3 things to know as a first year student with a disability


A student with a disability will find college campuses are providing multiple services to accommodate a diverse range of needs for their students. College disability service counselors are there to reduce anxiety and assist students in gathering the necessary materials to make their transition into college go smoothly.

Settle your nerves and know these three key things as a student with a disability:

  1. Where to go. Locate your disability services office through your college’s website. Once you reach the page, jot down the office’s contact information and location. Common names for disability services include Students with Disabilities Office, Educational Accessibility and ACCESS Office.
  2. Understand your disability. Before making an appointment with a disability counselor, know your strengths and weaknesses in class. Are you an expert note taker? Are you able to complete exams in the allotted time? Such information helps a disability counselor determine how your disability impacts your education and the accommodations needed in the classroom.
  3. Bring your documentation. Make sure you understand your college’s policy on documentation for your disability. Different disabilities require different types of documentation. The depth of it depends on the college and the disability type.

Just knowing these three key items will make enrolling as a student with a disability an easy transition. Be sure to schedule your appointment with your college’s disability services office at least 30 days before classes begin. This will ensure the services needed will be available to you from day one.

Beth Callahan lives with her husband and two sons in Chesapeake, VA. Her academic achievements include a bachelor’s and master’s in Special Education from Longwood University and an education specialist degree in Supervision and Administration from Old Dominion University. Beth began working as the VB Educational Accessibility Counselor at Tidewater Community College in 2008 and is currently the college-wide coordinator of Educational Accessibility. Before coming to TCC, Beth worked as a high school special education teacher for Chesapeake Public Schools for five years. Beth is a member of VA AHEAD (Association of Higher Education and Disability) and a member of the Public Policy Committee for the National Chapter of CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficient Disorder). She has recently published an article in ATTENTION magazine on the impact of bullying for students with ADHD and 504 Plans.

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