On the heels of the “That’s not fair” age, students often set themselves up for failure by failing to make use of a system that has been set up exactly to put them on EQUAL footing with other students. Accommodations are neither a gift nor a bonus. They were created and enacted and put into law to provide FAIR learning opportunities for students across the USA. It is important to note that students are no longer covered by the IDEA and now are covered by the ADA which offers different accommodations, that the student must seek out.
If you are a student dealing with diagnosed attention deficit issues, you owe it to yourself to set the stage for your own success. Again, since there is a new set of laws in university requiring you to be more proactive — be your own advocate.
Follow these steps to make sure your academic needs are covered:
- Choose the school you will attend from the shortlist determined by your acceptance letters. Register for attendance for the following school year.
- Assemble all necessary paperwork concerning your diagnosis and the accommodations you will need. Be able to submit a neat package of photocopies of your evaluations, IEP plans, any documentation of past accommodations. Ask your doctor to specifically request the accommodations for university — this may require getting reevaluated.
- Add a polite, professional cover letter explaining your situation. If there are any additional accommodations you feel you may need, include them in this letter. Tab and cite your documentation as support.
- Confirm that the package was received by the school’s office for Students with Disabilities. Begin to make relationships with officers in this department.
If you receive a denial of requested accommodations, most schools do have a process for appeal. However, submitting everything clearly in the first place ups your chances for success.
- Priority registration in order to give you more chances of being in smaller classes that meet your needs, this is often reserved for more severe disabilities.
- Reduced course load, counting as full time some courses that are only part time. Again, this is for more severe cases.
- Permission to record classes as well as, in some schools, a way of borrowing the equipment necessary to do so. Another thing a student may request is a note taker and having class instructions written out.
- Testing accommodations including additional time, a separate classroom without background noise, and alternative formats, such as verbal testing, having a reader, etc.
It’s always better to have accommodations and not use than to be in need of them and not have the approval necessary. Be sure to square this all, as much as possible, before Day One in order to clear the way for your own success!