Using Your Accommodations

Individual accommodations are determined through an interactive conversation between the student and their DSS counselor/advisor and listed formally on the Accommodations Agreement.  All students who wish to activate their accommodations for a particular course must show their Accommodations Agreement and discuss the accommodations with their professor.  The Accommodations Agreement should be signed by the student and the instructor.

Accessible Furniture Requests

Once a student has finalized their course schedule for an upcoming semester, a student should fill out an Accessible Furniture Request Form 14 days before class begins for each class where a piece of accessible furniture is needed.  This request will then be used to place the appropriate furniture in the student’s classrooms.  If your accessible furniture is not in your classroom, please notify DSS immediately so that we can fix the problem.

Alternate Formats for Textbooks

Options for Alternate Formats of Textbooks vary depending on the book and the needs of the student but can be available in electronic, enlarged, audio, or braille versions. Once a student has finalized their course schedule for an updating semester, a request can be made by completing the Alternative Textbook Request Form. Braille textbooks should be requested at least 2 months in advance.  Enlarged textbooks should be requested at least 1 month in advance. Audio and electronic textbooks should be requested at least 2 weeks in advance.

Once the form is completed by the student, the Disability Testing Center staff will work to secure the alternative versions of the textbooks as quickly as possible.  A staff member will contact the student when the textbooks are completed. 

Once the alternate version is ready for pick up, a student will need to bring a copy of their receipt or a copy of the physical textbook to the Disability Testing Center, Student Center 354 (Grand Rapids location) or Tassel M-TEC (Holland/Lakeshore pick up location).

Assistive Technology

The college has the following assistive technology available on campus for students with disabilities to use.  All of these assistive technologies are available in the Disability Testing Center rooms. For more information about other locations where assistive technology is available on campus, please talk to your DSS counselor/advisor.

Audacity – audio recording software can allow students to verbally record their answers or ideas

Dragon Naturally Speaking – voice to text software which allows a student to speak their ideas into a typed format

JAWS – text to voice software used mainly by those who are blind

MAGIC – magnification software used mainly by those with low vision

Natural Reader – text to voice software which allows a student to hear print materials read out loud

Read and Write Gold – another text to voice software and reading management tool

Captioning Services

CART – This service offers a professional person who is typing the content of the course to provide a person who is deaf or hearing of hearing the opportunity to be engaged in the class discussion, lecture material, and communication with classmates.  A student who has CART approved as an accommodation should request this service at least 2 weeks prior to each semester through their counselor/advisor.

Video Captioning – Many instructors are captioning their videos regardless of an accommodation request.  However, a student who has been approved for the video captioning accommodation should meet with their counselor/advisor or email their assigned instructors at least 2 weeks before each semester to communicate this need to faculty. 

Flexible Attendance

Some students have disabilities that can lead to more absences then usual from time to time due to medical conditions beyond their control.  A student needs to come talk with their DSS Counselor/Advisor before each semester to discuss how attendance issues will likely impact their courses.  DSS Counselors/Advisors are available to help discuss course selections as well as they relate to regular absences to help reduce the likelihood of academic concerns.

When an accommodation for Flexible Attendance is approved, the counselor/advisor will email out to each faculty member information about the Flexible Attendance Accommodation.  This accommodation requires the following to happen for each class:

  • Instructor must determine whether attendance is essential to their particular course.  DSS provides guidance to faculty on how they can determine this.
  • If attendance is not essential, the Flexible Attendance Accommodation would be considered reasonable for that particular course.

  • The student and the faculty must talk through the aspects of a course (for example: tests, quizzes, papers, group projects, outside activities) to determine what will happen if a student’s absence impacts their ability to complete a required aspect of the course.  Alternatives or options should be discussed for each aspect of the course. 
  • Students should be aware that there can be some assignments that can be considered essential and cannot be duplicated or offered alternatives for.  In these cases, points may be lost if they indeed are critical and there are no options for completion.
  • Disability Support is willing to help students and faculty work through these situations, please contact your counselor/advisor with any concerns.

Lecture Notes and Audio Recording

There are many options available to students who need assistance in keeping up with the pace of college lectures.

  • Peer Note Taking: DSS will provide a binder of Duplicate Paper to a student.  Inside this binder is a letter to teachers, hints for good note taking, and responsibilities for the student with a disability.  The paper can be refilled by visiting DSS at Student Center 368.  Lakeshore students can pick this up at the Tassel M-TEC.
  • Power Points or Presentations from Instructors: Some instructors use presentations during their lectures.  If these have been created, these notes can be provided to you directly from your teacher.
  • Instructor Notes: Some instructors have a set of notes that they may use in lecture and are in a format that would be helpful to a student.  These can be provided by the teacher through email.  If an instructor doesn’t have a set of already created notes, then an instructor doesn’t have to create a whole set for one student.
  • Use of Smart Pen: Some students would rather take their own notes but they find that they can’t write everything down during class.  The Smart Pen is a tool that allows a student to record the teacher talking at the same time it records what the student was writing.  This allows a student to connect the audio lecture with their partial notes at a later time.  Smart Pens are limited and are available on a first come, first serve basis each semester from the Disability Testing Center.
  • Audio Recording of Lectures: A student can choose to record the lectures to be able to review the material or fill in gaps in their notes at a later time.  Students are also welcome to use their own recording devices.  Digital recorders are limited and are available on a first come, first serve basis each semester from the Disability Testing Center.

Sign Language Interpreting

The services of a qualified sign language interpreter are available to students who are deaf or hearing impaired who rely on interpreting for effective communication.  Sign language interpreting is available for all classes, tutoring, and college sponsored events or programs.

Students must give DSS 3 week’s notice in order to secure an interpreter for a course.  If class schedules are changed, the student should notify their DSS counselor/advisor immediately so that the office can work to coordinate interpreters when given less time.  When less than 3 week’s notice is given, interpreters cannot be guaranteed for the first day of class.  Because of the shortage of qualified/certified interpreters, it may be necessary for students in need of an interpreter to be flexible in scheduling classes to maximize the services of the interpreters.

If a student has a need for an interpreter for tutoring, student group meetings, or other college sponsored events or programs, they should contact the DSS office at 234.4140 for immediate assistance.

Testing Accommodations

Students who want to use their accommodations for testing by taking a test on the Grand Rapids Campus, must fill out the Testing Request Form.

Students who want to use their accommodations for testing by taking a test on the Lakeshore Campus, must fill out the Lakeshore Testing Request Form.