- General Questions
- Prospective Students
- Current Students
- Faculty & Staff
- Assistive Technology
Where can I get information regarding services for students with disabilities?
Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) is a department of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement. SSD is located in Office Suite 4.206 of the Student Services Building. SSD works with students with hearing disabilities, visual disabilities, learning disabilities, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, mobility disabilities, psychological disabilities, medical disabilities, Autism, temporary disabilities, and Traumatic Brain Injuries. You can call SSD at 471-6259 (voice) or 512-410-6644 (VP) for additional information.
What constitutes a disability?
As defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a disability is a mental or physical impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities.
What does substantially limiting mean?
According to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, substantially limits is defined as being unable to perform a major life activity (i.e. caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working), or significantly restricted as to the condition, manner or duration under which a major life activity can be performed, in comparison to the average person or most people.
Who are the ADA Coordinator and Section 504 Coordinator for The University?
The ADA Coordinator and Section 504 Coordinator is Dr. Jennifer Maedgen, Senior Associate Vice President, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the process for registering as a student with a disability with SSD?
A student who wants to receive accommodations from SSD should follow the process for How to Register. Documentation of the disability must be submitted before an intake appointment can be scheduled. Students with questions can call or visit SSD during Drop In hours (10am-3pm Monday-Friday).
In high school I received accommodations through an Individualized Education Plan (or a 504 plan). Can I use the IEP (or 504 plan) as documentation of my disability?
No. The IEP is a valuable resource of information, but it cannot be used as documentation of the disability. Likewise, a Section 504 designation in high school does not constitute acceptable documentation for higher education.
What if I suspect I may have a disability but have never been diagnosed?
A student who thinks he or she may have a disability should contact during Drop In hours (10am-3pm Monday-Friday) to discuss their situation. SSD can provide information and referrals to help a student seek an assessment.
Is SSD involved with the admissions process?
No, SSD is not a participant in the admissions process. All students must be “otherwise qualified” to attend The University and must meet the same admissions standards, regardless of disability.
I have a disability that affected my grades. Should I disclose this during the admissions process?
The decision to disclose a disability or not during the admissions process is a personal one for each student. If admission has been denied, a student is typically encouraged to write a letter of explanation or appeal detailing the student’s academic record. This letter should be sent to the Admissions Office.
Is the entire campus at UT-Austin fully accessible to students with disabilities?
Most of the buildings and facilities at UT are accessible. The campus is large in size and does have hills. This is an old, historic campus but the majority of buildings and open areas are accessible. This continues to be a work in progress. SSD will work with students on an individual basis to ensure they can participate in all programs and services at UT. An online Campus Accessibility Map shows the locations of accessible entrances to campus buildings.
Are shuttle buses and other public transportation services accessible to students with disabilities?
Yes, the campus shuttle bus system is wheelchair accessible and all students are eligible to ride. Special Transit Services are provided by Capital Metro with the City of Austin. Arrangements must be made at least 24 hours in advance. To use this service, a student must apply with Capital Metro by calling 389-7435.
Does SSD have transportation that can take me from place to place on campus?
No, SSD does not provide transportation to students. The campus shuttle system is wheelchair accessible and all students are eligible to ride. Parking and Transportation Services has more information on shuttle routes and transportation options on campus.
I am on crutches for a temporary injury. Can I get a special parking permit?
Information about parking permits is available from Parking and Transportation Services (http://parking.utexas.edu/disability/). Call 471-7275 for more information.
I have a temporary injury to my arm/hand. How can I take my tests?
If a student believes assistance is necessary, they should contact SSD to discuss what resources may be available on a temporary basis.
I need a sign language interpreter. Where do I request interpreting services?
A Deaf or Hard of Hearing student registered with SSD may be eligible for interpreting/captioning services. Students can submit requests via the online form at the following link:: Sign Language Interpreter/Captioning Services Request for Students. If you are not registered with SSD, contact the office at (512) 471-6259 voice or (512) 410-6644 videophone to make an appointment.
