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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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Office of AccessABILITY Services

Frequently Asked Questions

1.  Which students are eligible for accommodations?

ANSWER:  If you have a diagnosed or diagnosable health or mental health condition that substantially limits things you can do or how you are able to do them, you may qualify.  The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) has specific criteria that are used to determine eligibility.  The best way to find out if you are eligible is to meet with an accommodations specialist and start with a conversation about your specific concerns.  Even if you don't qualify, you can receive referrals for other services that can be of assistance.  Contact the Office of AccessABILITY Services to set up an appointment to discuss your needs.

2.  What are accommodations, what do they do?

ANSWER:  Accommodations are appropriate academic adjustments or other modifications that mitigate the functional limitations resulting from disability to ensure equal access to university programs and services.  Accommodations are not an unfair advantage or a sign of weakness.  Students who require accommodations work just as hard as those who do not.

3.  If I use accommodations after high school, who can find out?

ANSWER:  You control knowledge of your status as a person with a disability and if someone has knowledge if you ever used accommodations while at Clarkson.  This information is protected to ensure your confidentiality and dignity, and only shared with appropriate individuals with your consent.

4.  I have a 504 plan in high school - should I get it updated for college so I can transfer my plan from high school to college?

ANSWER:  No.  504 plans and IEPs (Individualized Educational Plans) are created to serve students until they leave high school to provide services while they are still in school.  These are supported by the federal law called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.  Once you enroll at Clarkson, regardless of your age, you are considered to be an adult and your pathway to equal access is supported by another law, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  So even though your 504 plan or IEP is no longer in effect at college, it can still be an important part of your historical use of accommodations.  You are encouraged to submit this information, along with other documentation, to assist in the eligibility determination process.

5.  I don't have a disability, but I just became injured and feel like I might need some help - what should I do?

ANSWER:  Contact the Office of AccessABILITY Services right away.  There is a good chance that you may qualify for temporary accommodations while you heal or recover.  Examples of conditions that may be eligible for temporary disability include:  concussion, injuries affecting mobility, injuries to your dominant (writing) hand, surgeries and post-surgical recovery, etc.

6.  What do accommodative services cost?

ANSWER:  Accommodative services are provided under the law at no cost to you.

7.  I have a diagnosis, but never requested accommodations at college because I thought I had overcome the effects of my diagnosis.  It's been a few years, but now I think I need to look into solutions that may help.  Is it too late to request accommodations?

ANSWER:  It's never too late to request accommodations.  We all learn differently and with some component of disability (different learning styles).  To compensate for our differences, we use coping strategies and workarounds.  Sometimes the strategies we have developed become less effective over time as the level of academic rigor increases.  In some cases, the strategies that we used to use are no longer effective at all.  At this point, you should consider using accommodations and working with an accommodation specialist who can isolate your learning needs and provide new more effective learning strategies.

8.  I have a diagnosed condition, but decided not to use medication.  Do I need to use medication to be eligible for accommodations?

ANSWER:  No, you don't.  However, many conditions such as attention disorders, depression, and anxiety can be drastically improved for individuals when medication is recommended by your provider.  If you think medication may be a useful part of your plan, check with your provider.  Sometimes, finding the most effective medication for you can take some time and patience and willingness to work with your provider to try different dosages and medications to make the best improvements.

9.  I know something is wrong right now, but I have never been diagnosed with anything, what do I do?

ANSWER:  Make an appointment to have a confidential appointment with an accommodations specialist at the Office of AccessABILITY Services.  Be sure to share all of the information you have so that the specialist can make appropriate referrals.  In exceptional cases, accommodations may need to be used pending diagnosis.  If you encounter sudden learning problems, get help as soon as you can.  Waiting to get help can result in significant academic consequences and poor outcomes.

10.  I get help with a mental health condition at the counseling center - should I ask about accommodations?

ANSWER:  Nation-wide, one in four entering college freshmen has a diagnosed or diagnosable mental health condition.  To explore your options and needs, first have a conversation with your counselor or other provider about how your condition impacts your academic ability.  Together, you can make a decision on whether or not to make an appointment with an accommodation specialist.  If you are eligible for accommodations, you may choose to work with each office independently, or collaboratively to support your learning and mental health needs.  Note:  accommodation specialists are not licensed mental health counselors.

