Introduction

Dickinson College is committed to ensuring that all programs, services, and facilities are accessible to all students on a non-discriminatory basis. The office of Access and Disability Services (ADS) facilitates equal access and reasonable accommodations to all qualified students with documented disabilities. Students with disabilities are considered for admission to Dickinson College on the same basis as all other applicants. Once admitted, students may request services in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008.

Disability Disclosure

It has been determined that many college students with disabilities opt not to disclose their disability status and/or not to use the accommodations for which they are eligible. Until recently, only about 50% of the students registered with ADS by the time of graduation had disclosed their disability going into their first year; the rest did so over the course of their tenure at Dickinson. Reasons that students have given for delaying disclosing their disabilities include: fear of stigma or judgment by their professors or peers, a determination to prove to themselves that they had overcome their need for accommodations, and a discomfort self-identifying as a student with a disability.

ADS strives to encourage students to develop compensatory strategies to assuage the functional limitations of their disabilities, but to also acknowledge the value of using the accommodations that are critical to leveling the playing field for them.  We aim to foster resource-seeking, empowered individuals who are not defined by their disabilities, but who acknowledge them, use the accommodations and other supports they need to address them, and take pride in their ability to overcome adversity.

Determining Eligibility for Disability Accommodations

Students requesting any type of accommodation based on a disability must complete a Disability Disclosure and Request for Accommodation form, accessible through Student Forms on the Gateway. For a student to qualify as having disability status, ADS must receive documentation that sufficiently substantiates that the student has a severe impairment in one or more 'major life functions' as compared to the rest of the population which can be addressed through reasonable accommodation. The process for requesting accommodations and the guidelines for documenting a disability can be found at www.dickinson.edu/ADS. Marni Jones, Dean and Director of ADS and SOAR (Strategies, Organization, and Achievement Resources), will thoroughly review all documentation submitted and determine appropriate accommodations.

At times, students may seek to submit documentation to faculty members or to request accommodations directly from their instructors without an accommodation letter or Access Plan. All requests for academic accommodations based on a disability must be made to Access and Disability Services so the Dean and Director can review and verify the appropriateness of the student's documentation and determine reasonable accommodations.

Academic Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

New in 2020, students granted academic accommodations are provided an electronic accommodation letter to forward to each of their professors, and set up with an electronic "Access Plan," located in CLIQ through the Dickinson Gateway. Students seeking to avail themselves of their academic accommodations are to edit their Access Plan each semester by disclosing their eligibility for accommodations and their intentions for their use to the professors of classes in which they plan to use accommodations.

Students must set up an appointment with the professor of each course for which they intend to use accommodations. Ideally, these meetings should occur as early in the semester as possible to fully facilitate the prompt implementation of accommodations, but there is no deadline for requesting academic accommodations. Under disability compliance law, students may submit documentation and be determined to be eligible for accommodations at any time in the semester, as long as they have provided sufficient notice for implementation.

During the accommodation meetings (which can occur in person or remotely), the student and professor should discuss the intended use and implementation of any granted accommodations, including,  for testing accommodations, who will facilitate the accommodation--the professor or ADS. If any proctoring is needed, this request will need to be made at least 5 working days before the exam date. 

Students are informed that accommodations are not granted retroactively, and are required to sign a Confirmation of Understanding of the accommodations process.

Professors will be able to review at any time the Access Plan of all students who have one through their landing page in CLIQ.  Professors are to keep all information regarding a student's disability confidential unless the student indicates an interest in making his/her/their disability known to others.

Accommodations for Students with Temporary Impairments

ADS also facilitates supports for students with temporary impairments such as concussions, sprains, broken bones, and post-surgery recovery. Students with temporary impairments who have documentation from a hospital or care provider should be directed to provide this to ADS and request appropriate supports (we reserve the word "accommodations" to those with disabilities, and use "supports" for those with temporary impairments to avoid confusion, since adjustments made for students with temporary impairments are not covered by disability law). If a student with a temporary impairment does not have documentation but is in need of related supports, please encourage the student to email ADS (access@dickinson.edu) outlining the situation, and then to go to the Wellness Center to request documentation that would be sent to ADS. 

Meeting the Language Requirement

Dickinson College does not waive the language requirement for students with disabilities. All students must demonstrate proficiency in a second language through the intermediate level. Two alternatives to spoken languages have been approved by the faculty: American Sign Language (not currently taught at Dickinson) and Latin. Students may meet the language requirement for a Dickinson degree (with the exception of INBM and INST majors) by successfully completing four semesters of Latin (or demonstration of proficiency at the intermediate level), or by obtaining proficiency in American Sign Language (ASL) at the intermediate level. Students wishing to pursue coursework in ASL to fulfill the language requirement can get more information by going to www.dickinson.edu/ASL. Certain (but not all) students with language-acquisition based disabilities may be eligible for an accommodation to pursue ASL coursework online. If you believe that this might be an appropriate consideration for one of your advisees, please first email Marni Jones at jonesmar@dickinson.edu to consult with her about it before suggesting this to a student for whom this may not be an available option. 

Syllabus Statement

All faculty members are expected to include a statement in their syllabi as a means to inform students with disabilities about college procedures for disclosing a disability and receiving accommodations. The statement currently in use may be found on the ADS Faculty Resources page. 

Guidance

Guidance and resource information for students with disabilities is available at www.dickinson.edu/ADS. Guidance for Faculty is located at www.dickinson.edu/ADS-Faculty and includes logistical and legal protocols for accommodating students with disabilities at the postsecondary level, information about a variety of disabilities, and answers to frequently asked questions regarding how to implement accommodations at Dickinson.

Dickinson values diversity and inclusion, and our goals of achieving social justice for all students, including students with disabilities, will best be met by celebrating the benefits of having a physically, mentally, and neuro-diverse campus. If you are advising a student who is reluctant to disclose a disability or to use accommodations, it can be useful to employ the analogy of Superman contending with kryptonite -- its existence has no bearing on his (or their) awesomeness; it's just a "counterweight" to the list of exceptional abilities. You may also wish to note that there are a disproportionate number of CEOs of companies who have learning disabilities, and that (according to Malcolm Gladwell's research) their successes were not in spite of but rather because of their disabilities. Having challenges made them better problem-solvers, and more accustomed to overcoming adversity. The take-away? Those who tackle challenges by using all their available resources, tend to go far.


The laws that govern higher education regarding disabilities are complex. Our efforts to honor reasonable accommodations and to provide a consistent and fair approach in working with students with disabilities throughout the institution are most easily achieved by working directly with ADS. Any faculty or staff member seeking clarification about accommodations for students with disabilities is encouraged to email access@dickinson.edu for general inquiries, or -- for more complex questions -- to contact Marni Jones, Dean and Director of Access and Disabilities Services at SOAR at jonesmar@dickinson.edu. When in doubt, reach out!