Fostering a Disability-Friendly Campus: What You Can Do
While colleges have a mandate and responsibility to create an accessible environment, students can play a role in this as well. Students with disabilities are part of the diversity of the student body and have lots to contribute to campus.
Because many disabilities aren't apparent, some students find they have to make decisions about being "out." While most college campuses are generally safe spaces, students may want to weigh the pros and cons of sharing personal information. Our Talking About Disability resource has some thoughts and ideas about this.
At a minimum
At a minimum, let the campus Disability Services office know that you are there. The campus needs to know that students with disabilities are part of the student body.
Even if you don't think you'll use DS services, you might want to get on their mailing list to find out about events or career opportunities, since they often hear about those first.
If your campus has organizations for people with disabilities, connect with them, too. This can help to encourage community on campus or energize the group to address issues on campus and make change if needed.
Be your own Advocate
Talk with the faculty. Students spend most of their time with professors and instructors. While it can sometimes feel intimidating, let your professors know about any accommodations you need to participate in class. Set up a time, early in the term, to meet with them during their office hours.
Be confident in talking with faculty matter-of-fact about accommodations or how you do things. Accommodations help you do the same tasks that others in the class are doing, just in a different way. You don't have to feel like you're making an excuse or begging; it's your right.
Think about sharing disability perspectives on your class subjects. Since people with disabilities have made an impact in all areas, consider incorporating disability in class projects. See some of the links in the sidebar for ideas.