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Disability Resource Centers and Services

If you are a student with a disability attending, or planning to attend, a college or university, you may need academic or work-related accommodations and related support services. To receive academic accommodations and related services related to a disability, you must...

  1. Contact the coordinator of disability services on your campus;
  2. Provide the required documentation of your disability;
  3. Request services each academic term; and
  4. Work out specific accommodations.

Here is a list of questions you may want to ask at the Disability Services Office.

Providing Required Documentation

All colleges -- community, technical and four-year/graduate universities—require documentation, of a student's disability and need for accommodations, in order to determine that you are eligible for services and what specific accommodations and services are needed.

If you are a student who received special education or other disability supports in high school, you were probably tested by the school psychologist or a medical doctor. A copy of that assessment may be sufficient as documentation of your disability. Your IEP (Individual Education Program), particularly the last one complete for your senior year, can be helpful but generally won't qualify as documentation of your disability.

Some colleges have a time limit on accepting certain documentation. Check with the Disability Resource Center at the institution you plan to attend. If you must be tested for a disability after high school graduation, testing can be expensive. If you qualify for services from the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, you may be eligible to receive an assessment for a reduced fee or at no cost.

Requesting Services

After meeting with you and reviewing your documentation, the Disability Services Coordinator will better understand how your disability impacts your learning, and will be able to determine possible accommodations. Each term you must request the services you need. Services are not offered unless you make the request. You must be your own best advocate to make your needs known.

Work Out Specific Accommodations

It is important to know what accommodations are available, and which are likely to work for you. You may not need the same accommodations for each class -- a history class, for example, may require a different accommodation than a math class. You will be in partnership with the Disability Services Coordinator and the course instructor to work out what accommodations will work best for you.

The college is required by law to provide a reasonable accommodation. The colleges may not always agree to your request for a specific accommodation. Determining which accommodations will be effective can sometimes be a process of experimenting and making adjustments.

Accommodations in an academic setting may include but are not limited to

  • Note takers, scribes, proofreaders, editing services, and tutoring
  • Textbooks and other educational materials in alternative form, such as audio tapes, large print, electronic format (e-text), or even Braille
  • Access to adaptive computer equipment in computer labs and libraries
  • Sign language, oral interpreting and real-time captioning services
  • Test-taking alternatives, such as extended times, taped tests, oral tests, alternative test site, or use of a computer as an aid for quizzes and exams
  • Access to adaptive equipment such as closed caption devices, amplified phone receivers, low vision reading aids, tape recorders, and computer enhancements.
  • Equal access to classes, activities and services
  • Opportunity to make up quizzes, exams or assignments if the absence was disability related
  • Seating in a classroom
  • Extension of timelines for completion of specific assignments or courses
  • Extension of timelines to complete certification or degree requirements
  • Permission to take less than full-time credit and still be eligible to receive financial aid
  • Foreign language and math course substitutions, for example, option to take foreign culture class instead of foreign language
  • Early registration

Contacting Disability Services

All colleges have a person assigned to provide services to students with disabilities (schools may not have an office titled "disability services," but it will be similar, where services are administered). To request accommodations, you must register with that office. You should ask ahead of time about the documentation requirements. Here is a list of Resource Centers: