Disability and Support Services Early Alert
The University is committed to providing an individualized education for each student whereby individuals are supported to achieve at their fullest potential. When students, faculty, and staff are physically, emotionally, or academically challenged, a Disability and Support Service Early Alert procedures can help the University arrange and customize responsive access, support, and referral services to the greatest extent of resources on our campuses.
The Office of Disability Services (ODS) is responsible for coordinating disability-related services for students, faculty and staff. Interested parties provide disability documentation to the director of ODS who reviews the documentation, determines eligibility per federal guidelines, and facilitates the request for reasonable accommodations. TAMUS Policy 08.01
Things You Should Know about College and Accommodations
The trend of students graduating high school with reading disabilities including dyslexia continues to increase. Here is some advice summarized from the Yale Center for Dyslexia that is beneficial for students entering colleges across the country. It’s true; college will be vastly different from high school. In fact, the law that governs the special accommodations provided in high school (IDEA) does not continue to represent the college student. There are no IEPs, no 504 plans, FERPA and confidentiality is an honored tradition and your information is shared sparingly on a “need to know basis” with your consent.
In college you must identify yourself as having a disability. If you don’t, you won’t qualify for academic adjustments. In high school, accommodations and support services happen automatically, in college this stops. Another difference in college is the absence of your parents’ influence in your academic supports. Once you turn 18, and have graduated from high school, laws come into play that emphasize that you speak for yourself. Colleges may offer parents courtesy conversations to help with your initial transition to college, but you’re in the driver’s seat!
As you look at different schools and PVAMU emerges as your #1 choice, it is hugely important to check out the services for students with disabilities. This can be done with a phone call, an email or, if possible a visit with the Office of Disability Services. Our website is comprehensive but if you have a remaining question or unusual request, make contact early.
Long reading and writing requirements are part of the college terrain. The reality is that when you’re in college, it’s supposed to be different, harder. A college day can begin at 8 or 8:30 and extend to 10pm at night. If in high school, you had unlimited time on tests, don’t be surprised if you’re given extended time -within a time limit when you go to college. Tests can be much longer in college, especially finals that can be 3-4 hours. If you add the extended time you need, you can expect to be very tired by the end. You may not be able to break to eat a meal during these times, but we have no reports yet of students who have starved to death in the process plus snacks may be permitted and you can eat while you work. In college, support services are key. If you need reading supports or help with written assignments, membership to organizations such as Book Share or Books on Tape will be very helpful. Also helpful, PVAMU offers an adapted technology software computer lab with software that can read out loud word-processing documents, PDF files and websites, live scribe pens, adjustable height tables, pool lifts, digital media, etc. PVAMU also offers writing assistance through the Writing Center.
In short, many students feel overwhelmed with the reading required of them in college – even those without a disability. But students with a disability have managed for years to get through a degree program from as far back as Helen Keller. The real present-day challenge is finding enough time in a day or a week or semester to get the work done. Time management may mean that you stay in on a weekend when others are going away. It may mean that you go to the library as a routine quiet study place to concentrate because time will be limited.
As mentioned earlier, you must self-identify with the Office of Disability Services because no one will instinctively know you need classroom adjustments. It will be your choice if you want people to know. This website includes pointers on how to discuss your disability with teachers. At Prairie View, we will issue you an ADA form letter to bring the instructors from the Office of Disability Services that speaks to accommodations. During an office visit with the teacher, use this letter as an ice breaker and starting point for the interactive process of looking at the course syllabus and assignments and deciding on doable accommodations.
Most students come to college with a goal and some even say it’s their dream. If this is you, never give up on that goal or dream. That goal and dream is exactly what will help you make it through the long hours and extra work you will need to achieve. Personally, I have never seen an obstacle that wouldn’t give way to persistence and hard work. With accommodations and support services, your dreams can come true but you must be proactive and willing to work! Congratulations on taking your first step!
STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES
Experience teaching students with disabilities will vary from teacher to teacher. Eligible students are given a letter called a Request for Accommodations. The Request is shared with teachers and need-based service providers. Discretion is encouraged when discussing disabilities and accommodations. The information a student may choose to share is confidential. The essential skills and concepts to be learned in a course need to be the same for all students, though accommodations may change the manner in which a student participates in class, gains access to information or is tested. For example, the student may use adapted technology, interpreters, or receive extra time on tests and written tasks. Again, the essential skills and concepts should be the same for all students. Accommodations should neither give an extra advantage not alter academic expectations.
CLICK HERE TO SEND AN EARLY DISABILITY ALERT
FACULTY OR STAFF WITH DISABILITIES
Title 1 of the Americans with Disabilities Act provides protections and guidelines for qualified persons with disabilities to receive reasonable accommodations in the work place. For detailed information, see TAMUS Policy No. 08.01.01
CLICK HERE TO SEND AN EARLY DISABILITY ALERT
Web Design and Access
Assistive technology has modernized access to information by individuals with print disabilities, such as low-vision, dyslexia, or blindness. In the University’s commitment to accessible information (TAMUS Policy 29.01.04) technology is available that reads materials from a computer screen including MAC Voice Over, Victor Reader, and Kurzweil among others.
