Eastern Michigan University

Encouraging and Promoting Self-Advocacy and Comfortable Dialogues

two people sitting at table


In order to make the discussion of disability and accommodations more comfortable for you and the student, consider these strategies:

  • Include an accessibility statement on the syllabus
  • Mention the accessibility statement and where it can be found on your syllabus on the first day of classes and consider mentioning it again a week or two after the semester begins to reach those who may not have been present on the first day
  • Review information on disability etiquette
  • Recognize that the design of your course is likely contributing to the accessibility barrier for the student with a disability. Students often need accommodations because of external environmental demands such as instructional¬† and assessment styles
  • It is best to talk to the student about his/her accommodations confidentially. Students are encouraged to schedule an appointment during the instructor's office hours or at another mutually agreeable time
  • When speaking with the student, understand that the issue of disability and accommodations is a difficult one to express for some. Many students were not forced to learn these skills in high school, so the quality of information sharing will vary greatly from one student to another. By showing patience and understanding, the student will be more comfortable in the conversation process
  • It is the student's decision as to how much information about their disability they share with instructors. Some may share a lot of information, while others may only want to discuss their accommodations. In most instances, the disability itself is irrelevant, so ask questions that will get the student talking about their abilities - how they learn best, preferred ways to communicate, preferred assignment and assessment methods, etc.
  • Relax! Engage this student just as you would any other student. If you are uncomfortable, the student will recognize this and may be more reserved. People with disabilities are, first and foremost, people. The disability is just one small piece of the whole person