Young graduate in wheelchair with his dad

 

 

 

Taking notes
Boy with big smile
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Support for the College Experience

Although the college experience is one of independence, it doesn't mean you have to go at it alone. Your family should always be your first level of support. Keep your parents and friends up to date with how you're doing — call, text, email, IM, facebook, tweet — there's no excuse for not letting those you love and who care about you know what's going on. And when you need help…ask.

In addition to friends and family, your college has a host of support services you can turn to. Counselors, tutors and study groups are great for keeping up on your academics. Even if you're doing well, make a point of talking to your teacher and counselor every now and then to see if you're on track. Join a study group or sign up for a tutor — it's a great way to share ideas about the subject matter or learn even better ways to study.

Mentoring is another excellent way to get real-world advice on a field you may be interested in, or how an adult with a disability has handled the transition from high school to post-secondary education or employment. What better way to learn about something than from a person already doing it. Chapters for Disability Mentoring Day are available statewide — visit your local independent living center www.cfilc.org or disabilitymentor.net to find a list of mentors.

And, don't forget internships. These are a valuable way to gain experience in a field of interest, and maybe even gain a contact for a great job after college graduation. Look to the college internship boards for opportunities.

Planning for Accommodations

"Accommodations" refers to changes in classroom or exam setting needed to lessen the impact of a disability. It can include testing accommodations (i.e. more time for tests or test taking in a quite environment), sign language interpreting, classroom materials in an accessible format you can use (such as large print, electronic text, or Braille), lab assistance, reduced college course load (taking fewer classes), adapted seating and more.

It is important to know that colleges and universities do not have to have provide accommodations if they drastically change the curriculum of the class.

Each college has its own set of services that they will provide, some of which are required by law. You should find out what services and programs exist and what your college of interest will and will not do. For more information, one of several great websites to visit is: www.heath.gwu.edu. And of course, you should talk to the college's Disabled Student Services office or Disability Services Coordinator.

Your Rights

While some requirements that apply through high school will continue to apply upon leaving high school and entering post-secondary education, many rights and how they are addressed will change. It's important that you understand these changes. This section will briefly cover the basics. For more detailed information, please obtain a copy of the ADA Section 504 and Title II by contacting: www.ed.gov/ocr/docs/auxaids.html

  • Post secondary schools are not required to provide Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), but they are required to apply the same admission requirements to you as they do to all applicants.
  • You do not have to inform a post-secondary school of your disability — this is purely voluntary and you may choose not to do so until you have been admitted. But, if you want them to provide academic adjustments or modifications, you will have to let them know at the time you request accommodations. The school may require you to provide documentation for your disability. Each school will set their own requirements for documentation, these may include: diagnosis of your disability, how it affects your academic performance, credentials of the professional providing the diagnosis. Find out early what your school of interest will need.
  • Academic adjustments are made depending on the disability and the individual's need. The school is not required to lower or substantially change basic requirements, services, programs or activities that would cause undue financial or administrative burdens. Be sure to communicate what your needs are ahead of time and research what a school is and is not required to do.
  • A school may not charge you for any academic adjustments, nor charge extra for programs and activities available to other students who do not have disabilities.
  • Most post-secondary schools have a Disability Services Coordinator (aka Disabled Students Program Director, Section 504 Coordinator or aka ADA Coordinator) – this is your contact person for dealing with any issues that may come up – from discrimination to getting the correct academic adjustment made.

For more information on your civil rights and access to FAQ's, visit: www.ed.gov/policy/rights/guid/ocr/disability.html.

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