11.  I am working with a provider at the health center regarding my medical problem(s) - should I ask about accommodations?

ANSWER:  To explore your options and needs, first have a conversation with your medical provider about how your condition impacts your academic ability.  Together, you can make a decision on whether or not to make an appointment with an accommodation specialist.  If you are eligible for accommodations, you may choose to work with each office independently, or collaboratively to support your learning and mental health needs.  Note:  accommodation specialists are not licensed medical providers.

12.  I received accommodations at another college or university before coming to Clarkson, can I get the same accommodations here?

ANSWER:  We encourage you to request to have your accommodative file sent to us from the other university or college.  It is likely that there may be some accommodations you used to use that may be provided to you at Clarkson.  We use an interactive intake process where we evaluate your documentation, self-reported information, information from your medical providers and our observations of you to determine eligibility and appropriate accommodations.  Some colleges and universities use different accommodative tools to address the same functional limitations, so there are sometimes differences that result from this.

13.  I already receive accommodations, but there is an accommodation that I think I really need, but don't current have.  What should I do?

ANSWER:  The AccessABILITY process allows for changes as learning needs or limitations from disability change.  You should make your specific request to an accommodations specialist to determine if you are eligible for that specific accommodation.

14.  I don't think I have a disability, but I do have special dietary restrictions from my doctor that make it hard to eat at college.  Should I just try to cook my own food?

ANSWER:  No.  Your full time job is to be a college student, and our job is to support your needs with the same convenience that all other students have.  The campus food service provides a wide variety of foods that are designed to meet most dietary needs.  However, sometimes individual needs are better met through a dietary accommodation from the Office of AccessABILITY Services.  If you meet eligibility criteria based on medical need and other criteria, you can receive custom tailored dietary services that will support that need.  A wide variety of accommodative dietary options are available to avoid specific food allergens, gluten, and other restrictions you may have.  Make an appointment with an accommodations specialist to explore options that may be available to you.

15.  Can I just get special accommodations directly from my professor?

ANSWER:  No, this is unwise.  If you have an accommodative need, it is important to have that need evaluated by an accommodation specialist who can determine your eligibility and all of your needs.  Professors are only able to honor accommodations that originate from this office.  Students are cautioned not to share diagnostic or personal health information with professors for this reason.  All people perceive diagnostic information differently, so sharing your information with the wrong person could backfire.  Once information is shared, you can't reverse that action.  The Office of AccessABILITY Services works hard to protect the dignity and confidentiality of each student we serve as protected under FERPA.

16.  Do my professors have to know about my accommodations?

ANSWER:  Yes, they should.  However, you may choose to elect which classes, or even which exams within a single class, you use your accommodations with.  Professors have an educational, and practical, need to know if you want to use your accommodations in their classes.

17.  Will I be treated differently if I use accommodations?

ANSWER:  No, you will be treated just as any other student would be.  Student with accommodations make up approximately 10 percent of all students on campus.  As a university, all faculty and staff at Clarkson enjoy working with all kinds of students, including those with disabilities.

18.  Do students who use accommodations earn lower grades than non-disabled students who don't?

ANSWER:  No, there are no differences in grade point averages among students with disabilities as compared to the general student population.  However, students who are found eligible for and use accommodations often find that their grades go up in a noticeable way.  This is due to the attainment of equal access once accommodations are in place.  With the addition of accommodations, students find they can work more effectively and are able to compete with their peers.

19.  If I use accommodations, will this guarantee my success as a student at Clarkson.

ANSWER:  No.  Accommodations provided under IDEA legislation up through high school are success based.  If the team of adults who create the IEP or 504 plan see that a student is not successful, they monitor carefully and make changes to ensure success.  Under ADA legislation, accommodations for college students are only designed to provide equal access (the same access that all other students have).  Success is up to the efforts of the individual student.  Although many students with disabilities are successful, just as in the general population, some are not.

20.  I have a question not addressed here, who can I ask?

ANSWER:  Click on the Contact Us link to the left and either call or email our office.  We are glad to assist you with your question.