Your child who uses assistive technology (AT) to help with learning and thinking differences may want to ask prospective colleges about what AT services are available on campus. Here’s a list of questions for your child to ask colleges about their policies and programs.
Assistive Technology Policies
- What’s the name of the office of disability support services at this college?
- Is a specific person responsible for dealing with AT for students with issues like mine?
- What’s required to be eligible for AT at this college?
- What documentation do you need and when? Who should get it?
- Will I need to describe how AT devices have aided me in the past?
- Will you need me to provide an explanation of how AT will help me complete required coursework in college?
- Does approval to use AT resources require reauthorization? How often?
- Who on campus can help me figure out what AT tools I qualify to use? How quickly can I expect to get them?
- Does this college allow use of AT tools for exams? If so, do students need to take exams in an AT lab or other setting, or can the exams be taken in the classroom?
- Would I need to make special proctoring arrangements for exams that are taken with AT assistance?
- Will the office of disability services make or help make those arrangements for me?
- Will the college make print materials available to me in electronic format, audio tape, or large print?
- If I use screen-reading software, is the college web content compatible with my devices? (For example, course registration software, library databases, class discussion boards and notes.)
- How do I let my professors know about my AT accommodations?
- Who should my professors talk to if they have questions?
- Who coordinates AT accommodations (during lectures, while doing assignments, and taking tests) between the professor and the disability office?
Access to Assistive Technology
- Are there accessible computer stations and AT devices in areas on campus other than the AT labs (such as in dorms or libraries)?
- Will I be able to borrow equipment from an AT lab on campus?
- How many AT labs are there?
- Are AT tools available 24 hours a day and on weekends?
- Do students need to sign up for time slots in advance?
- What specific resources do AT labs on campus provide? (Make sure to ask specifically about what you need and software that is compatible with your devices.)
- What type of training is provided for certain AT tools?
- Are manuals or online tutorials available?
- If I want to ask questions of other students who are using AT tools, will somebody be able to put me in touch?
- Does the school maintain, update, and repair its AT equipment regularly?
- If something goes wrong, how quickly is it fixed?
- Will the college order and pay for AT devices that I need that are not already available?
- Who can help me if I have a problem accessing school-related information and materials?
Have your child refer to this checklist when investigating prospective universities. You and your child may want to think about these questions, too.
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About the author
About the author
Amanda Morin is the director of thought leadership at Understood and author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.” She worked as a classroom teacher and early intervention specialist for more than a decade.
Kylah Torre is an instructor in the department of special education at Hunter College.