Questions to Ask about a College's Disability Services
Although colleges across the country are required by law to provide services to students with disabilities, some go above and beyond. If you’re a student who needs access to disability accommodations, ask these questions to the disability services office at the colleges you're considering.
What documentation is required to qualify for accommodations?
In the past, schools often took high school evaluation reports without further questions. The standard of proof of disabilities, however, is changing, and many colleges are asking for more recent documentation. Check with your college’s disability services office to find out exactly what you have to submit in order to qualify for the resources they provide.
What are the most difficult classes or majors for students with disabilities?
This question also will give you a sense of the typical accommodations offered by your college. Most colleges provide note-taking services, audio recordings of lectures and different rooms and times for test-taking, but assistive technology and personal check-ins can improve your classroom experience even more. By asking about the most difficult classes and majors, disability officers should be able to give you anecdotal evidence of previous struggles and successes. You’ll learn what these students found easiest and most challenging, and how the school helped them make the most of their studies.
How is the Disability Services Office integrated throughout the school?
Collaboration between disability services and other departments throughout a college is key. You'll want to ensure that the office isn’t isolated on or off campus and its website isn’t hard to find. Many schools now make an effort to engage and incorporate students with disabilities into clubs and organizations. Ask about opportunities for leadership positions, such as mentors to other students with disabilities, as well as majors or extracurricular opportunities related to education for the disabled.
Who are the advisors in the Disability Services Office? Are there mentor programs?
A dedicated advisor can help you manage academic accommodations, such as scheduling different test-taking times, as well as non-academic concerns, like your living situation. Sometimes, these advisors come specifically from disability services. Other times, they’re regular professors at the university who've been trained in disability accommodations. Furthermore, some schools offer a student mentor, who can offer a sense of camaraderie and community for new students who might be overwhelmed.