CLICK HERE TO SEND AN EARLY DISABILITY ALERT
Teachers are encouraged to include a disability statement on their syllabi with information about how to receive disability accommodations.
COURSE SYLLABUS DISABILITY STATEMENT:
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact Disability Services, in Evans Hall, Room 319, or call 936-261-3581.
Our website is replete with information about specific disabilities. The director of ODS is the on-campus resource to contact. Effective teaching strategies and/or assistive technologies that might help a student with a disability are just a few of the benefits and services the director can provide. Prairie View A&M University also has an Adapted Technology Laboratory on campus. The office offers test proctoring services, text conversion into alternative formats (text-to-speech, audio) and alternative listening devices.
As representatives of the University, ALL instructors and related service providers are responsible for responding to requests for disability accommodations. This works best with advance notice. Also, this may involve referring the student to ODS, engaging in dialogue about the utility and fit of recommended accommodations, and working with ODS and the student to resolve any issues. Usually, instructors can work from the request for accommodations letter and discuss with the student how the accommodations will be implemented. If the instructor thinks an accommodation is incompatible with the structure of the class, the director of ODS should be contacted immediately.
Instructors are cautioned against providing any academic adjustment that would be considered disability-related before verifying the student’s disability status and accommodations with ODS. If there is any doubt, contact the director of ODS to verify eligibility or for more information.
High School Students preparing for College – OCR Letter
U.S. Department of Education
Office for Civil Rights
Washington, D.C. 20202
More and more high school students with disabilities are planning to continue their education in postsecondary schools, including vocational and career schools, two- and four- year colleges, and universities. As a student with a disability, you need to be well informed about your rights and responsibilities as well as the responsibilities postsecondary schools have toward you. Being well informed will help ensure you have a full opportunity to enjoy the benefits of the postsecondary education experience without confusion or delay.
The information in this pamphlet, provided by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the U. S. Department of Education, explains the rights and responsibilities of students with disabilities who are preparing to attend postsecondary schools. This pamphlet also explains the obligations of a postsecondary school to provide academic adjustments, including auxiliary aids and services, to ensure the school does not discriminate on the basis of disability.
OCR enforces Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Title II), which prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability. Practically every school district and postsecondary school in the United States is subject to one or both of these laws, which have similar requirements.
Although Section 504 and Title II apply to both school districts and postsecondary schools, the responsibilities of postsecondary schools differ significantly from those of school districts.
Moreover, you will have responsibilities as a postsecondary student that you do not have as a high school student. OCR strongly encourages you to know your responsibilities and those of postsecondary schools under Section 504 and Title II. Doing so will improve your opportunity to succeed as you enter postsecondary education.
The following questions and answers provide more specific information to help you succeed.
As a student with a disability leaving high school and entering postsecondary education, will I see differences in my rights and how they are addressed?
Yes. Section 504 and Title II protect elementary, secondary, and postsecondary students from discrimination. Nevertheless, several of the requirements that apply through high school are different from the requirements that apply beyond high school. For instance, Section 504 requires a school district to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to each child with a disability in the district’s jurisdiction. Whatever the disability, a school district must identify an individual’s educational needs and provide any regular or special education and related aids and services necessary to meet those needs as well as it is meeting the needs of students without disabilities.
Unlike your high school, however, your postsecondary school is not required to provide FAPE. Rather, your postsecondary school is required to provide appropriate academic adjustments as necessary to ensure that it does not discriminate on the basis of disability. In addition, if your postsecondary school provides housing to nondisabled students, it must provide comparable, convenient, and accessible housing to students with disabilities at the same cost.
Other important differences that you need to know, even before you arrive at your postsecondary school, are addressed in the remaining questions.
May a postsecondary school deny my admission because I have a disability?
No. If you meet the essential requirements for admission, a postsecondary school may not deny your admission simply because you have a disability.
Do I have to inform a postsecondary school that I have a disability?
No. But if you want the school to provide an academic adjustment, you must identify yourself as having a disability. Likewise, you should let the school know about your disability if you want to ensure that you are assigned to accessible facilities. In any event, your disclosure of a disability is always voluntary.
What academic adjustments must a postsecondary school provide?
The appropriate academic adjustment must be determined based on your disability and individual needs. Academic adjustments may include auxiliary aids and services, as well as modifications to academic requirements as necessary to ensure equal educational opportunity. Examples of adjustments are: arranging for priority registration; reducing a course load; substituting one course for another; providing note takers, recording devices, sign language interpreters, extended time for testing, and, if telephones are provided in dorm rooms, a TTY in your dorm room; and equipping school computers with screen-reading, voice recognition, or other adaptive software or hardware.
In providing an academic adjustment, your postsecondary school is not required to lower or substantially modify essential requirements. For example, although your school may be required to provide extended testing time, it is not required to change the substantive content of the test. In addition, your postsecondary school does not have to make adjustments that would fundamentally alter the nature of a service, program, or activity, or that would result in an undue financial or administrative burden. Finally, your postsecondary school does not have to provide personal attendants, individually prescribed devices, readers for personal use or study, or other devices or services of a personal nature, such as tutoring and typing.
