Frequently Asked Questions
Making a choice about which university to attend can be a difficult process for any student! Often having information about different services available on campus can make all the difference when making that decision. Therefore Disability Support Services (DSS) has prepared this list of frequently asked questions pertaining to students with disabilities and academic accommodations at the University of Maine.
What is Disability Support Services?
Disability Support Services coordinates academic and residential accommodations for students with any type of documented disabilities on campus.
Please click on which subject you would like to learn more about:
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 diagnosed 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. If you wish to have documentation sent to Admissions you must send it to 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 the admissions counselor can view your materials.
Can we visit Disability Support Services while on a campus tour?
If you are planning to visit our campus as part of a tour and would like to meet with DSS please call and schedule and appointment time for before or after the tour. Our professional staff members have limited walk-in hours available throughout the week so an appointment is the best way to get all of your questions answered.
Do students in Special Education classes (IDEA) or those who have had a 504 plan in high school automatically receive the same accommodations and services 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 that students receive in high school may be the same, but some accommodations may not be reasonable and appropriate at the college level. This is why each student’s documentation is reviewed and accommodations are discussed with the DSS Professional.
Does UMaine have a learning center or program like the “resource room” at my high school?
No, DSS provides accommodations and does not provide a resource room or learning center for students. The DSS staff makes arrangements for classroom accommodations such as extended time on tests or alternate format textbooks. The staff also refers students to other programs on campus that offer academic assistance to all students.
Is there someone who will be closely monitoring the student’s progress?
Unlike high school, the university setting requires students to act as independent adults. If a student comes to DSS when things are going poorly, every effort will be made to get that student back on track 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 DSS and request accommodations. Accommodation requests will only be accepted from the student, not from his or her parents. Many times parents ask to be included in the first appointment with DSS. With the student’s approval, this can be very helpful. Students must sign a release of information if they wish to have information shared with parents after the first meeting. The Student Consent to Release Information form can be found at: http://studentrecords.umaine.edu/forms/
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 arrangements for hiring and scheduling PCAs is the student’s responsibility.
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How do I set up accommodations for my classes?
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 of your disability and complete forms related to your accommodation requests. Students who are taking classes on the UMaine campus will be asked to meet with a DSS Professional for an intake meeting to discuss the accommodation process. Students who are taking 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 UMaine?
Each university may have different documentation guidelines and rules about what constitutes a reasonable accommodation. Upon transfer to UMaine, information from a previous school is helpful but it is still necessary for DSS Professional to review your documentation and determine what is reasonable at our institution.
Will there be any record on my transcript if I use accommodations through DSS?
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.
What kind of documentation do I need to provide to DSS?
Documentation guidelines vary based on the type of disability. Specific guidelines can be found on our website at www.umaine.edu/disability. Guidelines are broken down into the categories below. If you are unsure which to use please call our office.
- Learning Disabilities
- ADD / ADHD
- Psychological Disorders
- Physical or Chronic Health related
- All other disabilities
When and where do I send my disability documentation?
Please submit your documentation directly to DSS. It is extremely helpful if documentation can be sent to DSS prior to your first appointment with a DSS Professional. Documentation can be faxed, emailed, or mailed to our office. Please be sure to make copies if you are providing original documents to DSS.
What types of accommodations are generally offered?
DSS provides testing accommodations including extra time, reduced distraction locations, readers and scribes. Additional accommodations include note taking assistance, alternate format texts, auxiliary aids and accessible transportation on campus.
Will professors and my academic advisor automatically be informed about my disability and accommodation needs?
Once accommodations have been approved, DSS generates an accommodation letter. It is the student’s responsibility to pick up the letter and deliver it to their professors. The student determines which classes and professors will receive these letters. A student’s diagnosis will not be automatically shared with professors or staff unless it is on a need to know basis or due to an emergency. DSS encourages each student to share disability information with professors and advisors if they are comfortable.
Are there waivers or course substitutions for required courses?
Some students wish to request a waiver or substitution because they think that their documented disability prevents them from completing a course. This is most typically the case for a foreign language or math requirement. In order to request a substitution or waiver the student must contact the Associate Dean of the individual’s School or College. In the case of students with learning disabilities, their diagnosis and testing must clearly document the need for substitutions. In some instances, the Director of DSS will write a letter of recommendation supporting the student’s request. Each College makes individual case by case decisions regarding these requests.
Can a student take a reduced course load?
At UMaine 12 credits is considered full time status for Undergraduate students. If students wish to take a reduced course load of less than 12 credits, they must do so with the knowledge that it may affect their financial aid and scholarship packages. Before taking a reduced course load, please contact UMaine’s Financial Aid office to discuss possible financial implications. If students wish to live in residence halls while enrolled in less than 9 credits they should contact DSS to discuss this as an accommodation.
Are single rooms available in the dormitory for students with disabilities?
Any student may request a single room through Housing Services. If a student believes that it is necessary for them to live in a single room due to a documented disability they can request a housing accommodation through DSS. The student must submit documentation of disability which clearly reflects the need for a single room. The required forms can be found on the DSS website. Issues related to distraction free study space for students with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder are often addressed using other modifications.
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Does UMaine have special tutoring for students with disabilities?
DSS does not provide tutoring as an accommodation. We refer students to the UMaine Tutoring Center. This program provides small group tutoring for 100 and 200 level courses. These tutorials are study skills based and do not reteach the classroom material. Currently, students are only assigned a tutor for one class each semester. The Tutor Center is located in 104 Dunn Hall, 207.581.2351. Students who want one on one tutoring have the option to recruit and hire tutors on their own.
Is special help with writing or math available?
UMaine has both a Math Lab and a Writing Center that are open to all students. They are staffed by upper-class students in math and English. The Math Lab is open on a drop-in basis whereas the Writing Center 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.