Student Guide to Disability Services
Wesleyan University is committed to supporting students both in and outside the classroom. It offers all students a broad range of programs providing academic support and enrichment, such as the Writing and Math Workshops and a peer tutoring program. These programs are an integral part of the Wesleyan community, built around a culture of intellectual growth and personal development.
Through the Student Affairs/Deans' Office, the University also provides a range of legally-mandated support services for students with disabilities. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states: "No otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States . . . shall solely by reason of his handicap, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance." The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) extends some of these stated provisions.
Wesleyan does not offer academic programs specifically for individuals with disabilities. The University is, however, committed to providing services and reasonable accommodations to all students who need and have a legal entitlement to such accommodations, providing the accommodations do not fundamentally alter the nature of an academic course or an institutional policy. The purpose of this guide is to outline Wesleyan's disabilities services and explain how, under Section 504, the ADA, and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA), Wesleyan students with documented disabilities can obtain reasonable accommodations.
Process for Requesting Reasonable Accommodations
Students who would like to request 504/ADA reasonable accommodations are expected to self-disclose by making an appointment with Dean Backer and establishing a disabilities file. The purpose of the meeting is to review documentation of your disability, to discuss your disability in the context of your academic and nonacademic plans and, at your request, to assist you with arranging appropriate accommodations with your instructors and other university offices, as needed. The dean may also suggest using the academic support services available to all students, such as the Writing Workshop, the Math Workshop, and other services that are part of the Student Academic Resources Network (SARN).
You may establish your disabilities file at any time, though many students do it in their first semester, sending their documentation to the office in advance of their arrival on campus. Even if you think you may not want to request accommodations for your disability, you are encouraged to make an appointment to discuss your options and resources. New students with disabilities should notify the office by the second Tuesday in July by submitting the Disabilities Notification Form on-line. Please note, this form is only for 1st year and transfer students new to the university, is for notification purposes only, and does not register a student with the office. Students planning on attending the Summer Session should notify the office by April 1 by submitting the Disabilities Services Notification Form - Summer Session on-line.
At the meeting with the dean, you should provide current documentation of your disability and support for requested accommodations. Though reporting formats vary, the following information and data are typically needed:
- a clear statement of the diagnosed disability;
- a complete educational, developmental, and medical history relevant to the disability;
- a list of the names and versions of the diagnostic tests administered to determine disability, and an analysis or interpretation of the test results;
- a diagnostic summary with a brief composite of the entire assessment process, a description of the functional limitations, and an indication of how your disability will affect participation in college courses, activities, and the residential experience;
- recommended strategies to assist you with becoming an efficient learner, and recommended accommodations that are appropriate for the disability; and
- the dates of the examination (must be current, with adult-referenced norms), along with the examiner's name, address, telephone number, and credentials with the signature of an evaluator qualified to make the diagnosis.
Upon receipt of your documentation, Dean Backer may review it in consultation with the Office of Counseling and Psychological Services (in the case of learning or psychological disabilities) or Health Services (in the case of physical disabilities) to assess your request for accommodations. These guidelines are based on the guidelines developed by the Connecticut Association on Higher Education and Disabilities.
Each semester, all students with disabilities who request accommodations from faculty should have received prior approval for the reasonable accommodations in the form of a written letter sent via e-mail from Dean Backer. Once you have established your disabilities file, students must register for reasonable class room accommodations at the beginning of each semester by filling out the appropriate form and meeting with the dean. The dean then sends a letter via e-mail to the instructor and the student that indicate the appropriate accommodation(s). These letters serve as your entry point into a dialogue with your professors. The dean will act as a mediator with faculty when needed; however, it is the expectation that you will advocate for your own needs directly with professors. Please note that Dean Backer, not your professor, is the appropriate person with whom to begin the request process for obtaining reasonable accommodations.
Students are encouraged to request accommodation letters from the dean, and speak with their professors about arranging the specifics of their accommodations within the first few weeks of the semester. Disabilities Services and faculty need sufficient notice in order to recommend and provide reasonable accommodations. They may not be able, nor may they be obligated, to honor last-minute requests.
In some cases, students who request accommodations, but are in the process of acquiring proper or updated documentation, may be granted provisional reasonable accommodations. Provisional accommodations are generally granted for one semester only.
Disabilities Services may review requests for reasonable accommodations with either the Office of Counseling and Psychological Services or Health Services. With your permission, your class dean can also be notified when you establish a disabilities file.
Accommodation requests are considered within the context of both warranted documentation and available resources. Each student's situation is reviewed together with the relevant documentation to determine the type of accommodation recommended. Accommodations that are considered reasonable are those that do not fundamentally alter the nature of an academic course or the institution's policies, and do not place an undue hardship on the institution. Reasonable accommodations are distinguished from services of a personal nature, which the University does not provide but the student may choose to employ. Such services of a personal nature may include individual assistants or coaches.
In addition to reasonable accommodations, a variety of assistive technologies is also available on campus to help students achieve their academic goals. Interested students should consult with Dean Backer.
The Student Academic Resources Network (SARN), provides a network of academic services to assist all Wesleyan students. Students with disabilities are encouraged to seek out these resources, which include:
- Writing Workshop
- Writing mentors and tutors work individually with students and assist many students with disabilities. The Writing Workshop is located at Downey House, Lower Level. For more information, contact Professor Anne Greene, (860) 685-2240.
- Math Workshop
- The Math Workshop is located in Room 113A Science Center, on the Main floor Conference Room in the Science Library. It is open Sunday through Thursday from 7 to 10 pm and Monday through Thursday from 2:30 to 5:00 p. m. during the semester. There are always two staff members on duty, who may be either experienced undergraduates, or math graduate students. The staff offer a drop-in tutoring service, available to all members of the Wesleyan community. Staff members provide a friendly, relaxed atmosphere while answering questions about mathematics. (860) 685-2205
- Deans' Office Peer Tutoring Program
- Peer tutors are provided free of charge for individual students in need of further course-content instruction. Students interested in this program should visit the the website and fill out the request forms.
- Various offices on campus sponsor workshops on such topics as time management, study skills, note taking, test taking, math, and writing. For more information, visit the SARN website and the Peer Advisor blog.
Students who are dissatisfied with the disabilities accommodations or services they have been granted should first report their dissatisfaction to Dean Backer. If the matter cannot be resolved at that level, students may report the matter to the Vice President of Student Affairs.