If I want an academic adjustment, what must I do?
You must inform the school that you have a disability and need an academic adjustment. Unlike your school district, your postsecondary school is not required to identify you as having a disability or to assess your needs.
Your postsecondary school may require you to follow reasonable procedures to request an academic adjustment. You are responsible for knowing and following those procedures. In their publications providing general information, postsecondary schools usually include information on the procedures and contacts for requesting an academic adjustment. Such publications include recruitment materials, catalogs, and student handbooks, and are often available on school websites. Many schools also have staff whose purpose is to assist students with disabilities. If you are unable to locate the procedures, ask a school official, such as an admissions officer or counselor.
When should I request an academic adjustment?
Although you may request an academic adjustment from your postsecondary school at any time, you should request it as early as possible. Some academic adjustments may take more time to provide than others. You should follow your school’s procedures to ensure that the school has enough time to review your request and provide an appropriate academic adjustment.
Do I have to prove that I have a disability to obtain an academic adjustment?
Generally, yes. Your school will probably require you to provide documentation showing that you have a current disability and need an academic adjustment.
What documentation should I provide?
Schools may set reasonable standards for documentation. Some schools require more documentation than others. They may require you to provide documentation prepared by an appropriate professional, such as a medical doctor, psychologist, or other qualified diagnostician. The required documentation may include one or more of the following: a diagnosis of your current disability, as well as supporting information, such as the date of the diagnosis, how that diagnosis was reached, and the credentials of the diagnosing professional; information on how your disability affects a major life activity; and information on how the disability affects your academic performance. The documentation should provide enough information for you and your school to decide what is an appropriate academic adjustment.
An individualized education program (IEP) or Section 504 plan, if you have one, may help identify services that have been effective for you. This is generally not sufficient documentation, however, because of the differences between postsecondary education and high school education. What you need to meet the new demands of postsecondary education may be different from what worked for you in high school. Also, in some cases, the nature of a disability may change.
If the documentation that you have does not meet the postsecondary school’s requirements, a school official should tell you in a timely manner what additional documentation you need to provide. You may need a new evaluation in order to provide the required documentation.
Who has to pay for a new evaluation?
Neither your high school nor your postsecondary school is required to conduct or pay for a new evaluation to document your disability and need for an academic adjustment. You may, therefore, have to pay or find funding to pay an appropriate professional for an evaluation. If you are eligible for services through your state vocational rehabilitation agency, you may qualify for an evaluation at no cost to you.
Once the school has received the necessary documentation from me, what should I expect?
To determine an appropriate academic adjustment, the school will review your request in light of the essential requirements for the relevant program. It is important to remember that the school is not required to lower or waive essential requirements. If you have requested a specific academic adjustment, the school may offer that academic adjustment, or it may offer an effective alternative. The school may also conduct its own evaluation of your disability and needs at its own expense.
You should expect your school to work with you in an interactive process to identify an appropriate academic adjustment. Unlike the experience you may have had in high school, however, do not expect your postsecondary school to invite your parents to participate in the process or to develop an IEP for you.
What if the academic adjustment we identified is not working?
Let the school know as soon as you become aware that the results are not what you expected. It may be too late to correct the problem if you wait until the course or activity is completed. You and your school should work together to resolve the problem.
May a postsecondary school charge me for providing an academic adjustment?
No. Nor may it charge students with disabilities more for participating in its programs or activities than it charges students who do not have disabilities.
What can I do if I believe the school is discriminating against me?
Practically every postsecondary school must have a person—frequently called the Section 504 Coordinator, ADA Coordinator, or Disability Services Coordinator—who coordinates the school’s compliance with Section 504,Title II, or both laws. You may contact that person for information about how to address your concerns.
The school must also have grievance procedures. These procedures are not the same as the due process procedures with which you may be familiar from high school. But the postsecondary school’s grievance procedures must include steps to ensure that you may raise your concerns fully and fairly, and must provide for the prompt and equitable resolution of complaints.
School publications, such as student handbooks and catalogs, usually describe the steps that you must take to start the grievance process. Often, schools have both formal and informal processes. If you decide to use a grievance process, you should be prepared to present all the reasons that support your request.
If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of the school’s grievance procedures or wish to pursue an alternative to using those procedures, you may file a complaint against the school with OCR or in a court.
If you would like more information about the responsibilities of postsecondary schools to students with disabilities, read the OCR brochure Auxiliary Aids and Services for Postsecondary Students with Disabilities: Higher Education’s Obligations Under Section 504 and Title II of the ADA.
Students with disabilities who know their rights and responsibilities are much better equipped to succeed in postsecondary school. We encourage you to work with the staff at your school because they, too, want you to succeed. Seek the support of family, friends, and fellow students, including those with disabilities. Know your talents and capitalize on them, and believe in yourself as you embrace new challenges in your education.