Truth and Reality as I know it to be

Posts tagged ‘disability rights’

Self-Advocacy for Students to Pursue Accommodations in Academic Institutions

Here’s a bit on how to proceed with self-advocacy for undergraduate or graduate level higher level academic goals and accommodations needed in the process. You pay for your education, or rather someone does and you put in your share of elbow grease to make that happen, and you need certain things to be able to learn and succeed. Case workers and case managers are handy for helping you find services on transportation to/from school or funding to pay for transportation to/from school. Voc Rehab can help you with some tuition, aids, or tools needed, and maybe you have personal care services. Maybe you don’t have the support structure I mentioned. Maybe you have some of them. It doesn’t really matter because what happens when you know you will need arrangements for school assignments, tests, or those situations where you’re the Oddman Out? Who advocates for your needs?   Who better than (drumroll please): YOU. 

There must be a decent amount of students needing to do the same thing. This was one of those “scour the internet for a day and come up with minimal useful information” instances.

As much as the internet helps with finding general structures, templates and tips on how to write letters, or the thousands of letter templates Microsoft stuffs into each version of its Office suite (could have used that dispute credit transaction complaint letter template a month ago if I had paid attention to the fact I chose to install the Dutch language pack by carelessness instead of the English one and spent a lot of time randomly clicking through menus until realizing selecting “Ingles” translates everything I needed to English–horrified to think I have weak moments of behaving as a typical ignorant American right?), I significantly re-invented letter writing.  Maybe next month I will find the template after the fact when I am don’t need it. Figures. I should draft a letter of complaint to Microsoft about not being psychic and coding Word/Office to spy on my web search and email algorithms (like the Google mafia)  to populate what I want instantly. Har Har. The crude and offensive jokes are funnier than the intelligent ones.

I modified a template for a letter from a parent to a school about a child diagnosed with Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder needing to develop a Section 504/IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act/IEP (Individualized Education Plan. Section 504 is well known for students in public educational settings.

Chart illustrating the bounds of Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504, IDEA, and IEP

Chart illustrating the bounds of Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504, IDEA, and IEP

I couldn’t quickly narrow down if Section 504 was applicable to college students in private academic settings, even with that handy chart. Find out what the difference is between IEP/IDEA and Section 504. I also applied a bit of an outline structure to the letter template since I wanted to break up chunks of information for the reader, reduce redundancy, and present the request in professional and confident way to be taken seriously.

The best down and dirty info I saw was from Wright’s Law and Wright’s Law had a page with more resources
because the document from the U.S. Department of Education website was way too long and seemed to be focused for students in grades K-12 which since I’m considered alumni at my high school, which is not as relevant to my needs for pursuing a Bachelor’s degree. I’m glad there’s lots more support programs for K-12 students… though it’s a bit too scary in realizing those support systems or even the same rules may not be  there when students go to a university or college.

If you write this on someone else’s behalf, first person is ideal for these situations and then at the bottom you can indicate “prepared by _____” along with your signature. This is suggested because if you use the “I’m writing you on behalf of  My Cousin Vinny.” method and then throughout the document you state  My Cousin Vinny is limited with doing x, y,  z and he/she has to have someone fill in bubble test sheets” the difference is this makes Vinny objectified and somehow in a subtle way more or less feeds into prejudices even in a professional capacity that Vinny (who represents someone with a disability) is incompetent at test taking– making dots on a circle form which is fed into a machine. I personally wondered why No. #2 pencils had to be used and why couldn’t a medium sized black Sharpie be used which would make EVERYONE’s life easier. Then again, my logic rarely makes sense to the rest of the world. (Sarcasm). Vinny more than likely knows how to fill out bubble sheets, and could probably do it with a Sharpie but has trouble because those damn circles are half a centimeter in diameter and spaced tightly. An analogy would be as if one  wanted to state Brett Favre  as a mediocre professional athlete who can’t pass a football, failing to acknowledge the reason why is because the NFL team supplied Brett Favre and all the players with Jr. size footballs, and ice skates instead of actual football cleats for running to win.

This is a template spans two pages when copied in to Microsoft Word using narrow 0.5″ margins all the way around for all pages.

