Chatham University

PACE Center Disability Services

+Statement of Accommodation

Chatham University is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to students with disabilities who are admitted through our admissions process. The University fully supports the Americans with Disabilities Act as Amended (ADA-AA) 2008 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The University’s goal is to make its programs and facilities available to all students.

For students with physical disabilities, the University provides accessibility within its facilities and programs and will, within the spirit of reasonable accommodation, adapt or modify those facilities and programs to meet individual needs on a case-by-case basis. Although not all facilities and programs are accessible, students with physical disabilities can expect classes or activities to be available in accessible buildings, adaptive environments to be utilized, or auxiliary equipment to be allowed on an individual basis and in a manner reasonable for both the student and the University. Accommodations for students with physical disabilities will be based on documentation (see Accommodation Process for documentation guidelines) that meets the University’s standards.

For students with learning and psychological disabilities, the University accommodates on a case-by-case basis. Chatham’s goal is to work with students in order both to provide reasonable accommodations and to help students develop learning strategies that will enable them to succeed in the world beyond Chatham. Accommodations for students with such disabilities will be based on documentation (see Accommodation Process for documentation guidelines) that meets the University’s standards.

Chatham does not offer specialized curriculum for persons with disabilities. Instead, the University works with the student to provide reasonable accommodations within Chatham’s curricular framework that do not substantially alter course content or requirements essential to the academic program. While Chatham is committed to working in partnership with students with disabilities, the University reserves the right to make educational decisions on a case-by-case basis about what are the most reasonable accommodations.

Disability Support Services
Cindy Kerr, Director
ckerr@chatham.edu/pace@chatham.edu
P: 412-365-1611/412-365-1523
Location: 3rd Floor, Jennie King Mellon Library

+Requesting Accommodations

Registering for disability services is a three-step process:

  1. Schedule an intake meeting with the Director of Disability Support Services. At this meeting, you will be asked to discuss your experience with disabilities, including the impact the disability has had on your academic life, the challenges resulting from the disability, and any previous accommodations that you have utilized in past courses.
  2. You provide third party documentation of your disability. More information on acceptable forms of documentation is available in the Documentation Guidelines section below. The information obtained from this type of documentation will also be considered when making accommodation decisions. PACE must receive your documentation by the end of the semester in which you initially register for disability services.
  3. The PACE Center Director will send your instructors your official accommodation letter via email. Some accommodations may be arranged by the PACE Center (i.e. note takers). You may be responsible for arranging for some of your accommodations (downloading notes, scheduling testing rooms, etc.).

While specific accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis, the following list describes some common accommodations in college courses:

  • Alternate text and exam formats, including audio, Braille and electronic versions
  • Distraction-limited setting for testing
  • Extended time for testing
  • Note-taker services
  • Assistive technology, including Kurzweil 1000 and Kurzweil 3000
  • Sign language interpreting services
  • Preferential seating in the classroom
  • Tutors
  • Regular meetings with PACE staff

+Documentation Guidelines

Students requesting disability support services and/or reasonable accommodations from Chatham University are required to submit supporting documentation to the disability services office. Students are encouraged to keep copies of this documentation for their own records. Supporting documentation is required to verify eligibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act as Amended (ADA-AA) 2008, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Chatham University policies. An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 Plan is not sufficient documentation.

The documentation must be on official letterhead and clearly state the medical professional or diagnostician’s name, title, professional credentials, license number, place of employment, area(s) of specialization, and contact information.

The documentation must provide a specific diagnosis with clear evidence to the nature of the impairment/disability, its expected duration, and appropriate accommodations. Vague terminology, such as “learning differences” or “chronic pain” do not constitute a diagnosis. Professionals that may provide supporting documentation include, but are not limited to: clinical/school/neuro-psychologists, psychiatrists, physicians, counselors, and learning disability specialists. The diagnostician cannot be related to the student. Submission of documentation is not the same as specifically requesting services.

