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Getting Started

 

he following resources are provided for incoming students who experience disabilities.

New Student Checklist

In addition to registering for courses, incoming students who experience disabilities may need to:

It is the student's responsibility to arrange for certain services which are outside the scope of Disability Support Services. These services include attendant care, mobility training and sources of financial aid.

Documentation

The dimensions of good documentation discussed below are based on guidelines from the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD).  This best practices approach for defining complete documentation establishes the individual as a person with a disability and provides a rationale for reasonable accommodations.

Typically, documentation should be provided on letterhead signed by a healthcare provider or counselor.  While other forms of documentation may be considered, a one line letter or a verification of a diagnosis written on a prescription pad are not adequate documentation to support requests for accommodation.

  •   Who can provide documentation?
    The best quality documentation is provided by a licensed or otherwise properly qualified professional who has no personal relationship with the individual being evaluated. The professional should be qualified to make the diagnosis (e.g., an orthopedic limitation might be documented by a physician, but not licensed psychologist).
  • What should be included in the documentation? 

    Quality documentation includes a diagnosis and provides information on how it impacts the student and their ability to access courses, course materials and demonstrate their knowledge of the material.  

    While the Disability Services office is not obligated to approve recommendations made by outside entities, those determined to be reasonable and relevant to the programs, services, and benefits offered by the university may be considered. 

  • Can I use my IEP or 504 plan from high school as documentation?

    An individualized education program (IEP) or Section 504 plan may help identify services that have been effective for the student. However, this is generally not sufficient documentation because of the differences between postsecondary education and high school education. What the student may need to meet the new demands of postsecondary education may be different from what worked for them in high school. Also, in some cases, the nature of a disability may change.

    If the IEP or 504 plan includes a specific diagnosis or testing results on an adult scale from a school psychologist, clinical or educational psychologist, neuropsychologist, or other qualified professional who made the diagnosis, then it may meet the documentation requirements.

  • What other information would be helpful to be included in the documentation?

    Additional details provide useful information for both establishing a disability and identifying possible accommodations.  Examples include:

    • description of how the disabling condition(s) impacts the student;
    • information on expected changes in the functional impact of the disability over time and context; 
    • whether and how a major life activity is substantially limited by providing a clear sense of the severity, frequency and pervasiveness of the condition(s);
    • past and current accommodations, services and/or medications;
    • information on past medications (including side effects from current medications or services that may impact physical, perceptual, behavioral or cognitive performance);
    • past and current auxiliary aids and assistive devices; and/or
    • past and current support services and accommodations. 
  •  How recent does the documentation need to be?
     While recent documentation (within three to five years) is recommended in most circumstances, older documentation may be accepted when conditions are permanent or non-varying.  Likewise, changing conditions and/or changes in how the condition impacts the individual brought on by growth and development may warrant more frequent updates in order to provide an accurate picture.  
  • What if I need an evaluation or testing to document my disability?

    Neither the student’s high school nor postsecondary school is required to conduct or pay for a new evaluation to document a student’s disability and need for an academic adjustment. The student may, therefore, have to pay or find funding to pay an appropriate professional for an evaluation. If the student is eligible for services through their state vocational rehabilitation agency, they may qualify for an evaluation at no cost to the student. State vocational rehabilitation agencies can be located at http://rsa.ed.gov.

    Please note: Screening tests, such as Slingerland and Scotopic Sensitivity screenings, are not accepted by DSS as documentation of a learning disability. While these screening tools may indicate a person has some learning difficulties and needs further testing, screening tests are not considered documentation of a learning disability.

    If students with a disability are not sure that their documentation meets the above requirements, please contact Disability Services to request a review of the documentation.  The staff will review the information provided and let the student know what else may be needed.

 For more information, visit:

https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/transition.html

https://www.ahead.org/professional-resources/accommodations/documentation

High School Transition

Students transitioning from High School to UAA should make an appointment with DSS, provide current diagnostic and evaluative reports, then request reasonable accommodations that are supported by documentation.

Reasonable accommodations include modifications and adjustments that do not fundamentally alter or lower the standards of an instructional program.

Students may receive reasonable accommodations to “level the playing field” but these accommodations are meant to ensure equal access not to guarantee success.

A university student needs to be their own advocate.

High School students may be used to having parents speak for them. DSS understands this and knows it can be hard to ask for help and to discuss a disability openly. To prepare for attending the university, students must learn to advocate for themselves.

UAA Resources 

Students are highly encouraged to participate in the annual high school transition event coordinated by DSS. Students come onto campus in the spring for a campus tour, pizza lunch, and chance to hear from current UAA students, staff, and faculty. 

Students are also encouraged to attend new student orientation and to enroll in University Studies 150 (UNIV A150): College Survival Skills. Both of these opportunities strengthen connections to important resources.

Online Resources

  • Going to College
    This is a new website with video interviews of college students with disabilities. It is great for those who are gearing up or transitioning into life as a college student, especially for high school students who are getting ready to start college courses.
  • ADA
    This is a link to the US Department of Justice Americans with Disabilities Act Home Page.
  • Alaska State Library Talking Book Center
    Information on eligibility for services as well as instructions for how to request materials
  • Alaska Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired
    The Alaska Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, located in Anchorage, Alaska, is a private nonprofit agency that offers a variety of ways to promote independence by residential as well as community-based persons who are blind or visually impaired.
  • Disability History Exhibit - This 23 panel exhibit that can be seen hanging at UAA's Disability Support Services (DSS) office or at Access Alaska as the two entities share ownership of many panels. The electronic version was created by the UAA DSS office.
  • Disability Resources
    This is a guide with links to information on Assistive Technology, Financial Aid for the Disabled, Transportation, Famous people with disabilities, Sexuality, Educational Resources, Employment, and countless other topics that can be accessed either through an alphabetical list, a site search, or through a directory arranged by state. It is a massive site with hundreds of links.
  • DO-IT Financial Aid Information
    This is the DO-IT site from the University of Washington. This site has a tremendous amount of information available. This page is dedicated to financial aid, but others pages within the site cover topics including ideas for accommodating specific disabilities and more.
  • DVR
    The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation offers services to disabled Alaskans who are seeking employment, increased independence and access to the communities of which they are a part.
  • EduBirdie has a list of scholarships for students with disabilities. 
  • FAFSA
    This is the site for the federal application for financial student aid. It is a necessary first step for almost all financial aid options including Pell grants. You can fill it out online, download the form, or pick up a paper copy at the financial aid office if you don’t want to file electronically.
  • FastWeb
    This site offers free scholarship searches. The steps are pretty simple. First you create a personalized profile and enter your e-mail address. The search engine then compares your information to the information in thousands of online financial aid databases, with possible leads arriving as e-mail. The search is ongoing and so as new scholarships become available you are notified.
  • FinAid
    This is a great site for basic questions concerning financial aid.
  • College Guide for Students with Disabilities has information on Legal rights of students with disabilities, Services colleges can or need to make available, Required accommodations for students, and Technologies and helpful apps for students
  • Recording For the Blind and Dyslexic
    Learning Ally offers alternatives to print for those who experience disabilities that affect access to print material. There are also Learning through Listening Scholarships that are awarded each year.
  • Transition from High School
    Students and Parents who have questions about the transition from High School to the University can find many questions answered at this Department of Education Site. The brochure can also be ordered for hardcopy viewing.
  • US Department of EducationThis is the online version of the student guide to financial aid that is put out by the U.S. department of education. It is also available in paper form here at the University’s Financial Aid Office.