Faculty and staff can submit a request for interpreting services online at: Faculty, Staff, Departmental, and Campus Event Sign Language Interpreter/Captioning Services Request
For members of the general public who would like to request an interpreter for a University-sponsored event, please contact the department sponsoring the event to request the interpreter.
Departments may request an interpreter using the online request form at: Faculty, Staff, Departmental, and Campus Event Sign Language Interpreter/Captioning Services Request and must provide an account number for the charges to be billed through Interdepartmental Transfer (IDT) approximately 4-6 weeks after the event has taken place.
What should I do if I have been diagnosed with a disability and need accommodations?
All students admitted to the University and seeking accommodations at the University must submit documentation of their disability to SSD. Please note that disability-related documentation sent to the Office of Admissions is not automatically forwarded to SSD and documentation must be sent specifically to SSD. Reports can be mailed or faxed to SSD at the following address:
Services for Students with Disabilities
The University of Texas at Austin
100 West Dean Keeton St. A4100
Austin, TX 78712
Fax: 512 475-7730
All documentation received is considered pending until students complete an initial intake appointment. Intakes can be scheduled by calling the SSD front desk at 512 471-6259. During the intake, students meet with a Disabilities Services Coordinator familiar with their disability and review their documentation, history of accommodations, and whether additional information is required. Once a student has completed an intake appointment the file is considered in Active status and students are eligible for accommodations at the University.
Will I have the same accommodations I had in high school?
Not necessarily. The goal of accommodations in higher education is to promote equal access and opportunity. Thus, accommodation decisions are made on a case-by-case basis with reference to specific functional limitations. As an example, not all students with learning disabilities will receive extra time on tests. Similarly, students who used extended time in high school, but whose scores do not support a clear need for this currently, may not be granted this accommodation at the University. Conversely, other accommodations that were not used in the secondary school environment (e.g., notetaking) may be appropriate in college.
I have a learning disability and was last tested when I was a freshman in high school. Do I need to get tested again?
Accommodation decisions are based on one’s current functioning, which means that documentation must reflect the current nature of one’s difficulties. While it is recognized that most students do not outgrow their disabilities, their needs may change over time. Thus, a current assessment using adult-normed tests is essential in order to determine what accommodations are most appropriate.
I was last evaluated as a senior for my learning disability. Will I have to continue to be re-evaluated every three years while I am at UT?
Generally not. Once your file is placed in Active status by SSD staff, it will remain active during your time at the University. The exception to this is for students who have disabilities, which wax and wane over time, those with temporary conditions, or students who leave the University for an extended period of time and then return to the University. Your Disabilities Services Coordinator will let you know if you fall into any of these categories and work out a plan for you for being re-evaluated. It is also important to note that many graduate programs and testing boards (e.g., LSAC, ETS, MCAT, ETS) require that documentation be within three years of the date of admission or test administration; therefore, updated testing may be necessary if you plan to use accommodations on graduate admissions exams or in graduate school.
How do I register with SSD?
You register with SSD by submitting documentation of your disability, completing an intake interview with a Disabilities Services Coordinator, and completing an Acceptance of Services and accommodation request form. Accommodation Letter request forms must be completed every semester in order to access accommodations. See “How to Register with SSD” for more information.
Who will know I have a disability and use accommodations?
SSD values confidentiality and your disability documentation is not considered part of your academic record. If you plan to use your accommodations you must request and discuss your Accommodation Letter with your instructors each semester. Accommodation Letters will list the accommodations that need to be provided but will not contain any diagnostic or specific disability information. Students are not required to disclose their disability information with anyone outside the SSD office. In general, information about your disability cannot be released without your written permission except by court order or otherwise mandated by law. It is a good idea to speak with your Disabilities Services Coordinator about the limits of confidentiality and possible situations in which it may be appropriate to release information.
Will my transcript reflect that I have received accommodations in my classes?
No. Your disability information is considered confidential (see above) and is not included on your transcript.
Is there a separate admissions process for students with disabilities?
No. Students with disabilities are expected to meet the same admissions criteria as all other students. It is up to the student whether he/she wants to self-identify during the admissions process as having a disability. Please note that disability-related documentation sent to the Office of Admissions is not automatically forwarded to SSD.
