Self-Advocacy for Accessibility
Advocacy skills are needed in many areas of our lives, including school, work and home. Becoming an effective self-advocate means having the ability to effectively communicate your needs to others.
Here are a few tips to assist you in reaching the goals you have set to accomplish at UMGC.
- Know your rights so that you may ask for what is available to you.
- Know your strengths and challenges and how they affect you.
- Plan ahead to make your semester a success.
- Work to find solutions to overcome barriers to reaching your goals.
- Identify your needs, and come up with a plan to support those needs.
- Identify your support system.
- Get to know the instructors and administrators in your program.
- Know how to communicate about your disability and how it impacts your academic performance.
- Know how to ask for help and seek out resources when difficulties arise.
- Recognize that long-term goals are reached by meeting many short-term goals.
- Recognize and celebrate your successes.
After a student requests Accommodation Notification Letters, Accessibility Services will notify the student’s instructors about the accommodations. The student is also encouraged to initiate contact with faculty members to establish a rapport.
When the accommodation notification has been emailed to instructors, we strongly encourage students to contact their instructors to introduce themselves and ask questions about the course content. Some students prefer that accommodations be implemented automatically because of their medical condition, and students are encouraged to share that preference along with other challenges they may face.
Communicating with instructors throughout the term also gives students the opportunity to share academic barriers related to their medical condition and whether accommodations are effective or should be adjusted. If, at any time during the term, the accommodations are not effective, we urge students to contact Accessibility Services and the instructor. Accessibility Services can only follow up after becoming aware of a problem.
Questions from Accessibility Services
Are these accommodations reasonable?
The accommodations process is interactive. During an intake discussion, Accessibility Services will examine the obstacles the student has personally faced and provide accommodations based on the student’s experiences and documentation. These accommodations must not cause undue burden or a fundamental alteration of the course content and procedures.
For example, if you asked the instructor to give you an alternate exam, that would be unreasonable, causing an undue burden. If you asked to be excused from taking tests, that would be a fundamental alteration of a course that requires testing. An accommodation also cannot lengthen a course.
As an interactive, individualized process, each class may implement the accommodations differently. For instance, some classes may not have tests or quizzes, so accommodations for assessments would not apply. Additionally, instructors may have suggestions for additional accommodations. These should always be brought to Accessibility Services. Accessibility Services staff will discuss the concerns with the faculty member and help resolve any issues that arise
Questions from Instructors
What is your disability?
It is your right not to disclose this information. State that you are registered with Accessibility Services, and if this occurs after an accommodation letter is sent to the faculty member, please alert Accessibility Services. Please refer all questions and concerns back to Accessibility Services.
What are the educational limitations of your disability for this class?
Explain how your disability affects how you can complete requirements for the class. Emphasize your abilities, strengths and special interests in the class.
- "I have a disability related to my fine motor coordination, and as a result, I can't write quickly enough to take effective notes."
- "I take medication for my disability, and it slows my thinking skills and motor reaction time."
- "I have a good long-term memory; once I learn something, I've got it."
- "I am in pre-law, and political science is my most important class this term."
How do you plan on informing me when you need your accommodation?
This is an excellent time to discuss a plan of action. You can inform the instructor if have difficultly communicating when you experience an exacerbation of your condition and ask that they provide accommodations involving time constraints automatically. You can also share if you prefer to provide advanced notice if you need to use your accommodation of flexibility with assignment deadlines. Establishing this plan in advance will lessen any potential issues.
Before Classes Begin
- Email or speak to your instructor to identify yourself and explain the academic challenges you experience as a result of your disability.
- Ask each instructor about his or her course content and what kinds of tests, papers or other assessment tools will be used during the semester. Online classes are available to all students at least seven days before the term begins. Review your course syllabus, and address your questions or concerns with the instructor. If you need special accommodations, make sure you have registered with Accessibility Services.
- Familiarize yourself with the resources available to you, including financial aid, advising, Career Services, tutoring, writing support, and UMGC's online library.
- For on-site class sessions, students who need to audio record their lectures should secure a lightweight, reliable tape or digital recorder and batteries.
- For on-site class sessions, students who need special seating should contact Accessibility Services prior to the beginning of class to ensure a proper seat or table will be available in the classroom.
- For on-site class sessions, students who need an attendant or personal assistant to accompany them should employ the aide well before the first day of classes. The student should share his or her class schedule with the attendant and make sure the attendant is ready for the first day of class.
First Day of Class
- Students have access to online course materials at least seven days before classes begin. Review course content, and notify the faculty member if you have any problems accessing the course materials or if you have questions about the course.