Your Name
Your Mailing Address
Your Student Account/ID number
Your Email
Your Phone

School Name
Dept or Person and title to receive the request
Address

Dear ____ : (though this can be left off if the specific person to review it is unknown)

Request for Accommodations under Section 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act

I would like to submit a request for a number of accommodations outlined below along with a summarized description of related activities/functions/events/concerns.

The long term developmental disability, along with a disorder, and multiple secondary disabilities I am diagnosed with impairs or limits the following
a. Area: activity, task, or goal
b. Fine motor skills: (activities requiring dexterity, writing, typing, mousing) and coordination
c. Add more if needed

Please be aware my disabilities cause me to exhibit symptoms and characteristics as listed below

Fatigue, recurring acute and chronic pain, spasticity, stuttering and speech fluctuations

Accommodations for the duration of expected enrollment from Fall 2013 – Spring 2017 or until otherwise documented

Concern: Safety and Accessibility on Campus / 504 Evacuation Plan
  1. Identify a plan of evacuation in the event of fire or security threat with predetermined “safe” locations or exitways within or outside campus grounds to wait for additional assistance. Identify key faculty/staff/security personnel trained or familiar with assisting a person with a disability to evacuate safely. This needs to be updated and posted each semester in each room where classes are held. It is recommended to make it accessible near designated exits/entrances, classroom doors, elevators. A meeting each semester of the parties or persons involved in each updated 504 Evacuation Plan is also recommended.
  2. In events of emergency, I should be carried using The Two-Handed Seat approach.
  •  I am typically able to traverse a flight of stairs/steps if holding on to a hand/arm or a stationary railing to grasp balance. I do not need to be aided by the elbow, as this causes more problems for balance/walking.
  1. Crouch on each side of the wounded person. He or she does not have to be conscious.
  2. Reach underneath the victim’s shoulders with one arm and beneath the knees with the other arm.
  3. Grab onto your partner’s wrists and hold tightly. At the top, you might have to hold your partner’s arm or shoulder instead.
  4. Stand slowly, being sure not to lift with your back. Start walking in the direction the person you are carrying is facing.

3. Seating options where able to easily maneuver in position using a wheelchair or walker without hardship to myself or jeopardizing the safety of other students

  1. A reserved table or desk measuring between 27” – 30” in height or ability to have adjustable height, and a minimum of 36” wide with lockable caster wheels, kept in the Theatre/Auditorium since the seating is built in with desks which is not usable
Concern: Living Off Campus

May 13, 2013 I met with Transition Advisor, and submitted a note from my doctor recommending I not live on campus. This is due to already being established at a residence in CITY NAME, off-campus. The residence I have is best suited to the conditions I need to be independent, and also for an ideal study environment because living in a dormitory setting would create additional environmental difficulties to meet assignment deadlines and course objectives and maintain medical treatment and independent care activities.