Documentation can be emailed or mailed to:
PACE Center
Chatham University
Woodland Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15232
Email: pace@chatham.edu

ATTENTION DEFICIT/HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER (ADD/ADHD) DOCUMENTATION
Professionals rendering a diagnosis of ADD/ADHD must have comprehensive training and direct experience working with adolescents and adults with these conditions. The University will make the final determination of reasonable accommodations. The diagnostic report must include the following:

  • Specific diagnosis of ADD/ADHD based on DSM V criteria
  • Examples of how ADD/ADHD substantially limits major life functions
  • Summary of assessment procedures and evaluation instruments used to make the diagnosis
  • Summary of evaluation results, quantitative information must be in standardized scores or percentiles
  • All relevant medical, medication history, psychological, behavioral, and academic information
  • How current medication impacts the student’s academic/personal functioning
  • Specific recommendations for reasonable accommodations
  • Recommendations must be based on significant functional limitations and supported by the diagnostic assessment(s)

LEARNING DISABILITIES DOCUMENTATION
The diagnostician should have comprehensive training and direct work experience in the assessment and treatment of learning disabilities. Assessments must include a measure of both aptitude and academic achievement. Documentation must include test dates and all test results. The University will make the final determination of reasonable accommodations. Acceptable tests include, but are not limited to, the current editions of the following:

  • Aptitude Testing (IQ and Information Processing Testing): Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS); Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational Batter-Revised: Tests of Cognitive Ability (WJ-R); Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale
  • Academic Achievement Testing: Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational Battery-Revised; Tests of Achievement (WJ-R); Stanford Test of Academic Skills; Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT)

The diagnostic report must include the following:

  • Specific diagnosis based on DSM V criteria
  • Examples of how the learning disability substantially limits major life functions
  • Summary of assessment procedures and evaluation instruments used to make the diagnosis
  • Summary of evaluation results; quantitative information must be in standardized scores or percentiles
  • All relevant medical, medication history, psychological, behavioral, and academic information.
  • How current medication impacts the student’s academic/personal functioning should be included
  • Specific recommendations for reasonable accommodations. Recommendations must be based on significant functional limitations and supported by the diagnostic assessment(s)

PHYSICAL DISABILITIES DOCUMENTATION
Documentation must be submitted by a physician. The University will make the final determination of reasonable accommodations. The diagnostic report must include the following:

  • Clear statement of the medical diagnosis, time of onset, and expected duration
  • Summary of present symptoms
  • Examples of how the condition substantially limits major life functions
  • All relevant medical, medication history, psychological, behavioral, and academic information.
  • How current medication impacts the student’s academic/personal functioning
  • Specific recommendations for reasonable accommodations
  • Recommendations must be based on significant functional limitations and supported by the diagnostic assessment(s)

PSYCHOLOGICAL DISABILITIES DOCUMENTATION
Documentation must be submitted by a psychiatrist, psychologist, counselor or social worker. The University will make the final determination of reasonable accommodations. The diagnostic report must include the following:

  • Specific diagnosis of a psychological/mental disorder based on DSM V criteria
  • Summary of present symptoms
  • Examples of how the condition substantially limits major life functions
  • Summary of assessment procedures and evaluation instruments used to make the diagnosis
  • Summary of evaluation results; quantitative information must be in standardized scores or percentiles
  • All relevant medical, medication history, psychological, behavioral, and academic information
  • How current medication impacts the student’s academic/personal functioning should be included
  • History of disability (including date of onset) and summary of current treatment plan
  • Specific recommendations for reasonable accommodations
  • Recommendations must be based on significant functional limitations and be supported by the diagnostic assessment(s)

TRAUMATIC BRAIN OR HEAD INJURY DOCUMENTATION
Documentation must be submitted by a physician, neurologist, psychologist, or psychiatrist. The University will make the final determination of reasonable accommodations. The diagnostic report must include the following:

  • Clear statement of the traumatic brain or head injury diagnosis, date of accident, expected duration of disability, and present symptoms
  • Examples of how the injury substantially limits major life functions
  • Summary of assessment procedures and evaluation instruments used to make the diagnosis
  • Summary of evaluation results; quantitative information must be in standardized scores or percentiles
  • All relevant medical, medication history, psychological, behavioral, and academic information
  • How current medication impacts the student’s academic/personal functioning
  • Summary of current treatment plan
  • Specific recommendations for reasonable accommodations
  • Recommendations must be based on significant functional limitations and supported by the diagnostic assessment