- For on-site class sessions, arrive early to secure the best possible seat. Sit up front, close to the instructor. This will help you concentrate and minimize distractions.
- For on-site class sessions, if you use special equipment, arrive early so the faculty member can work with you before class.
- Make sure you receive a syllabus for each of your classes. Review all of the syllabi to make sure you have contact information for faculty members, including their e-mail addresses, phone numbers, and appointment hours.
- For on-site class sessions, if you use an interpreter or reader during class, you may need to save a seat for him or her.
- Organize class syllabi, outlines, notes, and calendars in a notebook.
- If you have any questions or concerns, contact your instructor or contact Accessibility Services.
During the Term
- For on-site class sessions or appointments on campus, if you use interpreter services, inform Accessibility Services of any changes in your schedule, such as adding, dropping or withdrawing from a class, or if you have to cancel an appointment on campus.
- E-mail or schedule a phone conversation with your instructor to monitor your progress. It is beneficial to do this at least once before an exam and again shortly after the exam.
- If you think you will need the assistance of a tutor, review tutoring services the first week of the semester. Do not wait until your first test to seek these services. UMGC mainly offers online assistance. There are some on-site locations, but hours are limited. If you need further assistance, consider hiring an outside tutor to assist with specific course content or writing challenges.
End of the Term
- Request accommodation notification letters when you register for your next semester.
- Thank your instructors for their assistance.
Rights & Responsibilities
- An equal opportunity to access courses, programs, services and activities at UMGC.
- Request reasonable accommodations, academic adjustments or auxiliary aids and services.
- Appropriate confidentiality of information regarding their disability, except when disclosures are required or permitted by law.
Students have the responsibility to
- Maintain institutional standards for academic performance and conduct.
- Register with Accessibility Services, and request an accommodation.
- Provide appropriate documentation of a disability, including the functional limitation(s) of the disability and its impact on the access to and participation in courses, programs, services and activities at UMGC.
- Follow procedures for requesting accommodations, academic adjustments or auxiliary aids and services.
- Request academic accommodations for each term in which the student is registered.
UMGC has the right to
- Request and receive, through Accessibility Services, current documentation that identifies the existence of a disability and explains the functional limitations of the disability.
- Suggest appropriate and reasonable accommodations, academic adjustments or auxiliary aids and services based on documentation submitted to the office.
- Establish essential requirements and standards for courses, programs, services or activities at UMGC.
- Select equally effective accommodations, adjustments or auxiliary aids and services.
- Deny an accommodation, adjustment or auxiliary aid that fundamentally alters a course, program or activity.
UMGC has the responsibility to
- Review submitted documentation without bias and seek appropriate relevant professional expertise when necessary.
- Confer with the student and other relevant parties when determining accommodations, academic adjustments or auxiliary aids and services.
- Provide information in accessible formats, upon request.
- Respond to requests in a timely manner.
- Maintain appropriate confidentiality of documentation and information.
Accommodations may take many forms and generally can be grouped into three broad categories.
- Use of recorder for lectures
- Use of assistive technology
- Use of American Sign Language interpreters/transliterators
- Use of particular types of desks and other furniture
- Use of comprehensive syllabi (more detailed syllabi)
- Examination modifications (e.g., extended time or testing in a quiet environment)
- Extended time for assignments. Under certain conditions, extended time on assignments may be an appropriate accommodation. This accommodation must have supporting documentation. Granted on a case-by-case basis, this accommodation must be negotiated with the instructor in advance of the assignment due date. The student and instructor should come to an agreement on the specific amount of extended time and due date for each assignment receiving this accommodation
- Use of a scribe or note taker
- Use of assistive technology
- Reduced barriers for physical access to classrooms and other university facilities. Students with accessibility concerns should contact AS as soon as they become aware of the need for an accommodation
Examples of Accommodations Not Made
UMGC is not required to provide every accommodation that a student may request. Students should note that the requirements for accommodations for post-secondary education are different from the requirements for high school, and the accommodations themselves may differ. The student’s preferences are considered but are not determining.
The university is not required to provide personal assistants, individual personal tutors, coaches or personal assistive technology. Whenever possible, AS will refer students to agencies that may provide personal assistance of that nature.
The university is not required to make, and does not make, accommodations that would reduce academic expectations or standards or eliminate essential components of any course. Open-book tests or exams are not provided as an accommodation but may be a part of any particular instructor’s methodology for instruction and testing.
Contact Accessibility Services
Contact us to get more information or ask any additional questions about our services at U.S. locations.