For Parents & Guidance Counselors
Students with documented disabilities who are registered with Disability Support Services make up approximately 6% of the Community College of Rhode Island student population. This fact sheet is designed to help parents understand the rights and responsibilities of students with disabilities as well as the policies and procedures that have been established for this group at CCRI.
- What is Disability Support Services (DSS) at The Community College of Rhode Island?
- How does DSS provide equal access?
- How do students qualify to use the services of DSS?
- How does DSS learn of students with disabilities?
- How will students with disabilities tell their professors that they are eligible to receive academic accommodations?
- Can faculty members approach the topic of students with disabilities at the start of a course?
- What are common accommodations?
- What is extended time for testing?
- What is note taking assistance?
- Can a faculty member review a student’s documentation/file before agreeing to accommodations such as extended time for a test?
- What types of disabilities do CCRI students disclose to Disability Support Services?
- How can I reach DSS to discuss any of the above information or other disability related issues?
What is Disability Support Services (DSS) at The Community College of Rhode Island?
CCRI is mandated by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 to provide equal access to facilities, educational and co-curricular programs, campus activities, and employment opportunities to qualified individuals with disabilities.
Disability Support Services ensures that students with disabilities have physical and academic access to the educational experience at CCRI by providing reasonable and appropriate accommodations. DSS believes that the most successful students are self-advocates who identify their own needs, take personal initiative in problem-solving and decision-making, and effectively use all available resources to fully participate in the educational experience.
Services are available to all students with documented disabilities that substantially limit a major life activity such as: learning, hearing, seeing, reading, walking, and speaking. It is the student’s responsibility to self-identify and provide current documentation from an appropriate professional (physician, psychologist, etc.) to the DSS office. Students must request academic accommodations in person in the DSS office each semester.
DSS learns of students with disabilities in a variety of ways. Most students and their families provide documentation of the disability as the student begins his/her academic career at CCRI. Other students come to DSS without having been diagnosed. DSS provides these students with resources for obtaining diagnostic evaluations that may warrant the provision of accommodations. Documentation is the students responsibility and not provided by the community college.
How will students with disabilities tell their professors that they are eligible to receive academic accommodations?
Having met with a member of the DSS staff to discuss accommodations for the current semester’s courses, eligible students will be given a Request for Accommodations letter (RFA). It is the student’s responsibility to deliver the RFA to the faculty member in a timely manner and to make arrangements for accommodations (this might include reminding a professor to deliver a test to DSS). Instructors are not expected to provide accommodations “on demand” or “after the fact.”
Students’ disability information is confidential and should never be discussed or referred to in front of classmates or other individuals. To preserve students’ rights to privacy and to indicate a willingness to provide accommodations, instructors may include a statement on each course syllabus such as:
"Services for Students with Disabilities: Any student with a documented disability may arrange reasonable accommodations. As part of this process, students are encouraged to contact the Office of Disability Services for Students as early in the semester as possible (www.ccri.edu/dss)."
After receiving a Request for Accommodations letter, an instructor may invite the student to an office hour to discuss any special circumstances related to a disability.
The most commonly requested accommodations are: extended time for test taking, testing in a distraction-free environment, and note taking assistance. Accommodations are not intended to guarantee success. They are intended to “level the playing field” so students have equal access and are assessed on their learning and not on the impact of their disability in the educational environment.
Extended time for testing is an accommodation that grants the student the right to spend additional processing time on an exam. Time-and-a-half is a common guideline or starting point, but each student’s allotted time is determined on a case-by-case basis. Extended time does not mean unlimited time. After receiving the Request for Accommodations letter from a student who wishes to use the DSS Testing Center, the faculty member is responsible for delivering the test to the DSS office. The test is accompanied by a completed Test Cover Sheet which supplies DSS with such information as: materials students can/cannot use while testing, special instructions, latest date test can be taken, where to deliver test, etc.
Note taking assistance is a common accommodation provided for students who have auditory processing or fine motor skills deficits, attentional issues, seizure disorders, or students who are Deaf or hard-of-hearing. Students seeking note taking assistance are expected to attend class and take their own notes. The note taker’s notes are intended to supplement the notes taken by the student with a disability. Students are responsible to make the initial request for a note taker with DSS. Requesting students provide their professor with the note taking accommodation request form. Faculty members are asked to identify strong students in the course and/or make a general announcement to recruit a note taker. A student enrolled in the course who has demonstrated a strong ability to take clear and thorough notes then provides the note taking service. The requesting student and the note taker then meet and arrange for the transfer of notes.
Can a faculty member review a student’s documentation/file before agreeing to accommodations such as extended time for a test?
Only the DSS staff has access to the files containing students’ documentation. From time to time, DSS will confer with faculty who are concerned about a student. DSS can supply only general information to the faculty member along with strategies to meet the learning needs of the student in the classroom and explanations of the accommodations to be provided.
CCRI students disclose a variety of disabilities including, but not limited to: physical disabilities (e.g. Muscular Dystrophy, Cerebral Palsy); learning disabilities (e.g. dyslexia, language disorders, dyscalculia); psychiatric disabilities (e.g. depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder); chronic health disabilities (e.g. asthma, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome); Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD); Blindness/Visually Impaired; Deafness or Hard of Hearing.
The DSS Staff Directory provides contact information and office hours.