The Self-Advocacy of Disability Accommodation
Accessibility Resources (AR) takes a consumerist, independent-living approach to disability inclusion on campus. This approach comes in two forms: student choice and student responsibility for self-advocacy. In the philosophy of independent living, personal choice cannot occur without personal authority and responsibility over one's own life.
Students with disabilities and their families are often surprised to find a very different approach to disability in college from what they experienced in high school. The difference is a result of very different federal regulations. K-12 institutions are required to identify students with disabilities and to take appropriate steps toward ensuring them a free and appropriate education under an individualized education plan (IEP) or Section 504 Plan for students with disabilities who do not need special education. Postsecondary institutions, on the other hand, are prohibited from discriminating against students with disabilities on the basis of disability-and they are required proactively to provide services and reasonable accommodations to ensure equality of opportunity.
In other words, in grades K-12, the school was required to tailor education to your educational needs. In college, on the other hand, if you have a disability which must be accommodated by the university in order to ensure your equality of opportunity, you must identify yourself as a student with a disability, provide current and comprehensive clinical documentation of your disability, and request services or reasonable accommodations which are consistent with the known limitations imposed by your disability. Only equality of opportunity is ensured. No attempt is made by the university to ensure you a disability-appropriate education, and there is no assurance of your academic success-as is the case with all college students. If you formerly had an IEP or Section 504 Plan, it terminated at high school graduation.
The US Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights provides additional information for high school students preparing for postsecondary education.
How We Assist
Are students left on their own to fend for themselves, then? No... surely not. AR is here to collaborate with you to determine what services and accommodations will ensure your equality of opportunity. Each semester, we provide you with a printed memorandum to the faculty and staff of the university, detailing your necessary services and accommodations and explaining how they can be implemented. It is your responsibility to pick up your accommodation memorandum at AR every semester and to meet with your instructors or university staff personally to discuss your accommodations with them. Do not assume that AR contacts your instructors for you. Remember, again, that whether you receive services and accommodations is your choice, and oversight is your responsibility. However, AR is always here and will advocate in your behalf should it become necessary.
Is AR interested in your academic, social, and career success? Yes! We care deeply about your success, and we at AR play a significant and proactive role in university compliance with government regulations that ensure your civil right of equal opportunity. We are frequently in touch with UB faculty and staff, sometimes behind the scenes but often front and center. We can also work with you on matters of campus life as a person with a disability.
We are looking forward to your next visit, call, or e-mail.