How can I get to know other students with disabilities?
You may want to participate in SSD activities such as a workshop, training, or a disability awareness event. Other opportunities, such as serving on various University committees may also be available. You can speak with your Disabilites Services Coordinator about these options and may also want to see our Connect webpage for campus and community resources, groups, and organizations.
How are professors informed of my need for accommodations? Will they know my diagnosis?
Professors are informed of a student’s need for accommodations by Accommodation Letters, which are delivered by the student. Students currently registered with SSD complete an Accommodation Letter request form each semester. Letters are then prepared for each class in which accommodations are requested. The letters are addressed to individual instructors. The instructor is informed through the letter that the student is registered with SSD and what accommodations that student is eligible to use. As noted above, diagnoses and/or specific information about the student’s disability are not included.
How much do SSD services cost?
There is no cost to the student for SSD services.
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How do I register with SSD?
Students can register with SSD by submitting documentation of their disability and completing an in person intake interview with a Disabilities Services Coordinator. See “How to Register with SSD” for more information.
How do I find out what accommodations I am eligible for?
During your intake appointment, you and your Disabilities Services Coordinator will discuss appropriate accommodations. Approved accommodations and services will be listed on your Acceptance of Services Form.
Who has access to my records?
Only you and SSD staff have access to your records. Disability documentation and specific information about your disability (including diagnosis) is not released without your written permission unless mandated by law. (See Confidentiality.)
I am nervous about talking to my professors. How should I approach them about my need for accommodations?
SSD strongly encourages students to meet with professors during office hours and/or to arrange an alternate meeting time so that there is sufficient time to discuss the accommodation letter and how your accommodation needs should be provided. Most faculty are familiar with the accommodation process and should be encouraged to call SSD if they have questions. Meeting with faculty face-to-face is essential in order to work out logistical details related to specific requests (e.g., where to take an exam if you need a reduced distraction environment). Meeting during office hours versus immediately before, during, or after class allows for more privacy and opportunity to discuss details.
What should I do if my instructor refuses to provide an accommodation listed in my Accommodation Letter?
If you do have problems with a professor providing appropriate and agreed upon accommodations, you should contact your SSD Disabilities Services Coordinator immediately. See the section on the Grievance Procedure for more information.
How do I get notes in my classes?
Students should talk with their instructors how how they would prefer to find a volunteer notetaker within the class. Notetakers and students will use the SSD Web Portal to exchange notes. You will need to log into the SSD Web Portal and go to the Course Notes tab and indicate any class in which you will need notes. If a notetaker is available, you may view their sample notes and select the notetaker who should begin uploading notes after every class. If there are no notetakers available for a specific class please talk to your instructor who can make an announcement in class asking for a volunteer notetaker. If you experience continued difficulty with getting a notetaker or notes please contact your Disabilities Services Coordinator as soon as possible. More information is available on our Volunteer Notetaker page.
Can I get a course substitution?
All students are responsible for meeting the degree requirements associated with their field of study. Students interested in seeking a course substitution should first contact the appropriate student dean in their college or school to determine its policies and procedures related to substitutions. Those seeking substitutions as a disability accommodation need to register with SSD and to consult with their coordinator about whether such an accommodation is appropriate. The process for recommending a course substitution involves reviewing relevant disability documentation, students’ experience with the subject in question, and history of accommodations in those courses. Students are generally required to enroll in the course(s) with classroom accommodations prior to SSD making a recommendation for substitution. All final decisions/approvals regarding substitutions and appropriate substitute courses are made by the dean’s office in the student’s college or school.
What should I do if I think I have a disability, but have never been tested?
An appropriate first step would be to visit SSD during Drop In Hours (10am-3pm Monday-Friday) and talk with a SSD Disabilities Services Coordinator in order to more thoroughly discuss the difficulties you have been having. SSD does not conduct testing for learning or communication disorders, attention disorders, and/or psychological functioning; however, if such testing seems appropriate, we can refer you to clinicians who conduct such services in the community.
