To see the complete article, visit: 12 Questions to Ask about a College's Disability Services.
Disability Support Programs and Services (DSPS) were enacted in 1976 through the passage of Assembly Bill 77 (Lanterman), which funds support services and instructional programs for students with disabilities in the California Community Colleges. DSPS assists colleges to provide services and accommodations for students with disabilities to support their student success and to meet the requirements of federal and State non-discrimination laws, including Sections 504 and 508 of the federal Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and State Government Code Sections 11135-11139.5.
Yet, as many college students and parents are aware, DSPS services are not all uniform and can vary extensively from college to college. Furthermore, assistive technology (AT) is part of that! Having access to different assistive technologies, being able to try new devices and tools, and having someone that is knowledgeable about AT is paramount to success in college. So, how can you gauge the DSPS Services at your college? We found the following tips from Lynn O’Shaughnessy’s article to be useful in determining the quality of a school’s DSPS center.
First, set up an appointment to visit the center’s director or head staff. Ideally you will want to also meet with a current DS student as well to ask them about their experiences.
Here are some sample questions you can ask:
How current must my testing be to to apply for accommodations?
How many students use your services?
What Assistive Technology (AT) services do you offer? Do you have an AT expert on staff?
What accommodations do you offer? What are the procedures and timelines to receive them?
How many Disabilities Support counselors do you have on your staff? Do they act as liaisons?
If a professor is not in compliance regarding the student’s needed accommodations, how is the situation resolved?
What is the procedure to get extended time on exams? How much notice is required? Do students arrange extended time with professors or through the Disabilities Services Office?
Where do students take exams? Who proctors?
What do you consider the most difficult majors/classes for Disabilities Support students on this campus?
Will I have both an adviser in the Disabilities Services Office and a regular academic adviser? If both, how will the two advisers work with each other?
What is the four-year graduation rate for students with learning disabilities similar to mine?
Do you track students who have used your services after graduation? If so, what do your findings show about their success after graduation?
Red flags to watch out for when evaluating campus disabilities services:
The personality of the director or staff member is off-putting. This is paramount since she/he represents the personality of the department.
The college Disabilities Services Office website is not user friendly or is difficult to locate.
The staff seems unaware and/or lacks knowledge about the breadth of assistive technology devices.
As with admissions meetings, students should prepare ahead of time for their meeting with the Disabilities Services Office. Practicing the questions they want to ask with a parent or other adult beforehand can be helpful, so that they avoid having to read questions from a script. It is perfectly fine for the student to take notes.
Do you have any helpful tips on DSPS services, finding AT that is helpful in college, or in evaluating a school’s disability services office? Enter your experiences in the comment section below.