Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

  • What is meant by the term “individual with a disability”?
    • Any individual who has:
      1. a physical or mental impairment which significantly restricts one or more major life activities of such individual;
      2. a record of such an impairment; or
      3. is regarded as having such an impairment
  • Who is considered to be a "qualified individual with a disability"?
    • A qualified individual with a disability is one who, with or without reasonable modifications to the rules, policies, or practices, meets the essential eligibility requirements for the receipt of services or the participation in programs or activities provided by a public entity. Educational institutions are not required to either “lower academic standards” or “fundamentally alter” programs or services to accommodate students with disabilities.
  • What is considered to be a "major life activity"?
    • Functions such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working are examples of major life activities. A major life activity includes the operation of a major bodily function (e.g., cellular, neurological, reproductive and immune systems) and is not limited to those which are central or of primary importance to individuals' lives.
    • An impairment that is episodic or in remission is a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active.
  • What does the term "significantly restrict" mean?
    • Impairments must significantly restrict a major life activity for a physical or mental condition to rise to the level of a "disability”. Factors that need to be considered include:
      1. the nature and severity of the impairment,
      2. the duration or expected duration of the impairment, and
      3. the actual or expected permanent or long-term impact of, or resulting from, the impairment.
  • How does the University learn of a student's disability?
    • It is the responsibility of the student to inform the University through the AccessAbility Services (AAS) office of any disability if the student is requesting a reasonable accommodation. AAS will require the student to provide current medical documentation to substantiate the existence of the disability. An AAS staff member will assess each student's individual needs, and refer the student to other University resources, as appropriate.

