpful to have a support system in place. If you have questions or need more information about majors, talk to your advisor, talk to other students about their majors, and visit the career services office on campus. During your time in college, you have the unique opportunity to meet professors, administrators and employers who are leaders in their chosen fields.
During college you can gain relevant, career related experience in a number of ways such as service learning, internships, volunteering, professional organizations, leadership positions, and part time, or summer jobs. Remember all of the strategies you have developed as a college student and carry these forward to the workplace. An accommodation is considered reasonable if it does not create an undue hardship on the employer. If your documentation is incomplete the DSO can help guide you on how to get the needed information. However, it will benefit you greatly to actually talk to your professors, develop rapport and open the lines of communication. Therefore, as you work with your DSO make sure you share your insights so that the most effective accommodations can be made. Some cultures consider asking questions, and direct communication with a professor disrespectful. Professors have busy schedules and are often appreciative if you ask for an appointment to discuss questions.
It is a good idea to pay attention to grammar and spelling when emailing professors because your emails represent you as a person and a student. Here is a script to use when requesting an accommodation (Accommodation Request Script also available in a printable PDF format). You may be perceived as lazy, sloppy, or as having an attitude problem if you are careless about your clothing and your personal hygiene. If you look pleasant, maintain eye contact and have an open stance, you may be perceived as confident and approachable.
The key to developing good organizational skills is finding strategies and natural supports that work for you and your unique learning style.
The key to becoming a good problem-solver is developing an easy strategy for working through the problem. Having a positive support system in place is a key element of interdependence and of self-advocacy.
As a college student some of your original supports will probably remain, but also consider adding some college-related supports. Change may not happen in one day, it may even take years, but if you take the right steps you will make positive changes in your life.
Once you have a career direction, it is time to begin career preparation so that upon graduation, you can market yourself to potential employers. This office can provide information on how to match a major to a career, career interest inventories, career preparation support, career trends and information, and opportunities for summer jobs and internships.
Describe why you are especially interested in their organization and what assets you can contribute to their line of work. The DSO works with individual students to determine what reasonable accommodation(s) may be needed. Remember to periodically check back with your professors to let them know how effective the accommodation has been. If you decide to file some type of complaint, make sure to check on the timeframe available in which to file the complaint. If you make an appointment make sure you are on time for the appointment and keep the meeting brief. If you need to discuss an accommodation or a concern, it may be more effectively done in person.
If you appear neat and clean and dressed appropriately for the situation you will make a more favorable impression. If you do not have supportive people in your life, you will have to develop your own support system.
Avoid generic cover letters because this approach will not make your application stand out or give the impression that you are truly interested in the job. If a task requires an accommodation, you can explain how you can perform the task with the accommodation.
Access student services on campus to connect with tutoring, mentoring, counseling, career exploration and other types of support.
However, this can also be done after class, over the phone or through a departmental secretary. Networking is a lifelong skill that will help you develop support and discover new opportunities. In either scenario, if you can perform the essential functions of the job with a reasonable accommodation, your job should be protected by the ADA. After documentation is provided, the DSO will give you a letter of verification of accommodation for each class.
Lastly, keep in mind that while you're in class it's important to limit the use of cell phones.
Try the following exercise to practice seeking first to understand (Seek First to Understand Exercise also available in a printable PDF format). An employer cannot refuse to hire you or let you go from a job just because you have a disability. Texting or talking on a cell phone during a lecture is disrespectful and will only serve to distract you from obtaining a quality education. Get connected with advisors and counselors that can help with anything from exploring majors and careers to how to study for a test. There are also many student activities, clubs and organizations that can provide support and a sense of connection. If you are not attending college in your home community, find a nearby relative or friend of the family who you can call or visit when needed.



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