Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a separate admissions process for students with disabilities?

No. Sweet Briar College has a rigorous admissions process and regardless of the disability, a student must meet the same admissions criteria. A student is not asked about a disability; however, a student might wish to disclose that they have a disability to explain certain situations. For example, a student with a diagnosed learning disability that affects language processing may have not completed the foreign language requirements for admissions. If all other requirements are met, disclosure of the learning disability may be used to review the application through an exceptions process.

If I send information on my disability to the admissions office, am I automatically registered with accessibility services?

No. Disability information is highly confidential and is not shared between offices without specific written requests from the student. A student must meet with staff in accessibility services before accommodations can be made. Third-party documentation may be requested to support the disability diagnosis and/or accommodations.

Are students with disabilities allowed into every academic program and activity?

Sweet Briar College provides access for students with disabilities to any program or activity provided to any student. A student with a disability must be otherwise qualified such as meeting the minimum grade point average, meeting technical standards, etc.

If I register with accessibility services, will it show up on my permanent record?

No. What is considered a student’s permanent educational record is maintained by the registrar’s office and is separate from records maintained by accessibility services. Records are held in strict confidence, and information is released only on an “educational need-to-know” basis.

What is considered a disability?

As defined by the Americans with Disability Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a disability is a mental, physical or emotional impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity.

  • Physical, mental or emotional impairment means any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory (including speech organs), cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genito-urinary, hemic and lymphatic, skin and endocrine; “mental impairment” means any psychological disorder, such as emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities.
  • “Substantially limits” means 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; the availability of some mitigating measure (such as a hearing aid for someone with a hearing loss that brings hearing acuity within normal limits) is not to be considered when determining if the disability substantially limits the individual.
  • “Major life activity” means functions such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working.

Will a high school Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan provide sufficient documentation of a disability?

Maybe. Any supporting documentation will be considered with the student in the determination of accommodations. However, there is no guarantee that an IEP or 504 Plan will suffice to determine accommodations. It will depend on the disability and the accommodations requested.

Do accommodations give students with a learning disability or ADHD an unfair advantage?

No. Accommodations are based on the nature of the disability and the academic environment. The purpose is to provide the student with an environment to obtain information and demonstrate mastery of the information being tested by minimizing or eliminating the impact of the disability. Accommodations are to level the playing field, not provide unfair advantage.

How do I get classroom accommodations?

Students meet with accessibility services to discuss their history, review documentation, and establish appropriate accommodations. To ensure consistent, appropriate accommodations, each faculty member is provided an accommodations memo developed with accessibility services staff that will outline classroom accommodations. Students meet with faculty to discuss accommodations. Students do not have to disclose the nature of the disability to the faculty. See Accommodations Process for more information.

Are course substitutions or waivers allowed based on a disability?

Course substitutions are allowed under some circumstances with specific recommendations as a result of assessment. Courses essential to a student’s major will not be considered for substitution. Students interested in pursuing the possibility of a course substitution should make an appointment with accessibility services.

Do all students with disabilities get priority registration for classes?

No. Priority registration for students with disabilities is to allow for accommodations only. For example, if a student has a mobility impairment or needs extra time on a test due to a learning disability, priority registration may be provided to allow appropriate scheduling. It is not automatic, nor does it continue if a student no longer needs the accommodation.

Is there a charge for e-text?

There is no charge for the provision of textbooks in an alternative format. However, if the publisher is not able to provide us with an electronic version of the textbook, we occasionally have to cut the spine off the book and scan each page into a PDF file.

Is a temporary disability eligible for services?

Some temporary disabilities may be eligible for accommodations through accessibility services. For example, students who are pregnant may need assistance with transportation to class in the later months of their pregnancy. A student with a broken arm may need assistance with note-taking resources or recording their answers on an exam.

What is a learning disability (LD)?

A learning disability is a genetic or organic condition that creates a neurological deficit that impairs the central nervous system. A learning disability acts as a barrier to receiving, processing and/or expressing information.

Isn't LD just another label for low intelligence?

Not at all. In order to be classified as learning-disabled, a person must have at least average intelligence. The LD student may process information slower than non-LD students, but with accommodations, she can perform at their level or better. This is not a question of a limited ability to achieve, but of a different means by which achievement can occur.

How do you get a learning disability?

You are either born with it or have some type of injury or illness that affects certain areas of the brain.

What is involved in LD testing?

The test includes an intelligence test and tests of verbal and quantitative skills. If a person has a markedly higher intelligence than her demonstrated skills and has difficulty in organizing or expressing information, she may have a learning disability.

What services are available for students with learning disabilities?

The director of academic advising and accessibility services coordinator is available to work with students, and the ARC can provide specific mentors to work with students who face particular learning challenges. Please see Services for Students with Disabilities for more information.

Do my professors have to know I have a learning disability?

That information is confidential and cannot be released to anyone without your permission. However, it is generally in your best interest to disclose your LD to accessibility services, as we are required by law to provide reasonable accommodations. You do not need to disclose specific details about your LD to your professors, only that you have a disability in order to receive accommodations.