Working with Students with Disabilities: A Faculty/Staff Guide
Disability Support Services
Administration Building, Rooms 232-235
Overview of Services
Disability Support Services (DSS) at Towson University is the office that works with undergraduate and graduate students with various disabilities including learning disabilities, attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder, mental health disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, brain injuries, speech disabilities and language disabilities, physical/mobility and medical disabilities, as well as vision and hearing impairments. The office also works with temporary conditions (lasting less than six months) as appropriate. The DSS staff is available to answer questions concerning accommodations and services as well as to provide information about other resources on campus.
DSS works with each student individually to determine and implement 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 resolve problems that may arise.
Services and accommodations provided by DSS can include:
Orientation and help with transition from high school or community college
Help with course load and selection
Testing accommodations and use of the Testing Services Center
Alternate formats for printed materials
Organization and study skills assistance
Disability consultation and help with disclosure
Memos to professors
Information and referral to resources both on and off-campus*
Training and consultation with faculty/staff regarding accommodations
* Please note: DSS does not offer diagnostic testing or content tutoring but does make referrals.
Eligibility and Documentation Requirements
Students must submit documentation that meets DSS guidelines and verifies eligibility under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under that ADA, a "person with a disability" is someone with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. A diagnosed condition alone does not necessarily qualify an individual for accommodations. The documentation must also support the need for accommodations and/or services.
Documentation should be current and completed by a professional who is qualified to make the diagnosis. It should identify the disability and describe how the disability currently impacts the individual. Documentation should demonstrate whether and how a major life activity is substantially limited. It is recommended that the accommodations, services and medications, as well as any recommendations for accommodations in a college setting. (Specific documentation guidelines are available on the DSS website.)
The documentation provided will be reviewed as a part of the collaborative process with the student. During a personal interview, consideration will also be given to the student's self-report, strengths and needs, previous academic experiences and ideas regarding accommodations.
A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a course or program that eliminates or minimizes disability-related barriers and enables a qualified student with a disability to participate. At the college level, the purpose of an accommodation is to correct or circumvent a functional impairment rather than to ensure a student's success.
In reviewing the accommodation requested by the student or recommended by an evaluation, the DSS office may find that the accommodation is not appropriate given then requirement of the 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.
How Students Register with Disability Support Services
Students must initiate the registration process by calling or visiting the DSS office or by submitting an application along with documentation of the disability.
If the students have questions about the documentation, they can contact the DSS office or review the documentation guidelines found on the DSS website.
Students will be contacted by a DSS staff member to schedule a meeting for a personal interview to discuss their disability, reasonable accommodations and support services.
After Students Register with DSS
At the beginning of every term, students should pick up their memos from the DSS office. Memos document the student's registration and specify his or her approved accommodations.
Students should give their memos to each of their professors as early as possible each term and take the time to privately discuss their accommodations. DSS staff is available to assist both students and professors in implementing accommodations as they relate to specific course or program requirements.
Students are encouraged to maintain regular contact with DSS staff each term to discuss their academic progress. DSS staff can refer students to other on campus programs and services if/when needed.