Using Your Disability Resource Center in College
Last updated February 27, 2023
If you are a college student with a disability, you are entitled by law to receive extra academic support or accommodations by your school. Nearly all college campuses have an office or department designed specifically to support students with disabilities, typically known as the Disability Resource Center (DRC). Depending on your school, this office or department may go by a different name, such as the Disability Services Office or Center for Student Accessibility, but the resources they offer are typically similar across the board. We’ll break down some things you should know about your school’s DRC - what its purpose is, what resources and services they offer, and how to access them to ensure your academic success.
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What is the Disability Resource Center?
A school’s DRC exists to support students with all types of disabilities as they progress through college. A representative from your school’s DRC can meet with you to determine any accommodations you need, and work with your professors and other faculty to make sure these accommodations are implemented in the classroom. Beyond accommodations, your school can also offer additional support and resources that can assist you throughout your time in school.
What resources or accommodations does the DRC provide?
These are some common accommodations that colleges and universities provide to students with disabilities:
- Testing accommodations - like extended times for test taking or the ability to take tests in a specific location, like the DRC, rather than in a classroom or lecture hall.
- Mobility accommodations - if you have specific mobility needs, your DRC can work with you to receive things like parking accommodations, assistance getting to class, and more.
- Course texts in audiobook and braille formats, as well as with larger print sizes.
- Assigned note-takers/scribes for class lectures.
- Sign language interpreters.
- Assistive listening devices.
Depending on the size of your school or amount of resources available, these accommodations may vary.
How to request services and accommodations in college
It’s important to note that the process of receiving support as a disabled student in college will be different than in high school. If you had an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan in high school, the first big difference you will notice about accessing support and accommodations in college is that you will have to start the process yourself.
While each college or university will have a slightly different process when registering for services, here’s an overview of what to do and expect during this time:
Email, call, or go to your campus’ DRC webpage to learn how to get started
The first step of the process will most likely be to complete an intake/application form, also known as a “self-report,” that includes some information and context about how your disability/diagnosis affects you physically, mentally, and academically. Being honest here is essential - it will help your DRC representative ensure you receive the support and accommodations you need. In addition to your self-report, you will also be asked to submit documentation (no more than 2-3 years old) of your disability. This can include things like doctor’s notes, audiograms, medical reports, psychological evaluations, and even your IEP or 504 Plan from high school.
Note: It’s crucial to start this process as early as possible, since some schools will require a month’s time to get any/all of your accommodations set in place.
Schedule an appointment with your DRC
Once you submit all necessary paperwork, you can schedule an appointment with your school’s DRC. During this time, you can explain or give additional context on things within your self-report, request specific accommodations, and learn about other services and forms of support your DRC offers. The DRC will take some time to review your case and determine which, if any, accommodations will be provided to you. They will notify you of their decision, and then help you to work with your professors to ensure your accommodations are provided in each course.
Stay in contact with your DRC
Your school’s DRC is there to help and support you! If you don’t receive your approved accommodations, want to request additional accommodations, or make adjustments to your current accommodations, be sure to get in touch with your DRC. Remember, it is your legal right to receive support and academic accommodations in college, so don’t hesitate to check in with your DRC every now and then when you need some help.
All students deserve an equitable and fair college environment! If you have any questions about accessing accommodations, taking college classes, or just need some extra support or encouragement, we’re here to help! Text #Hello to 33-55-77 to speak with one of our college advisors.