Frequently Asked Questions for Parents and Families
Accessibility Resources Center
The parent (or legal guardian) of a primary or secondary school student with a disability is an essential participant in school decisions about that child's disability-related needs. However, when that child enters the university the parent no longer participates directly in the institution's decision-making process. The parent may continue to offer the student advice and support, nonetheless, the student becomes solely responsible for communicating with university personnel about disability-related matters. The Accessibility Resources Center (ARC) staff are aware of the difficulty of this role change and welcome the opportunity to offer advice and provide general policy information to the parents of students with disabilities however, the parent is not recognized by the Accessibility Resources Center as a surrogate for the student in matters related to the student's disability accommodations and services. Accessibility Resources Center personnel will not discuss the following with the parent or legal guardian of a student unless the student is present during the discussion AND a signed release of information from the student is on file with the Accessibility Resources Center.
- the contents of a clinician's report or other documentation of disability
- the status of the disability documentation review process or the results of that process
- a student's accommodation needs, approved disability accommodations or utilization of such accommodations, or the status of a student's request for accommodations and services
- a student's academic progress
When appropriate, the student receives detailed written communication from the ARC concerning these matters. Parents and legal guardians are encouraged, therefore, to request information directly from the student.
If your student has completed a Parent Release, he/she has given us permission to discuss with you information related to your student’s disability including remediation efforts in the presence of your student. Students are encouraged to share information regarding grades and academic progress directly with parents. We do not share hard copies of documents relative to the student’s file. This release form is only available for the student to complete in-person at the Accessibility Resource Center. The student also has the right to revoke this permission to release information at any time.
A student with a disability has the right to equal access to education, programs, and services offered by his/her university. This student also has the responsibility to advocate for their equal access.
A student who wishes to request accommodations for a disability must submit a written request for accommodations/services by completing and signing our Student Intake Form and returning it to the Accessibility Resources Center along with appropriate recent documentation of his/her disability. A request from a parent, a legal guardian, a clinician, a school official, or another third party cannot be accepted in lieu of a direct request from the student.
Ideally, a student should submit documentation and an intake form to the Accessibility Resource Center immediately following submission of their acceptance deposit to the University of New Haven, but not later than July 15 (for fall students) or January 10 (for spring students). While the Accessibility Resources Center accepts documentation at any time the student chooses to identify, submitting these documents by the deadlines will minimize any delay in receiving appropriate reasonable accommodations. These deadlines ensure enough time to determine the student’s eligibility and to meet with the student to affirm appropriate reasonable accommodations. Please note documentation received after the deadlines may result in a delay in receiving any appropriate reasonable accommodations, and students should be aware that reasonable accommodations are not retroactive. Reasonable accommodations are effective starting from when the student properly notifies his/her faculty member by providing him/her a Verification of Disability/Request for Accommodations letter.
Once documentation of a disability is received by the Accessibility Resources Center, it is reviewed to determine eligibility for reasonable accommodations. If incomplete, the student will be notified of any missing or incomplete documentation that the Accessibility Resources Center will need in order to complete this review. Eligible students will be scheduled for a welcome interview to complete their accommodation process during the first few weeks of classes. Once the student has attended their welcome meeting, he/she can begin utilizing reasonable accommodations.
For more information please refer to Step by Step Guide to Request Reasonable Accommodations (login required).
Accommodations are provided for students who are enrolled at the University of New Haven, and have registered with the Accessibility Resource Center. When students pick up their Verification of Disability/Request for Accommodation letter to give to their faculty, they will receive a copy of the letter for their records. The letters outline which reasonable accommodations the student is receiving. Parents can discuss this information with their student after the intake meeting, or ask their student for a copy of the letter.
The University of New Haven strives to provide the best housing and dietary arrangements to suit the particular needs of our students. A variety of housing and dining options currently exist for that purpose, but we recognize that there are circumstances where particular requests and accommodations may need to be considered. The policy on Modifications to Housing and/or Dining is created for that purpose. Students needing consideration for modified dining options, specific types of rooms (e.g. single room, double room), access to specific facilities/equipment within a room (e.g. bathroom or cooking facilities, roll-in or transfer showers), or use of alternatives due to a medical condition (e.g. air conditioning) should complete Modified Housing/Dining requests by July 1 (for new, incoming students for fall semesters) and by January 1 (for new, incoming students for spring semesters). Meeting these deadlines provides the most optimal opportunity for the provision of accommodations. Requests for modifications are carefully evaluated by the 504/ADA/FHA Committee.
