Q1: What is a disability?
A1: According to the American's with Disabilities Act, a disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity. These activities include the ability to write, learn, read, think, concentrate, memorize, hear, see, talk, or walk.
Q2: What are some disabilities accommodated at Normandale?
A2: The disabilities accommodated include but are not limited to: learning disabilities, hearing and vision losses, physical and psychological disabilities, attention deficit disorders, cognitive, and other health related disabilities.
Q3: How do students become registered with the OSD?
A3: First, students must be admitted to Normandale Community College. Then students must make an appointment to see an OSD staff person for an intake interview and at that time present documentation of their disability. This documentation may include high school special education records or a report from a licensed psychologist, disability specialist, or medical doctor. Once a student has presented documentation of his/her disability, along with having a staff consultation, a variety of accommodations may be provided which are determined on a case-by-case basis.
Q4: When should students begin to make arrangements for receiving accommodations at Normandale?
A4: Students should call the OSD office several weeks before starting at the college to begin the process of being registered with the OSD. Earlier application is essential in order to arrange for taped textbooks, interpreters, note takers, and other OSD services; late registration may limit immediate assistance. To receive sign language interpreting, students should contact the OSD to arrange interpreting before registering for classes.
Q5: What accommodations are offered through the OSD?
- Alternative testing that may include extended time, tape-recorded tests, or writing assistance
- Note taking
- Organization or time management assistance
- Assistance with course selection and registration
- Adjustable tables or custom chairs
- Support for coping with a disability in college
- Editing assistance for written assignments
- Assistance with faculty contacts
- Alternative format textbooks
- Sign language/oral interpreting
- Provision of and/or orientation to assistive technology
- Additional accommodations for placement testing
- Other reasonable accommodations
Q6: What kinds of services or accommodations are not provided?
A6: In accordance with the law, there are some modifications that the college does not provide as a reasonable accommodation. Examples include:
- personal devices such as wheelchairs or glasses
- personal services such as private tutoring or personal attendants (tutoring services are available elsewhere on campus)
- modifications that lower or change course standards or program standards
- modifications that would change the essence of a program, such as allowing a student in a public speaking class to substitute a written paper for an oral presentation
- services that are unduly burdensome, administratively or financially.
Q7: What is required under Disability Law?
A7: There are several laws that address the college's responsibilities regarding individuals with disabilities. These include the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA of 1990 and ADAAA of 2008), the Rehabilitation Act, and the Minnesota Human Rights Act.
The college has two basic duties under the law regarding individuals with disabilities.
- First, the college must not discriminate against individuals on the basis of disability. A qualified individual with a documented disability is someone who, with or without reasonable accommodation, meets the essential eligibility requirements for the receipt of services or the participation in programs, services, or activities provided by this college. The college may not treat qualified individuals with disabilities differently from individuals without disabilities or have a policy that disparately impacts individuals with disabilities.
- Second, the college must provide access to its programs and services, and reasonably accommodate qualified individuals with documented disabilities to allow them to effectively participate in those programs and services. The laws apply only if an individual establishes that he or she meets the legal definition of "disabled." Sometimes meeting this standard is difficult and requires information from appropriate professionals.
Q8: What is a reasonable accommodation?
A8: The OSD works with students with disabilities and college officials to resolve questions of "reasonable accommodation" and other issues related to the college's compliance with disability laws.
An accommodation is a support that gives a student with a disability an equal opportunity to participate and benefit from college. Accommodations are adjustments to how things are usually done. The purpose of effective accommodations is to increase a student's chances for success.
Reasonable accommodations can be provided in various ways.
The following are brief descriptions and examples of the most common categories of accommodations that permit a qualified student with a disability to effectively participate in the educational process.
Changes to a classroom environment or task. Examples might include:
- extended time for an exam
- the use of a spell checker
- materials in alternative formats such as large print, audio recording or electronic format.
Removal of architectural barriers; an example might include adapting a classroom to meet the needs of a student who uses a wheelchair.
Exceptions to policies, practices or procedures; an example might include priority registration.
Provision of auxiliary aids and services; examples might include:
- providing a sign language interpreter
- providing a note taker or scribe.
