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You have now completed the Access to Success on-line training. The purpose is to provide you with knowledge and skills to know your rights and how to speak up for them in an effective way. Here is what we hope you carry away with you as you finish the training:
- What is an Accommodations? Accommodations are supports that students with disabilities can get to help them succeed in school. They may be a change in the time or place of some part of the class, such as having extended test time. Or they may be a technological support, such as a screen reader, that reads the text of an assignment out loud. The purpose of an accommodation is not to give the student a “free pass,” but to enable students with disabilities to learn and to express what they have learned.
- Do I have Legal Rights to Accommodations? These rights are granted through the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Students with disabilities have a right to these accommodations. Both public and private institutions of higher education must provide students with disabilities with reasonable accommodations.
- Reasonable accommodations are intended to give students with disabilities equal access to learning and equal opportunity to express what they have learned. Unreasonable accommodations are those that cost too much, may cause harm to others, or result in a substantial change in the curriculum.
- Why do I need to know how to request an accommodation? In some higher education institutions, a staff member at a disability support center may work with your teachers to get your accommodations. But sometimes you will be on your own. Or you may realize you need something more after the semester starts. It is important for you to have the tools at hand to help you approach your teacher or other staff member and request an accommodation.
- How do I prepare to meet with someone to request an accommodation? First, you need to have approval from your Disability Support office, stating that you are eligible for an accommodation. Second, you need to think through what the class requirements are and what you will need in the way of an accommodation.
- How do I open the meeting with the higher education staff member or teacher? Specific skills for opening a meeting are using the staff person’s name, stating your own name in case they don’t remember you, and thanking them for agreeing to the meeting.
- How do I request an accommodation? Tell the person in general about your personal situation. Then tell them your strengths that you think will help you be a success in their class. Then explain the specific challenge that you think you will have in that class. Next, ask for the accommodation you think you will need. Finally, state clearly why that accommodation will be a benefit to you.
- What if they say no? In the rare case when a higher education teacher or staff member refuses to grant your accommodation, you need to be prepared to handle that rejection. First, you can ask them if they have any ideas for meeting your needs, or you may suggest an alternative yourself. If this doesn’t work, you can ask for a referral to another person who might be able to help.
- How Should I End the Meeting? No matter what happened, it is important to close the meeting in a friendly and professional way. Also, it is important to summarize what happened in the meeting by stating who is going to do what by when – you don’t want any misunderstandings.
We sincerely hope that you will be able to use this knowledge, and the skills to use that knowledge, in the near future. Most of all, we hope that you can use what you have learned so that you can be a success in finishing your program of higher education. Not only that, we hope this information will also be helpful to you both during and after school – in getting a job, in finding a place to live, and so on. We wish you every success for a happy and productive future!