The provision of accommodations and modifications at the college level hinges on the determination that the student has a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which is entitlement legislation that mandates identification of and service delivery to students with special needs in the public school system, does not extend protection to the college level student. To qualify as a person in need of protection under the ADA, a student must demonstrate that he or she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, working, or learning. Although the law does not provide clear examples of what "substantially limits" means, the commonly accepted definition is that one's ability to perform a major life activity must be significantly less than that of the average person in the general population.
If you believe that you will need accommodations or modifications at Lebanon Valley College, you must provide appropriate documentation that verifies the existence of the disability and discusses its impact on your ability to participate in the college environment. Requirements for appropriate documentation of learning disabilities, AD/HD, psychiatric disorders, and chronic health impairments are included through the left-hand links under "Documentation." Unlike the IDEA, which requires public schools to bear the cost of psycho-educational assessment as part of the process of identifying and servicing students with learning disabilities, the ADA places the responsibility for obtaining appropriate documentation of any and all disabilities on the student. The Office of Disability Services reviews the documentation and decides whether or not the student is disabled under the ADA.
The ADA does not require that colleges provide services or accommodations in the absence of a request by the student. This means that if you need an accommodation(s), you must initiate contact with the Office of Disability Services, provide documentation verifying the need, and specifically request the accommodation(s). This is a new responsibility for most students, who have typically relied on their parents and their case managers or resource room teachers in high school to manage all their educational needs. In college, students with disabilities must assume full and independent responsibility for securing the services and accommodations they need.
Although it is a matter of personal choice whether or not to disclose a disability, students are encouraged to do so. Through consultation with the coordinator of disability services, students with disabilities can determine how to best meet the College's academic requirements and achieve their educational goals. The Office of Disability Services provides many support services, including:
- Assistance in obtaining information to document a known or suspected disability, including referrals to local psychologists or medical professionals;
- Assistance in understanding the results of psycho-educational or neuropsychological testing and their implications for learning in the college academic environment;
- Academic advising adjunctive to that offered by faculty advisors;
- Counseling on disability-related issues;
- Determination of course-specific accommodations and modifications each semester;
- One-to-one assistance in developing compensatory learning strategies, study skills, test-taking strategies, time management skills, and self-advocacy skills;
- Access to distraction-reduced testing rooms;
- Access to individualized assistance at the Writing Center; and,
- Access to textbooks in an alternative format (i.e., CD, e-text) and other assistive technology.
The Office of Disability Services is located in Room 4, in the basement of the Humanities Building. The office is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 to 4:30. Please contact Dr. Yvonne Foster, director of disability services, at 717-867-6071 or firstname.lastname@example.org for an appointment to meet to discuss your particular needs. It is to your benefit to initiate this process prior to your arrival on campus at the start of the academic term.