Parent FAQ: Academic Accommodations at the University of Redlands

Frequently Asked Questions about Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Academic Accommodations managed by Disability Services in the office of Academic Success and Disability Services (ASDS).

Note: This FAQ covers only academic (course-related) accommodations, not temporary impairments, episodic conditions, housing, or dietary accommodations (though all of those are covered under ADA Law).

1. Are the number of ADA academic accommodations increasing?

YES. This is true not just at the University of Redlands (see graph below, under no.5), but nationwide. Surveys have shown an increase in the percentage of college students with (self-disclosed) learning disabilities from 3% in 1978 to 6-9% in 1994 (a big leap after ADA was enacted in 1990), to up to 10% in 2000 and 11% in 2008. Colleagues at other institutions report increases, especially in the areas of ADHD and Psychological Disabilities. Of the total student population, the University of Redlands is at 5% (includes the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Business, and School of Education). Part of this increase may be due to what seems to be a receding social stigma for learning disabilities--students are more willing to disclose their situation. It also may reflect increasing access--students with learning disabilities who might not previously have considered or been ready for college, have, thanks to ADA and its effects in primary and secondary schools, increasingly enrolled in higher education. Finally, ADA law has been broadened substantially through the passage of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA), which went into effect on January 1, 2009. The changes brought about by ADAAA determined that 'temporary impairment and episodic conditions' would be covered under ADAAA Law, as well as eliminating 'mitigating measures' and increasing physical conditions that would now be considered as disabilities.

2. Do we give ADA academic accommodations to every student who asks?

If an interview and collection of information and documentation do not indicate the presence of a disability, we do not establish accommodations. It is important to note that the Assistant Dean of Academics and Student Life does not diagnose or evaluate students. The Assistant Dean interprets information provided, including evaluations. ASDS can provide a list of local and area licensed psychologists who specialize in learning disabilities to provide evaluations. However, it is the responsibility of the student to contact the psychologist/s for evaluations. Those evaluations do not always result in documentation of learning disabilities. Such students may need study skills support, time management assistance, or the support of the counseling center. Our office, in addition to discussing ADA accommodations, also supports students who request study skills support. Frequently, in student interviews, additional concerns arise, and the coordinator may refer students to other areas of support on campus, such as the Student Academic Success Center, Health Services, The Counseling Center, their professors, and/or their academic advisor.

3. Are there students legally entitled to reasonable academic accommodations who do not claim them?

YES, many students who have learning disabilities are not disclosing them, or claiming them with a professor once an accommodation has been granted (many thinking/hoping they can do without them). High schools are required to identify, track, and support students with learning disabilities (using 'IEP's,'504's and learning plans), but self-advocacy and self-disclosure are required for college students. Our office works with students and parents of matriculating students to help them understand the legal shift from their experience in high school to the rules in college. We cannot know about a student who has a learning disability unless the student chooses to self-disclose and request accommodations. The family can request or report the presence of a disability and help provide the necessary documentation. A faculty or staff member can refer a student, however, it is only with the request, disclosure, and approval of the student that accommodations will be implemented.

Sometimes students decide to claim their first accommodations several years into their college career, and they are entitled to do so if they have appropriate documentation. A student can choose to disclose the presence of a disability at any point in their academic career.

4. What are 'reasonable' academic accommodations afforded by ADA?

The law is about equal access. 'Reasonable' academic accommodations are described and defined here:ada_accommodation_guidelines2012.pdf. The University of Redlands Offers testing accommodations such as quiet exam rooms, use of a calculator, or extended time on exams. Other accommodations include but are not limited to the use of student note takers, audio books, and quiet exam rooms. Note that it is always on a case-by-case basis, decisions made by the Assistant Dean of Academics and Student Life.

5. What are the most common learning disabilities eligible for reasonable academic accommodation under ADA at University of Redlands?

  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

  • Psychological-Emotional Issues (e.g., Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Depression)

  • Processing Issues (e.g., Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Slow Executive Functioning);

  • Chronic Illness (e.g., Cohn's Disease, Anemia, Migraines, Ulcerative Colitis);

  • Head Traumas that have resulted in chronic impairment (not just concussions which may have temporary effects).

6. What is our process for determining reasonable academic accommodations under ADA?

(a) A student contacts our office, or is referred to our office, by family or someone to whom the student has disclosed their disability. The student must contact Assistant Dean of Academics and Student Life to register with Academic Success and Disability Services and begin the process of requesting accommodations.

(b) The Assistant Dean of Academics and Student Life meets with the student and collects or requests documentation of the disability from qualified professionals who know the student (psychiatrists, psychologists, neuropsychologists, mental-health counselors or other qualified medical professionals), and/or previous documentation from high school (IEPs, 504s).

