Eastern Michigan University

Frequently Asked Questions for Parents

What is the biggest difference between the accommodation process at the high school level and the college level?

Very generally speaking, the accommodation process is rooted in Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act - Subpart D and Subpart E.

Subpart D governs accommodations at the high school level and focuses on "success-oriented" accommodations. It is not unusual for accommodations at this level to be provided in such a way that ensures the student is successful in their academic endeavors. Examples of such accommodations include teacher notes, untimed exams, and interpretation of exam questions.

Subpart E, on the other hand, governs accommodations at the college level and is aimed more at "access-oriented" accommodations. The idea is that the student is accommodated so that he or she is not discriminated against due to disability. Examples of access-oriented accommodations may include a note-takerk for the classroom, extended time on exams, and a reader to read exam questions as they are written.

In addition, at the high school level, accommodations are most often arranged on behalf of the student, without direct student involvement. At the college level, students are responsible for disclosing disability, requesting accommodations in a timely manner, and communicating with their instructors; otherwise, the student will not be accommodated.

What are reasonable accommodations?

Accommodations are modifications to the ways in which things are usually done. The purpose of effective accommodations is to provide students with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate and benefit from college. The following are examples of the most common accommodations that permit a student with a disability to effectively participate in the educational process:

  • Changes to a classroom environment or task: extended time for an exam, the use of a dictionary or spell checker, materials in alternative format;
  • Removal of architectural barriers: adapting a classroom to meet the needs of a student who uses a wheelchair;
  • Exceptions to policies, practices or procedures: priority registration or accessing assignments early;
  • Provision of auxiliary aids and services: providing a sign language interpreter, or providing a note-taker or scribe.

In accordance with the law, there are some modifications that the college or university does not provide. Examples include:

  • personal devices, such as wheelchairs;
  • personal services, such as private tutoring or personal attendants;
  • accommodations that would place the student or others at health's or safety's rist as a result of the accommodation; for example, a science lab or medical program scenario;
  • modifications that lower or change course standards or program standards (including waivers);
  • modifications that would change the essence of a program (including waivers);
  • services that are unduly burdensome - administratively or financially.
How has my role as a parent changed?

When entering the postsecondary level, both parents and students experience transition. Your role as a parent shifts to a subtle hand of guidance, rather than the primary voice and advocate you may have been at the high school level. You should encourage and allow the student to take responsibility for their academic experience, but be available for support and guidance when needed. Taking a "backseat" approach isn't always easy, but most often, individuals learn best by making mistakes and learning how to correct them.

Self-advocacy and life skills are things that all students need to learn. When the student goes out into the real world and begins their career, you are not likely to contact their employer to try to resolve their problems. Think of college as your student's career - encourage and allow them to develop these skills through real-life experiences. Again, providing support and guidance as needed. The Disability Resource Center is available to provide resources as necessary.

In short, the DRC recommends that parents:

  • Listen and provide support and consultation, but give your student the space to figure it out on their own. Resist the urge to "fix" the problem.
  • Don't be afraid of mistakes. Mistakes are part of the learning process; allow them to learn from their experiences.
  • Help promote your student's self-advocacy by encouraging them to set their own goals and take ownership of their education.
What does my student need to do to be approved for accommodations at EMU?

It is essential and required that your student meet with our office in order to discuss possible reasonable accommodations and to understand procedures for arranging approved accommodations.

In accordance with EMU policies, disclosure with any other office on campus is not considered official disclosurewarranting consideration of and receipt of accommodation resources. In addition, a parental disclosure to our office is not deemed an official disclosure. Ultimately, the student must meet with us and must sign the necessary paperwork.

What documentation is required?

Do not worry about documentation for the initial visit. We want students to meet with us and share their story before provision of appropriate documentation is discussed. In most cases, the accommodation process can be initiated while waiting for any requested documentation.

What are the most common academic accommodations?
  • Extended exam time - 50% (time and a half) or 100% (double time)
  • Quiet location for exams
  • Human/computer exam reader
  • Writer/Dragon for exams
  • Course note-taker(student volunteer)
  • Use of laptop solely for purposes of taking notes in classroom
  • Ability to record lectures
  • Preferential seating
  • Possible adjustments to attendance/tardiness policies
  • Possible adjustments to out-of-class assignment deadlines
  • Assistive technology
  • Handouts in enlarged font size
  • Books in audio format
  • Alternative format handouts
  • CART or ASL providers
  • Housing
Is there a timeline by when accommodations need to be arranged?

