The transition to a university setting can be stressful for any student, but for parents or guardians of students with disabilities, it can feel especially overwhelming. The following information may help clarify some of these roles:
- Laws regarding confidentiality and responsibility for disclosure change when a student becomes 18, so it is important that your student is comfortable with taking the leading role in working with Student Accessbility Services. We strongly encourage students to make the first contact with Student Accessbility Services to develop a working relationship with our office early on. Our intention is not to cut out your important support, but encourage a student to become a self-advocate.
- Provide appropriate and current documentation (a 504 or IEP plan is a good start) that verifies the student’s disability and requested accommodations.Please note that some accommodations may require additional documentation from a qualified specialists.
- Students should have a good understanding of their disabilityand any supports they need to be successful. They will need to be able to speak effectively with faculty or other staff regarding their accommodation plans and any support services they participate in.
- Students sometimes assume that what was provided in high school will be the same in college. Students should work closely with Student Accessibility Services to understand what can and cannot be provided based on what is essential to a program or class.
- It is important that students understand policies, procedures and timelines of Student Accessbility Services.
- To provide equal access to programs or services in accordance with federal and state laws.
- Determine if the student is eligible for services.
- Maintain confidentiality of disability related information. Provide an appropriate procedure for students to disclose accommodation information to faculty or staff or those with an academic or emergency need to know.
- To allow for reasonable accommodations, adjustments and modifications of courses, programs or services on a case-by-case basis. (As long as these accommodations do not alter core requirements classes/programs).
- A grievance policy whereby students can have concerns about reasonable accommodations or modifications investigated.
- Support students in their academic goals!
- Understand that your role has changed. Parents are often used to advocating for their child in K-12 settings. In the collegiate level, this responsibility becomes one of self-advocacy. You are support and information for them, but the responsibility of disclosure, contact and follow through is up to the student.
- Encourage students to get services set up early. Sometimes students in college no longer want to be treated “separately”, which is normal. Encourage students to set up services and try them out, even if they never use them.
- Assist your student in getting appropriate documentation. This may require assistance because it may involve outside parties (e.g., physician, psychologist, school records).
- Go through documentation with your student. What is their diagnosis? What things have helped them in the past? What does having a learning disability, depression or a health condition mean on a daily basis? What are they concerned about? What are their strengths?
- Check in with your student on their progress. Ask questions not only about grades, but about what they are learning, if they are seeking supportive services, and how they are handling the transition.
- Help your student learn to help themselves. If your student has a concern, do they know who to contact? If not, help them figure out the next steps to take, but allow them to do the action. They should send their own email or make their own phones/appointments with appropriate people who can assist them. Problem solve with them, not for them.
We are here to help! We appreciate information from parents to help set up services, but please remember that confidentiality laws do apply. We do work to ensure access, but also truly want the success of your student as well!