(c) Once documentation has been received, the Assistant Dean reviews it (and may follow up directly with the authors of the documentation), and then meets with the student to get a self-report of their disability.

(d) After the documentation, as well as any other critical information is provided to the Assistant Dean, then accommodation forms are provided to the student and they take the appropriate form to their professor and possible conversation.

(e) The student must then provide the appropriate accommodation form to the professor and is encouraged to discuss that accommodation with that professor.

(f) It is up to the student to ask for accommodations (this is their self-advocacy). Accommodations are not retroactive. They must also be renewed each semester.

In sum: Students must provide documentation and must complete an interview with the Assistant Dean of Academics and Student Life for academic accommodations to be determined. Accommodations are determined on a case by case basis. Students who have the need for academic accommodations will present an accommodation form to the instructor and get it signed and returned to ASDS.

7. What does it mean if my son or daughter does not come and ask for help?

There are several reasons a student may not request help from Disability Services. Many students are not comfortable with disclosing their disabilities to others or feeling as though they require special attention. As a parent, you can talk to your child and understand why they are not requesting help. At the ASDS department, we work discreetly to maintain students privacy. ASDS is prepared to provide accommodations for students who have proper documentation at any point during their college career. Let your child know what resources are available to them and encourage them to strive for success. If you have any questions, please contact the ASDS department for more information.

8. May a faculty member provide an accommodation (e.g., longer exam time) to a student who has not completed the formal process?

No, it is the responsibility of ASDS to review documentation and determine eligibility for appropriate accommodations. While a faculty member has broad discretion over how much time is offered to all students on exams, all students in a class should be treated the same (absent a formal ADA academic accommodation). In other words, a faculty member should not give one student more time (or some other accommodation) than another without that benefitted student being in possession of a formal ADA academic accommodation.

9. How can I best help my child prepare for college?

In order to help prepare your child for college, you must think beyond the transition plan and have discussions regarding expectations, priorities, and lifestyle. Some questions to consider: Can your child manage his/her time independently since there is not a person to monitor them day-to-day in college? Has your child planned and managed a budget for expenses? Can your child be strong enough to say no to socializing when they need to study? How will they structure their time outside the classroom? How does your child manage peer pressure? These are some of the questions you can discuss with your child before they enter college in order to better prepare them for the challenges to come. College courses move at a faster pace than high school and require 2-4 hours of study time per class. Help your child set appropriate goals by maintaining routine study habits. Talk about appropriate goals and how to reach them. It is important to understand the differences between high school and collegebeforehand in order to better prepare your child for success.

10. How do I support my child and yet allow them to develop their independence?

Communication is the most important aspect of the relationship between you and your child. You may want to think with your child when, where, and how you will communicate. When your child comes to campus, talk with them about how they are managing the changes they are experiencing here; try to keep it a two-way conversation. It is important to offer suggestions, not demands. Do not hesitate to ask questions that are open-ended, encouraging your student to formulate their own ideas, opinions and solutions. A big part of college is learning how to function within a new and different community. Let your student find their own way and experience new things. That does not mean you have to stop being their parent, it just means you have to trust that the time and energy you have put into being their parent for the last 18 years has adequately prepared them to make good choices. Communicate that you respect their decision-making skills and are available to offer support. Have a discussion about finances and make sure your child knows how to budget their living expenses.

11. My child did so well in high school, why are they struggling in their first or second semester of college?

Class expectations are much higher in college than they are in high school. College courses move at an accelerated rate which may be difficult to adjust to for some students. For example, a calculus course may cover subject matter within the first several weeks of a semester that your child has learned in high school calculus over the course of an entire year. Often times students are struggling to keep up with the course work, resulting in low test scores or failed classes. Let your child know there are options available to help them to succeed, such as tutoring, note takers, time management workshops, and professor office hours. Help your child understand that they need to prioritize their time to include more study hours outside of the classroom. For more information regarding study strategies, visit our Student Academic Success page. Let your child know the ASDS staff is available to students and offer an array of services tailored to students needs. To set up an appointment, call 909-748-8069 or email the ASDS secretary for more information.

12. Is there a grade grievance process?

Yes, a grievance policy is in place should students be dissatisfied with the provided accommodations. For more information regarding the grade grievance policy, please read the grievance procedure.

For specific questions about ADA, academic accommodations, services, or technology provided by Academic Success and Disability Services, please call 909-748-8069 or contact Administrative Secretary, Julie Cauthron, at or Assistant Dean of Academics and Student Life, Amy Wilms, at

The web-page for Student Disability Services is located here.