Frequently Asked Questions
Defining a Disability:
What constitutes a disability?
A disability is defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as a mental or physical impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities. Learning is an example of a major life activity. If you have a mental or physical condition, a history of such a condition, or a condition which may be considered by others as substantially limiting, you may have a legally defined disability.
What does substantially limiting mean?
According to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, substantially limiting is defined as being unable to perform a major life activity, or significantly restricted as to the condition, manner, or duration under which a major life activity can be performed, in comparison to the average person or to most people.
What is a major life activity?
According to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a major life activity is defined as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.
What are academic adjustments?
Appropriate academic adjustments create an equal access to education, as long as it doesn't require a substantial change in an essential element of the curriculum. This is determined by the institution. Such modifications may include an adjustment in the amount of time allowed to complete a degree, substitution of degree requirements, and adaptation of the manner in which specific courses are conducted.
What should I know when applying to A&M-Commerce? Are there any special procedures?
Students with disabilities must apply to TAMU-Commerce through the regular admissions procedure. There are no special admissions procedures. A student may, however, apply to Educational Testing Services for provision of accommodations when taking standardized tests such as the SAT. Contact Educational Testing Services for further information.
What should I do if I suspect I have a disability and want to receive accommodations?
If you suspect you have a disability that is impacting your academic performance, you will need to provide documentation of that disability to Student Disability Resources and Services (SDRS). This documentation must be supplied by a qualified professional who is licensed or certified to diagnose the disability in question. An appointment should be scheduled in the Department of SDRS to review the documentation and the need for services.
I received accommodations in high school or I had an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP). Can I use the IEP as documentation?
The IEP is a valuable resource of information, but it cannot be used as documentation of the disability.
I received special education (IDEA) or 504 services in high school, how are these services different in college?
Colleges are required to provide any reasonable accommodation that may be necessary for equal access to education. They are not required to design special programs for students with disabilities or have Individualized Educational Plans (IEP's). See Chart of Differences Between Secondary and Post-Secondary Education regarding individuals with disabilities.
If I am a student with a disability, will Disability Services seek me out to provide services like my counselors did in high school?
In college, students with disabilities are covered under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and under the Americans with Disabilities Act. IDEA no longer applies. Since this is the case, the legal obligations change. There is no special education in college. Under IDEA, it is the responsibility of the schools to provide services and seek out students with disabilities. Colleges do not have to seek out students with disabilities. It is the student's responsibility to seek out services through Student Disability Resources and Services.
What role do my parents play in the process?
Students who are 18 years old or older are legally recognized as adults. In this case, the student is responsible for their own accommodation requests and disability-related decisions. However, students are encouraged to have an open dialog with their parents. Parents can be a wonderful source of support.
I have a physical disability and have trouble getting around. What types of accommodations are geared just for me?
Students with physical disabilities are encouraged to register with Student Disability Resources and Services every semester so that SDRS can help them establish accessible routes to buildings and other university activities.
I suspect I have a learning disability, can Student Disability Resources and Services conduct the assessment to provide a diagnosis?
Colleges are not required to conduct or provide testing. The student is responsible for providing current documentation, and any additional testing, if necessary. However, we do provide referral information.
I'm a Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) client. Is there anything special I should know?
If you have a DARS counselor in your home town, you are encouraged to stay in contact with your home counselor. The local DARS office no longer provides local counselors for existing DARS clients. If you do not have a home town DARS counselor or have other questions regarding DARS, you may contact the Greenville DARS office at 903.455.2057
I'm a DARS Division for Blind Services (DBS) client (formerly called "Texas Commission for the Blind"). Is there anything special I should know?
If you have a DARS counselor in your home town, you are encouraged to have your home counselor contact Student Disability Resources and Services to provide information about your accessibility needs. If you don't have a home town DARS counselor, contact DARS in Greenville. The telephone number for the Greenville DARS office is 903.455.2057
Students who are legally blind (20/200 corrected in better eye or field of view no larger than 15 degrees) can receive a waiver which will cover virtually all educational expenses at a Texas state educational institution. Students who are not legally blind but have 20/70 corrected or better vision or field of view no larger than 30 degrees may also receive financial support and services.
Do you have interpreters?
We contract with interpreters as needed. We employ certified interpreters who are able to offer sign language interpreting in ASL.
When do you provide interpreters?
Interpreters are provided, to qualified students registered with the Student Disability Resources and Services office, for classroom interpreting and other interpreting assignments related to their course work at no additional cost to the student and/or department. An Interpreter Request Form must be completed and submitted to SDRS.
Can I request interpreting services for non-academic programs or events?
Requests for interpreting services for non-academic programs or events should be directed to and handled by the sponsoring entity. The Student Disability Resources and Services office can provide a list of interpreters available in the area to the sponsoring entity. The payment for interpreter services is the responsibility of the sponsoring entity.
What do I need to know if I would like to use the SDRS testing center?
Please refer to the Student Testing Rules on the Current Students page for complete information regarding the Student Disability Resources and Services testing center.
Adaptive Technology (AT):
What is adaptive technology?
Adaptive Technology (AT) is the use of technology to provide equal access to information. AT for students with disabilities can include audio books, textbook conversion, adaptive software/hardware, and many others.
Is Adaptive Technology (AT) provided by Student Disability Resources and Services?
AT operates in the same functional office and is administrated by Student Disability Resources and Services, but is named AT mainly to be more descriptive of services.
The following software programs are available for student use through SDRS. Please contact SDRS for training and assistance on using these programs.
- Read and Write Gold - (All Main Campus computer labs)
- Jaws - (Gee Library Rooms 103A, 104, and 132)
- Dragon Naturally Speaking - (Gee Library Rooms 103A, and 132)
- ZoomText - (Gee Library Rooms 103A, 104, and 132)
- MathType - (Gee Library 132)
SDRS also has two CCTV's located in the SDRS testing room. An additional CCTV is located in the library at the Mesquite Metroplex Center. SDRS has a Braille embosser used to create printed materials for students with vision impairments.
How do I know if I need adaptive services?
If you think you may benefit from a technology accommodation, contact Student Disability Resources and Services. A staff member can advise you on technologies that may work for you.
Who can use Adaptive Technology?
Although AT exists primarily to serve students with disabilities at Texas A&M-Commerce, any current registered student may use lab resources. In fact, many students (disabled and non-disabled) have found that AT not only boasts excellent accessibility to campus resources, but also offers an outstanding study environment.
What are AT extended services?
Although any registered student may use the lab workstations and printers, only students who are currently registered with Student Disability Resources and Services may use AT extended services which include audio books, textbook scanning, specialty adaptive hardware and software checkout, accommodation consultation, and adaptive equipment training.
How do I use AT extended services?
In order to take advantage of extended services such as audio books, scanning, etc., you need to register with Student Disability Resources and Services office located in Gee Library, Room 132 EVERY SEMESTER you wish to use services. From there, your current accommodations will be reviewed by the coordinator of SDRS and at that time you may be referred for further advising and/or accommodations using adaptive technology.
Does SDRS offer computer support?
Questions regarding the use of your NET ID, Open Access Labs, and campus wireless internet should be directed to the Technology Services help desk at 903.468.6000