We hope that these frequently asked questions and responses regarding Disability Support Services (DSS) are helpful in determining if UMaine is a good match to the student’s level of need.
What is Disability Support Services?
Disability Support Services is the office on campus that assists qualified students with disabilities in arranging academic and residential/housing accommodations.
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Can we visit Disability Support Services while on a campus tour?
If you are planning to visit our campus as you select a university, feel free to contact Disability Support Services for an appointment if you would like to discuss specific accommodations in more detail. Students with a Learning Disability, ADHD or Chronic Illness should make an appointment with Sara Henry, Assistant Director. All other students should meet with Ann Smith, Director of Disability Support Services. Our calendars fill up rapidly so please don’t plan on just “stopping in”. An appointment is appreciated.
Should I disclose my disability when applying for admission?
The decision to self-disclose a disability during the admission process is a student’s personal choice. All students admitted to UMaine are considered for acceptance based on criteria of GPA, SAT/ACT scores, ranking in class etc. UMaine does not have a separate admissions process or criteria for students with disabilities. If you have been denied admission and feel that your documentation of disability could shed light on your academic record then we encourage you to consider self-disclosure. If prior to applying, you know that you do not meet the standard admissions criteria, and you feel that your disability documentation provides important academic information, then consider speaking directly with an admissions counselor about your disability. If you send documentation to the shared processing center with your application it will be forwarded to Disability Support Services and not Admissions. In order for the Admissions Office to receive information or documentation of disability you will need to contact their office directly. Submitting disability documentation does not in any way guarantee admission or a change in the admissions criteria but may provide a clearer lens through which to view your materials.
How do I apply for Disability Services?
Students must self identify to Disability Support Services and request accommodations (this is separate from the general admissions process). You will be asked to provide documentation and to complete forms related to your accommodation requests. Students who are taking classes on the UMaine campus will be asked to meet with a DSS staff member, students who are accessing classes online only will need to communicate by phone or electronically with a DSS professional.
If I am receiving accommodations at another college or university will I automatically get the same accommodations at the University of Maine?
Each university may have different guidelines related to documentation and what constitutes a reasonable accommodation. Upon transfer to UMaine, information from a previous school is helpful but it is still necessary for Disability Support Services staff to review your documentation and determine what is reasonable at our institution.
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What must be included in “documentation of disability”?
For students who have readily apparent disabilities, such as a mobility impaired student who utilizes a wheelchair, no documentation is required. Students whose disabilities are not readily apparent need to provide complete diagnostic reports and testing from qualified licensed professionals. Guidelines for documentation of disability can be found on the Guidelines for Documentation of Disability page of this website.
In the case of students with learning disabilities a letter from the guidance counselor or old IEP reports are not appropriate documentation of disability. The full scale psycho-education battery with clear diagnosis (not terms like “Johnny has weakness” or “seems deficient in”) of disability with educational recommendations are required.
Students with ADD, emotional and physical disabilities may request a “Documentation of Need” form from Disability Services for further clarification.
When and where do I send my disability documentation?
Students with disabilities who have been admitted to UMaine and wish to request accommodations must submit documentation to Disability Support Services. It is extremely helpful if documentation can be sent to DSS prior to the appointment when accommodation requests are discussed. Documentation should be sent directly to the DSS office and not included with the application for admission.
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Do students in Special Education classes (IDEA) or who had a 504 plan in high school automatically receive the same accommodations and services as they did in high school?
The laws governing mandated accommodations for students with disabilities are different at the post-secondary level (colleges and universities) than K-12. In some cases the accommodations students receive in high school may be the same, but some accommodations may not be reasonable and appropriate at a college level. This is why each student’s documentation is reviewed and a new accommodation plan is discussed with the disability services staff.
Does UMaine have a learning center or program like the “resource room?”
No, the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities in the East Annex Building is simply where academic needs and accommodations are coordinated. There is no separate learning center for students with disabilities, rather the DSS staff make arrangements for classroom accommodations such as extended time on tests or alternate format textbooks. The staff also refer students to other programs on campus that offer academic assistance to all students.
Is there someone who will closely monitor the student’s progress?
Unlike high school, the University setting requires students to act as independent adults. If a student comes to the Disability Support Services Office at East Annex when things are going poorly, every effort will be made to get that student back on line within the parameters of our services. However, daily monitoring is not available, thus students with a high level of independence and advocacy skills fare better at UMaine.
What role can parents have in requesting accommodations in college?
A student who is 18 years old or older is legally recognized as an adult. As an adult, the student must self identify to Disability Services and request accommodations. Accommodation requests will only be accepted from the student, not from his or her parents. It is often the case when transitioning to college that parents ask to be included in the first appointment with Disability Support Services. With the student’s approval, this can be very helpful. Continued discussions with parents about the student’s situation will require a signed Student Consent to Release Information Form.
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Will professors and my academic advisor automatically be informed about my disability and accommodation needs?
Professors receive information about necessary accommodations on an as needed basis. The student determines which classes and professors will receive this information. It is often very helpful for academic advisors to have some information about disability and needs; however notification of advisors would not necessarily be an automatic process through Disability Services. Each student’s preferences and needs are considered on a case-by-case basis.
Are waivers or substitutions of courses that are required by the University possible?
Many students are concerned about waiver and substitution policies for students with disabilities. A request for a foreign language or math substitution is made to the student’s Dean. In the case of students with learning disabilities, their diagnosis and testing must clearly document the need for substitutions. In many instances the Director of Disability Support Services will write a letter of recommendation supporting the student’s request. Each college makes individual case-by-case decisions regarding these requests.
Are readers available?
Alternative Format Texts will be ordered or prepared for eligible students. Many of these texts utilize digital voice.
Can a student take a reduced courseload?
Students with disabilities are granted this accommodation by a Special Student Services Committee. If approved, the student receives all the rights and privileges of a full-time student although taking fewer than 12 credit hours per semester. This does not, however, grant any special consideration in terms of financial aid. Reduced load may result in reduced financial aid funds. Each student aid package is so different the actual impact of a reduced load needs to be discussed with our Student Aid Office.
What type of disabilities are typically accommodated?
Are single rooms available in the dormitory for students with disabilities?
Any student may request a single room from Campus Living. However, to be granted a single room as a disability accommodation requires thorough documentation of disability which clearly reflects the need for a single room. Issues related to distraction free study space for students with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder are often addressed using other accommodations.
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Do you have special tutoring for students with disabilities?
Our tutoring program is open to all University students providing small group (3-5 students) tutorials for many of our 100 and 200 level courses. Individual tutors for students with disabilities are not provided although the student may certainly recruit and hire his or her own tutor. These tutorials are study skills based and are not a recitation or reteaching of the classroom material. Currently, students are only assigned a tutor for one class each semester. The Tutor Program is located in 104 Dunn Hall, 207.581.2351.
Can I get special help with writing or math?
The University provides math and writing labs to all students. They are staffed by upper-class students majoring in math and English. The math lab is open on a drop-in basis whereas the writing lab is available both for drop-ins and by appointment. These services are held in different locations on campus and thus a student with a disability must be highly motivated and independent enough to follow through with using these resources. For students with hand or arm impairments, the voice activated computer software Dragon NaturallySpeaking is available.
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Are Personal Care Attendants available?
The University does not recruit or hire personal care attendants for any student. Space will be made available for live-in attendants if necessary, but all arrangements are the student’s responsibility.
If students use Disability Services will it show up on their academic record?
No, there are no flags or identifying markers on students’ academic record if they utilize disability accommodation. Further, documentation and disability services records are maintained separately from other academic records.
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