Welcome to Disability Support Services
Our mission, as a service of Lycoming College, is to "provide a distinguished baccalaureate education in the liberal arts” for Lycoming students with special educational needs. For disabled students, successful completion of this mission requires the combined efforts of the Coordinator of Services for Students with Disabilities (CSSD), the student, and the course instructor. The CSSD works individually with a student to identify a his/her needs and then develop appropriate academic accommodations to meet those needs. The student, of course, plays a vital role in this process in that the student must acquire an understanding of the disability; work with the CSSD to request, determine, and use appropriate accommodations; and then learn and practice self-advocacy skills. Instructors play a pivotal role in this mission because they must provide the accommodations within the context of the requirements and expectations of their courses.
Coordinator of Services for Students with Disabilities
CSSD: Daniel J. Hartsock, Sophomore Dean and Director of the Academic Resource Center
The CSSD meets with prospective students and their parents upon request to inform them of the services available at Lycoming College to enable them to judge the fit between Lycoming College and the student.
Students who choose to receive academic accommodations at Lycoming College must submit appropriate documentation to the CSSD. The CSSD retains these confidential documents for the student and discloses their contents upon written request by the student.
When a student chooses to activate his/her right to an accommodation, he/she contacts the CSSD, who reviews her documentation and interviews him/her to prepare an accommodation letter for his/her faculty. This letter will identify his/her disability and appropriate accommodations.
When a student requires use of special equipment and services to obtain access to an accommodation, the CSSD will co-ordinate access to these.
The CSSD will provide academic counseling to the student upon request. Such counseling could include advice about disability testing, study skills, course selection, ways to meet requirements, and referrals to other campus offices or off-campus agencies for services.
Students must choose to receive academic accommodations. To initiate the accommodation process, a student must identify him/herself to the CSSD as a student with a disability. Disclosure may occur at any time during a student’s college career.
The student must submit appropriate documentation to the CSSD.
Students work with the CSSD to prepare an accommodation letter for faculty. Students must deliver the accommodation letter to faculty and discuss its contents.
Students must maintain contact with the CSSD regarding the effectiveness of academic accommodations and their intent to utilize various services coordinated through the CSSD.
Disabled students are expected to meet the same standards for a grade that non-disabled students meet. Disabled students, however, might meet those standards in different ways. Faculty must maintain academic standards for all students while individualizing the means to meet those standards for disabled students.
Faculty should include a syllabus statement directing students to the CSSD for academic accommodations. Following is an example of one such statement:
- "If you have a specific disability and choose to request academic accommodations to meet your needs, please consult with Mr. Dan Hartsock, Coordinator of Services for Students with Disabilities. His office is in the Academic Resource Center on the third floor of the Snowden Library."
Faculty should provide accommodations to students who have delivered an accommodation letter from the CSSD. Students who claim to have a disability but who have not submitted such a letter should be referred to the CSSD.
Upon receipt of the accommodation letter from the CSSD, faculty should consider the implications of such accommodations on course standards and consult with the CSSD if appropriate.
Mandates: High School vs. College
Public school systems and post-secondary institutions have different mandates. Because public school systems are required to provide a Free and Appropriate Public Education to all students, they must identify, diagnose, and accommodate students. To that end, public school systems expect classroom teachers to identify students with suspected disabilities and employ diagnosticians to test students to determine the nature and degree of disabilities. Public schools must provide appropriate programs and services to support the needs of those students with diagnosed disabilities.
Colleges, on the other hand, are not obligated to identify and diagnose. Colleges are obligated to provide reasonable academic accommodations to disabled students. Students are obligated to identify themselves as students with disabilities and to provide appropriate supporting documentation.
For some previously undiagnosed students, disability concerns emerge initially during the college years when students and instructors detect a significant discrepancy between effort and performance. In these instances, students bear the cost of diagnostic testing. A positive diagnosis of disability must then be evident before the student would be eligible for accommodations.
College admissions officers must evaluate disabled and non-disabled applicants using the same criteria and admit those who meet that criteria. Course instructors must hold all students to the same standards, though disabled students might meet those standards in different ways.
