Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Which students are eligible for accommodations?

A: If you have a diagnosed or diagnosable health or mental health condition that substantially limits things you can do or how you are able to do them, you may qualify. The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) has specific criteria that are used to determine eligibility. The best way to find out if you are eligible is to meet with someone from OAS and start a conversation about your specific concerns. Even if you don’t qualify, you can receive referrals for other services that can be of assistance.

Q: What are accommodations and what do they do?

A: Accommodations are appropriate academic adjustments or other modifications that mitigate the functional limitations resulting from disability to ensure equal access to university programs and services. Accommodations are not an unfair advantage or a sign of weakness. Students who require accommodations work just as hard as those who do not.

Q: If I use accommodations after high school, who can find out?

A: You control knowledge of your status as a person with a disability and if someone has knowledge if you ever used accommodations while at Clarkson. This information is protected to ensure your confidentiality and dignity are only shared with appropriate individuals with your consent. If you are in an ROTC program, be aware that some branches of the military will medically discharge students who use accommodations in college. If this might impact you, contact your ROTC program in advance of requesting accommodations.

Q: I have a 504 plan in high school - should I get it updated for college so I can transfer my plan from high school to college?

A: No. 504 Plans and IEPs (Individualized Educational Plans) are created to serve students until they leave high school to provide services while still in school. These are supported by the federal law called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Once you enroll at Clarkson, regardless of your age, you are considered to be an adult and your pathway to equal access is supported by another law, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). So even though your 504 plan or IEP is no longer in effect at college, it can still be an important part of your historical use of accommodations. You are encouraged to submit this information, along with other documentation, to assist in the eligibility determination process.

Q: I don’t have a disability, but I just became injured and feel like I might need some help. What should I do?

A: Contact the Office of Accessibility Services right away. There is a good chance that you may qualify for temporary accommodations while you heal or recover. Examples of conditions that may be eligible for temporary disability include concussion, injuries affecting mobility, injuries to your dominant hand, surgeries and post-surgical recovery, etc.

Q: What is the cost for using accommodations?

A: By law, accommodations are provided to eligible students at no cost to you.

Q: I have a diagnosis, but never requested accommodations at college because I thought I had overcome the effects of my diagnosis. It’s been a few years, but now I think I need to look into solutions that may help. Is it too late to request accommodations?

A: It's never too late to request accommodations. We all learn differently and with some component of disability (different learning styles). To compensate for our differences, we use coping strategies and workarounds. Sometimes the strategies we have developed become less effective at all. At this point, you should consider working with someone in our office who can isolate your learning needs and help you determine if accommodations are the best solution for you.

Q: I have a diagnosed condition but decided not to use medication. Am I still eligible for accommodations?

A: Yes. However, many conditions such as attention disorders, depression, and anxiety can be drastically improved for individuals when medication is recommended by your provider. If you think medication may be a useful part of your plan, check with your provider. Sometimes finding the most effective medication for you can take some time and patience and willingness to work with your provider to try different dosages and medications.

Q: I get help with a mental health condition at the Counseling Center. Should I ask about accommodations?

A: To explore your options and needs, have a conversation with your counselor or other providers about how your condition impacts your college experience. Together, you can make a decision on whether or not to pursue accommodations. If you are eligible for accommodations, you may choose to work with each office independently, or collaboratively to support your learning and mental health needs.

Q: I am working with a provider at the Health Center regarding my physical health condition. Should I ask about accommodations?

A: To explore your options and needs, first have a conversation with your medical provider about how your condition impacts your college experience. Together, you can make a decision on whether or not to pursue accommodations. If you are eligible for accommodations, you may choose to work with each office independently, or collaboratively to support your learning and mental health needs.

Q: I received accommodations at another college or university before coming to Clarkson. Can I get the same accommodations here?

A: We encourage you to request to have your accommodation file sent to us from the other college or university. It is likely that there may be some accommodations you used to receive that may be provided to you at Clarkson. We use an interactive intake process where we evaluate your documentation, self-reported information, and information from your medical providers to determine eligibility and appropriate accommodations. Some colleges and universities use different accommodation tools to address the same functional limitations, so there are sometimes differences that result from this.

Q: I already receive accommodations, but there is an accommodation that I think I really need, but don’t have. What should I do?

A: The accommodation process allows for changes as learning needs or functional limitations change. You should make your specific request to our office to determine if you are eligible for that specific accommodation.

Q: I don’t think I have a disability, but I do have special dietary restrictions from my doctor that make it hard to eat at college. Should I just try to cook my own food?

A: No. Your full-time job is to be a college student, and our job is to support your needs with the same convenience that all other students have. The campus food service provides a wide variety of foods that are designed to meet most dietary needs. However, sometimes individual needs are better met through a dietary accommodation from the Office of Accessibility Services. If you meet eligibility criteria based on medical needs and other criteria, you can receive custom-tailored dietary services that will support that need. A wide variety of dietary options are available to avoid specific food allergens, gluten, and other restrictions you may have.

Q: Can I just get special accommodations directly from my professor?

A: No. If you have an accommodation need, it is important to have that need evaluated by our office as we can determine your eligibility and all of your needs. Professors are only able to honor accommodations that originate from this office. Students are cautioned not to share diagnostic or personal health information with professors for this reason. All people perceive diagnostic information differently, so sharing your information with the wrong person could backfire. Once information is shared, you can’t reverse this action. The Office of Accessibility Services works hard to protect the dignity and privacy of each student we serve as protected by FERPA.

Q: Do my professors have to know about my accommodations?

A: Yes, if you would like to use accommodations in their classes. You may choose to select which classes, or even which exams within a single class, you use your accommodations with. Professors have an educational and practical need to know if you want to use your accommodations in their class.

Q: Will I be treated differently if I use accommodations?

A: No, you will be treated just as any other student would be. Students with accommodations make up approximately 10 percent of all students on campus. As a University, all faculty and staff at Clarkson enjoy working with all kinds of students, including those with disabilities.

Q: Do students who use accommodations earn lower grades than non-disabled students?

A: No, there are no differences in grade point averages among students with disabilities as compared to the general student population. However, students who are found eligible for and use accommodations often find that their grades go up notably. This is due to the attainment of equal access once accommodations are in place. With the addition of accommodations, students find that they can work more effectively and are able to compete with their peers.

Q: If I use accommodations, will this guarantee my success as a student at Clarkson?

A: No. Accommodations provided under IDEA legislation up through high school are success based. If the team of adults who create the IEP or 504 plan see that a student is not successful, they monitor carefully and make changes to ensure success. Under ADA legislation, accommodations for college students are only designed to provide equal access (the same that all other students have). Success is up to the efforts of the individual student. Although many students with disabilities are successful, just as in the general population, some are not.

Q: What do I do if I feel like my accommodations are not working for me anymore?

A: If you feel like your accommodations are no longer working for you, please reach out to OAS. We will gladly talk you through your options. This may require you to set up an appointment with your provider to get updated documentation.

Q: I have a question not addressed here. Who can I ask?

A: View the contact information to the right and either call or email our office. We are glad to assist you with your question. 

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