College accommodations are those supports and services provided, at no cost, to eligible students with a documented disability to ensure equal access and opportunity to benefit from classes, programs, and activities. Common academic accommodations may include the ability to record a class lecture, extended time on tests, testing in the Testing Center, accessible classrooms, and interpreters. Utilizing accommodations can make a big difference in student learning and grades achieved. However, it is the responsibility of the student to register with the Accessibility Office (TAO) and provide current documentation of their disability(s).
Where do you start?
First, the student should learn about the office on the college campus that provides accommodations. At Bucks County Community College (Bucks) the office is called the Accessibility Office (TAO). The only way to get accommodations at Bucks is through this office. The student is responsible for making the initial contact with the office, inquiring about what type of documentation is required for their disability, the steps they need to take to receive accommodations, and the forms needed to complete for registration with TAO.
Register with the Accessibility Office (TAO)
Once you are accepted as a student at Bucks, follow the registration process that is outlined on TAO’s web page. Make a copy of your most recent disability documentation and gather the forms required to register. Contact TAO at their main number, (215) 968-8182, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to make an intake appointment. Complete the forms and bring this information, including your documentation, to your intake appointment with TAO.
Start the Accommodation Process Early
Make your appointment well in advance. Your documentation will need to be reviewed by the TAO staff after your intake appointment and approved. You may want accommodations for the placement tests or to request books in alternate format; this process can take up to six (6) weeks. The TAO Representative will authorize accommodations based on your documentation and intake information.
Give Accommodation Letters to your Professors
TAO will provide a Faculty Memo for the student to give to their professors. After accommodations are approved by TAO, it is the responsibility of the student to provide the instructor with a copy of their Faculty Memo and to make an appointment with the instructor(s) to discuss their accommodations.
Modification of Curriculum and Activities
It is important to remember that all curriculum, activities, exams, and assignments are the same for all students in college. Every student, even those with approved accommodations, must complete the same amount of work and produce the same outcomes as their peers in order to receive college credits and satisfactory grades.
Tips for Success
- Keep in mind that policies & procedures may differ from college to college. Review the disability service policies and procedures for each of the colleges you apply.
- IEP forms are generally not acceptable as documentation of a disability; however, these documents can be included in your file along with the required documentation.
- Your disability information is kept confidential. When you receive your Faculty Memo, it will not specify your disability, only the accommodations you are to receive.
- Although you can request accommodations at any point in the semester, it is advisable to do so at the beginning of each semester. Accommodations are not retroactive and only begin at the time you present your Faculty Memo to your instructor(s).
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Adapted from the Center on Transition Innovations (VCU)