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Understand Your Responsibilities

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When you enter college, you will be solely responsible for, and in control of, your choices and decisions. At the postsecondary level, you may want to disclose your disability so that you can advocate for your needs and obtain appropriate academic adjustments and auxiliary aids and services. Thus, although parents, teachers, and counselors continue to play supportive roles, the ultimate responsibility for obtaining services lies with you. You decide whether to disclose your disability. However, remember that the college or university you attend is not obligated to provide appropriate academic adjustments and auxiliary aids and services unless you disclose your disability, provide appropriate documentation, and request such assistance.

  Your success in college depends on your ability to manage yourself and your situation.

Colleges are not required to accept students who do not meet the academic standards or other requirements for admission. Disclosing your disability may explain why grades and/or test scores may be inaccurate predictors of your ability to succeed academically. Many institutions apply the same admissions criteria and have identical application procedures for all students. Nonetheless, they may modify application procedures, admissions criteria, and/or the decision-making processes for applicants who disclose their disabilities. The disabilities office also may request additional information for clarification of your abilities, which are what determines your success.

You have several responsibilities in a postsecondary environment that you did not have at the high school level. You need to:

  • Make the initial contact with the person responsible for campus services for students with disabilities

  • Make this contact soon after acceptance by the college and again before or immediately after the semester begins

  • Provide information and documentation related to the status of your disability. Doing so helps determine if you qualify as a student with a disability and helps you to request appropriate academic adjustments and auxiliary aids and services

  • On some campuses, instructors receive written notification confirming their legal requirement to provide the appropriate academic adjustments and auxiliary aids and services

  • Inform faculty members at the beginning of each semester of your disability, how that disability affects your performance, and what academic adjustments or auxiliary aids and services you will need

  • Meet the timelines and procedural requirements established by the disability services office for scheduling examinations, and requesting appropriate academic adjustments and auxiliary aids and services.

  • Notify the disability services office if you need to change your academic adjustments and auxiliary aids and services. For example, such changes may occur if your schedule changes after the first few weeks of class

  • Meet the same deadlines for application and submission of documentation established for preregistration of individuals without disabilities, unless the institution provides preferential registration for students with disabilities.

  • Contact the service provider on campus, on a regular basis, to discuss your needs and progress. On most campuses, the service provider does not contact students about their needs

Excerpted from Virginia's College Guide for Students with Disabilities (2003 Edition).
Available at