Services for Students with Disabilities is dedicated to educating incoming and current students, faculty, and staff through providing educational resources. Please review the materials below for information regarding laws governing disability in higher education, accommodations, and more.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): A website from the United States Department of Justice regarding the ADA and it's amendments. The ADA was signed into law in 1990 and prohibits discrimination while ensuring opportunity for people with disabilities. The ADA was amended in 2008.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): Information from the United States Department of Education regarding IDEA. This law ensures services for students with disabilities in the K-12 educational system. Once the student enters post-secondary education the law no longer applies; the ADA and Section 504 take over from that point on.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act: A fact sheet from the United States Office for Civil Rights regarding Section 504. Section 504 became a national law in 1973. This law defends qualified individuals with disabilities from discrimination because of that disability.
Comparison of IDEA, ADA, and Section 504: The Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund explains the difference between IDEA, ADA, and Section 504.
State of Wisconsin Resources
Aging & Disability Resource Center (ADRC): An organization that works with the elderly and those living with a disability. Information is not limited to those affected directly by aging or a disability but also family members, friends, and professionals.
Hodan Center: Located in Mineral Point, the Hodan Center works to provide work services, food services, and senior services as well as enrichment activities.
Wisconsin Assistive Technology Program: A program funded under the AT Act of 1998 (amended in 2004) that provides information related to the selection, funding, installation, and use of assistive technology.
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI): A state agency aimed at the advancement of public education in the state of Wisconsin.
Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS): A state agency aimed at bettering the quality of life, health, and safety of the people of Wisconsin.
Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development: Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR): An organization that assists individuals with disabilities with employment. Services include, but are not limited to: career counseling, job search and placement assistance, transition services, referral services, supported employment, vocational and other training, and diagnosis and treatment.
Wisconsin Association on Higher Education and Disability (WI-AHEAD): The Wisconsin chapter of AHEAD works to provide equal access and opportunities for all qualified students with disabilities in higher education.
Wisconsin Transition Improvement Grant (TIG): A grant from the Department of Public Instruction aimed at educating Wisconsin youth, parents, and professionals in transitioning from high school to postsecondary education.
Waisman Center: Located in Madison, Wisconsin, the Waisman Center advances knowledge about human development, developmental disabilities, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Transition to College
There are a number of differences between High School and College and because of that transitioning from High School to College can sometimes be difficult. Review the information regarding transitioning from High School to College for more information.
Some of the accommodations used by students are listed below. This is not an all-inclusive list. Because accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis some unique accommodations may be needed. If you have needs that are not met through the accommodations listed below, talk with SSWD Staff to determine an appropriate and reasonable accommodation that will fit your needs.
- Testing Accommodations
- Assistive Technology
- Document Conversion – examples are books in audio or electronic format and print enlargement
- Notetaking – volunteer notetakers are used at UW-Platteville
- Recorded Lectures
- Preferential Seating
- Sign Language Interpreter
Sharing Your VISA
One of the major differences between High School and College is the need to self-advocate. In K-12 education parents and the school are responsible for the 504 plan or IEP. In higher education that responsibility shifts to the student. Students are responsible for contacting our office and setting up services. Once students are eligible for services through SSWD and have a VISA, students are responsible for sharing their VISA with instructors. SSWD does not contact instructors to share your VISA information. Students do not need to share their VISA with all of their instructors; they can pick and choose based on their needs for accommodations per class. Most students share their VISA in an appointment with their instructor. This is typically arranged in an e-mail, the student will e-mail the instructor and set up a time to share their VISA. A sample e-mail can be found below. It is important to bring the following materials to meetings with instructors regarding your VISA:
- The most recent copy of your VISA--this allows instructors to see what accommodations you are eligible for.
- Any letters or brochures SSWD has provided you regarding an accommodation--these help explain specific accommodations to instructors.
- An updated version of your class schedule--this allows professors to help schedule alternative testing dates and times, as needed.
Your Disability Specialist will coach you through this process during your intake appointment. Should you have any additional concerns or questions please direct them to your Disability Specialist.
Sample Email to Instructors
Setting up a meeting to talk with your instructors regarding your VISA may cause you anxiety. Because of that we have provided students with a sample email from students to instructors. This email helps you communicate your desire to share your VISA and use accommodations in a particular course.
Dear Professor Smith,
Hello, my name is Jane Doe and I am in your class, Accounting 2010 section 04. I would like to set up a meeting with you to discuss my VISA. Could we meet after class tomorrow in your office?
Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.
ACCESS: The Access Project out of Colorado State University serves as a great resource for students looking to gain more knowledge regarding specific disabilities, possible accommodations, and additional resources.