Concern: Credits and Coursework
  1. Approval to have less than full-time student status, reduced workload 6-9 total credits per semester as needed. It may not be needed for the entire time I complete my program(s) of study. I have been working on getting a new, custom, manual wheelchair which is needed to reduce the amount of energy my body exerts for mobility. The mobility aid offers specialized seating support and other features for this purpose.
  2. It was kindly suggested by the Student Transition Advisor in Student Affairs to have a generic manual wheelchair and assign a person to aid me while on campus. This option would not work for my needs because a generic manual wheelchair is sized for an adult, and my body type is too small/petite. The use of a generic manual wheelchair would present an added hardship and offer no support for my body (which would be sitting roughly 6-10 hours a day for 4 days a week depending on class scheduling and downtime in between classes) requiring my body to exert more energy to compensate, which means I would not risking my health in order to fulfill SCHOOL NAME’s requirements for students to be fulltime status with 12-15 credits per semester. This equates to 24-40 hours of sitting while on SCHOOL NAME campus.  Being permitted to register with a reduced workload consisting of 6-9 total credits per semester as needed would mean I would be sitting 8 hours a day twice a week, totaling 16 hours of sitting without proper support while on campus. This would also be flexible to continue tending to treatments such as Physical Therapy which occur multiple times a week. Whereas a fulltime student schedule and workload would definitely be a major factor with fatigue and restrict the time to continue necessary health and medical treatments needed to fulfill duties for school, work, and independence.
  3. Permit the ability to request from instructors/professors extend time allotted to complete timed quizzes, exams, tests
    The ability to type coursework requiring students to submit responses with written essay or more than 4 sentence responses.
Concern: Tuition Fees
  1. Approval to have less than full-time student status, reduced workload 6-9 total credits per semester as needed. It may not be needed for the entire time I complete my program(s) of study. I have been working on getting a new, custom, manual wheelchair which is needed to reduce the amount of energy my body exerts for mobility. The mobility aid offers specialized seating support and other features for this purpose.
  2. It was kindly suggested by the Student Transition Advisor in Student Affairs to have a generic manual wheelchair and assign a person to aid me while on campus. This option would not work for my needs because a generic manual wheelchair is sized for an adult, and my body type is too small/petite. The use of a generic manual wheelchair would present an added hardship and offer no support for my body (which would be sitting roughly 6-10 hours a day for 4 days a week depending on class scheduling and downtime in between classes) requiring my body to exert more energy to compensate, which means I would not risking my health in order to fulfill SCHOOL NAME’s requirements for students to be fulltime status with 12-15 credits per semester. This equates to 24-40 hours of sitting while on SCHOOL NAME campus.  Being permitted to register with a reduced workload consisting of 6-9 total credits per semester as needed would mean I would be sitting 8 hours a day twice a week, totaling 16 hours of sitting without proper support while on campus. This would also be flexible to continue tending to treatments such as Physical Therapy which occur multiple times a week. Whereas a fulltime student schedule and workload would definitely be a major factor with fatigue and restrict the time to continue necessary health and medical treatments needed to fulfill duties for school, work, and independence.
  • Permit the ability to request from instructors/professors extend time allotted to complete timed quizzes, exams, tests
  • The ability to type coursework requiring students to submit responses with written essay or more than 4 sentence responses.
  1. The Student Transition Advisor also informed me tuition fees may not be reduced if an approval of reduced credits per semester was granted.
  2. Proposal: I would like to request consideration of Reduced Tuition. I make this request because I was a student in 2008, withdrew, on-campus would be far more beneficial.  I committed to moving from the Midwest to CITY NAME to attend the campus programs, made payment arrangements for the outstanding balance   before attempting to re-enroll with splendid help from the Enrollment Advisor. I feel SCHOOL NAME is still the best value for my career development goals. SCHOOL or DEPT NAME allowing an exception for Reduced Tuition Fees for only the semesters where I am not registered for a minimum of 12 credit hours or alternatively basing tuition on per-credit-hour would be greatly appreciated.
  3. Fulfilling less than 12 credits per semester without an exception would also create a significant hardship and risk having to withdraw from SCHOOL NAME reluctantly as I do not have the financial support structure most traditional students have from their parents, or spouses. I am not eligible for PELL as verified by Financial Aid Administrator. Because of these factors, options are merit based scholarships, loans and increasing the hours of employment. I spend 12 hours per week working to pay for off-campus living expenses and tuition. For the semesters where I need to have 6-9 credit hours and required to pay full tuition  rates, I would need to increase work hours to 40 hours per week to finance what scholarships and loans do not cover. This would hinder my performance and risk causing academic probation as a result of fatigue and increased pain. On page 42 of the SCHOOL NAME Catalog for the Year 2012-2013 the chart shows 48.08% of students complete the PROGRAM NAME on time. I am determined to complete the PROGRAM NAME. I ask for a Tuition Exception to be able to be part of the 48.08% from SCHOOL NAME to complete the programs on time and hope SCHOOL NAME is willing to help committed students such as myself, achieve success.

I expect a copy of the written report, decisions, or changes and applicable documentation involved to review.

In the event written permission or documentation needs to be provided for these accommodations to be authorized and implemented, and I will be happy to do so upon receipt of the proper forms and explanation of the process.

Please contact me at your earliest convenience so that we may begin the next steps.

Appreciatively,

Your Name

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