What happens if I leave the University and then come back? Do I need to bring new documentation?
It depends. Once registered for services, students’ files will remain active throughout their continuous enrollment at UT, unless other arrangements or timelines have been discussed. The files of students who leave the University will be placed on inactive status. It is important to know that prior approval for accommodations does not mean that students will be automatically approved for similar accommodations when they return. Students who return to the University after being absent for one or more long semesters will be asked to meet with the appropriate SSD Disabilities Services Coordinator in order to re-activate their files. Students may be asked to present new documentation depending on factors such as the length of time away from the University, date of original documentation, nature of the disability, and the original date through which accommodations were approved.
How long do you keep my records?
Files will be stored for five years from the date they are designated as inactive. See our Maintenance of Records policy for more information.
Faculty & Staff:
I just received an accommodation letter from a student. What should I do?
Students are encouraged to meet with faculty members individually to discuss the recommended accommodations. The purpose of this meeting is to work out details related to the provision of accommodations by discussing how they should be implemented (e.g., for extended test taking time- when the student should take the exam, etc.). Any agreed upon changes in the accommodations approved should be shared with SSD. Any questions regarding how to implement or the appropriateness of specific accommodation requests should be directed to SSD.
I am concerned that the requested accommodation changes the nature of my course. What do I do?
Contact SSD as soon as possible to discuss your concerns. You will be directed to the Disabilities Services Coordinator working with the student requesting the accommodation and/or to the assistant dean for the area. SSD staff are available to meet with faculty and students to discuss feasible alternatives.
Do I need to change my grading standards for students with disabilities?
No. The goal of accommodations in higher education is to provide students with disabilities with equal access and opportunity, not to provide an unfair advantage. In general, students with disabilities should be held to the same requirements as other students, although accommodations may alter how these requirements are met (e.g., provide more time to complete a test; allow tests to be taken in an alternate format). If you have any questions about a specific situation, please do not hesitate to call SSD.
A student presented me with an accommodation letter requesting extended test-taking time five minutes before the exam. This is the first I have heard of this request from this student. What should I do?
Students are encouraged by SSD staff to be timely in their requests, present accommodation letters at the beginning of the semester, and remind faculty of their need for accommodations five days before an exam. In this situation, if you are able, provide the extended time, but remind the student that he/she needs to work out arrangements with you prior to the next exam. If you do not have time or space available, let the student know this, and contact SSD as soon as possible.
I have several students with approved requests for extended test time and a reduced distraction environment. I don’t have the space or time to offer this.
In general, it is the faculty’s responsibility to provide time and space for exams. The University of Texas does not have a testing center to provide testing for all students using accommodations. However, if you are having difficulty, please contact SSD to discuss possible arrangements. SSD generally is able to provide space for students requiring test scribes, proctors, readers, and/or assistive technology.
There is a student in my class who I think has a disability. How do I refer them to SSD?
This can often be a sensitive topic and it is important to be attuned to the student’s needs. For students who continue to struggle despite what appears to be their best effort, you may simply want to recommend they contact SSD as a means of finding out if there are resources (e.g., academic support or enrichment services, tutoring) that are available to help them. During an initial interview, SSD staff can then determine whether an additional referral for testing is recommended. It is not advisable to say such things as “I think you have a learning (or other) disability.” Typically, the best approach is to be supportive, discreet, and non-directive, such as simply informing the student of the existence of SSD and services that are available through SSD. For more information, see Making a Referral to SSD.
Will I still be able to be as involved in my student’s accommodation plan as I was in high school?
Likely not. Once a student is 18 years old and in college, they are generally considered an adult, and all services provided by SSD are considered confidential. This means that they cannot be discussed without the student’s written permission. If you are concerned about your student’s accommodations, you are welcome to let us know and we can determine whether it is appropriate to contact the student and/or have you encourage him/her to contact SSD. We always welcome comments and suggestions.
Will you automatically know if my student is having difficulty in his/her classes?
