As an Academic advisor, you will interact with many students who have disabilities. If they share their disability with you, be sure to recommend that they connect with Disability Services to submit documentation and arrange accommodations for their classes. During your advising session, encourage the student to keep a positive perspective and try not to assume that they need assistance; ask them what they think they may need from you in the academic setting. Some of the areas in which you can clarify options include:

Registration options

Explain about add/drop and pass/fail options and time frames.

Foreign language

Some students have had a waiver of Foreign Language in high school. Advise them to not register for a Foreign Language course and meet with Accessibility Services regarding eligibility to substitute courses.

Number of courses

Does the student explain that they may need a reduced course load? Explain that they will need to register for a full course load; however they have the option to reduce the number of classes by withdrawing without a penalty via a petition process.

Class size

Ask if the student is comfortable in a large auditorium or prefers a small classroom, which might afford them more access to the instructor.

Class format

Ask if they prefer lecture hall style or discussion group format.

Preferential seating

Ask if they prefer front row to decrease distraction.

Reading load

Review course selection in light of the amount of reading involved. Suggest that they balance their schedule with “heavy” and “light” reading required courses. Refer them to Accessibility Services for information on alternative text.

Types of evaluation

Explain the types of evaluation formats professors will utilize; tests, quizzes, papers, lab reports, research requirements, etc. Some students’ documentation recommends alternatives to Scantron or bubble answer sheets.

Types of examinations

Some students have difficulty with multiple choice exams or In-class writing assignments and may require access via extended time, a distraction reduced testing location, or use of a laptop. Refer the student to Accessibility Services to arrange for in class accommodations to address these concerns.

Availability of the instructor

Explain to students that professors are available during posted office hours. Encourage them to take advantage of office hours to meet individually with their instructor.

Extracurricular commitments

Will they be participating in athletics? If so, explain that they need to factor in the hours of practice and meet times and how they will manage to meet their academic requirements. Have they had difficulty with time management in the past? Refer them to the Filene Center for Academic Resources and Career Services for support on time management, stress reduction and preparation for exams.