Q9: How is college different from high school?
A9: College life poses different challenges for students with disabilities. When students enroll in college, they are considered responsible adults by faculty and staff. The expectations are that they will assume responsibilities for meeting their class requirements.
This added responsibility is coupled with a change in environment. High school is a teaching environment in which students acquire knowledge and skills. College is a learning environment in which students take responsibility for thinking through and applying what they have learned.
Another student responsibility is that of self-advocacy. Students must become adept at realistically assessing and understanding their strengths, weaknesses, needs, and preferences. Also, they must become experts at communicating this information to other adults including instructors and service providers. Although services will be available to students through an office specializing in services to students with disabilities, students will be responsible for seeking these services and supports. Good communication skills and knowledge about oneself become crucial to success in college.
Q10: As a parent, what information is available to me from my son or daughter's educational records?
A10: In general, under federal and state privacy laws, students at colleges have the legal right to control access to information about themselves. Some information called "directory data" is public and available to anyone, even parents. Almost all other information such as grades or class schedules is private and, in most cases, a student's written authorization is required to release to a third party private information held by a college.
Q11: How can you help your son or daughter prepare for college?
A11: Preparing for a successful college or university experience begins early in school. Use the following list to help plan for college:
- Encourage your student to lead all of the following discussions.
- Recognize that your student with a disability will go through the same experiences as their nondisabled peers.
- Ask the high school staff for information regarding appropriate post secondary choices, such as technical college, community college, or university.
- Work with the high school teachers and support staff and community agencies to identify transition activities that will prepare your student for college.
- Ensure that your student will have the necessary recent testing that a college needs to document a disability. This includes, but is not limited to, learning disabilities. Have these reports and copies of your student's most recent disability assessment, IEP (Individualized Education Plan), and transition plan available for college staff.
- Encourage your student to contact rehabilitation services to determine eligibility for services. Rehabilitation services can help with financial and equipment support for students with disabilities.
- If the college requires admissions test results, learn the process for requesting testing accommodations. If your student needs testing accommodations, the need must be documented.
- Ensure that your student learns to use reasonable and appropriate accommodations. These accommodations are determined based on documented need and may include but are not limited to test taking, note taking, taped texts, and using adaptive technology.
- Remember your student has the responsibility to notify the college that he or she has a disability, identifying his/her needs. The college has the responsibility to provide reasonable accommodations based on documentation of the disability.
Q12: How can you help your son or daughter have a successful college experience?
A12: As first-year students arrive at a college and begin to venture forth, they experience different reactions and thoughts. Some students will adjust to college life with little difficulty, while others may find that the transition stretches beyond the first year. Parents can help by understanding the developmental process that their students will journey through as they enter a college and recognize that this process is part of the higher education learning environment.
Upon arrival, many students enjoy a period where the newness and excitement leads to strong positive feelings about college life. A few weeks into the semester, students begin to realize that higher education is not all glamour and fun - there is hard work, and there can be frustration and disappointment as well. Students may receive their first low grades. About mid-semester, students may begin wondering if college life is better at another school. They might believe that transferring to another institution will solve the problems they are experiencing, or they may wonder if they would be better off out in the work world. Students begin to learn that things at home have changed. Life has gone on without them.
Alternatively, first-year students learn that they have changed, and because of this, their relationships with family and high school friends may be different from what they remember. Like college, home suddenly feels like a new and changing place. As students progress through the semester, they refine their academic and study skills, engage in their first deep conversations with classmates, and enjoy expanding their circle of friends. It is often at this time that true intellectual fulfillment begins and meaningful relationships with classmates and faculty develop. With the end of the semester near, students face large amounts of work. No matter how well students have been doing academically and socially, they may have anxiety about whether they will survive the papers and exams and if they will actually make it to the second semester. They may question again whether they really belong in college.
Sometime during the second semester, students begin to view college as a total experience. They come to see the classes, casual discussions with new friends, parties, and other elements of their college life are related and part of an interrelated whole. First year students come to understand that the choices and commitment that they make have a tremendous impact on the shape of their college experience and future.