Helping Students With Disabilities Understand Accommodations in College
It is a difficult time for any students to make the move to college, but it is especially difficult for students with disabilities who must learn how to navigate the accommodations system at their new institution.
Students with disabilities are guaranteed a free and suitable education by federal law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, but there is no legal duty for postsecondary institutions to provide a free and appropriate education for students with disabilities. Instead, the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal rules just ensure equal access and prohibit discriminatory actions on the basis of disability.
Colleges are not compelled to monitor students or to require them to take advantage of any accommodations. Professors who are concerned about a student’s need for assistance may refer them to the disability services office, but there is no duty for instructors to send students to the disability services office.
High school educators can play a significant role in educating students for the process of obtaining accommodations at their respective colleges and universities.
The plans for high school housing do not carry over to college life. Students must initiate the process, and they must be able to articulate the impact of their handicap on their ability to perform academically. Parents and school personnel will no longer be able to make special arrangements for their children.
Students who want accommodations must make contact with the college’s disability services office (DSO) in advance of requesting them. There are a variety of reasons why students choose not to use accommodations while in college, and some of these reasons may be ones that you simply cannot persuade them to change their minds about right now. They aspire to be self-sufficient. They aspire to be “just like everyone else,” they say. If anything, it’s just one more thing to think about when they really want to concentrate on meeting new people, figuring out how to navigate campus, and figuring out where to get their food.
Inform them that the procedure of obtaining accommodations at college is often extremely simple—and in many cases, considerably simpler than the process in high school. Students may be encouraged to know that, in contrast to most high schools, they can easily use accommodations in college without their classmates becoming aware of their decision, which may be beneficial.
They are under no need to do anything as a result of registering with the DSO, and their information is kept strictly confidential. Even if students do not utilise accommodations right immediately, they will have completed this critical stage, which will make it easier for them to begin utilising accommodations in the future if they so want to do so in the future. Students may register with the DSO at any time, however it is recommended that they do so a few weeks before the start of classes.
PREPARING FOR THE MEETING
A personal meeting between the college representative and the student is required, during which the student must explain why he or she requires special accommodations. He does not necessarily need a thorough awareness of the many adjustments that are available, but he does need to be able to articulate the difficulties he is experiencing. Parents are welcome to attend the meeting with their student in order to provide assistance.
Preparation for the meeting should include showing kids the DSO website for the college they intend to attend and discussing how they can participate in the process. Instruct them on how to explain their own personal strengths and weaknesses. For example, explain to them how their impairment affects their ability to pay attention in class, take notes, and perform well on examinations. Assist them in identifying the moments in class when they feel the most assured. It may be beneficial to include them in disability-related sessions when they are in high school in order to prepare them for the college meeting.
The evidence from a health care practitioner relating to the disability will also be required by the colleges. Provide students with the most recent copy of their documentation, which may include psycho-educational evaluations if you have them. Provide students with the most recent copy of their documentation.
The necessity and reasonableness of a student’s demand for accommodations in college are normally assessed on two criteria: necessity and reasonableness. It is necessary to establish a link between the accommodation being requested and the functional limitations associated with a disability in order to assess if an accommodation is required in this situation.
If a student with ADHD requests to use a calculator on tests because she has slower processing speeds, the request may be denied since an accommodation for additional time is more appropriate for the specific functional impairment in question. However, a student with a learning impairment who also has a functional restriction in math may be permitted to use a basic calculator on tests if she also has a functional limitation in math.
Even if a reasonable accommodation is required in college, it may not be feasible in all circumstances. Students with math learning disabilities may not be permitted to use their basic calculator on a college exam that is measuring calculation skills, but they may be permitted to use their basic calculator in a higher-level class that is not testing students’ calculation skills, for example. In other words, an accommodation is not fair if it would, in essence, substitute for the skills and knowledge that students are required to demonstrate on their own time and effort.
TYPES OF ACCOMMODATION
Many of the same allowances that were available to high school students are available to college students, more often than not. But there are several that are generally considered inappropriate for college since they go beyond the scope of just offering equal access. As an example, an accommodation that allows a student to retake tests in order to reach a specific score would be prohibited.
A comprehensive list of college accommodations does not exist due to the fact that everything is considered on an individual basis; however, certain concessions are common across all institutions. Among the testing accommodations available are extra testing time and a separate testing environment. Note-taking services and audiobooks are also popular accommodations due to the fact that they cater to a wide range of needs. Additionally, sign language interpretation, accessible desks, flexible attendance, and on-campus housing accommodations may all be available to students.
Any decision made by the DSO can be challenged in court or by appealing to a higher authority at the college. Colleges are supposed to establish an open and transparent grievance procedure for students who file complaints.
Students will eventually request accommodations if and when they believe they are required to do so in order to succeed. Students can be provided with some basic knowledge about the procedure by educators, who can then urge them to participate.