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What Are Disability Accommodations, Who Would Use Them, And Why?

By Marianne Mauss  |  June 26, 2024

If you know a student interested in Clarke University, you may be familiar with the wide variety of support services we offer. However, one category of support that is sometimes overlooked is accommodations for students with disabilities. Part of the reason is because students hear the word “disability” and think it doesn’t apply to them. It may, and in ways that surprise them.

Understand your Options

The Americans with Disabilities Act defines a person with a disability as someone who “has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. . .”, essentially, a condition that has a major impact to living, learning, or working. Health conditions such as severe allergies or Crohn’s disease, mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety, and conditions that impact learning such as ADHD or dyslexia may all be disabilities if the impact is severe enough.

Likewise, a concussion or a broken arm may result in a temporary disability. A student may have had support since childhood or just now be experiencing a situation where they can no longer cope on their own. The determining factors include what a person is trying to do, what difficulty they are having, and how that intersects with their condition.

If there are barriers to what a student is trying to do (study, test, live in the residence halls, etc.) that are affected by a disability, Clarke offers accommodations to mitigate the impact. Accommodations are tailored to the need and the situation, and students are often incredibly successful using tools or small adjustments. For example, some students may need extra time on exams because it is hard to focus or read or think quickly. Someone else may need a bit of flexibility in assignment due dates because they have a condition that flares up suddenly.

Support for All

That said, not every challenge is a disability, and not every disability needs accommodations. Some students struggle, but their challenges are within the typical range students have when living away from home and taking college-level classes. For these students, Clarke offers all kinds of support that are not disability accommodations, such as our suite of academic support services in the lower level of the Nicholas J. Schrup Library. Here, students can work with a staff member or peer coaches to better understand course content, keep track of assignments, improve their writing, and manage their time and activities. Our professors, advisors, and many other staff members are also here to help.

Whatever the situation, we’ve got a way to help students be successful and thrive! If you think your future or current Clarke student may benefit from accommodation services, have them review our Request for Accommodations Form.