Accommodating Students with Disabilities

Dickinson College is committed to ensuring equal access and reasonable accommodations to all qualified students with documented disabilities. At Dickinson College, students with disabilities represent approximately 10% of the student population. Access and Disability Services (ADS) is designed to assist all students and is especially important for students with disabilities. Accommodations are approved through Dean and Director Marni Jones, and many services are facilitated through the Academic Advising Department.

Parents: What to Expect

You may be concerned that your child will have a difficult time transitioning to college. Don't worry! Dickinson College offers a variety of resources to promote success and independence to all students.

One of the main differences between high school and college is the way that professors are made aware of a student's eligibility for academic accommodations. If a high school student has an IEP or 504 Plan, all teachers are provided with that plan by the administration, which includes the student's diagnostic information. In college, however, students who have provided documentation of a disability are given an Accommodation Letter that only conveys the accommodations for which they are eligible (with no diagnoses), and it is the student who provides each professor with their Accommodation Letter. It is completely up to them to whom they give the letter, and whether they would like to share the reasoning for their accommodations with their professors or not. We do often encourage students consider sharing something about tasks with which they may struggle, so the professors can better understand what their challenge areas are, and possibly provide related guidance.

Check out the differences between High School vs. College, and view our Accommodation Process to learn more about what to expect as your child enters Dickinson College.

Tips for Parents

  • Encourage your student to communicate and self-advocate (but don't be afraid to follow up and find out if he/she has).
  • Tell your student to start early! The sooner a student discloses and makes a request for accommodations, the more smoothly the process will go for everyone. 
  • Share with your student any concerns you have and issues you think need to be discussed with Access and Disability Services (ADS). Remind your student that such conversations are confidential and that students remain in the "driver's seat" with regard to their own disclosure and requests for accommodations. 
  • If you're making a campus visit with your student, don't be insulted if you are not invited to sit in on a meeting with an ADS staff member. Some students may prefer that this meeting be a private one.
  • If you do attend a meeting, give your child the opportunity to speak. Wait until after your student has had an opportunity to ask all questions before asking your own or addressing any concerns that were not met.
  • Acknowledge and accept your child's limits and strengths, and be open to new changes.
  • Promote exploration of new opportunities and new relationships.
  • Let your student know that you are there if he/she needs your help, but also encourage your student to identify the resources available on campus (advisors, peer tutors, the Writing Center, librarians, peer advisors, class deans, Learning Skills Workshops...)
  • If you feel the need to communicate with ADS, always include your child in the conversation! ADS is limited in what information can be shared with parents due to FERPA confidentiality laws, but we understand that some students may appreciate having their parents involved in conversations in which they are seeking strategy guidance.
  • Finally, be prepared for major stumbling blocks and bumps in the road. Remember that we often learn and grow the most when we are challenged and things don't come easily. Overcoming adversity is one of the many ways that students with exceptionalities are exceptional!

Please take a few minutes to review Dickinson College's Parent Philosophy.

Helpful Resources

Essential Six - Helping Parents Support Their Students (PPT)
Coping: Parents of Children with Learning Disabilities
Survival Tips for Parents
ADDitute Magazine article on Diet and ADHD

Educational Coaching

Below are the websites of outside professionals who are not affiliated with Dickinson, but who have notified ADS that they are available to provide fee-based coaching services to Dickinson students. (Listed in alphabetical order.)

The ADS Team

  • Marni Jones, Dean and Director of both ADS (Access and Disability Services) and SOAR (Strategies, Organization and Achievement Resources)
  • Elizabeth Connelly, Access and Communications Coordinator for ADS and SOAR
  • Susan Frommer, Assistant Director and Proctoring Manager