Disability.gov: The federal government website for comprehensive information about disability-related programming, services, policies, laws, and regulations. Various topics addressed on this website are: civil rights, education, employment, housing, technology, and transportation.
Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA): An organization aimed at providing information, resources, and networking opportunities for adults with ADHD.
Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD): An organization that provides education, advocacy, and support to individuals with ADHD.
Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA): The mission of LDA is to create opportunities for all individuals with learning disabilities and to reduce the incidence of learning disabilities in future generations.
National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD): NCLD works to improve the lives of people with learning disabilities by empowering parents, young adults, and schools while creating policy.
LD Online: Helps children and adults with learning disabilities and ADHD by providing information and advice through articles, media, essays, resources, and forums.
American Cancer Society (ACS): A national organization providing general information about cancer.
American Diabetes Association: A national organization providing general information about diabetes.
Epilepsy Foundation: An organization providing general information about epilepsy.
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA): An organization aimed at improving the quality of life for those with asthma and allergies.
National Multiple Sclerosis Society: An organization aimed at finding a cure for MS by addressing the challenges a person with MS experiences on a day-to-day basis.
Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA): An organization dedicated to finding treatments and a cure for MDA, ALS, and other neuromuscular diseases.
United Cerebral Palsy (UCP): UCP educates, provides support, and advocates for those with CP.
Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA): A leading organization in education, training, and research for anxiety, OCD, PTSD, depression, and related disorders.
American Psychiatric Association (APA): An organization whose member physicians work to ensure care and treatment of persons with mental disorders, including intellectual disabilities and substance use disorders.
Autism Society: An organization dedicated to improving the lives of all affected by autism.
Deaf/Hard of Hearing
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA): An organization of professionals working towards making effective communication accessible and achievable for all.
Pepnet Resource Center: The mission of Pepnet is to increase the educational, career, and lifetime choices available to individuals who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Brain Injury Association of America (BIA): The mission of BIA is to advance brain injury prevention, research, treatment, and education and to improve the quality of life for all individuals impacted by brain injury.
National Resource Center for Traumatic Brain Injury (NRCTBI): NRCTBI provides information to professionals, persons with brain injury, and family members as well as develops assessment tools, intervention programs, and training programs.
Perkins Scout: Perkins Scout is a searchable database of online resources related to blindness and visual impairment. Topics range from general information to resources for parents, educators, and others professionals.
National Federation of the Blind (NFB): A nationwide membership organization of blind people.
Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired (WCBVI): A residential school, located in Janesville, Wisconsin, for blind and visually impaired K-12 students. They also work to provide statewide services, assessments, programs, and resources.
Wisconsin Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired: The mission of this agency is to promote the independence of the people in Wisconsin who are blind and visually impaired by providing services, advocating legislation, and educating the public.
Faculty and Staff Resources
If a student provides you a Verified Individual Individualized Services and Accommodations (VISA) it is important to consider the following:
- How will these accommodations look in my classroom?
- How will I provide the student with these accommodations?
- Are essential elements compromised or fundamentally altered by the accommodation?
The student can and should be party to this conversation. Testing accommodations can either be administered through the instructor or through the Testing Center, located in Karrmann Library. Time and a half and testing in a reduced distraction environment are common testing accommodations. Notetaking assistance can be provided through providing a student with instructor notes (e.g., PowerPoint slides or outlines) or a volunteer notetaker. If the student wishes to remain anonymous in the notetaking process, the notetaker can bring notes to SSWD or the instructor and the student with a disability can pick up the notes accordingly. Many students prefer to hammer out these specific details when they initially share their VISA with you. This helps alleviate any anxieties they may have and sets the precedent for the semester.
UW System Disability Resources: The UW System is committed to equal access to postsecondary education under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. This resource serves to educate on UW System policies regarding individuals with disabilities.
ACCESS: The Access Project out of Colorado State University serves as a great resource to faculty and staff looking to gain more knowledge regarding specific disabilities, possible accommodations, and effective teaching strategies.
Guide to Reasonable Accommodations: A resource from Florida State University describing reasonable accommodations for various disabilities.
Should a student disclose a disability to you listen with a kind ear. For many students approaching an authority figure in any capacity can be difficult, especially if it involves disclosing a disability. It is appropriate to ask the student if they are connected to our office or for an instructor to ask to see the student's VISA. Without a VISA you are not required to accommodate the student in the classroom. Should that student not have a VISA or not be connected with SSWD in anyway, please refer them to our office. SSWD will then work with the student to aid them in the pursuit of accommodations or any other disability related assistance they may need.