Frequently Asked DSPS Questions
1. What are accommodations?
Accommodations are alterations in the way tasks are presented that allow children with learning disabilities to complete the same assignments as other students. Accommodations do not alter the content of assignments, give students an unfair advantage or in the case of assessments, change what a test measures. They do make it possible for students with LD to show what they know without being impeded by their disability.
2. How do I receive accommodations?
Once a child has been formally identified with a learning disability, the child or parent may request accommodations for that child's specific needs. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act states that a child's Individualized Education Program (IEP) team which both parent and child are a part of must decide which accommodations are appropriate for him or her. Any appropriate accommodations should be written into a student's IEP.
3. Should accommodations impact how assignments are graded?
School assignments and tests completed with accommodations should be graded the same way as those completed without accommodations. After all, accommodations are meant to "level the playing field," provide equal and ready access to the task at hand, and not meant to provide an undue advantage to the user.
4. What if accommodations don't help?
Selecting and monitoring the effectiveness of accommodations should be an ongoing process, and changes (with involvement of students, parents and educators) should be made as often as needed. The key is to be sure that chosen accommodations address students' specific areas of need and facilitate the demonstration of skill and knowledge.
5. Should I tell about my disability on my application to college?
You are not required to disclose your disability at any time and the college is prohibited by Federal law from asking you about a disability on the application form. If you believe your disability has had a negative impact on your grades and test scores and, thus, those scores do not truly reflect your ability to do college level work, then it might benefit you to explain that to the admission officer or committee. However, this is a personal decision that you should also discuss with knowledgeable folks such as your parents, school counselor, vocational rehabilitation counselor, or even someone at the college. Often, once a student has been accepted, the college will give incoming students information regarding the office or offices that provide services for students with disabilities as well as time frames for requesting accommodations. It is, then, up to you to contact the appropriate officials if you feel you will need services.
6. How do I find out what my rights are in college?
The college may very well provide you this information in the admission packet. Prior to that, you can go online to Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Dept. of Education's page: http://www.ed.gov/policy/rights/guid/ocr/disability.html which provides access to the Federal law and regulations as well as some FAQ's. You may also contact the college's office for disabled student services which can provide you information on Federal, state, local, and campus regulations that you should know.
7. Where do I go to get tested for a learning disability or ADD?
If you regularly see a family doctor, ask him or her if they can make a referral to someone that can provide you with the appropriate testing. You may also contact the college's office for disabled student services for a recommendation. You can go online and research possibilities through the Learning Disabilities Association of America, http://www.ldanatl.org/
8. Campus transportation says they won't give me a ride to my apartment. It's right near campus - why not?
As the name implies, campus transportation usually only works on campus. The college is mandated by Federal law only to ensure that the transportation system it utilizes is accessible to persons with disabilities. If the system does not provide everyone transportation to off-campus locations, then there is no requirement to provide such service to people with disabilities. However, it is always a good idea to discuss the issue with the college's office for disabled student services. There may be alternatives available or modifications that could be made and that office might be able to negotiate that with you.
9. My doctor says I should get unlimited time for taking tests. The disability office says I'm allowed time and a half - why?
The college has the responsibility under Federal law for ensuring access to their programs and activities by students with disabilities. Often, the office for disabled student services is delegated the authority to make decisions on what is regarded as reasonable adjustments to ensure equal access because they have the knowledge, credentials, and experience to do this. The office often uses medical or other professional documentation provided by the student as a basis for making such decisions but they are not required to follow exactly the recommendations made in the documentation provided. If you feel the decision is not fair or appropriate, you may utilize the college's appeal process or file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights.
10. My professor refuses to give me my accommodations; what can I do?
You should discuss the issue with the college's office for Disabled Student Services. The processes and procedures used by colleges for providing accommodations vary greatly but all are directed towards ensuring equal access to their programs for students with disabilities. The office can guide you through the appropriate actions you need to take or they may need to intercede. You may need to utilize the college's appeals process or file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights, both of which are processes that are generally used if all other avenues have failed.