At the college level, it is a student’s right whether or not they choose to self-disclose to request services. This is a very personal decision that we at Student Disability Resources respect, and a decision that only the student can make for themselves. Students seeking services at Penn State must self-disclose the need for academic accommodations, auxiliary aids, and/or services to the office of Student Disability Resources at the Penn State campus they are attending.
Self-disclosing means that:
- Parents or anyone other than the student may not identify the student as having a disability or request services on the student’s behalf.
- Students must initiate the process, actively participate in the process, and have direct interaction/contact with Student Disability Resources throughout the requesting/providing accommodation process.
In order for a student's disorder or impairment to be considered a disability, the student must demonstrate through documentation that the disorder/impairment meets the definition of a disability under Title II of the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) of 2008 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. A disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
Due to the number of students we serve, we strongly suggest applying for services as soon as possible; early on in the semester prior to the semester you wish to receive accommodations. Please keep in mind; this is a multi-step process that takes time to complete. If additional information is needed at any time during the process, the procedure of reviewing documentation can be delayed, which may also delay the delivery of academic adjustments, auxiliary aids, and/or services.
As part of building self-advocacy skills, it is extremely important that the student completes these steps/forms, not the parent or other concerned individual. If you are not certain how to answer a question, feel free to ask a parent or other concerned individual for suggestions, but students should enter the answers themselves.
Process for Requesting Academic Accommodations, Auxiliary Aids, and/or Services
Step 1. Student Self-Discloses through the Online Introductory Questionnaire
Students seeking accommodations for disability must self-disclose the need for services to Student Disability Resources at Penn State Abington. This is done through the online Introductory Questionnaire. You will answer questions about your diagnosis and academic needs, such as the name and description of your diagnosis, how your diagnosis affects your learning, accommodations you’ve had in the past, etc., so be sure to collect any needed information before you begin the online Introductory Questionnaire. Contact us at [email protected] to let us know when you’ve completed the questionnaire.
Step 2. Student Completes Paperwork
Once your introductory questionnaire is received and reviewed, we will send you a registration packet and self-evaluation to your PSU email. Please read through and complete.
Step 3. Student Collects Diagnostic Documentation
Each student is required to submit diagnostic documentation from the licensed professional currently treating you for the diagnosis you are seeking accommodations for. It is the student’s responsibility to obtain documentation and it must be current. If documentation is old or outdated, which may vary depending on your diagnosis, you may need to return to your specialist for an update on your condition. For some, this may require retesting. Any documentation submitted must meet Penn State's disability-specific documentation guidelines in order to be eligible for accommodations. Please review the guidelines prior to submitting documentation.
Step 4. Student Submits Documentation and Paperwork
Submit all 3 sets of documents together (registration packet, self-evaluation, and documentation) in PDF format to [email protected]. It’s important to note that we cannot review any paperwork or documentation until all 3 sets of documents have been submitted.
Step 5. Documentation Review
Once all 3 sets of information are received (documentation, registration packet, and self-evaluation) documentation is reviewed and evaluated to determine if Penn State's documentation guidelines have been met, and if the student's disorder/impairment meets the criteria for having a disability. A clinical diagnosis is not synonymous with a disability. That is, evidence sufficient to render a clinical diagnosis might not be adequate to determine that an individual is substantially limited in a major life activity. If the documentation submitted does not sufficiently address the student's current functional impairment or describe how the disorder/impairment substantially limits one or more major life activities, additional information will be required.
Step 6. Intake Interview
If documentation guidelines and eligibility have been met, the student will be contacted to schedule an intake appointment with the Student Disability Resources Coordinator. During the intake interview the student's disorder/impairment and academic history are discussed, services are explained, and the rights and responsibilities of the student and Penn State are reviewed. A student should anticipate that the intake assessment will take approximately one hour.
Step 7. Holistic Review
The Student Disability Resources Coordinator will review all of the information provided by the student from the online introductory questionnaire, self-evaluation, documentation, and intake interview for appropriateness of accommodations requested. If documentation supports the requests, accommodations will be determined.
Step 8. Accommodation Letter
The student is given an accommodation letter for the semester approximately 1-2 weeks after the student’s intake interview. Timelines may vary depending on the time of year. The letter will list the appropriate accommodations, but never the specific disability, which is strictly confidential.
In order to receive the accommodations, you are required to meet with each professor whose class you wish to use accommodations in and provide them with a copy of your letter. You are strongly encouraged to meet with professors at the beginning of each semester. An out-of-class appointment for this discussion will probably be necessary. You are responsible for discussing your accommodations and how they will be satisfied within the context of each course. The professor reviews the accommodations to ensure that they do not alter essential features of their class. After the professor signs off on the accommodations, the professor provides the accommodations to the student for the remainder of the semester.
Please refer to the following links for more information.