Examples of unacceptable forms of documentation:

  • Documentation that is outdated (for disabilities that need periodic re-evaluation)
  • Letters from non-relevant health care providers (i.e. a letter from your PCP verifying a psychological disability)
  • Letters that do not discuss the functional limitations of the disability and how this supports the need for specific reasonable accommodations
  • Letters that do not include all of the documentation requirements listed above
  • IDEA or FAPE documentation
  • Your ADA Section 504 Plan

Detailed information on disability documentation at the post-secondary level is available here.

+Confidentiality

Chatham University is bound by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). This law encompasses information regarding a student's disability and/or accommodations. It also includes information on whether students have visited our office for tutoring, writing assistance, or any other PACE service. If you would like your parents, academic advisor, instructors, or anyone else to be able to discuss your disability and accommodations with PACE Center staff, you must sign a PACE Center Information Release. This can be done by logging in to your Chatham Student Portal.

FERPA is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all educational agencies and institutions that receive funds under any program administered by the Department of Education ("Department"). FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children's education records at elementary and secondary schools that are subject to FERPA's requirements. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a postsecondary institution at any age ("eligible student").

Under FERPA, a parent or eligible student must provide a signed and dated written consent before a school discloses personally identifiable information from the student's education records. The term "education records" is defined as those records that are: (1) directly related to a student; and (2) maintained by an educational agency or institution, or by a party acting for the agency or institution. Accordingly, all records, including records on services provided to students under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and records on services and accommodations provided to students under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, that are directly related to a student and maintained by a school are "education records" under FERPA.

Adapted from http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/pdf/ferpa-disaster-guidance.pdf

+Appeals & Grievances

In conjunction with the Americans with Disabilities Act as Amended (ADAAA) of 2008, Chatham University determines disability accommodations through an iterative process with the Director of Disability Support Services and the individuals with disabilities themselves. Chatham University’s policy is to provide reasonable accommodations to students with qualifying disabilities and these procedures are written to help students understand avenues available to them should they encounter problems in Chatham’s implementation of the ADAAA and to provide prompt and equitable resolution of complaints.

The Director of Disability Support Services (DSS) is the designated 504/ADAAA Compliance Officer and will handle informal and formal complaints from students. Complaints about a disability related decision or denial of accommodations by the Disability Support Services department can be directed to the Vice-President of Academic Affairs.

Appeals and Grievances should be addressed in the following order:

If a student does not agree with the academic accommodations as offered by DSS, or if an instructor does not allow the academic accommodations recommended by DSS, the first step for the student is to talk directly with the director of DSS and the instructor or the person with whom the student has a grievance. The student must clearly articulate the concerns and the resolution sought. Students must raise their grievance as soon as possible, preferably with five (5) business days following the event.

DSS will record the grievance and resolution. Parties involved will be notified of the outcome by email, as appropriate. Every reasonable effort will be made to resolve the grievance at this level. If the student feels the grievance has not been resolved, the student can submit a written summary of concerns and the resolution sought to the Director of DSS to initiate a formal grievance.

The Director of DSS will schedule an appointment within five (5) business days of the student request. The student and the director will discuss the grievance and the director will conduct an investigation into the concerns and resolutions available. The director will provide a written response to the student within five (5) business days. If the grievance is resolved at this step, the process ends. DSS will record the grievance and resolution and notify all parties involved of the findings within five (5) days of the resolution.

If a student is still not satisfied, the student may file a formal grievance with the Vice President of Academic Affairs. To initiate a formal complaint on the basis of a disability issue, the student must provide the complaint in writing to the Vice President of Academic Affairs (can be sent via email). The written complaint will need to include the following information:

  1. A full description of the issue(s) including names of individuals, departments and/or programs involved and efforts taken to informally resolve the issue(s).
  2. Identification of the disability.
  3. The date(s) of the issue(s).
  4. Identification of individual(s) who have knowledge related to the complaint.
  5. The specific remedy sought.
  6. The signature of the student.

