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Post Secondary Disability Consortium of Central New York Site
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  Do I really need to tell someone I have a disability when I apply to college?

Why disclose your disability? One reason is that your disability may have influenced your approach to learning, your determination and many other things in your life. What you have learned about yourself and the extent to which you are able to articulate your needs may have a significant impact on your performance in college.

If you are applying to schools with competitive admissions and you have some type of discrepancy in your academic record (i.e. high GPA and low SAT scores), you may want to request that colleges consider additional or alternative information when they evaluate your application. Some colleges have a formal process related to such requests while others do not. When there is no formal process in place or any guidelines for disclosure in the admission process, you may want to submit a letter of request along with your application. Your letter should include the following:

  1. A statement that you have a disability;
  2. Which admission requirement(s) you feel it affects and how;
  3. What alternative or additional information you would like to have considered
Also, don't forget to ask the Office for Disability Services (or whatever it happens to be called), whether the office plays a role in the admission process; they can be a great source for general information about the college. In the case of open admission institutions, there is no compelling reason to identify yourself as a student with a disability unless you need admission materials in an alternate format.

Confidentiality

In the United States, students with disabilities are protected from discrimination under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Recognizing that discrimination often occurs as a result of attitudinal barriers and misconceptions regarding the potential of persons with disabilities, colleges treat disability-related information as confidential. It never becomes part of the student's permanent record, nor is it released to an outside agency without the student's consent.

Most colleges agree that disability related information should be treated as medical information and handled under the same strict rules of confidentiality, as is other medical information.

Disability-related information should be collected and maintained on separate forms and kept in secure files with limited access.

Disability-related information is shared within the institutional community only on a need to know basis and only for very specific reasons.



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