Family Members of Students with Disabilities

Welcome families!  Your role in your students' educational path has been a crucial piece to their success.  Transition to college takes a village, and there are some key factors to be aware of as you begin the journey to higher education for students with disabilities:

1.  The student is in control.  

Students must advocate for their right to access services, not parents, teachers, or counselors.  Students need to set up a meeting with the Center for Equal Access (the Center) Director after documentation has been received (see Obtaining Academic Accommodations) and articulate how their diagnosis, disability, or limitation impacts their learning or learning environment.  

FAMILY MEMBER'S ROLE:  Assist your student with understanding and articulating what their disability or diagnosis is and how it impacts the way they learn or function in a learning and living environment.

2.  Laws change from 'educational rights' to 'equal access.'

High school and earlier operate under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), while in college we operate under the Americans with Disabilities Act, 1990; amended 2008.  IDEA requires a large contingent of educators, parents, and students to be involved in creating successful opportunities in their education.  The ADA only ensures equal access to that which their disability or diagnosis limits.  Students must be able to be academically successful according to The College's standards.  Therefore, some accommodations and services offered in high school will not be allowed in college. 

FAMILY MEMBER'S ROLE:  Talk to your student about their past accommodations.  Discuss with them what accommodations they would consider helpful to their academic success (if any), and what accommodations they feel helped them with equal access or "leveling the playing field".  If the student is unsure, determine together what questions to ask their teachers in high school and the Center for Equal Access.  

3.  Your student has the right to fail as much as they have the right to succeed.

Students may choose to register with the Center for Equal Access and follow procedures, but not officially access resources and accommodations.  This is their right.  Many students want to have a semester or two without accommodations.  While we don't encourage this practice, we honor their right to make that decision.  Often, students are pressured by their parents and family members into resources and accommodations.  This is never an effective tool.  

FAMILY MEMBER'S ROLE:  Discuss with your student often and openly their strengths and challenges and what their concerns and/or fears are about accessing resources.  Honor their choices and be supportive when things may not go as they had planned. 

4. Confidentiality is held to the highest standard. 

All of the student's documentation is confidential and only seen by the Center for Equal Access and anyone who the student authorizes on an official Release of Information (ROI). The student has the right to revoke that ROI at any time.  This means that the Center will not speak to you about anything regarding the student without their consent.  This also includes faculty or any staff at The College outside of the Center for Equal Access.  Instructors of the students will receive a Letter of Accommodation (LOA) from the Center that lists only the accommodations issued by our office, not the diagnosis or documentation.  Students are encouraged to discuss with their faculty their learning style, how they best learn, concerns, or challenges they may have to learning, but are NOT encouraged to disclose their disability.  The disability itself is typically irrelevant to the faculty.  

FAMILY MEMBER'S ROLE:  Affirm to the students who are concerned with faculty knowing about their disability or diagnosis that their information is confidential.  Coach them to articulate how they best learn and what some of their challenges are without disclosing their disability or diagnosis.