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Disability, Re-Entry and Veteran Services
Montana State University
P.O. Box 173960
Bozeman, MT 59717-3960


Tel: (406) 994-2824
TTY: (406) 994-6701
Fax: (406) 994-3943

180 Strand Union Building

Brenda York

> Office of Disability, Re-Entry and Veteran Services  > Disabled Student Services
Self Advocacy

Self-Advocacy With Instructors

Through DSS staff can and sometimes do act as a go-between when students request approved accommodations from faculty, it is not practical, appropriate or desirable for DSS staff to play the role of intermediary every time an accommodations-related issue arises. Students are encouraged, therefore, to develop the skills necessary to advocate effectively for themselves. The following suggestions are offered to help students interact with faculty in an appropriately assertive manner:

  • If you have a DSS-certified disability, find time before the semester begins to talk to your instructors about your needs.

  • Choose an appropriate time to discuss your needs with your instructor. If possible, make an appointment during office hours instead of trying to speak with the instructor immediately before or after class.

  • Instructors may appear reluctant to provide accommodations if they don't understand why you require them, so be prepared to explain how your disability affects your learning and performance and why the requested accommodations are needed.

  • When talking to the instructor, maintain eye contact and an appropriate tone of voice. Stay calm and don't just talk: listen as well.

  • On occasion, an instructor might offer a workable alternative to an accommodation that has been approved by DSS personnel. Be prepared to listen to and ponder reasonable suggestions. You may be surprised at how many creative solutions can be found if you are open and flexible, and you can always ask DSS personnel for advice if you're uncertain about the effectiveness or fairness of the instructor's suggestion.

  • If, despite your best efforts, you feel you are not being treated fairly, see a staff member in Disabled Student Services for assistance.

Establishing Campus Relationships-the parent's or the student's role?

Throughout grade school and high school, the parents of students with disabilities are essential partners in making decisions about the student's disability-related needs. At the university, however, the student is solely responsible for communicating his or her need for disability accommodations. Learning self-advocacy is, therefore, an essential part of making a successful transition from high school to college and beyond. Prospective students may begin this move toward self-advocacy by contacting DSS themselves vs. having others (e.g., a parent or teacher) request information and make accommodation arrangements for them.

Although DSS staff welcome questions from parents, it is imperative that prospective students establish their own relationships with the DSS office, with professors, and with other offices at MSU. Students and staff are likely to be on a long ride together, and it's important that they learn, during the early stages of that journey, to trust one another and to work together effectively. (See Parental Involvement Policy)

View Text-only Version Text-only Updated: 08/15/2013
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