What kind of help is available to students with disabilities?
Services available to students with disabilities will vary among colleges. When choosing a college, students should inquire about what services are offered. While colleges are legally required to provide reasonable accommodations to students with documented disabilities, some colleges may choose to provide services beyond what is legally required.
As previously mentioned, students with disabilities are entitled to reasonable accommodations. All accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis to address the specific needs of each student as indicated in the documentation. Accommodations may include but are not limited to: extended time, tests/quizzes administered in a separate location; for the classroom: class notes, special seating, interpreters: for the writing process: concept mapping software, etc.
Some colleges may have support groups where students can share experiences with other students with disabilities. Support groups may have a group leader or facilitator who is a professional at the college and/or a peer leader who is a student with disability. Benefits to joining a support group include meeting other people, developing a sense of camaraderie, and learning new strategies for success from peers with first-hand experience.
Some colleges have groups of students, faculty, and staff to monitor the accessibility of the campus and to make recommendations concerning ways to improve campus access for individuals with disabilities.
Some colleges have Learning Centers for all students. Services may include peer or professional tutoring, assistance with computers and computer applications, writing and math labs. Check to see whether these services are free or whether there is a fee for a particular service. Be aware, however, that tutoring is not an accommodation under the law so, if you require this service, be sure to check with the college of your choice to determine if tutoring is available.
Your college may have a counseling center open to all students and it may also have specialized counseling service within the Office for Disability Services. You may want to take advantage of counseling as an opportunity to work on academic, emotional, or social concerns.
Advisement and/or Registration
Find out about the academic advising services at your college both within the office for disability services and within the academic advising system for all students. Consider the possible impact of your disability upon course selection and program planning. For some students with disabilities, a reduced course load or priority registration may be appropriate accommodations.
Adaptive technology can greatly enhance the learning of students with disabilities. The type of technology available to students with disabilities can vary greatly among colleges. It is important for students with disabilities to become familiar with the types of technology that are available, which one(s) would be most useful to them, and where the technology is located. In some colleges, adaptive technology is located in public spaces, such as the computer center or library, while in other colleges, the technology can be found in specialized labs that may also be used for training students on how to use the equipment. The following is a brief listing of common categories of adaptive technology to look for at your college:
For a complete technical glossary as well as adaptive technology manufacturers, distributors, and vendors click on the following link: www.utoronto.ca/atrc/reference/tech/techgloss.html