A student’s guide to the OAE accommodations process

Aug. 6, 2021, 10:27 p.m.

As students return to campus for the 2021-22 academic year, the Office Of Accessible Education (OAE) will continue to operate online. The OAE offers a wide range of support including housing, academic, parking and transportation, facility access, extracurricular and study abroad accommodations.

Here’s what you need to know about the accommodations provided and how to obtain them.

What does the OAE define as a disability?

The OAE defines a student with a disability as “someone with a physical or mental impairment which impacts that person’s major life activities.”

Do I have to have a visible disability to apply for accommodations?

No. A quarter of undergraduate students receive accommodations from the OAE, but the number of students who visibly appear impaired is lower. In fact, roughly 80% of both undergraduate and graduate students who are registered with the OAE do not exhibit immediately apparent conditions. 

What accommodations am I eligible to receive?

The OAE provides a range of accommodations. These include academic accommodations from assistive technologies such as a scribe or alternate format service, amendments to policies or procedure — including added time to obtain a degree, fewer courses, attendance flexibility and participation accommodations — to interpreters and live captioning, classroom location and exam accommodation and notetaker requests.

Parking or transportation accommodations include access to disabled parking spots with a DMV placard, temporary disability parking permits and the curb-to-curb Disability Golf Cart Service for students with OAE-registered disabilities or medical conditions. Additionally, there is a public shuttle bus, the Marguerite Shuttle, which is accessible to the public and includes a ramp and lift for those with wheelchairs. 

Do OAE accommodations apply only on campus?

For non-academic accommodations, including University-sponsored extracurricular or off-campus activities, the OAE directs students to contact the Diversity and Access Office, which provides accommodations to visitors, including wheelchair access and Sign Language interpreters during public events. 

When can I apply for accommodations?

While there is not a set timeline by which students should abide, the OAE encourages all who seek assistance to register with the Office as early as possible. 

How do I apply for accommodations?

Applying for accommodations at Stanford is a three-step process that involves obtaining the proper documentation, completing a registration form, submitting required documentation and meeting with a disability advisor.

Obtaining the proper documentation might look different for every student, since each case is assessed individually according to OAE guidelines. A student who exhibits an observable disability (e.g., students with a cane or a wheelchair) might not be required to submit documentation. A student required to submit documentation must ensure that it meets the guidelines for academic accommodations or for housing accommodations. 

Some students whose conditions are not as recent may still be eligible for accommodations, but they should consult their disability advisors.

Where can I get this documentation?

Students may obtain this documentation from their own medical professional or from Cardinal Care, the University-sponsored health insurance option available to students. Vaden Health Services and Counseling and Psychological Services are familiar with providing documentation to the OAE and can also help students find low-cost services. The Financial Aid Office can also assist students seeking financial support for medical services. The OAE will continue to work with students who do not find the above-mentioned resources as options for whatever reason.

What do I do after filling out all the forms?

After a student obtains proper documentation, they must submit that documentation and complete a registration form online through the OAE’s Connect portal.

The final step in the process is to meet with a disability advisor who will be assigned to a student after the OAE receives all necessary registration components. The advisor will discuss possible accommodations with the student that best suit their needs and determine the extent of their eligibility as suggested by the submitted documentation.

What can I do if I do not feel that I have been adequately accommodated?

If a student feels that they have been denied access to disability-related accommodations erroneously or have been subjected to disability-based discrimination, they may either submit a grievance or appeal their accommodations decision. 

Grievances can be initiated for disagreement over a requested service, inaccessibility of a program or activity, disability-based harassment or discrimination or a disability-related breach of privacy.

If a student is unhappy with the outcome of a grievance, they may appeal the decision by filing a written request for review by the Compliance Officer at the Diversity and Access Office.

If the student does not attain results from the process outlined above, they may also proceed to submit a formal complaint as outlined by the Americans with Disabilities Act/Section 504 Student Grievance Procedure no later than 10 days after the conclusion of the academic quarter during which the issue arose.

How will receiving accommodations impact my academic record?

Accommodations provided by the OAE do not appear on an enrolled student’s transcript. Prospective students are not required to reveal their disability during the admissions process, and it does not affect an applicant’s admission decision.

Benjamin is a high school student writing as part of The Daily's Summer Journalism Workshop. Contact them at workshop 'at' stanforddaily.com

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