The Vice President will review the complaint and respond to the student within ten (10) business days of receipt. The Vice President’s decision is final. The Vice President will notify all parties involved of the resolution in writing.

If the student believes that a satisfactory resolution has not been reached, the student may choose to file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education.

+Course Substitutions

Coming Soon

+Medical Housing & Dining accommodations

Medical housing and dining accommodations are a joint effort between the PACE Center and Chatham's Office of Residence Life.

Air Conditioners
Students are not permitted to have window air conditioners. If a student requires air conditioning for a medical reason, the student must submit a letter to the Director of Residence Life and documentation from a doctor explaining the medical need. Upon approval for the air conditioning unit, a student requiring an air conditioner for medical reasons must:

  • Provide the air conditioning unit, a small unit of about 8000 BTUs.
  • Once the unit is approved, it will be installed by a Facilities Management staff member. Residence Life will facilitate this process.

Medical accommodations
The housing and residential learning environment and the dining experiences on campus are integral parts of Chatham University programs. Staff and faculty are committed to providing access to these programs for all students. Some students at Chatham University may have medical, psychological, or disability concerns that present challenges in accessing the full benefit of the educational experience on campus. Chatham University has created a process for students seeking accommodations that will help provide them access. This process is separate from the academic accommodation request procedure.

To receive housing/dining that accommodates a student's disability or medical situation, Chatham University requires that he/she submit appropriate medical documentation that confirms he/she is an individual with a disability or specific medical condition. The following information is an outline of factors that Chatham University will consider when determining if the student's request for housing/dining accommodation is reasonable due to a disability or medical issue. Examples of accommodations include: single-resident room, private bathroom, strobe light fire alarm, air conditioner, or modified meal plan. An interview may need to be requested if the committee and/or student do not feel that the supporting documentation is a thorough enough description of the disability and accommodation request. All medical information will be kept confidential and will only be shared with other parties on campus on a need to know basis.

Requests for accommodations related to service or support animals are evaluated based on a separate policy.

Severity of the Disability

  • Is the impact of the disability life threating if the request is not met?
  • Is there a negative health impact that may be permanent if the request is not met?
  • Is the request a vital component of a treatment plan for the condition?
  • What is the impact on the student's level of comfort if the request is not met?
  • Does the disability necessitate that the student lives in an on-campus residence hall?

Practicality, Availability, and Timing

  • Does the available/requested accommodation meet the student's needs?
  • Are there other effective methods/housing configurations that would achieve similar benefits as the requested accommodation?
  • Does the requested accommodation create a safety hazard (i.e. electrical overload, blockage of emergency exit, etc.)?
  • Was the request made prior to the designated deadline?

Requests for a need-based housing or dining accommodation must be accompanied by supporting, professional medical documentation. The committee will make a recommendation based on the documentation received.

The following procedure is in place for students who are requesting medical accommodations:

  • The student will need to submit a cover letter to the Office of Residence Life (attn.: Assistant Director of Residence Life) detailing his/her medical request. The cover letter must be accompanied with medical documentation from a qualified professional. Please note: We will not accept documentation from a member of the student's family, regardless of his or her professional status. Please contact the Assistant Director of Residence Life if you would like to request a copy of the cover letter format expectations.
  • The Assistant Dean of Students (or designee) will consult with the committee about whether or not a student's medical condition warrants the need for a medical single or other housing and/or dining accommodations.
  • The Assistant Dean of Students will then contact the student via email to notify them regarding the decision.
  • If the student's request is appealed, an additional cover letter may be written for further review.

PRIORITY DEADLINE for new students: Thursday, May 15 at 5 p.m. Please note: Need-based housing/dining must be requested and approved annually.

For information on obtaining a single dorm room as part of your disability accommodations, please refer to the Office of Student Affairs page on Medical Housing Accommodations.

For specific questions about residence halls, please email Heather Black, Assistant Dean of Students, or call (412) 365-2776.

+Disability Evaluation Testing

Though Chatham University does not provide disability evaluation testing, the following information can be used as a guide to help you find out where you can go to receive these services.