Disclosure & Confidentiality
To be entitled to accommodations and services, students must make an official disclosure to the college. This disclosure is entirely voluntary. Official disclosure occurs when the student notifies the CSSD that he/she has a disability and provides the CSSD with documentation. The Psychological Evaluation is the essential document in this process because it identifies a specific diagnosed disability, indicates how the impairment will affect performance, recommends appropriate accommodations, and includes all testing scores and results. The second document most students submit is an IEP, or Individualized Education Plan. The IEP is not an essential document. It does, however, allow the postsecondary institution to have some knowledge of services previously provided for the student by the preparing institution.
Colleges are not permitted to inquire about disabilities before or during the application process. Some applicants, though, choose to disclose during the application process. Others disclose during freshman orientation or following matriculation. A few students undergo testing for a disability for the first time during college. In any one graduating class, Lycoming College might enroll 15 or so students with disclosed disabilities while only 3-4 would have disclosed during the application process.
Some students choose to disclose to instructors directly rather than to the College through the CSSD. In such instances, the instructor should refer the student to the CSSD. The CSSD will verify that the student has supporting documentation, work with the student to determine appropriate accommodations, and prepare an Accommodation Letter for the instructor. Instructors are not obligated to provide accommodations until they have been notified via the Accommodation Letter. The CSSD retains disability documentation records and maintains confidentiality of those records. In most situations, the CSSD must have written permission from the student to disclose disability information to others, including faculty. After disclosing to the College, the student has the right to notify none, one, some, or all of his/her instructors at the beginning, middle, or end of any semester. Those who have been notified are obligated to maintain that information in confidence.
The Accommodation Process
Lycoming College provides academic accommodations to disabled students and encourages students to identify their special needs. To access accommodations, students must initiate the process by doing the following.
- The disabled student must disclose to the Coordinator of Services for Students with Disabilities (CSSD). This is the official process for disclosure. Please note that disclosure to other members of the Lycoming community, including faculty, is not considered adequate notice to the College.
- The disabled student must provide the CSSD with current and appropriate documentation of the disability prepared by a qualified professional in the field. An IEP alone is not sufficient. The College reserves the right to request additional documentation and information if needed. The CSSD retains disability documentation records. Such records are considered confidential and are subject to FERPA regulations.
- The disabled student must meet with the CSSD to discuss the disability and determine appropriate accommodations. The CSSD and the student will then prepare an Accommodation Letter for faculty. Accommodation Letters briefly explain the nature of the student’s disability and indicate appropriate accommodations. Students deliver letters to faculty. If instructors find that requested accommodations are inappropriate for specific courses, they should contact the CSSD immediately to discuss alternatives.
- The disabled student must inform the CSSD of the effectiveness of accommodations and contact the CSSD regarding access to specific support services.
- The evaluation must have been conducted by a qualified professional in the appropriate field.
- The documentation must identify a specific disability and indicate how the disability will affect the student’s performance.
- The documentation must specify accommodations and tie the disability to them.
- Score results from testing instruments must be included, and the testing instruments must be normed to an adult population.
- Documentation for learning disabilities must include score results from IQ and achievements tests and all other instruments used to assess the student’s ability and performance. Further, such documentation should include text which examines the student’s family, psychological, and educational background to rule in and rule out complicating factors.
- Documentation must be current.
- LD and ADD/ADHD: Within 3 years
- Psychiatric: Within 1 year
- Sensory/Physical (Permanent): Not specified
- Sensory/Physical (Temporary): Situational
- Note: Students who plan to take the NTEs and/or GREs will need documentation that is current within 5 years of the date of application for those exams.
- The IEP, Individualized Educational Plan, is not adequate, supporting documentation. The IEP represents one institution’s response to the presence of a disability. Another institution might respond differently.
- If documentation provided by the student does not support a specific accommodation, the College can require additional testing at the student’s expense. If documentation supports a specific accommodation but the College wants a second opinion, it can require one at its own expense from its own expert.