Transitioning to College
Transitioning to college can be a challenge for any student, but for students with disabilities, there may be particular challenges. For one thing, the laws that govern accommodations are different for post-secondary students.
College students need to be aware of their own rights and responsibilities as well as the responsibilities of the college they choose to attend. For example, in K-12, you might have had a 504 plan or an IEP. Your college may not be able to match your previous 504 plan or IEP. However, Sweet Briar will do its best to provide adequate accommodations.
You’re under no obligation to notify your college that you have a disability, but you should know that if you choose not to disclose, you may lose out on some accommodations that you might find helpful, like auxiliary aids and services, priority registration, recording devices, substituting one course for another and much more.
As a post-secondary student, you will need to advocate for yourself to ensure that you’re getting the necessary services and accommodations that will help you be successful in College.
You’ve taken the first step already, by visiting this website, which will tell you what Sweet Briar’s process is for setting up reasonable accommodations. Make sure you bring documentation to college to establish what kind of disability and related accommodations you may need. In fact, providing your IEP or 504 plan documents will be a great help in determining what accommodations would help you. You should also be sure to follow up with accessibility services should there be a change in your circumstances or if you find that the accommodations you’ve worked out are not sufficient.
Of course, there will be a change for families too. While at the K-12 level, parents and families take an active role in getting their students reasonable accommodations, at the post-secondary level, students will themselves be responsible for seeking out and getting accommodations.
For more information, please visit the U.S. Department of Education website.
In determining the College’s ability to offer reasonable accommodation to students, each request for accommodations will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Reasonable accommodations do not:
- Negate the requirements for successful completion of a program, course, services, and/or activity
- Remove the need to comply with generally accepted standards of behavior
- Negate the College’s general responsibilities or the students’ rights and responsibilities
- Remove the requirement to adhere to faculty/staff directions and instructions.
If students require attendant care services, they must make arrangements on their own. The College does not assume the coordination or financial responsibilities for attendant care services.
In determining reasonable accommodations, factors to be examined include, among others:
- The academic and technical standards required for admission or participation in an education program or services
- The purpose and nature of the program, course, and/or service
- The precise education-related abilities and functional limitations of the student and how those limitations could be overcome with reasonable accommodation
- The nature and cost of accommodation required in relation to the College’s financial resources
- The consequences of such an accommodation upon the operation and educational mission of the College, course, program, services and/or activity
- Other federal, state and local regulatory requirements.
Accommodations are considered unreasonable and will not be provided by the College if:
- The educational standards or mission of Sweet Briar College would be substantially altered
- The nature of the program, course, services, and/or activity would be fundamentally altered
- Students are not otherwise qualified (with or without accommodations) to meet the academic and technical standards required for admission or participation in an education program, course, services and/or activity
- The effects of a student’s disability cannot be overcome even with reasonable accommodations
- The accommodation creates an undue financial or administrative hardship for the College
- If a student poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others
Types of Accommodations
- Digital copy of notes.
- 16-font minimum on all papers, including handouts.
- Black or dark markers only on whiteboards.
- Extended time to respond to questions.
- Preferential seating.
- Clarification of instructions for assignments upon request.
- Short breaks as needed during class.
- Use of a calculator for graded work.
- Access to presentation materials (typically slides) when used instructionally.
- Extended time on timed assessments (1.5 times the standard time).
- Option to take assessments in a reduced-distraction environment.
- Oral response, a scribe, or speech-to-text software for written portions of assessments as needed.
Intake and Accommodations
Students with disabilities who wish to seek academic or nonacademic accommodations (e.g., dietary, housing) should contact the Assistant Dean of Student Success. Accommodations and services are offered for eligible students with cognitive, medical, mental health, and physical disabilities, including temporary disabilities such as injury, acute conditions, or surgery.
While it is recommended that students with disabilities seek accommodations upon admission to the College, intake appointments can be made at any time. Accommodations begin at the date of approval and are not retroactive.
At Sweet Briar, students engage in an individualized and interactive process with accessibility services and with relevant faculty and staff to determine and arrange reasonable and appropriate accommodations. Current and incoming students are encouraged to begin the accommodations process as soon as possible once a potential accommodation need has been identified. Requests will be addressed in the order in which they are received and acted upon as quickly as possible. Please note that the summer and start of the fall semester are generally busy times, so students are encouraged to begin the process as soon as possible.