Current and/or Prospective Student Questions

  • Who do I contact if I need accommodations for my disability(ies)?
    • You should visit AAS located on the Midtown Campus in the Higgins Annex Building, room 017 or by phone at (203) 837-8225. 
  • I received accommodations in high school or I had an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP). Can I use the IEP as documentation?
    • The IEP is a valuable resource of information, but it cannot be used as documentation of the disability. Please refer to our Documentation Guidelines for further information regarding appropriate documentation.
  • I received special education (IDEA) or 504 services in high school, how are these services different in college?
    • Colleges are required to provide reasonable accommodation that may be necessary for equal access to a student’s education. They are not required to design special programs for students with disabilities or have Individualized Educational Plans (IEP’s).
  • If I am a student with a disability, will AAS seek me out to provide services like my counselors did in high school?
    • No, it is the student's responsibility to seek out services through AAS.
  • What role do my parents and/or family play in the process?
    • Students who are 18 years old or older are legally recognized as adults.  In this case, the student is responsible for their own accommodation requests and disability-related decisions. Students will need to sign a release to allow AAS to talk with their parents/family members. However, students are encouraged to have an open dialog with their parents. 
  • How do I request accommodations from AAS?
    • Complete an Accommodation Intake Form.
    • Obtain appropriate documentation of your disability. (see Documentation Guidelines)
    • Submit the Accommodation Intake Form along with supporting documentation to AAS. Information can be submitted by fax, mail, e-mail or in person. To allow for processing prior to classes, the Accommodation Intake Form should be submitted at least 4 weeks prior to the start of the semester.
    • You will be contacted through WCSU e-mail or phone by the Coordinator directing you on your next steps or to schedule a student intake meeting. You can schedule a meeting by calling the office at (203) 837-8225 or by stopping by the office located in Higgins Annex room 017.
    • After meeting with the Coordinator and being approved for accommodations, it will be your responsibility to request accommodations each semester by contacting the office within the first two weeks of the semester. Accommodations are not retroactive and are not automatically put in place.
  • Do I have to do anything else if I sent my documentation in with my application to Western?
    • Yes. Your documentation needs to be provided directly to AAS along with a completed Accommodation Intake Form. Do not assume that a copy of your documentation was forwarded from Admissions or Health Services to AAS. It is your responsibility to submit this information directly to AAS.
  • What accommodations and/or services can be made?
    • Reasonable accommodations are made once the Accommodation Intake Form and appropriate documentation is received and an intake meeting has been conducted. Some examples of accommodations include extended time on exams, reduced distraction testing location, and the use of a computer for written exams. Services can include academic coaching on topics such as time management, organization and stress management. Coaching sessions are provided through one-on-one and group instruction on a first come first served basis by appointment.
  • Is there a separate cost for these services?
    • No. Any WCSU student can register to use AAS services free of charge.
  • Where do I go for support if I have a temporary disability?
    • AccessAbility Services works with students on a case-by-case basis to determine if accommodations are reasonable for temporary disabilities. Students are encouraged to follow the same process identified above to request accommodations. Students who are out sick due to a virus or cold for more than five days should contact their professors and Health Services. Health Services will then contact the student’s professors once they receive information regarding the student’s illness.
  • Are accommodations put in place automatically each semester once I am approved for accommodations?
    • No. You are responsible for requesting your accommodations each semester. This is accomplished by calling the AAS office, or completing the online Accommodation Letter Request Form and identifying which of your approved accommodations you require for each of your classes. Accommodations become effective as soon as you hand-carry the written accommodation letter from AAS to your professors.  For online classes, you must request that your accommodation letter be signed and emailed to you. You are then responsible for emailing the Accommodation Letter to your instructor.  Students in online classes are encouraged to follow up with their professor through email or in person to confirm that they received the accommodation letter.  Accommodations, even if approved, are not retroactive and are not in effect until the student provides the accommodation letter created by AAS to the professor.
  • If I am eligible for testing accommodations, what are the policies I should know about?
    • Students are required to discuss with their faculty members if they are able to provide them with their accommodations in class prior to each time quiz/exam. It is recommended students take their tests in class with their accommodations if possible, as the professor is available to answer any questions.
    • If the professor is unable to provide the student with their testing accommodations, the student can choose to take the test in class without accommodations or sign up to take the test at AAS. The following process must be followed to take a test at AAS:
      1. One week prior to a test, discuss with the professor if they are able to accommodate you in class.
      2. If they are not able to and AAS needs to proctor a test, sign up to take the test within AAS by completing a Test Scheduling Form (TSF).
      3. AAS proctors tests during regular office hours, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:15 p.m..
      4. Students must take tests during the scheduled time of the course unless the instructor and Coordinator of AAS approve an alternate time.
      5. Students approved for additional test accommodations, such as scribes, readers, computers, and/or other assistive technology will need to request these accommodations when scheduling.
    • Test Scheduling Forms must be received by AAS one week prior to the quiz/exam. Late requests for test proctoring may not be accommodated.
    • For additional information regarding testing accommodations, please refer to the Testing Accommodation Request Policy & Procedure.
  • Do I have to register with AAS to get a HPX activity waiver?
    • Students who have a disability and are unable to participate in the activity portion of HPX should complete an Accommodation Intake Formand provide medical documentation to request an accommodation. This information should be submitted to AAS. Students will then meet with the Coordinator to determine if there are any reasonable accommodations that can be made to the activity portion of HPX. Students will be required to complete the lecture portion of HPX.
  • I was registered with AAS but took a few semesters off. Do I need to bring new documentation in again or have another intake?
    • AAS keeps documentation from registered students (students approved for accommodations) for seven years after their last office contact, semester completed, withdrawal and/or graduation. After seven years, information is shredded. If you have not been in attendance for more than seven years, you will need to provide updated documentation and submit a new request for accommodations through an Accommodation Intake Form.
    • For students who have been in attendance during the last seven years it is recommend that you meet with the Coordinator to discuss office policy/procedure changes and learn ways that the office can best assist you. Depending on the disability, a documentation update may be requested to determine current educational impact of the disability.
  • How do I resolve service delivery problems?
    • Students are responsible for contacting AAS as soon as a delivery problem (e.g., professor not providing accommodations, notes from a notetaker are incomplete) are discovered. Students can do this by calling 203.837.8225 or by emailing Elisabeth Werling, AccessAbility Services Coordinator at werlinge@wcsu.edu.
  • What do I do if I believe I have been discriminated against?
    • Discrimination in programs and services due to a disability is prohibited at Western Connecticut State University and is a violation of state and federal law. To file a complaint of discrimination because of a disability, contact Carolyn Lanier, Executive Assistant to the President/Chief Diversity Officer, Old Main 101, at 203.837.8277 or lanierc@wcsu.edu. Please note that the discrimination complaint procedure does not replace and is not a substitute for other established university procedures such as judicial, grade appeal, housing, public safety, or other such policies and procedures. Students with disabilities are held to the same standards and must follow established policies and procedures as other students at Western Connecticut State University.
  • When I applied for services I gave you a copy of my documentation. How can I obtain a copy of my documentation?
    • A written, signed, and dated request for documentation is needed. Students can obtain the Authorization for Release of Disability Documentation at AAS. Students submitting the request through email will have to provide a written request and indicate they are signing electronically. Once the request for documentation is received, AAS will provide a copy of the documentation to the student through the requested format (mail, email, fax, in-person). Please provide 3-5 business days for processing. Students who have changed their name will need to provide proof of name change.
  • How long do you keep my record for?
    • Files for students who are registered with the office (approved for accommodations/services) are maintained for seven years after the student’s last contact with the office, last semester completed, withdrawal and/or by graduation.
    • Accommodation Intake Forms are maintained for 2 years for a student who requests accommodations by completing an Accommodation Intake Form but fails to provide documentation.
    • Documentation is maintained for 2 years for documentation received on behalf of a student but the student fails to submit an Accommodation Intake Form or does not attend WCSU.