Factors to consider when deciding on a testing option:

  • Will your insurance (or your parents' insurance) cover the cost?
  • Have you compared costs of psychologists in the area?
  • Have you checked to see if you already have a record of a disability on file somewhere?
  • Do you need a medical referral for testing?
  • Are adult measures being used in your evaluation?
  • Did you bring Chatham's documentation guidelines with you to the testing center?

Please visit the Learning Disabilities Association (LDA) for information on the adult learning disability assessment process.

Testing Options

  • Prior Evaluation: If you received accommodations at school or work in the past, you may have already had a disability evaluation established by a health care provider. If you do not have records of this, you can contact your health care providers, or the school(s) or employer(s) where you received accommodations to see if they have your documentation on file.
  • Private Psychologist: This is often the quickest option. Click here for a listing of Pittsburgh area health care providers that offer psychological and psycho-educational testing and evaluation. You can find more names through a Google search, or by visiting your health insurance provider's website. Be sure to check with your insurance provider to determine whether this type of testing will be covered, and/or whether they have an approved list of providers.
  • Pennsylvania's Office of Vocational Rehabilitation: OVR has offices throughout the state and serves people with disabilities. Check with OVR for an assessment of your eligibility for services. Their evaluations of your eligibility for client services are free, but scheduling can sometimes be difficult.

+Temporary Conditions

Temporary medical conditions such as a cold or the flu, broken or sprained bones, infectious diseases, general surgery, non-complicated pregnancy, concussions or other common medical conditions are not regarded as disabilities under the ADA. The degree of functional limitation and duration of the above-mentioned conditions, typically, does not cause enough impairment to qualify an individual as having a disability. Conditions lasting less than six months and having no long-term or permanent effects on the person's health will not typically qualify as disabilities.

We at the PACE Center understand that these conditions may impact your course performance and cause extra challenges. If you are suffering from a temporary condition, you are encouraged to meet with your instructors to discuss the nature of your limitations, the expected duration, the impact on each class, and to determine a plan for the completion of coursework. We highly recommend meeting with your instructors in person, but if your temporary condition prohibits this, you should contact them via email. We strongly recommend contacting your faculty as soon as you know that your temporary condition is going to impact your academic performance.

Under certain circumstances, the PACE Center can advocate for students with temporary conditions. While accommodations are not guaranteed for these ailments, you may contact us for advice and assistance as you develop a plan to manage your coursework while your temporary condition persists.

+Useful Resources

Parent Information

+Who will manage my student's educational services?

The student is ultimately responsible for managing their own education, understanding their functional limitations, and requesting necessary accommodations for a disability.

As adults, all students go through a process of learning about themselves. They develop the skill of self-determination, gaining the confidence to advocate for the things they need in order to thrive and achieve. In the case of a disability, that includes advocating for equality -- their civil right.

Disability Support Services endeavors to promote this kind of self-knowledge. With respect to disability, each student must be able to explain their functional limitations; that is, how their disability affects them or limits the ways in which tasks are performed. Students must also understand how those limitations can be effectively accommodated to create equal access for them in college. A student will need to be prepared to insist and be firm in their conviction that the accommodations for which they are asking are reasonable and feasible.

Disability Support Services can best help a student with a disability in their educational growth through the development of these skills. These skills are critical, because it is the student, not Disability Support Services, who will need to approach instructors and other staff to request the approved accommodations which they need to receive. Clearly, these are skills all students need to have when they leave Chatham University and transition successfully into their chosen careers.

+My student is adamant - they do not want anything to do with the disability office!

It is the student's choice and there may be many reasons why they do not wish to register their disability. Uncomfortable as it is to say, students' experience with Special Education, resource rooms, or 504 services (including adult services such as Vocational Rehabilitation and even Disability Services) may have unintended effects. Students do not want "help" anymore. Whatever experiences students may or may not have had in high school, they often come away with these feelings, which may be part of what motivates a student to avoid Disability Support Services in college. The student may simply be trying to preserve a "positive" sense of self.

