Supporting Students with Disabilities

Agnes Scott College strives to create a community of access and inclusion on campus. More students with disabilities and/or health conditions are connecting with the Office of Accessible Education. However, many students first disclose their disability to a faculty/staff member before establishing services with OAE. Below are some ways to help connect students with disabilities and/or health conditions to our office.

Making a Referral to the Office of Accessible Education (OAE)

OAE works with students who have disabilities and/or health conditions that effect a wide range of major life activities. In addition to serving students with physical and sensory disabilities, OAE works with students who have:

  • Psychological diagnoses such as Anxiety, Depression, Bipolar, or PTSD
  • Learning disabilities such as ADHD or Dyslexia
  • Chronic health conditions such as HIV, cancer, traumatic brain injuries, food allergies or diabetes

While this is not an exhaustive list, it does represent common reasons that students work with OAE.  It is not uncommon for students to be unaware of OAE as many students did not engage with resources in K-12.  Faculty or staff are often the first people who students share health conditions and/or struggles related to disabilities in interactions. Below are some resources on how to refer a student to OAE to see if we can be of assistance and support for them.

If you have questions about whether OAE is and appropriate resource please contact an OAE staff person.

When a referral to OAE needs to happen

  • If a student directly discloses a disability or health condition to you
    • Example: a student shares with you that they are depressed and on medication
  • Students discloses receiving past accommodations or services, either as a transfer student or in K-12
    • Example: a student shares they previously had extra time on an exam in another course or school and want to use them here

When a referral to OAE could happen

  • If you see a student who is struggling, you engage with them directly and share campus resources available to them

Ways to document a referral to OAE

  • Email template idea to share with a student who directly self discloses a disability or health condition to you is below. You are welcome to copy and paste, with necessary edits related to your situation. If a student shares information with you about a disability, making this direct referral is not a violation of confidentiality; rather, you’re giving them the resource who can best help them explore options:
    • Hello Student- Thank you for our conversation yesterday it was great to learn more about you and discuss aspects of the class. I wanted to follow up with information about an office on campus who you can connect with to discuss resources that could be helpful in your academic pursuits.
      • The Office of Accessible Education (OAE) works with a wide range of disabilities and health conditions either on a temporary or permanent basis. Their focus is to ensure access for students. You can learn more about them by visiting their website or scheduling a meeting via COMPASS if you want to talk in detail about questions you have. Thank you.
  • Email if a student is referred to campus resources. You are welcome to copy and paste, with necessary edits related to your situation.
    • Hello Student- Thank you for our conversation yesterday it was great to learn more about you and discuss aspects of the class. I wanted to follow up with information about a few offices on campus that you may want to connect in support of  your academic pursuits.
      • The Office of Accessible Education (OAE) works will a wide range of disabilities and health conditions either on a temporary or permanent basis. Their focus is to ensure access for students. You can learn more about them by visiting their website or scheduling a meeting via COMPASS if you want to talk in detail about questions you have. Thank you.
        • NOTE: Add additional offices you are suggesting to the student including the Wellness Center, SUMMIT Advisor, etc.

Students right to self disclosure & confidentiality

Remember that our students are adults; they may respond best to private conversations in which you use an inquiring and supportive approach and share information about the existence and location of the OAE office. Only the student can decide to disclose their disability, or to pursue information about services available. Therefore, it is essential that disability information be kept confidential as it falls under FERPA.  Again, making the direct referral to OAE is not a violation of the student’s confidentiality but at no time should the class or other students be informed that a student has a disability, except at the student’s request. All information that a student shares with a faculty member is to be used specifically for arranging reasonable accommodations for the course of study.

What is the privacy requirement for health information provided to OAE?

All information and documentation submitted to OAE is kept separate from an academic record and is considered private under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). HIPPA privacy and confidentiality guides do not apply to documents submitted to OAE for they are not being used for treatment. Under FERPA guidelines OAE cannot guarantee complete confidentiality as there may be times when sharing some information with other ASC staff/faculty is necessary on an educational need to know basis (i.e. facilitation of the accommodation process).

Receiving a Request for Approved Accommodations

Formal requests for accommodations will come to you in a Faculty Notification Letter (FNL) via our AIM System. The accommodations in these letters are not meant to give students with disabilities an unfair advantage, but rather to give them an equal opportunity to demonstrate mastery of course content. Although a student may request an academic adjustment at any time, the student should request this as early as possible. Some academic adjustments may take more time to provide than others. The student should follow established procedures to ensure that the College has enough time to review the request and provide an appropriate academic adjustment.

Also, OAE does not ask that instructors modify essential course requirements for the sake of the student. Any faculty member considering denying an accommodation because it modifies an essential course requirement should consult with OAE; the responsibility and authority for determining appropriate and reasonable accommodations lies with OAE.  If you have any questions or concerns regarding the FNL or an accommodation, please contact the student’s assigned OAE staff person.