Students who use 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 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 various issues?
- What’s required to be eligible for AT at this college?
- What documentation is required and when? Who should get it?
- Will students need to describe how AT devices have aided them in the past?
- Will students need to provide an explanation of how AT will help them complete required coursework in college?
- Does approval to use AT resources require reauthorization? How often?
- Who on campus can help students figure out what AT tools they qualify to use? How quickly can they 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?
- Do students 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 students?
- Will the college make print materials available in an electronic format, audio tape, or large print?
- If students use screen-reading software, is the college web content compatible with all devices? (For example, course registration software, library databases, class discussion boards, and notes.)
- How do students let professors know about their AT accommodations?
- Who should 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 students 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 is needed and software that is compatible with students’ devices.)
- What type of training is provided for certain AT tools?
- Are manuals or online tutorials available?
- If students want to ask questions of other students who are using AT tools, will somebody be able to put them 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 students need that are not already available?
- Who can help if there is a problem accessing school-related information and materials?
Students can refer to this checklist when investigating prospective universities. Students may want to think about these questions, too.
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About the author
About the author
Amanda Morin is the author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education” and the former director of thought leadership at Understood. As an expert and writer, she helped build Understood from its earliest days.
Kylah Torre is an instructor in the department of special education at Hunter College.