In educational settings, reasonable accommodations are referred to as academic
adjustments. If you are a student with a psychiatric disability, academic
adjustments might include adaptations in the way specific courses are conducted,
the use of auxiliary equipment and support staff, and modifications in academic
requirements. A college or university usually has both the diversity of
resources and the flexibility to select the specific aids or services it
provides, as long as they are effective. However, specific adjustments are not
mandatory; instead, they should be should be negotiated, selected, and arranged
in consultation with you, the instructor, and disability support services
personnel, as the case may be. Below is a list of some possible aids and
services, with a brief description of each.
Seating in front, by door, helps reduce
Having someone (another student, or a
counseling staff member) to go with you to class and sometimes stay in class
|Assigned classmate as volunteer assistant
Similar to an accompanier, an assistant may
help you take notes or provide informal support.
|Beverages permitted in class
Helps alleviate dry mouth or tiredness
caused by medications.
Helps you anticipate and manage anxiety,
stress, or extreme restlessness caused by medication.
Alleviates pressure of notetaking, freeing
you to attend and participate more fully in class.
Similar to above, having someone in class to
take notes alleviates anxiety of having to capture all the information;
sometimes the anxiety of attending class interferes with effective
|Photocopy of another's notes
If notetakers are not available, then
securing notes from another student helps free you to attend and participate
more fully in class.
|Change in test format
Altering an exam from a multiple choice
format to an essay format may help you to demonstrate what you know more
effectively and perhaps reduce interference from anxiety or the effects of
|Permit use of computer software programs or
other technological assistance
May assist you to write if physical
handwriting is difficult due to medication side effects that create muscular
or visual problems.
Negotiating permission for a specific extra
amount of time before the exam might help you to focus on the exam content
instead of the clock, and lessens the chance that anxiety or other symptoms
will interfere with your performance.
Dividing an exam up into parts taking them
in two or three sessions over 1-2 days helps to reduce the effect of fatigue
and focus on one section at a time.
|Have exams to be individually proctored,
including in hospital
A non-distracting, quiet setting helps
reduce interference from anxiety or other symptoms or medication side
|Increased frequency of tests or examinations
Having more opportunities to demonstrate
knowledge creates less pressure than having just a midterm or a final.
|Have exams read orally, dictated, scribed or
As you know, symptoms, such as anxiety;
medication side effects; or a learning disability may interfere with your
mental focus, concentration, ability to retrieve information, and/or writing
capacity during a typical paper-pencil test. Having an exam read or typed
might help reduce the amount of external pressure and distractions, and give
you more of an equal opportunity to demonstrate his or her expertise without
the disability skewing the results.
Asking for written exercises or other
out-of-class exercises may be better ways for you to demonstrate your grasp
of the required knowledge in a course.
|Advance notice of assignments
Having a syllabus helps you to anticipate
and plan time, energy, and workload, as well as to arrange for any support
or academic adjustments.
|Delay in assignment due dates
If you've had to be hospitalized for reasons
related to your disability or if other unforeseeable events have interrupted
your semester, extra time on a due date might be all that is needed for you
to pass the course. Your request for an extension should be very specific;
i.e., a new due date should be negotiated and formalized, not be left
|Handwritten rather than typed papers
If you do not yet have typing skills, you
might benefit from asking to have papers handwritten instead of typed.
|Assignment assistance during hospitalization
Staying connected with either your course
instructor or your school's disabilities services staff person while you are
in the hospital may mean you can finish your course as planned, and not have
to take an incomplete or withdrawal grade, lose your money, or repeat the
|Use alternative forms for students to
demonstrate course mastery
You may be better able to demonstrate your
knowledge in ways that don't require lots of writing (e.g., a narrative tape
instead of a written journal) or time pressure (an essay exam rather than
only multiple choice, or an extra paper if you have not performed well on
the exam due to your disability).
|Textbooks on tape
May be helpful to listen to a textbook
instead of reading it, if your vision or concentration interferes with your
|Providing modifications, substitutions, or
waivers of courses, major fields of study, or degree requirements on a
These adjustments should be considered on an
individual basis, and only if the changes requested would substantially
alter essential elements of the course or program, or if courses are
required for li censure.
|Provide orientation to campus and
Increasing a students familiarity with an
environment and the system help him or her to feel more confident and
confident, and allow the student to plan, strategize, anticipate trouble
spots, and know where to go for assistance.
|Provide assistance with
Helping a student cut through red tape and
coaching them thorough the intricate but critical process of financial aid
eliminates a potentially debilitating amount of stress and hassle.
|Flexibility in determining "Full Time" status
(for purposes of financial aid and health insurance).
A school often has the power to declare a
student "full-time" even if s/he is part-time. If the disability is such
that a part-time load is equal in burden to a full time load for a student
without disability, such a case can be made. (This adjustment does not
entitle the student to full time financial aid).
|Assistance with selecting classes and
Early morning classes or high stress classes
such as keyboarding can create problems if you are on medication or
susceptible to stress; getting help with planning and scheduling your
classes can make your semester more comfortable and increase your chances of
|Parking passes, elevator key, access to
Anxiety and other psychiatric symptoms can
physically and emotionally prevent you from crossing the campus or climbing
several sets of stairs or sustaining energy for a day of classes, when you
would otherwise be perfectly capable of attending class. These supports make
the environment more accessible and "user-friendly," and are usually cheap
and easy to obtain.
|Incompletes rather than failures or
withdrawals if relapse occurs.
If you have finished most of the coursework
for a class but are unable to complete the remainder before the semester's
end, you should try to negotiate getting a grade of "Incomplete" rather than
a "Withdraw" or "Fail" grade. A grade of "Incomplete" usually means that you
will not have to repay or retake the entire course in order to finish it; a
"Fail" or "Withdraw" usually means you do.
|Identified place to meet on campus that feels
"safe" before or after class.
Having a preferred place to meet other
students or a support person might help you to attend class more regularly,
and perhaps lessen the effects of anxiety, or "nip in the bud" any stresses
that could trigger other symptoms.