Americans with Disabilities Act at College

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by Aeryn, Aug 1, 2003.

  1. Aeryn

    Aeryn New Member

    Hi, I posted this in response to a thread about going back to school. But I think it is important information, so I am starting a new thread for it. Hope none of you mind:

    Everyone, even the severely disabled, have the right to complete an education. The ADA secures this right for you, but you need to know how to use it. You are not expected to carry the load in the same manner as a healthy 20 year old.

    If the college you are going to receives federal funds they must comply with the ADA. This can benefit you by securing you accomodations in the classroom (for instance, you might get extra time in writing a paper or textbooks on tape if reading exhausts you).

    You need to register with the disabilities office at your college. Specifically you need a letter from your doctor stating your diagnosis, how it might make study difficult for you, and what kind of accomodations you will need. You need to think carefully first what kinds of accomodations you will need and discuss them with your doctor. If the doctor doesn't list an accomodation in his/her letter, the disabilities office will be at their own discretion to offer you accomodations.

    My experience is that some colleges have excellent disabilities people and some have nearly idiotic ones who should be fired. This means you have be proactive and secure the accomodations you want going in. If you make their job easy for them, it will be easy for you.

    Faculty sometimes could care less about disabilities they cannot "see." The stupidity of smart people continues to amaze me. If you secure accomodations through the disabilities office, by law the faculty have to offer you these accomodations. The disabilities office will send a letter to the teachers of each of your classes saying that you require x, y, and z for a disability (it will not state what the disability is). Sometimes the letter will simply tell the teacher that they have a disabled student in the class who may identify him/herself if he/she needs accomodation.

    If a teacher still will not accomodate you, you simply take it to the disabilities office who kindly explains the situation to him/her. You have to be nice and remember faculty can be arrogant weasels who think they know everything (since I belong to this often silly group, I feel comfortable saying this). Cut them slack and be patient and kind. Trying to match them smart attitude for smart attitude will always end badly (we got doctorates in smart attitudes). The disabled, unfortunately, have the added job of educating the educators.

    The bad news is that private colleges that do not receive federal funding do not have to comply, and they can often be really obstinate about not caring. Yale University, for example, fought a woman with dyslexia for 7 years in the courts because she needed extra reading time. In the end she won the case, but Yale would not apologize even as they corrected her one situation. They continue on in this manner. Other private colleges will be responsible human beings even if they don't have to. MIT and Harvard, I have heard, will help a disabled person through his/her program in whatever way they can.

    The good news is that public college absolutely must comply in all cases.

    I should also note that some colleges "specialize" in handling certain disabilities (some have translators for the deaf (CSU Northridge), while others specialize in learning disabilities (Brown). Colleges that specialize in people with mobility problems or learning disabilities (brain fog counts) would benefit someone with CFS/FM. But all public colleges should be able to handle every disability if the disabled person comes in prepared to help the college help him/her.
    [This Message was Edited on 08/01/2003]
  2. Aeryn

    Aeryn New Member

    I should also note that some colleges "specialize" in handling certain disabilities (some have translators for the deaf (CSU Northridge), while others specialize in learning disabilities (Brown). Colleges that specialize in people with mobility problems or learning disabilities (brain fog counts) would benefit someone with CFS/FM. But all public colleges should be able to handle every disability if the disabled person comes in prepared to help the college help him/her.