Supporting Students with Disabilities
College is an important time for students to establish their independence and learn to advocate for themselves. You can support your student by encouraging them to take responsibility for the impact a disability may have on their academic and residential life. Encourage them to contact SAS for information on accommodations. Emerson offers other resources for students, such as the Lacerte Family Writing and Academic Resource Center (WARC), Counseling and Psychological Services, the Center for Health and Wellness, and the Office of Housing and Residential Education.
Encouraging Students to Seek Accommodation
Students may be hesitant to contact SAS for a variety of reasons. Some students transitioning to college may want to leave behind any stigma they feel is related to having a disability, have concerns about being labeled or worry their work may be devalued if they disclose information to their professors.
The role of SAS is not to help students with disabilities through college or give them an unfair advantage. Our goal is to arrange accommodations to provide students with the same opportunities to succeed as their peers. You can help your student understand their disability is a part of their life and encourage them to request for accommodations to benefit from the educational experience.
Your student must ultimately decide whether or not to seek accommodations, however, you can guide their decision by encouraging a positive attitude toward their diagnosis and affirm your students independence by reminding them that you trust their decision-making abilities.
Students who register are only known to SAS staff but have the option of implementing accommodations in their classes via letters that they deliver to their professors. Faculty are not made aware of a student's diagnosis. They only know that documentation is on file with our office which confirms the student eligible for the accommodations listed in the letter. Not all students who are registered choose to use accommodations, but it can be easier to implement them during the semester if they are already known to our office. It is important to note that accommodations do not apply retroactively so implementing accommodations as early in the semester as possible is encouraged.
If your student is unsure whether or not they wish to continue to request accommodations at the college level, encourage them to schedule an informational meeting with a Student Accessibility Services staff member!
FERPA and Disclosure
According to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1976 (FERPA), once a student is enrolled in a post-secondary institution, the student is the sole guardian of their records, including grades, transcripts, and records of interactions with SAS. If a student would like to share this information with you, they can sign a release form.
Since students’ contact with SAS is completely confidential, none of their peers need to know they have a disability, and their professors will not know the nature of their disability.
The NCSET Parent Brief provides helpful advice for parents on supporting their children with disabilities entering post-secondary education.