College Student Accommodations for Learning
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a document that makes sure people with disabilities are protected. One section of the ADA addresses education, providing guidance for postsecondary institutions as well as high school and college students with disabilities. Because of the ADA, students with disabilities are able to get the help, assistance and accommodations they need as college students, so that they can get an education in spite of their disability. This disability can be physical, mental, or something that impacts daily life. It is individual, so what one person may perceive as disability another might not choose to call it that, however, if it is an impairment that might affect classroom performance then find out how to get help and ADA accommodations in college. If you are just getting out of high school and had help, such as an Individual Education Plan (IEP) then you may or may not know that you can continue to get help and classroom accommodations in college.
Getting Help: ADA Accommodations for College Students with Disabilities
Help and ADA accommodations for disabled college students is available at community colleges and universities. Some students with learning disabilities, mental illness, or other disabilities go through school without knowing that there is something there to help them. This article will help college students utilize the disability law, so you can get help, assistance, and reasonable classroom accommodations for disabilities while you are in college. Using the ADA accommodations will help you be a successful college student regardless of disabilities. You can be a first year student, current student, or someone who is returning to college. The main thing that matters for you to get ADA help, assistance, and classroom accommodations is that you have a disability. Beyond that, your age, financial need, or other factors do not matter.
To get ADA help, assistance, and reasonable accommodations while you are in college, you must notify the college. Many schools and universities now have a Disability Office. You should contact the school as soon as possible although you can notify them at any time. Doing it as early as possible ensures that you will have ADA accommodations from the beginning of the quarter/semester. After you contact the school, they will tell you what type of documentation they need to verify that you have a disability. Because you get pretty good accommodations, it is necessary for the college to make sure you are disabled, so not just anyone can get this. Usually, they will need a letter from your doctor that tells them a diagnosis and how it impacts your learning ability or daily living. It is helpful to have your doctor be specific with what types of difficulties you have as well as what interventions might be helpful.
There is only so much an ADA accommodation can provide for someone with a disability, but it is quite substantial. For example, if your disability is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and that affects your ability to sit in the classroom every single day then you might get an accommodation of not losing credit for missing classes. Another common example is with students who have attention problems, such as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Some of the ADA accommodations for students with disabilities, including ADD, is having a note taker, tutoring, getting instructor's copies of the lectures, getting extra time for exams/assignments, or borrowing a hand held tape recorder for the quarter to record lectures. It is usually quite helpful to use a digital voice recorder to tape lectures. Whether or not you need college classroom accommodations or not, you should get all the same classroom supplies.
Once you provide your documentation then someone with the disability office will work with you to come up with your ADA accommodations to help you succeed in college with your disability. Usually, after you develop your accommodations then the office you're working with will send you letters that you give to your instructors. Some schools send them ahead of time to the instructor, but they do not know who you are beyond taking roll, so the best thing to do is take your letter and talk to the professor after the first day of class. This will put you in the instructor's mind and you can be relieved when they are willing to work with you and your ADA accommodations. Each quarter you will do the same thing with the instructors, but you will not have to renew the disability part. That should only happen once. In fact, if you take a leave for any reason and then return, the school often only needs a quick verification that your circumstances are the same and they will resume your ADA accommodations.
Students with Disabilities
Whether you think that you need all of the assistance that is available to you or not, you should know what it is and how to get help it. Some students do not want to use this because they are embarrassed. Do not get stuck on the word "disability" and stop yourself from utilizing these services. Some students are fine and do not think they need the ADA reasonable accommodations that the college can provide. Others need them to succeed. Getting anxious for the first day of school is different than chronic anxiety although there are anxiety reduction ideas for both. The chronic condition though is who needs accommodations.
Colleges were not created with everyone's learning style in mind. Needing a little extra help to make your educational playing field even is nothing at all to be ashamed of. It is always a worse decision to reject help or fear criticism than it is to ask and get the extra help and reasonable accommodations. This only increases your chance of doing well in college.
If you have any trouble then call the Department of Education. Typically, community colleges and universities are well versed in helping students with disabilities and the process goes smoothly. Also, if your ADA accommodations are not working then you can check in with your instructors or with your disability office to re-work them. Usually, the people who work in these offices are very nice, helpful, and resourceful.
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