No. Accommodations can be implemented at any point during the academic tenure. However, while there is no deadline, students must be aware that some accommodations require more time to implement than others (i.e., an alternative format textbook vs. a note-taker). Also, some accommodations, such as extended exam time, may require coordination between several office or people - it may not be possible to accommodate an exam on Tuesday if the request is made on Monday. It is recommended that students contact us at least one week prior to the desired date of accommodation implementation.

What if my student does not want to arrange accommodations initially at EMU?

Some students are hesitant to use accommodations at the college leve for a variety of reasons. Since the student must ultimately disclose the need for accommodations by contacting the DRC, there may not be much that can be done.

Students who used accommodations in the past but are hesitant about using them at EMU are encouraged to talk to a Disability Advisor about services, how they are organized, and the pros and cons of coordinating accommodations now or choosing to wait until later. The student will always have the final decision as to how to proceed and is never under an obligation of commitment during inquiry meetings.

Parents are encouraged to understand the student's concerns and support them through the decision-making process; however, often, students will utilize and benefit from accommodations only if they made the personal decision to do so.

How does my student create the best opportunities for success at EMU?

EMU has a wealth of resources available to student to get them to their academic goal. Students are encouraged to make connections with the Holman Success Center, Snow Counseling, academic advisors, faculty, and student organizations for tutoring and other resources. Of course, the DRC is a great referral resource if students are unsure of where to go for the resource they are looking for. Successful utilization of campus resources requires strong self-advocacy skills and initiative on the student's part. Parents should encourage their student to seek out and coordinate these resources on their own, even if it means a little trial and error.

What are the biggest transition challenges for students?

All college students, disability or not, experience challenges during the transition from high school to college. Often, the two biggest challenges are self-advocacy and time management.

Students who have strong self-advocacy skills, a good self-esteem, and tend to foster personal growth through trial and error experiences typically transition more effectively than those who do not possess these qualities. Once determined eligible, the DRC is not involved in the day-to-day coordination of academic accommodations; rather, it is the student who is responsible for the coordination through discussions with faculty and use of campus resources. Often, when problems arise, it is due to lack of or ineffective communication on the student's part. Faculty have a genuine desire to work with students to the greatest extent reasonable, but often express frustration over ineffective or poorly timed communication.

Time management is a challenge for many but can be especially difficult for students with ADD/ADHD. The high school system is founded on structure and the academic demands are not as rigorous when compared to the college system. For example, at the high school level, school days are longer, teachers and counselors are closely involved, there are regular and frequent assignments, the student may have extracurricular activities or work after school, and people at home keep a close eye on homework and progress. This type of structure can be beneficial to a student with ADD/ADHD.

In contrast, at the college level for example, class times and length vary, instructors and advisors are not closely involved (unless initiated by the student), there are fewer assignments with larger grade values, free time can be abundant or non-existent depending on the student's campus involvement, and students are more independent. Bottom line - there is less structure unless the student creates it for themselves. In absence of structure, it is not uncommon for students to skip classes on a regular basis, be ill-prepared for assignments and exams, or make poor judgments in how much to get involved in campus opportunities. As a result, the student and parents are shocked by the low academic grades for the semester.

The college setting requires a different set of skills than those used in the high school setting.Knowing that many students with ADD/ADHD are not equipped with those skills, the DRC is prepared to work with these students to help them achieve success. The Holman Success Center also has Academic Success Coaches who are available to help any student create structure in their academic experience.

What happens if an instructor is not helping my student to get the necessary accommodations for class?

Students should speak with a Disability Advisor and talk about the strategies the student has implemented to work with the instructor, what the instructor has done, and how to best proceed based on the situation. Our office will beocme directly involved in the situation as necessary. While parents may be used to being active in high school situations such as this one, it is extremely important to understand that most course instructors want to speak with the student directly. An involved parent may make things more difficult, not less, for a student. Parents who have concerns about a student's specific classroom experience should contact a Disability Advisor for guidance.

Can you share information about my student's progress with me?

The DRC believes that parents should use the same source of information that our office uses for information...the student. The student knows best what has been happing with regard to class attendnce, grades, social activities, etc. With that said, students can sign a consent form with the DRC to allow the office to speak with parents about questions or concerns. A Disability Advisor will share information relevant to the situation at hand and will discuss options that will often include getting the student involved in the matter. Rarely will action be taken following a parent conversation without contacting the student first.

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