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How to Register with Your Campus Accessibility Office

Updated: Apr 7


By Lauren Yost, Staff Writer


“In life, we all have limitations. Some persons’ limitations are more pronounced than others and require accommodations to be made in order to counter or remove the effects of these limitations. Accommodations in higher education as such do not intend to give an unfair advantage to SWDs [students with disabilities] but rather intended to level the playing field according to federal legislation”

(Barnar-Brak, 2010).


If you are a student with a learning, physical or mental health disability you are entitled to receive accommodations in college. This process should begin as soon as you accept a college's offer of admission. Read below to learn 4 important steps about how to register with your campus' Accessibility Office


STEP 1:

Contact the Accessibility Office at your college by email, phone, or in-person. You should start this process as soon as you can (during the spring or summer before your first semester). Starting this process early will ensure that you have the accommodations you need on day one of the semester.


STEP 2:

You will be asked to complete a Registration Form that asks you to share your basic contact information, disability diagnosis, how your disability affects you in academic and social settings and accommodations that have been helpful for you in the past. You can complete this form by yourself or with a parent.


STEP 3:

The Accessibility Office at your school will require paper documentation in order to verify your diagnosed disability. Documentation can be submitted via email, fax, or via mail. Colleges and universities may vary in terms of the types of documentation they require. Some colleges are very specific about what students need to submit and other colleges are more lenient. Contact your specific campus Accessibility Office for details about what they require.


A helpful piece of information you can provide is documentation from a 504 or IEP plan. This will provide the Accessibility Office with documentation of services you received in high school. They can see what has worked for you in the past, and this information will help build a plan for accommodations in college.


If you don’t have documentation of your disability, the Accessibility Office will not be able to provide it for you. In this case, you will need to go elsewhere first. The campus health or counseling center will most likely be able to guide you in the direction of a professional on campus or off-campus who can provide this documentation. The Accessibility Office can help point you towards that person or department.


STEP 4:

Once you have submitted the necessary documentation, someone from the Accessibility Office will want to meet with you to discuss what accommodations you will receive in college. Typically, this intake meeting will last no longer than an hour. You’ll discuss with a member of the office what accommodations will work best to help you succeed in college.


Sometimes, you will receive all of the same accommodations that you had in high school. But this may not always be the case. Depending on the resources your college has, there may be changes from your high school plan. The plan you had in high school may not translate exactly the same way in a college setting. On the other hand, your college may have additional or different resources than your high school did. No matter the outcome, the Accessibility Office will do their best to give you the accommodations and resources you need in order to be successful in college.


If you aren’t sure what accommodations you need or if you’ve never had them before, try describing what you find gets in the way of doing your best in your classes. For example, some students have trouble finishing work on time due to their disability. This could translate into an accommodation of getting extended time on exams. You can also ask the Accessibility staff member what are accommodations are available. Something you haven’t tried or have never considered could end up working well for you!


PRO TIP:

Speak up for yourself during the intake conversation. No one knows you better than yourself. If someone is suggesting an accommodation you don’t think you want or need, you are allowed to say no. You don’t have to agree to anything that doesn’t feel right to you. Or, if there is an accommodation you would like or think would be helpful, let them know. Even if you aren’t sure about what the office can or will offer, it doesn’t hurt to ask. The more you can express your needs, the more information and insight the Accessibility Office will have to work from. Together, you can shape a plan to thrive in college.


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