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Disability Services

We’ll help make sure you have everything you need to participate fully in campus. And to reach your potential.

Let us know you’re here. Please contact us as soon as you have been accepted for admission. That way, we can prepare for your arrival on campus. We want to make sure you experience all Bridgewater has to offer.

Who Can Receive Disability Services?

We assist any student with a physical or mental impairment that causes substantial limitations to everyday activities. These include (but are not limited to):

  • Mobility or orthopedic disabilities
  • Visual or hearing impairments
  • Speech impairments
  • Learning disabilities, such as dyslexia or attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD)
  • Psychological disabilities
  • Neurological impairments
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Chronic medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes or AIDS

How to Seek Disability Accommodations

If you need accommodations for a disability, please notify our office. We’ll need current documentation of your disability, completed by a licensed professional, including:

  • Date of the original diagnosis
  • Method of testing
  • Description of the current functional impact of the disability
  • Recommended accommodations, along with treatments, medications and assistive devices or services currently prescribed or in use
  • Description of the expected progression or stability of the disability over the next five years

Disability-Related Housing Accommodations

If you have a physical or mental health disability that will cause severe difficulty living on campus, you may request a housing exemption. You may qualify for a single room or for off-campus housing. Medical exceptions are granted only for circumstances where your needs cannot be properly accommodated on campus. Requests for disability-related housing accommodations are considered on a case-by-case basis.

How to Apply for Disability-Related Housing Accommodation

To apply for a single room or off-campus exemption because of a physical or mental health disability, please submit the following:

  • A medical housing application form (completed by you) describing why you need to live in a single room or off campus, and how this accommodation will alleviate the effects of your disability in a way that cannot be provided on campus.  
  • A medical housing form completed by licensed health care provider. 
  • A release form, signed by you, authorizing the release of your confidential health information and granting permission for your health care provider to discuss your circumstances with Bridgewater’s director of academic and disability services.
  • A letter from your custodial parent or guardian describing why you need and would benefit from living in an off-campus setting, rather than on campus.

You are responsible for completing and returning all appropriate documents to our office. The Housing Accommodation Review Board—which includes Bridgewater’s director of health services, director of counseling, associate dean of students, director of residence life and the director of academic and disability services—makes all decisions on housing exception requests. The board reserves the right to ask for additional supporting documentation if needed.

The Housing Accommodation Review Board will review your request within three weeks of receiving your completed application and supporting documents. The committee will respond to you in writing within ten working days of making its decision.

You may make a written appeal of the board’s decision to the dean of students if you present new information that was not previously considered.

Accommodations

Reasonable accommodations are adjustments made for students with a documented disability in an effort to provide an equal opportunity to access College programs, activities and facilities, and to demonstrate learning. Accommodations are specific to the nature of the documented disability and setting.

Examples include:

  • books in alternative formats
  • ground-level housing or access to elevators for students with a mobility impairment
  • copies of overhead projector sheets or copies of lecture notes for students with a visual impairment
  • a student note-taker or access to assistive listening devices for students with a hearing impairment
  • extended time or alternative distraction-free settings for examinations for students with a learning disability or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Communication of Accommodations

  1. Upon request, the director of academic support reviews your documentation to determine eligibility of services. A meeting with you, your parent(s) or guardian, and the director of academic support is recommended as early as possible in the enrollment process to discuss disability services, accommodations, academic support and academic advising.
  2. The director of academic support prepares a letter describing the accommodations to be received at Bridgewater.
  3. It is your responsibility to contact the Academic Support Center at the beginning of each semester to obtain accommodation letters to give to professors. All students sign a form confirming that the accommodation letters have been reviewed and picked up for delivery to professors.
  4. After you and your professor meet to discuss accommodations, the professor signs and returns a form to the director of academic support to verify receiving the discussion of accommodation letter. When this process is completed, accommodations are activated and are not retroactive.
  5. If your professors do not receive accommodation letters from you, there is no basis on which to provide accommodations.
  6. Waiting to deliver the letters until just before an exam is not considered timely and could jeopardize receiving accommodations.
  7. You are responsible for contacting the director of academic support if any problems arise during the semester relating to disability accommodations.

Modification of Course Requirements

As a student with a disability, you may request a course modification if your disability adversely affects your ability to meet the course requirements. In every case you have the responsibility to provide documentation supporting the need for a program to be modified.

A course modification request requires the following:

  1. You make a request in writing and present appropriate documentation to the director of academic support.
  2. The director of academic support reviews your request and the appropriateness of the documentation. If additional documentation, testing or professional clarification is needed to substantiate a course substitution, you will need to provide it.
  3. The director of academic support determines the appropriateness of the course modification request. When appropriate, the director will consult with the appropriate faculty.
  4. The director of academic support communicates the request decision in writing to the dean for academic affairs, associate dean for academic affairs, registrar, your major advisor and you.

Criteria used to evaluate a course modification:

  • The degree to which your ability to meet the requirement in question is adversely affected by the disability.
  • Whether the modification in question will fundamentally alter the academic program. What is "essential" to a major, course of study or degree requirement must be decided by the College in consultation with the relevant department.
  • Full participation in the course will be limited even with all reasonable modifications within the course. This requires documentation of the disability as well as a description of how participation will be limited even with the use of modifications.
  • A plan for degree or general education modification has been developed.

Appeal Process

Student Dissatisfaction with the Determination of Accommodations

  1. If you are not satisfied with the determination of accommodations, please schedule a meeting with the director of academic support.
  2. If the determination of accommodations is still unresolved, you may appeal the decision in writing to the dean for academic affairs. If the accommodation at issue is regarding College housing, you may appeal in writing to the dean of students.

Student Dissatisfaction with the Implementation of Accommodations

  1. If you are not satisfied with the manner in which a faculty or staff member has implemented the determined accommodations, you should meet with the director of academic support for assistance. In these situations, the director will provide you with assistance in explaining the protocol and determined accommodations to the faculty or staff member.
  2. If your dissatisfaction with the implementation of accommodations by a faculty or staff member is not resolved after consultation between the faculty or staff member and the director of academic support, you may appeal the decision in writing to the dean for academic affairs. If the accommodation at issue is with respect to College housing, the student's appeal shall be in writing to the dean of students.

Student Dissatisfaction with the Modification of Course Requirements

If the request to modify course requirements fails to establish acceptable modifications, you may appeal in writing to the dean for academic affairs.

Questions? Contact Us!

Dr. Chip Studwell, Ed.D., LPC
Director of Academic Support and Disability Services
540-828-5370
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