Navigating college can be a challenge for any new student, as you will need to be focused and ask many questions at the onset and at any point in your college career. When you have a disability, starting in a new environment may present some challenges. SUNY campuses have a Disability Services Office that can help students navigate their way through college. This office works in line with New York State Law and SUNY Policies in order to ensure that every student has the best possible experience. The office will work with you to determine your needs and to assess what campus resources can assist you.
Every campus offers specific services and will work with students to match need to service or accommodation. If the campus does not have the specific service needed or requested, referrals will be made. Services may include taped texts, Braille books, assistive listening devices, notetakers, large print materials, video text displays, interpreters, talking calculators, test accommodations, readers, and television enlargers. Coordinators and councilors work with disabled students to find out specific needs and provide appropriate accommodations on a case by case basis. Students are treated individually and campus services are dedicated to finding the best solutions for each student.
In 2013 I identified myself as a disabled student and joined the Disability Center at UAlbany. My disability is mental, not physical. Rather than needing Braille and talking calculators I was in need of counseling, safe spaces, and testing accommodations. After turning in my paperwork, and speaking with the staff at the office, we were able to work out the best plan for me. And in addition to my accommodations, the disability office emails me to alert me of important events as well as scholarship and work opportunities. The SUNY community gave me the resources to become the best version of myself. I was given the agency to succeed, in class and outside of it.
The 64 campuses of the SUNY system are dedicated to fairness and diversity in every aspect. 1 in 28 SUNY students has reported some type of disability to their school, meaning that 1 in 28 students has one (or more) of these medically documented impairments: mobility, hearing and speech difficulties, learning disabilities, ADHD, psychological problems, and other health issues that significantly impede academic performance and discussed with the campus disabilities official. The campus will have policies related to how to present or document information and how services or accommodations are provided.
If you are starting college with a disability there are a few things you should know:
With these things in mind, all that’s left is to enjoy your college experience!
Kay is a student assistant with the SUNY Office of New Media. She is a University at Albany undergraduate working towards a double major in English and East Asian studies with a double minor in communications and film.