Students rightly want to feel that the work they do in school is of equal value to that of their classmates. They often express discomfort at feeling like they are gaining some advantage others may not have, and they struggle with the feeling that they could be the object of charity by well-meaning adults. They often tell us, "I just want to make it on my own, without any help." Disability Support Services does not "help" students. We do not look over students' shoulders to ensure that they are getting their homework done and going to class. We do not hold their hands to get them through registration or financial aid problems, or reduce the academic standard so that they won't experience feelings of failure. These things, while intended to be helpful, are more likely to cement the conviction that the student is less qualified than other students to be at Chatham University. In the long run, that kind of help hurts and can contribute to serious academic consequences.

Rejecting negative attitudes about disability--about ourselves--is the right thing to do, so long as we recognize that the assumptions and devaluation of disability are the underlying problem, not the disability itself. The student may come to terms with their disability in one of two ways. The most important way is by changing their attitude about having a disability. This requires accepting the attitude that disability is a normal part of life, and that the student has every right to be here. This also means that the student must look at accommodations, not as a reduction in expectations, but as a means to level the playing field – because academic standards will not be reduced. It also necessitates an acknowledgment of the functional limitations of their disability and a refusal to apologize for being who they are.

If you are even partly successful in communicating these ideas to your student, you will have done more for them than you will ever know. But for many students who come to Chatham wanting to shed their disability "status" like a snake sheds its skin, they may likely experience the second way of coming to terms with their disability. They may not come to the PACE Center and Disability Support Services, acknowledging the functional limitations of their disability, until they are in trouble academically or financially. It may seem as though some students need to be knocked down hard before they are ready to learn how to hold their heads up without shame. This is an unfortunate, but common, aspect of the disability (and college) experience.

What else can you do? Keep sending your student the message that it is up to them, that you have faith in them, and they have nothing to be ashamed of or apologize for. Let your student know that a visit to the PACE Center or Disability Support Services does not mean a commitment, and that they are in control of their academic career and they have the right to refuse any accommodation or academic assistance. The student, however, ought to be fully informed about what their choices may be before making that decision.

+How do students advocate for themselves in order to ensure they receive the appropriate accommodations?

In order to ensure equal access, students must advocate effectively for the modifications they are eligible for at Chatham University. This necessitates that the student understands their disability and the ways in which it limits their functioning at the University. The limitations of the disability, not the disability itself, are the reason accommodations are recommended and provided. Disability Support Services will have ongoing dialogues with students regarding their accommodations.

+I understand the philosophy now, but what is the process, or how does disability services work?

The following list generally applies to most students who register with Disability Support Services in the PACE Center. Specifics vary depending on the student's disability, functional limitations, and accommodations that will be requested and provided.

1. First, the University must verify the student's disability and the functional limitations that result from it. Medical or psychological records are used in this process. Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) or 504 Plans are not adequate to demonstrate the functional limitations of a disability. In some cases, DSS may determine that the records provided are too old to be considered accurate. In such instances, the DSS director will recommend that the student obtain current assessment. This must be done by the student and at the student's expense. DSS maintains a list of qualified professionals in the Pittsburgh community who can provide appropriate assessment.

2. Next, the DSS director and the student have an interactive discussion about the limitations of the disability and decide on the appropriate accommodations. These accommodations, such as readers, sign language interpreters, etc., may be provided by Disability Support Services. Others may be provided by peers (such as in-class note taking services).

3. The DSS director will draft a letter of accommodation for students to give to their instructors. The letter introduces the student and informs the instructor that the student's disability has been verified by Disability Support Services. It then discusses the functional limitations of the student's disability and recommends accommodations that are reasonable and logically address those limitations. Thus, the letter's purpose is to assist the student in requesting accommodations/modifications from instructors. Students are required to meet with each of their faculty members to discuss the letter of accommodation.

4. In the case of auxiliary aids and services, Disability Support Services maintains lists of qualified readers, scribes, and other auxiliary aids. Students are encouraged to experiment with a variety of auxiliary aids, services, and strategies to ensure maximum access to academic programs. All such services are authorized by the Disability Support Services director, so it is imperative for students to talk with the director if they feel their accommodations/modifications need some adjustment. New or varying strategies may be necessary from one course to the next, depending on the nature of the material, presentation style, and the media used in the classroom.

