Written By: Josh Speer
If you’re a student at Front Range Community College (FRCC), and have a disability or know someone who does, you’ll be relieved to know that there are resources in place which can help you succeed in academia. The Disability Support Services (DSS) on our campus is probably the most vital of them all. Without them, the college experience would be a lot more difficult for people like me who have multiple health issues.
The first step you’ll have to take is to schedule an intake appointment. When you do so, it is important that you take documentation for your disability if you have it; though they’ll encourage you to follow through with an intake even if your documentation is not yet available. The records are important, not only for the obvious necessity for proof of disability, but also to identify and reduce barriers in academia, to establish which accommodations are necessary, and to be able to substantiate the necessity for these accommodations.
The following list specifies what you’ll need to begin the process:
- Letterhead of the professional which includes details about their name, address, and qualifications. It is also best to include specifics about the diagnosis, functional limitations endured because of it, medications being taken by the students, side effects of those medications, and recommended accommodations.
- Documentation from a medical professional. Whether they’re medical doctors, psychologists, or educational diagnosticians.
- Individual Education Plans (IEPs), Summary of Performance (SOP), and/or Section 504 plans from K-12 institutions. Any information about the disability, barriers, and past accommodations from these institutions would also be helpful.
There are a variety of accommodations available. The most common are testing accommodations, note-taking services, alternative text formats, interpreting services for the deaf, and assistive technology. For exams specifically, you can get extended testing time, a “reduced distraction environment” (in the Testing Center), and assistance taking the exam. It isn’t mentioned in the list I’ve provided, but you can also receive extensions with deadlines. I know because I myself have been granted that ability. During the sometimes up to week-long (or more) flare ups of my illness, it has made all the difference in passing assignments, exams, and entire classes. I more than likely wouldn’t be enrolled in college at all if it weren’t for the DSS on our campus. I tried at first to attend school without any accommodations, and it was nearly impossible at times. However, when I found out about what options were available to me, that changed. So if you have disabilities, I would highly recommend getting yourself set up with this department.
Once you have provided the documentation necessary, you have rights to confidentiality about your disabilities, participation in programs/classes that you wouldn’t otherwise be qualified for, be treated with respect and quality in terms of grades and class participation, and to receive these accommodations in a timely manner. Note that you must renew your request each semester. You can do so by filling out this form only if you have already registered.
The DSS at FRCC-Westminster is certainly one of the best resources someone with disabilities could hope for. You have the right to be able to complete an education, even if you’re having to deal with the never-ending full time job of having disabilities, frequent trips to doctor appointments and pharmacies, or anything else thrown at you by the cards you’ve been dealt. Just know that you, as a student, ultimately have the responsibility to see to it these things are taken care of accordingly.