Disability is an aspect of diversity that is integral to our society and to the Towson University community. Disability Support Services' (DSS) mission is to provide leadership in promoting equal access to educational opportunities to students with disabilities. DSS collaborates with students, faculty, and staff to identify and remove barriers to foster an all-inclusive campus. The office provides individual services and facilitates accommodations to students with disabilities, and offers institution-wide guidance, consultation, and training on disability-related topics.
Overview of Services
Disability Support Services at Towson University provides accommodations and services to students with various disabilities and some temporary impairments that substantially limit one or more major life activities. The DSS staff is available to answer questions concerning accommodations and services as well as to provide information about other resources on and off campus.
DSS works with students with disabilities such as:
- Learning disabilities
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
- Mental health disabilities
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Brain injuries
- Physical/mobility and medical disabilities
- Vision and hearing impairments
DSS works with students to determine and facilitate reasonable accommodations based on documentation and a personal interview. Students are encouraged to register with DSS as soon as possible after admission to the university to ensure timely provision of services. DSS encourages new students to maintain regular contact with our office, especially during their first year. This contact provides the opportunity for DSS staff to guide students and to work with them proactively to address any issues that may arise.
Accommodations in higher education enable a qualified student with a disability equal access to the university’s programs, courses, services, and activities. Providing accommodations does not compromise the essential elements of a course or program, nor do they weaken academic standards. Accommodations provide an alternative way to accomplish requirements by eliminating or reducing disability-related barriers and providing a level playing field.
Through an interactive process, DSS works closely with the student and faculty, as appropriate, to implement accommodations. Accommodations are determined on a case–by-case basis and may include priority registration, testing accommodations and use of the Testing Services Center, note-taking assistance, interpreting services, alternate formats for print materials, assistive technology, para-transit registration and internship accommodations. DSS offers short-term help with organization and study skills, disability consultation and advocacy assistance, and help with course load and selection. DSS also provides information and referral services, such as how to obtain diagnostic testing and tutoring.
In reviewing the accommodation requested by the student or recommended by an evaluator, DSS may need to consult with faculty and/or may find that the accommodation is not appropriate given the requirements of a course or program. DSS may propose an alternative accommodation that would be appropriate for the student, but which neither the student nor evaluator has requested.
Eligibility for accommodations is established through a variety of information sources, including the student’s self-report, observation and interaction with the student, previous accommodations received and the particular accommodations requested, the unique characteristics of a course or program, as well as documentation from external sources, such as psychologists, educational professionals and health care providers.
WHY USE ACCOMMODATIONS?
Freshmen Using Accommodations Have Higher GPAs
A DSS study compared the difference in first semester GPAs between freshmen who used accommodations and freshmen who did not. The difference was significant. The average GPA of DSS students using accommodations was a 3.05 (B grade), as compared to a 2.50 (C+ grade) for DSS students not using accommodations.
WHy Attend DSS Orientation?
Students Attending DSS Fall Transfer Orientation Program Have Higher GPAs
A recent DSS study comparing transfer students who attended the DSS Transfer Orientation Program with transfer students who did not attend showed that attending students had an average GPA of 3.03 (B grade) as compared to a 2.78 grade (C+) for non-attending students.