Disability Support Services recommends that students identify and request accommodations with plenty of advance notice to ensure their accommodations will be available when they need them. Ideally, the student should contact their instructors prior to the first day of class to discuss test formats and the possibility of test modifications. They will need to remind the instructor again at least a week before each exam, and then confirm the arrangements before the test day.

+What is my role as a parent?

At the post-secondary level, your child continues to change. You will continue to give your support, but in a slightly different fashion. Your role shifts to a subtle guiding hand when it comes to being involved in your child's education. Encourage them to take responsibility for academic concerns and limitations. Both of you should acknowledge the disability and the limitations that stem from it. This will allow them to identify areas in which they should consider accommodations. It will also make it easier to convey their requests for accommodations to instructors and anyone from whom the student may seek assistance.

Encourage your student to register with the PACE Center and Disability Support Services where they can be informed about how to proceed in obtaining reasonable accommodations. College is the first testing ground where your student will and must be their own advocate. Expect them to develop their independence further by making suitable arrangements to ensure success in their classes.

MY STUDENT HAD SOME SUBJECTS WAIVED IN HIGH SCHOOL. WHY ARE THEY NOT AUTOMATICALLY WAIVED IN COLLEGE? There are no "automatic" waivers in higher education. In fact, there are no waivers at all. Rather, under certain circumstances, students may be granted substitutions for some courses. But substitutions will be considered only when the student demonstrates that they are both otherwise qualified, and that the substitution removes a disability-related barrier to their academic program.

Remember that the ADA provides for reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities. Under ADA, however, it is not reasonable to lower the academic standards for students with disabilities. Therefore, requests for substitutions must be accompanied by appropriate documentation supporting the claim.

For example, a student with a specific learning disability affecting their ability to learn math is majoring in English literature. The student has good documentation of their learning disability that strongly supports the student's claim that the resulting functional limitations may prevent them from succeeding in a college math course. Perhaps the student already tried a lower-level math course and has been unsuccessful even with reasonable accommodations and tutoring. This student may petition the Dean for a course substitution for the math requirement in their general education area. The committee would make their decision, based on the verification of functional limitations (typically provided by Disability Support Services), the substitution options requested, and the impact on the student's course of study. The committee must determine that the substitution would not reduce the academic standard and that it would be a reasonable accommodation for an otherwise qualified student with a disability.

Now consider the same student with a learning disability affecting math, but who plans a degree course in physics or chemistry. These disciplines will have additional degree requirements in mathematics. A course substitution for general education requirements in math will not prepare the student for what is to come in these fields of study. Certainly, the student will have a much more difficult time negotiating such a degree program. In fact, the student's major department would have the right to deny math substitutions, as they would represent a change to the fundamental nature of the degree.

+Is my student automatically registered with disability services if we sent a 504 plan or IEP to Admissions?

No. Unlike high school, each student must register separately to ensure their access to accommodations/modifications. Each student must come to the PACE Center to begin the process of registering and verifying their disability, and to determine which accommodations may be reasonable for the student to request. From there, your student will be informed on how to obtain those accommodations.

Remember, 504 Plans and IEPs from high school have no weight in higher education. They are neither binding on a college or university, nor can they be used to verify a student's disability for civil rights purposes.

Your student's registration with Disability Support Services is confidential. The disclosure of this information to faculty, other students, or university staff, or parents is the student's prerogative as an adult.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU CANNOT DISCLOSE ANY INFORMATION TO ME ABOUT MY STUDENT'S SERVICES? Once your student enrolls in a post-secondary institution, whether they are 18 years old or not, the student becomes the sole guardian of all records maintained by that institution. Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1976 (FERPA), the student has the right to access their own records upon written request. The parent or guardian does not share that right. This means that parents do not have legal access to their student's grades, transcripts, or any information concerning the services the student is being provided through the PACE Center and/or Disability Support Services. This information is confidential.

The only time a student's record may be disclosed without written consent would be to comply with a subpoena, or in an emergency situation where the health and safety of the student or another individual is threatened.