The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) applies to education records at all levels of education: primary, secondary, and postsecondary. Up to the time the student attains the age of 18 or attends an institution of higher education, regardless of age, FERPA rights reside with the parents. Once the student attains the age of 18 or attends an institution of higher education, regardless of age, FERPA rights transfer to the student. At the postsecondary level, eligible students have the right to inspect and review the student's own education records maintained by the University of New Haven (including those maintained in the Accessibility Resources Center). Eligible students can submit a written request to any office which holds educational records to view - in the presence of an appropriate staff member - the records maintained within that office. This right is not extended to parents/guardians at the postsecondary level.
At the college level, only the student has access to his/her reports/grades. Therefore, parents, who would like information regarding student academic progress, should ask their student to share the information with them. First-Year students have online access to their midterm grades, and all students have online access to their final grades, for each semester.
Information submitted for the purpose of documenting a disability and other disability-related materials are considered educational records. A disability designation does not appear on transcripts or other master university documents. These records are kept and maintained within the Accessibility Resources Center and accessible only to our staff (and others only when appropriate as outlined by FERPA). The Family Education Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) allows for the release of pertinent information to university staff members who have a legitimate educational interest; other schools to which the student is transferring; specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes; appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to the student; organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school; accrediting organizations; to comply with judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena; appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies; and State and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific State law. Eligible students also have the right to inspect - in the presence of an appropriate Accessibility Resources Center staff member - official records, files, and data primarily directed to himself/herself within his/her Accessibility Resources Center Student file. The right includes any explanation of any information contained in the file. The student is entitled to such rights within 45 calendar days after making his/her written request to the Accessibility Resources Center office. The opportunity to inspect and review records will be confined to normal business hours of the University of New Haven.
Only those persons at the University of New Haven, who have a legitimate educational need to know, will receive select information related to the accommodations/disability/diagnosis of the student. Students are provided with a Verification of Disability/Request for Accommodations letter, which they will provide to their faculty members. The purpose of that letter is to inform faculty about the students’ approved accommodations, but does not disclose students’ disabilities. While the student does not ever have to disclose his/her disability to anyone other than the staff of the Accessibility Resources Center in order to receive accommodations; for some students with disorders such as diabetes, epilepsy, POTS, etc. it may be important to make some disclosure of a disability diagnosis so that in the event of a medical emergency, faculty can act accordingly to assist the student.
The University of New Haven has many offices which monitor the progress of students. Depending where your student is involved or connected on campus will determine which offices will be monitoring him/her (for example, athletics monitors student athletes’ progress). The following applies to the Accessibility Resources Center:
- If a First-Year student has participated in the D.R.E.A.M. Orientation, they will have received a mentor. The mentor will contact the student regularly throughout the semester to check in, offer assistance, and encourage the student to attend Accessibility Resources Center sponsored events and utilize the department’s available services.
- The students and mentors are encouraged to keep in touch beyond the first semester.
- The Accessibility Resources Center monitors the academic progress of all First-Year students who have registered with the office through the use of the Starfish Alert system. Struggling students will be contacted and asked to schedule an appointment to review their progress with a Learning Assistant. Any student can opt to schedule a meeting to go over his/her reports. Students can request to continue to be monitored in this way beyond their first year.
- All students registered with the Accessibility Resources Center can, and are encouraged to, schedule regular meetings with the Learning Assistants. These can be once a month, once a week, or on an as needed basis. It is the student’s responsibility to schedule and attend these meetings. While the staff at the Accessibility Resources Center (including mentors and Learning Assistants) make every attempt to contact and reach out to a student, it is ultimately the responsibility and choice of the student to utilize the services, and to schedule and attend meetings. The ARC cannot require a student to come into the office.
We encourage parents/guardians to support and encourage their student to seek the help they may need it in their new role as a college student. Here are some of the resources on campus parents/guardians can suggest they reach out to:
- Encourage your student to contact the Accessibility Resources Center to schedule an appointment with a Learning Assistant who can tutor them for the class(es) they are struggling with. Learning Assistants can also assist with study skills, time management, and organization techniques.
- Encourage your student to visit their faculty during office hours and ask for clarification of the class material they are having a difficult time with.
