In kindergarten to twelfth grade, you have an IEP—Individualized Education Program—that is run by a team of teachers. Back when I was in high school, I used to have yearly IEP meetings with my Teacher of the Deaf, my parents, and my classroom teachers. For some strange reason, I looked forward to these meetings because they gave me a chance to reflect and to talk to my teachers about how I could improve for the next year. Throughout high school I was extremely fortunate to have a supportive IEP team. However, when you get to college, everything changes. In college, professors expect you to be more independent and by doing so, you have to advocate for yourself because no one is going to do it for you.
Back when I was in high school, my resource teacher used to let me come into school a week earlier to talk to my teachers about my accommodations. She would have me do this because she wanted me to get a chance to know my teachers before school started and most importantly learn about advocating for myself. Each year that I did this, I would be SO NERVOUS because I was afraid of what my teachers would think of me. However, these conversations with my high school teachers helped me become more confident about speaking to my instructors about accommodations in the classroom.
In college, speaking to professors is exactly like speaking to your teachers about accommodations. At the beginning of the semester, I sent out an email to each of my college professors. In the email, I gave them a brief introduction about myself and said that I would like to meet with them in person during their office hours to discuss my needs.
Before meeting with my professors, I decided to make a list of important points that I would like to discuss with them…
- Preferential Seating
- Student Notetaker
- Fm System
- CART (if it was going to be used in their class)
- Close-Captioning for Videos
- Testing in a reduced distraction setting.
The list can be simple because it is for you to use as a reference when speaking to your professor. These meetings can be extremely helpful for many reasons. One, they allow you and your professor to get to know each other in a non-classroom setting. Two, it helps build your confidence in talking to adults, and so will help you in the future.