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Disclosure and Accommodations For Students

Disclosing a disability to a professor can feel awkward and uncomfortable. The decision to do this is yours, of course, but there are several things you can do to make it more comfortable and productive. Face-to-face meetings with your instructors are an excellent way to educate instructors about disabilities and to help both of you feel at ease. You might even want to “rehearse” what you will say with the Learning Specialist or with a close friend.

Schedule your meeting as early in the semester as possible. This allows time to work out accommodations and helps your plan to be implemented as quickly as possible. You do not need to go into great detail about your disability, but you should tell your instructor about the impact it has on you as you study and do class work. Be willing to discuss what is difficult for you, but also talk about your learning strengths. Be willing to share some of the information from your documentation.

Rely on your past experiences as well. Talk with the professor about what works for you as a learner. For example, for students with auditory processing difficulties, accompanying verbal instructions with written ones (one the board perhaps) is very helpful. For students with visual processing difficulty, the use of simple fonts and sufficient white space on handouts and overheads is beneficial. Many times professors will have worked with students with issues similar to yours and will have additional ideas. Their input can be very valuable and they are the person most familiar with the demands of their course.

Discuss how your work will be evaluated, to ensure that any needs in this area are addressed. Be clear about understanding grading criteria and the format of exams. Your plan can be amended at any time, but it is better to address needs as completely as possible the first time through. It is really all about communication.