Family Members and Prospective Student Questions

  • What services can you offer to my student who is planning to go to WCSU?
    • Reasonable accommodations are made once the Accommodation Intake Form and appropriate documentation is received and an intake meeting has been conducted with AAS. Accommodations are not determined until a student is accepted and enrolled at WCSU; however, AAS recognizes that learning about the accommodations/services offered by an institution can help in the decision making process. While AAS will not identify the specific accommodations, we can certainly indicate what may and will not be available. Some examples of accommodations include extended time on exams, reduced distraction testing location, and the use of a computer for written exams. Services can include academic coaching on topics such as time management, organization and stress management and/or assistive technology instruction. Coaching sessions are taught through one-on-one and group strategy instruction.
  • What role can I play in my student’s education? Can I have access to grades, class schedule etc.?
    • Students who are over the age of 18 and enrolled in a postsecondary institution are legally recognized as adults and academic and/or disability information cannot be shared with the parent/guardian without written consent from the student. Student are responsible for their own accommodation requests and disability-related decisions. However, students are encouraged to have an open dialogue with their parents/guardians. AAS will discuss disability related information with parents if a signed authorization for release of information by the student. Parents should contact the Registrar’s office to obtain information on non-disability-related information (enrollment, grade information, and academic standing). Information will only be released from the Registrar’s office with appropriate authorization.
  • Can I schedule a time to meet individually, one-on-one, with a Learning Specialist to discuss AAS and the support available at Western?
    • AAS provides monthly sessions for prospective students and family members. It is recommended that students and family members attend one of these sessions. After attending such session, if the student would like to meet individually with AAS staff then a prospective student meeting can be made by calling the office at (203) 837-8225. AAS requires the student to schedule the meeting.
  • My student is graduating from high school and may not meet all the requirements to get accepted into WCSU. Can AAS help with getting accepted into WCSU?
    • No. AAS does not assist students in getting accepted into WCSU. The Admissions Office does have a “9-credit” option which allows students to take three courses as a non-matriculated student.  Students who successfully pass all courses with a C or better will be reconsidered for the following semester. Students are encouraged to discuss this option with Nicole Kullberg, Assistant Director of Admissions. She can be reached at kullbergn@wcsu.edu or (203) 837-9007. Students must apply and be entered into the “9-credit” option and sign a contract with Admissions.
  • Could my student receive accommodations for taking the math and/or writing placement exam?
    • Students who submit an Accommodation Intake Form and provide appropriate documentation that determines that accommodations are necessary can take the math and/or writing placement with accommodations in AAS. Math and writing placement tests can be taken Monday – Friday between the hours of 8:30am-3pm but must be arranged in advance with Elisabeth Werling, AccessAbility Services Coordinator. To request to take a placement test with accommodations, students should follow the accommodation request process listed above and contact Elisabeth Werling, Coordinator to discuss placement testing dates. She can be contacted at (203) 837-8225 or by email at werlinge@wcsu.edu.
  • My student is registered with AAS and is failing classes. What types of assistance do you provide?
    • AAS is available to assist students who voluntarily come to the office for assistance. Assistance can include self-advocacy training, academic coaching (time management, study strategy instruction, and organization), and writing assistance. Students are encouraged to set up a meeting to meet with a Learning Specialist as soon as the semester begins. In addition, AAS works to refer students to available campus resources such as the Tutoring Resource Center, Math Clinic, Writing Center, Career Services, and Counseling Services. Please note: Students are required to request their accommodation letters at the beginning of the semester. Accommodations are not retroactive.

