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 15% of the student population. Access and Disability Services (ADS) is here to facilitate equitable access for students with disabilities. Accommodations are approved through Dean and Director Marni Jones, exam proctoring is managed by Susan Frommer, and intake process and all initial communications are facilitated by John Joyce, the Access and Communications Coordinator. 

Parents: What to Expect

You may be concerned that your child will have a difficult time transitioning to college. A good way to ease those worries are to encourage your son or daughter to learn all they can about what college life will be like and to forge a transition plan. And Dickinson offers a variety of resources to promote success and independence for 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 often encourage students to 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.

Have your student join you in checking out the differences between High School vs. College, and reviewing our Accommodation Process to learn more about what can be expected for a student who is savvy enough to set up any necessary accommodations as soon as their known to be needed.

Tips for Parents

  • Encourage your student to communicate and self-advocate (but it may still be prudent to inquire and cheer on)
  • Nudge 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 your son or daughter prefers to meet privately with an ADS staff member for some or all of the meeting. 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 help is needed, but also encourage your student to identify the resources available on campus (advisors, peer tutors, First Year Mentors, the Wellness Center, the Writing Center, librarians, peer advisors, the Center for Advising, Internship, and Lifelong Career Development, Academic Success Workshops, Time Management Strategists through
  • 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)
Survival Tips for Parents
ADDitude Magazine article on Diet and ADHD
Disorder, Disability, or Difference -- which to use when?


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.)
Please note that Dickinson is not promoting or endorsing any of these services, but rather sharing their existence with those who may be interested in pursuing external academic support services. 

The ADS Team

  • John Joyce, Associate Director and dedicated liaison for parents. John can be reached at
  • Emily Wetzel, Accommodation Facilitator and Technologist
  • Susan Frommer, Assistant Director and Proctoring Manager 
  • Marni Jones, Dean and Director