Students are encouraged to contact The Office of Student Success at any time during the year if their accessibility needs have changed to request and discuss possible changes to their approved accommodations.
Collaboration and effective communication among students, faculty, and staff are an integral part of the accommodations process.
Once accommodations are in place, it is essential that students remain in communication with accessibility services and relevant faculty/staff regarding their ongoing accessibility needs. Students are encouraged to contact accessibility services as soon as possible if:
- their accommodations are not meeting their needs;
- their needs have changed;
- they would like to request additional or different accommodations;
- they encounter any barriers in implementing their approved accommodations; or
- they would like to request assistance in communicating with faculty or staff around specific accommodation needs.
Students who have academic accommodations must speak with their instructors about their accommodations in order to activate the accommodations. Students are encouraged to do so early in the semester whenever possible. Accommodations are not retroactive. We find that collaboration between students and instructors results in a smoother accommodations process.
Sweet Briar College recognizes the importance of providing reasonable accommodation in its housing policies and practices where necessary for students with disabilities to use and enjoy College housing. A reasonable accommodation is an exception to the usual rules or policies that a resident with a disability may need to have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy College housing.
In circumstances where either your disability and/or requested accommodation is not obvious, you must provide a verification from a reliable third party (e.g., a physician or other medical professional) establishing that you have a disability and that the accommodation is necessary to provide you an equal opportunity to use and enjoy College housing. Requests cannot be considered until this verification form is received directly from your treating professional.
- “Obvious” disabilities may include but are not limited to, the use of a wheelchair or other mobility device, blindness, or other physical disability.
- “Not Obvious” disabilities may include but are not limited to, mental or emotional disabilities, allergies, and other medical conditions.
- If the individual’s disability and the necessity for the accommodation are obvious, the individual need only explain what type of accommodation she is requesting. No verification of disability and/or necessity is required under these circumstances.
- If the disability is obvious, but the need for the accommodation is not, the student will be asked to provide documentation to verify that the requested accommodation is necessary. This ensures the individual has an equal opportunity to participate fully in College housing. Such documentation may not require information about the individual’s disability.
Guidelines on Acceptable Documentation
Sweet Briar College is committed to providing equality of opportunity and meaningful access for qualified students with disabilities in compliance with Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis. There are no accommodations that are automatically appropriate for certain disabilities or diagnoses; Accessibility Services will help determine appropriate accommodations based on meeting with the student and any supporting documentation.
Students meet one-on-one with the accessibility services office, who will compile information about their disability and, when appropriate, work with them to develop a plan for accommodations. Students must be “otherwise qualified” to attend Sweet Briar College. There are no separate admissions procedures for students with disabilities. Third-party documentation is generally requested regarding the disability or diagnosis. This documentation should be current and relevant.
Documentation of a Disability at Sweet Briar College
Generally, students seeking disability support services must provide adequate documentation of their disability to accessibility services.
Students who do not yet have documentation of a disability are welcome to meet with accessibility services to learn about the accommodations process, the resources we offer, and other campus resources that may be available with or without the use of accommodations.
Recency and Scope of Documentation
Documentation should be current and relevant. The provision of all reasonable accommodations and services is based upon a case-by-case assessment of the impact of the student’s disabilities on their academic performance and/or participation in College programs at a given time in the student’s life. Therefore, documentation of the disability should reflect the student’s current condition and related impact(s). Although documentation can be from a variety of sources, it must be prepared by a professional who has the appropriate credentials and qualifications to address the functional limitations related to the disability in the relevant setting (i.e., academic, residential living, etc.) and is not related to the student.
Costs and Resources for Assessment/Diagnosis
Costs associated with diagnosis, evaluation, and testing or re-testing generally are the responsibility of the student. For students currently enrolled at Sweet Briar College, referral to Blue Ridge Medical, Horizon Behavioral Health, and/or other professionals in the community may be appropriate. If the cost of a psychoeducational or neuropsychological assessment would pose an undue financial hardship for you or your family, contact accessibility services to discuss alternative documentation standards and possible financial assistance options.