No. Unlike teachers and counselors in high school, we are unable to track student’s progress in every class. While we are happy to assist them when they are having difficulty, we leave it up to the student to request such intervention. As a parent, the best thing you can do is to encourage your son/daughter to maintain contact with SSD before problems arise. However, be aware that some students prefer to go about the process on their own.
We can’t afford to have our student re-evaluated. Are there any other resources?
If your son/daughter is covered on a parent’s insurance plan, the insurance may cover a portion of the testing. However, individual plans vary. Contact your insurance company to determine if any psychoeducational evaluation is covered. SSD does maintain a limited testing fund if students wish to apply for financial assistance.
In addition, you may contact your local Department of Rehabilitative Services (DARS) office to determine if your son/daughter is eligible for services through DARS-Rehabilitative Services. If so, DARS may assist with an updated evaluation to determine appropriate vocational goals.
SSD also has information pertaining to financial assistance and a referral list of local providers in several communities around Texas. Some providers may operate on a sliding scale basis and you may contact various providers to ask if they will consider determining fees on a sliding scale or accept a payment plan.
Is a copy of my student’s 504 plan sufficient to establish accommodations?
No. SSD requires a copy of the most recent diagnostic report with specific recommendations. Please refer to the documentation guidelines.
My student has trouble with organization and time management. I am worried about him being able to get to class on time. Will your office make sure he does?
No. This is the student’s responsibility, but we are happy to provide him with resources and information regarding time management and other issues.
I have reviewed your guidelines for documentation and test protocols for learning disabilities. Do I have to give every test on the list?
No. The guidelines are intended to be just that- guidelines. Clinicians should use their professional judgment, given their knowledge of the student, of what tests are appropriate to administer. That being said, for most learning disabilities, assessment of certain domains are considered essential (e.g., aptitude, achievement, information processing), and certain tests are thought to be more comprehensive than others. For example, the Kaufman Brief Intelligence test (KBIT) is considered more appropriate as a supplemental or screening tool and generally not sufficient as the sole measure of intellectual ability.
I don’t understand why the student I evaluated was told her documentation was not sufficient to warrant accommodations in college. She was able to utilize accommodations in high school. What is the difference?
The purpose of accommodations is different in college than it is in high school, in part because of differences in law. It may be helpful to review “Making the Transition to UT” for more information on these differences.
Can the university help with the cost of the assessment?
SSD does maintain some limited funds that can be used to assist eligible students with the cost of an assessment/evaluation. Students should contact SSD to receive an application for the Testing Fund.
How do I get books or other assigned material in an alternative format?
Students should turn in requests for alternative text as soon as they have registered for their classes for the next semester and/or are aware of their required textbooks/course material. Requests should be sent to email@example.com. Include a picture of the receipt and your book list with the full title, ISBN, author and publisher. More information can be found on the Assistive Technology page under the Alternative Text heading: http://diversity.utexas.edu/disability/assistive-technology-2/
What are the hours of the Assistive Technology Lab?
The ATEC Lab is open during SSD’s business hours; Monday-Friday 8am-5pm.
What equipment is available in the Assistive Technology Lab?
The Assistive Technology Lab (ATEC) is equipped with:
- 3 PC stations that include Zoom Text, Kurzweil 3000, and standard Microsoft software
- 1 PC station with JAWS and standard Microsoft software
- 1 adjustable height PC station with Kurzweil 3000, Dragon Naturally Speaking, Adobe Pro and standard Microsoft software
- Macintosh G4 station with standard software
- CCTV for enlarging text or written material
- Document feeding scanner
More information can be found on the Assistive Technology page: http://diversity.utexas.edu/disability/assistive-technology-2/
How do I schedule a test at SSD?
There may be times when instructors are not able to provide the approved testing accommodations. In that case, students may be able to reserve testing space at SSD. Follow the steps outlined on the following web page: http://diversity.utexas.edu/disability/adaptive-testing/
Please note exams must be reserved at least 2 weeks in advance and there is a deadline each semester (November 1st for fall semesters and April 1st for spring semesters). These deadlines ensure SSD has enough time to arrange adequate space available for each student needing to take an exam at SSD.
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