Students with disabilities may receive special accommodations

Transitioning from high school to college can be a huge undertaking, but if you are a student with a disability, it can be overwhelming.

There are over 2.4 million students with a disability attending college in the United States, according to the National Center for Learning Disabilities. 

Those disabilities may include visual disabilities, mobility impairments or “hidden” disabilities, such as dyslexia, autism or deafness. 

Grambling State University students who have a disability and register with the university are eligible to receive special accommodations, including extended time on class assignments and exams, preferential seating and advanced notice of assignments. Students with disabilities should register with GSU’s Office of Disability Services upon enrolling into the university. Currently over 200 students at Grambling State University receive special accommodations. 

The purpose of the Office of Disability Services is to act as a liaison, advocate and resource on campus for students with disabilities. 

The office carries out their duties in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal and state regulations.  

Grambling’s Office of Disability Services is located in the Student Counseling Center in the west wing of the Foster-Johnson building. 

Dr. Mary Coleen Speed, director of the Student Counseling Center, said that universities, by law, are required to accommodate students. 

Under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, colleges and universities cannot ask any pre-admission questions about whether an applicant has a disability, exclude a student with a disability from a course of study based solely on their disability, or enforce prohibitive rules that could negatively affect the performance of a student with a disability. 

Speed said that the first step to registering with the Office of Disability Services is self-identifying. 

“Normally, if the student wants to self-identify, they would come and do an intake form and have their diagnosis from whatever diagnostician that they have,” Speed said.

Speed said the Office of Disability Services does not diagnosis students.

The documents required to receive accommodations include a documentation of disability from a credible profession, such as a primary care physician, and copies of fee sheets and detailed class schedules. 

Speed, a licensed family therapist, writes the accommodations for students and performs assessments. 

Students take the letter of accommodation to their instructors. 

“The letter is very generic in the sense that it doesn’t have any privy information about the what the diagnosis is,” said Speed. “You just have to give them the accommodations, whether its extended time.” 

The Office of Disability Services also offers group and individual counseling in self-esteem, stress management and test anxiety.

Speed said she recently wrote a proposal to her department about getting the office extra services for disability.  

“I wrote this proposal requesting extra services to get this work out to different people,” Speed said.

Speed’s proposal included developing a disability awareness curriculum for faculty and staff members promoting enhanced disability inclusion, community awareness and retention for students with disabilities.

Speed also said that is never too late to get registered with the Office of Disability Services. 

“Even if it is the last day of class,” Speed said. “Instructors still have to adhere to those accommodations.”