Faculty Member Questions

  • If a student verbally informs me about a disability, am I automatically required to provide accommodations?
    • No. Accommodations should only be provided after receiving an official accommodation letter presented by the student that has been prepared by AAS. AAS discourages providing accommodations in the absence of an official accommodation letter. If the student does not present you with an accommodation letter, please refer the student to AAS.
  • I have a student in my class that needs extended time; can AAS administer the test?
    • AAS is available to assist professors in proctoring student tests. AAS proctors tests between the hours of 8:00 A.M. and 4:15 P.M. Monday through Friday. Students are responsible for contacting their faculty members to determine if they are able to accommodate them in class. Faculty members are encouraged to make an announcement in class when a test is coming up to remind students to discuss testing plans (without revealing student). When a faculty member is unable to provide the accommodation in class, AAS can proctor the test. Students will discuss the plan with the faculty member one week before the test and complete an AAS Test Scheduling Form (TSF). Once AAS receives a TSF from a student, the professor is notified through WCSU email to coordinate test information.
  • How do I know if I have a student with a disability is in my class?
    • You may know if you have a student with a documented disability in your class if a student provides you with an accommodation letter. Accommodation letters are typically created at the beginning of the semester and are hand-carried to you by the student. Although students are asked to request their accommodation letters early, they are not required to do so and can request an accommodation letter at any time. Accommodations are not retroactive and become effective once you receive the accommodation letter.
  • What components should be included in my syllabus pertaining to students with disabilities?
    • Please include the following on your syllabus:

      Students with Disabilities:  If you have a documented disability for which you are or may be requesting an accommodation, you are encouraged to contact AccessAbility Services (AAS) as soon as possible. You may contact AAS by calling (203) 837-8225 or by e-mailing aas@wcsu.edu. If your request for accommodation(s) are approved, an accommodation letter will be provided. Please present your official letter to the instructor as soon as possible so special arrangements, as appropriate, can be made. (Note: Student request for accommodation letters must be filed each semester.)

  • Do I have to provide the accommodations on the accommodation letter?
    • Yes. AAS is the University department charged with determining reasonable and appropriate accommodations based on disability documentation. The accommodations identified on the accommodation letters provided to the student have been determined reasonable based on Federal law.
  • What do I do if one of my students has requested accommodations that I believe will alter the essential components of my course? 
    • Accommodations based on a disability are intended to provide “equal access” by removing barriers to the learning process and demonstration of knowledge. Accommodations are intended to “level the playing field” between students with disabilities and students without diagnosed disabilities.  If you believe a specific accommodation will fundamentally alter the essential components of the course you should contact Elisabeth Werling, Coordinator, as soon as possible to discuss your concerns. Based on Federal law, you must be able to show that the approved accommodation fundamentally alters your curriculum and thus the accommodation cannot be made. If this is determined, then an alternate accommodation determined by AAS will need to be put in place that will meet the needs of the student. Until an alternate accommodation is determined, the student is to use the approved accommodation. The Coordinator will work with you to navigate the Federal law and how to best accommodate the student in class.
  • Is the student required to provide an accommodation letter each semester even if I have been presented with a letter in a prior semester?
    • Yes. Accommodation letters must be requested by the student and created for the student each semester. AAS will generate a new accommodation letter after receiving the students request each semester based on current disability documentation and the student’s current accommodation needs (which can change based on the requirements of a particular class).
  • Am I allowed to request documentation of a disability from a student?
    • No. Documentation of a disability should only be provided to AAS. Faculty can only request that the student provide a current accommodation letter from AAS.
  • What do I do if a student tries to give me their documentation?
    • Refuse to read the documentation and refer the student to AAS located in Higgins Annex Room 017.
  • Why doesn’t the accommodation letter include the nature of the student’s disability?
    • Confidentiality of a student’s specific disability diagnosis and details of their disability are very important. AAS is the official University department charged with receiving and interpreting student disability documentation, determining the existence of a disability, and determining appropriate accommodations. Students cannot be expected or required to disclose the details of their disability; however some students may feel comfortable discussing their disability with you as it relates to your course.
  • When is a student required to notify me of the need for accommodations?
    • A student can present you with an accommodation letter from AAS at any time during the semester. Accommodations should then be provided from that point forward in the semester. Accommodations are not expected to be applied retroactively.
  • What do I do if I suspect one of my students has a disability that interferes with their academic performance?
    • When talking with the student discuss their academic struggles, it is appropriate for the faculty member to reference these difficulties and suggest that the student contact the academic support services available. You can refer students to AAS located in Higgins Annex Room 017. They can also call (203) 837-8225 for additional information.
  • A student in my class is presenting some behavioral concerns, what do I do?
    • Schedule a private meeting with the student during office hours or after class to address the behavior.
    • Be as direct and explicit about the behavior as possible.
    • If you believe the behavior is related to the student’s disability and would like teaching suggestions and classroom strategies please contact Elisabeth Werling, Coordinator of AAS at (203) 837-8225 or werlinge@wcsu.edu.
    • If the behavior does not change after addressing the behavior with the student, contact your department chair. The department chair will work with you to determine possible next steps which may include a meeting with you, the student, and the department chair. In some cases, the Dean of Students may meet with a professor and student at the recommendation of the Department Chair.

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