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.
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/access. Marni Jones, Dean and Director of ADS and SOAR (Strategies, Organization, and Achievement Resources), will thoroughly review all documentation submitted and determine appropriate accommodations. Students granted academic accommodations are provided accommodation letters for each of their professors, as well as Accommodation Implementation Plan forms (currently in hard-copy, but eventually electronic) to complete with their professors and submit to ADS.
At times, students may seek to submit documentation to faculty members, or to request accommodations directly from their instructors without an accommodation letter. 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.
Accommodations for Students with Disabilities
Students must set up an appointment with the professor of each course for which they are seeking 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 meetings between the students and faculty members, students are to review and discuss the implementation of their granted accommodations, including which one(s) they will be in need of for each specific class and, for testing accommodations, who will facilitate the accommodation--the professor or ADS. For our current system, all of this information is to be entered onto a blue Accommodations Implementation Plan form to be signed by both the student and professor. The student is to return this form to ADS within 3 days of the meeting (and, for students requesting proctoring, at least five working days before any exams that they would like to have proctored). Once we adopt our online Access Plan, this information will need to be submitted electronically, following the same deadlines.
Students are informed that accommodations are not granted retroactively, and are required to sign a Confirmation of Understanding of the accommodations process.
Until ADS shifts to sharing accommodation letters electronically, it is important that professors keep a copy of students' Accommodations Letters and Blue Forms for future reference. It is also necessary that professors 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 their care provider should be directed to provide this to ADS and request accommodations. If they do not have documentation, but are in need of accommodations, students should email ADS (firstname.lastname@example.org) outlining their situation, go to the Wellness Center to sign a HIPAA release, and instruct Wellness Center staff to send all relevant documentation 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.
Each faculty member is expected to include a statement on his/her syllabus 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 and resource information for students with disabilities is available at www.dickinson.edu/access. 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--it has no bearing on his (or their) awesomeness; it's just a "counterweight" to all those 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 Marni Jones, Dean and Director of Access and Disability Services and SOAR: Strategies, Organization, and Achievement Resources. Any faculty or staff member seeking clarification about accommodations for students with disabilities is encouraged to contact Marni at email@example.com or by calling 717-245-1734.