So, students who will need accommodations, such as extended time on exams, a quiet exam room, specialized software, a note taker, or any one of what the ADA calls “academic adjustments, auxiliary aids and services, and modifications” need to take several steps to make sure these are available for them.
First, the student must disclose his or her disability to the college. This happens after the student accepts a spot and sends in the deposit. The disclosure is made by advising the Office of Disability Services (every college is required by law to have one, although they sometimes go by another name) and submitting documentation of your disability. You can find the specific requirements and forms for this on the website of your college’s Office of Disability Services.
After the college has reviewed and accepted the documentation, you will need to let them know what accommodations you require. This is usually a discussion - and sometimes a negotiation - where you let them know what you have used in the past and they may suggest other accommodations that can be helpful. This discussion can take place as late as during Freshman Orientation, but we urge those students who can do so to make an appointment to visit (or for a virtual visit) with the Office of Disability Services during the summer to finalize the accommodations that will be offered.
Only once the Office of Disability Services has approved the accommodations can the student take the crucial step of advising his or her professors of their accommodations, so they can be implemented. For those readers who have a copy of Life After High School: A Guide for Students with Disabilities and Their Families, you can find more specific information on documenting disabilities in Chapter 4 and on arranging accommodations with your professors in Chapter 12.
Photo: Monika2010 (altered)