- If your student feels overwhelmed and would like to take a lesser course load, encourage them to discuss this with their advisor or the Director of Accessibility Resources Center. (Students do need to take a minimum of 12 credits to remain full-time, but initially may be taking more than the minimum.) The University offers a Reduced Courseload with Full-Time Status for eligible students. If your student is unable, by reason of their disability, to successfully manage a full time course load, the University may make available an accommodation of full-time equivalency with a reduced course load.
- The University of New Haven has available to all students a Center for Learning Resources, which offers tutoring, and the Centers for Student Success, which offers academic skill development and academic coaching. Encourage your student to connect with these offices for additional assistance.
While we understand it can be upsetting for a parent to learn that their student is struggling academically, the university cannot require a student to utilize the above services upon a parent’s request. Accessibility Resources Center staff are aware of the difficulties a parent may go through during this time, and welcome the opportunity to offer advice and general information to the parents of students with disabilities so that you can better support and guide your student in becoming a productive, capable, and successful college student. While the staff at the Accessibility Resources Center (including mentors and Learning Assistants) make every attempt to contact and reach out to a student, it is ultimately the responsibility and choice of the student to utilize the services and schedule and attend meetings. The ARC cannot require a student to come into the office and/or utilize services.
We encourage parents/guardians to support and encourage their student to seek the help they may need during their transition period. Here are some of the resources on campus you can suggest they reach out to:
- Encourage your student to schedule an appointment with the Accessibility Resources Center to discuss the transition issues they are having. The Accessibility Resource Center also offers events and workshops throughout the semester, which can be a great way for students to meet other students.
- If your student attended the D.R.E.A.M. Orientation, they will have received a peer mentor. Encourage your student to contact their mentor. The mentors are available to the students for specific assistance, or just meeting for lunch or a campus activity that the student does not want to attend on their own. Also, the mentors are available in the Accessibility Resource Center office, and students can stop in to see any of the mentors.
- If your student did not participate in the D.R.E.A.M. Orientation, the peer mentors are still available in the Accessibility Resource Center office. Encourage your student to contact the office and ask for the mentors’ schedule. Students can schedule an appointment with a mentor, or just walk in during their office hours.
- If your student is having specific issues, they should seek out and contact the appropriate office that can help (for example, Residential Life can assist with roommate issues). If your student does not know which office is appropriate, we can assist them if appropriate or refer them to the appropriate office.
- There are always a range of activities going on at the University of New Haven, encourage your student to check their university provided email account or Charger Connection.
- The University of New Haven also has a Center for Student Success, encourage your student to connect with this office for additional resources and assistance.
For those students who do choose to register and utilize Accessibility Resources Center, and have followed the appropriate policies and procedures to do so, the following services are available:
The Accessibility Resources Center office includes testing rooms to facilitate accommodations such as alternative test location, extended time exams and distraction-limited settings. The office is also equipped with a general use computer lab with word processing software including spell-check and grammar check as well as text-to-speech and voice recognition software.
Accessibility Resources Center also provides services that include the following:
- Coordinating classroom accommodations such as extended time for exams, use of a tape recorder, calculator, and notetaker.
- Arranging physical access to classrooms and other facilities
- Coordinating modified housing/dining, including air conditioner and ESA requests
- Coordinating auxiliary aids such as sign language interpreters, readers, scribes, FM systems, and e-textbooks.
- Assistance during course registration, if requested.
- Proctoring of tests/examinations when accommodations cannot be arranged in the classroom.
- Proctoring Writing Proficiency Assessment for those students requiring access to reasonable accommodations.
- Providing executive functioning skills training including: study skills, time and organization management, test anxiety management, and learning styles training
- Academic progress monitoring and support.
- Coaching and limited tutoring services.
- Assistive technology training.
For more information on the services the ARC provides, and how students can utilize these services please visit our website.
Although responsibilities that parents once assumed will now be the responsibility of the student, parents of students with disabilities can still play a key role in the student’s transition from high school to college. In order to be of effective assistance in this transition process, parents can do the following:
- Know and understand the differences between having, and receiving accommodations/services for a disability in High School and a disability in College.
- Encourage your student to register with the Accessibility Resources Center, where they will be coached on how to proceed to obtain reasonable accommodations.
- Encourage your student to take responsibility for his/her own academic concerns and limitations, and to not be afraid to ask for or accept help.
- Help your student to both acknowledge his/her disability and to know and understand the limitations that stem from it. In other words, help your student to come to terms with the disability and its limitations. The more self-aware students are, the better they will be able to know how to access and use appropriate resources.
