The University of Minnesota Duluth values diverse identities and experiences, and honors disability as an important aspect of human diversity. To fulfill our obligation to provide access to all participants, UMD has designated Disability Resources to work in partnership with students and guests to eliminate or minimize barriers and facilitate inclusion on campus.
Disabilities can be apparent and/or non-apparent, which can include mental health and chronic health conditions. Institutions of higher education across the country are seeing increased numbers of students with mental health conditions using disability accommodations.
Like us, you may be receiving questions like the following:
“Why are there so many students with disability accommodation letters?”
The answer is simply that more students, including students with non-apparent disabilities are acknowledging disability and seeking services. Ten years ago, Disability Resources served 353 students. In the 2019-2020 academic year, Disability Resources served 543 students.
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES, 2019) reports that 19.4% of undergraduate students report disabilities and 11.9% of graduate or professional students report disabilities. With almost 47,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students enrolled at the University of Minnesota, we can expect many more students who have disabilities to seek accommodations.
“What is the process for determining disability accommodations?”
As required by law, Disability Resources gathers information from the student with the disability including information from medical and other qualified providers. Disability accommodations are determined based on the barriers and impacts of the disability in the learning environment, taking into account course and program requirements and expected learning outcomes. Instructors are therefore also an important player in considering whether accommodations may change the nature of the course or learning outcomes. More information on this process may be found on the Disability Resources website.
“How can I make my class or service more welcoming for students with disabilities?”
Two ways to do this include incorporating the syllabus statement in your print materials and reading it out loud to the class, and also inviting students to connect with you about access barriers to any activity or event. Suggested language for the syllabus statement can be found on the Disability Resources website; other tips for advancing inclusion and access in your classroom or service area can be found here as well.
“I have questions about the content in a student’s accommodation letter. Who do I contact?”
Instructors are encouraged to contact the Disability Specialist whose contact information is listed on the bottom of the student's disability accommodation letter.
If you require individualized consultations on disability-related issues, contact us by calling 218-726-6130, or emailing [email protected] to further discuss your needs and concerns.