Accommodations and Modifications in College: Accommodating College

disabilityOne of the most common inquiries we receive is related to the availability of accommodations in the post-secondary environment. Accommodations are supports and services provided on college campuses to provide qualified students with disabilities equal access and the opportunity to benefit from classes, activities and programs. Academic accommodations must be authorized by what is generally referred to as the disability services office located on each campus. Documentation guidelines vary from each school but generally a comprehensive psychological evaluation or previous individualized education plan will suffice in securing most academic accommodations. The variety and extent of accommodations vary from different schools so I will focus on the accommodations available at the University of Vermont.

There is an extensive list of accommodations which support a variety of students based on their unique learning characteristics. Here is a list of the most common accommodations:

  • Electronic notes
  • Exam/Assignment modifications
  • Audio/Electronic textbooks
  • Assistive technology

The note-taking program (eNotes) is one of the most common accommodations used by students. Students are provided notes via email for each lecture that occurs. This service does not mean students can skip class. These notes are meant to supplement the notes you take in class and fill in the gaps of any information that is missed.

The Exam and Proctoring Center provides students a variety of options: taking exams in a quiet space, using a computer or scribe for essay questions, extended time, oral exams, or use of assistive equipment e.g. computer or a spell checker. Assignment modifications come in the form of reduced length, modifying the content area or extending the due date.

The electronic book program (eBook) is when a textbook, novel or article is converted into an electronic text format or a text to speech format. This is a wonderful accommodation if a student prefers to simultaneously listen as they are reading. eBooks are also a very popular accommodation.

The Universal Design Technology Lab (UDTL) specializes in assistive technologies that help with reading, writing, studying and accessing information. The UDTL technicians assist students with learning how to use specific software and devices, including the implementation process. Some examples of specific technologies are Dragon Naturally Speaking voice/speech to text, Kurzweil 3000, Read&Write Gold and Livescribe Smartpens.

These accommodations allow students with unique learning characteristics an opportunity to participate in higher education. Whether it is speech to text software, extended time on an assignment or having a scribe for an exam there is an accommodation available to support students with a wide range of disabilities. Just because a student is leaving their IEP at high school doesn’t preclude them from receiving the accommodations necessary to be successful in college. Sometimes knowing what accommodations are available to students is not enough. At Mansfield Hall we can match the appropriate accommodations for each student’s individual learning characteristics and ensure they are being implemented properly on campus. The collaboration of Mansfield Hall and the disability services office will provide students an excellent opportunity to move toward being an independent college student