- Make sure you are sending your student the message that it’s now up to them, that you have faith in them as a student, and they have nothing to be ashamed of or apologize for.
- Let your student know that a visit to the Accessibility Resources Center does not mean a commitment. The student is in control of his/her own academic career. Remind your student that Civil rights means the right to refuse any accommodation, but it also means that they ought to fully inform themselves about what the choices may be before deciding.
- Finally, let your student decide for himself/herself.
- As was the case in high school, students with disabilities and their parents may expect accommodation services to be the sole responsibility of the postsecondary institution of which they are attending.
- In addition, students may still expect parents to act as the liaison or "voice" between themselves and the postsecondary institution concerning issues relating to their disabilities and accommodation services.
These two common misconceptions cripple a student’s ability to realize that they can become a high potential, self-sufficient, proactive, and responsible individual, which are key qualities that are expected of any student, regardless of a disability, who have advanced to a postsecondary institution. It is important to recognize:
- In order for a student with a disability to overcome these, and other, misconceptions, the student must accept that he/she has a disability, understand and be able to communicate what the impact of that disability is, recognize that an accommodation is needed, and seek those services, on his/her own.
- In effect, the parent of a student with a disability must accept that the parent can no longer be an advocate for that student. The parent’s role must shift from that of the "voice" to one of support in helping the student to find his/her own voice.
Some Important Differences High School College The Parent is the advocate The Student must self-advocate "Otherwise Qualified" for Public Education is simply being of the appropriate age to attend elementary through high school and having a disability "Otherwise Qualified" in college means a student must meet all entrance and academic requirements School is responsible for providing physical or other therapy or personal care while in school Student is responsible for personal services such as personal care and/or medical and other related requirements/needs School responsible for providing assessment of disability Student responsible for self-identification and for obtaining documentation of disability at student’s expense School required to design special academic programs (IEP or 504 Plan) School required to provide accommodations for equal access to regular academic program Teachers are expected to learn all they can about a student’s disability Professors only need to know the accommodation the student is requesting Everybody knows about a student’s placement for special education Students have a right to choose when and who to disclose or not to disclose a disability to Absolute Entitlement to F.A.P.E. (Free & Appropriate Education). Required by I.D.E.A & 504 Civil Right to Equal Access to Education after meeting Eligibility Requirements. Required by 504 & the ADA as Amended
Considering these key differences, in order for students with disabilities to make a successful transition from high school to college, students must first assume ownership of the following responsibilities:
- Meet University qualifications and maintain the essential technical, academic, and institutional standards for courses, programs, services, jobs, and activities
- Self-identify as a student with a disability to the appropriate university staff (at the University of New Haven, this is the Accessibility Resources Center) and seek information, counsel, and assistance for themselves when necessary
Follow established procedures for obtaining reasonable and appropriate accommodations, academic adjustment, and/or auxiliary aids, and do so in a timely fashion
In order to assist your student with a smooth transition, the following should be considered:
- Updated Testing: If possible, your student should be re-evaluated prior to graduation - this can be requested of their current school, or by seeking outside resources (this is more than an updated 504 Plan/IEP, see the Documentation Guidelines).
- Self-Awareness: Prior to graduation, encourage your student to meet with a professional who can explain in detail the nature and effects of their disability (how their disability impacts them in an academic setting).
- Self-Advocacy: Help your student to become comfortable describing their disability and encourage your student to advocate for appropriate services.
- Knowing the Law: PL 91-142 no longer governs your student’s services. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (1973), subpart E, and the Americans with Disabilities Act as Amended now apply to the services.
- Self-Identifying: Encourage your student to speak directly with an Accessibility Resources Center staff member about the student’s disability, and attend a scheduled welcome appointment, even if they do not plan to access any services immediately. In this way, the services will be more readily accessible should they decide to utilize them, or if an immediate need arises.
- Responsibility Shift: You are no longer responsible for making sure your student receives services. The responsibility in college belongs solely to the student. Nothing can happen (services, accommodations, etc.) until your student identifies with the Accessibility Resources Center and requests accommodations. You can help your student to be prepared for this responsibility by allowing and encouraging them to take control of the interactions with all university offices.
ARC staff is aware of the difficulty of this role change, and welcome the opportunity to offer advice and general policy/office information to the parents of students with disabilities so that they can better support their student in becoming a self-advocate and successful college student.