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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is a disability?

    Federal law define a "disability" as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits or restricts the condition, manner, or duration under which an average person in the population can perform a major life activity, such as walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, or taking care of oneself. The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 adds major bodily functions to the list of major life activities. These include functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive bowel, bladder, respiratory, neurological, brain, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions. The university is required be Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and The Americans with Disabilities Act to provide effective auxiliary aids and services for qualified students with documented disabilities if such aids are needed to provide equitable access to the university's programs and services.

    What are accommodations?

    Accommodations are modifications to conditions that would otherwise cause a student, because of a disability, to be a disadvantage relative to non-disabled students in their access to the university's programs for students. Reasonable accommodations provide equitable to programs or facilities and do not fundamentally alter the essential nature of a course or academic program.

    Is there a special admissions process for students with disabilities?

    Students should follow the same applications process as any other student. However, the decision regarding disclosure of the disability at the time of the application is up to the student. If a student chooses to disclose, it may be done in a number of ways. Some students choose to write about the disability, while others submit documentation along with the application. Disclosure of disability to the Admissions office does NOT automatically register students with Student Disability Services. We encourage prospective students to contact the Student Disability Services directly when considering the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Communication with the SDS is confidential and independent  of the admissions office and academic departments.

    What type of documentation do I need? 

    There are specific guidelines concerning documentation that students need to follow depending on the disability.  What is important to consider is that the documentation needs to be current (three years). It needs to show significant impact on at least one major life activity such as seeing, walking, hearing, thinking, learning etc.  The documentation needs to include a report, summary of the findings, a diagnosis, and suggestions for accommodations. 

    What types of accommodations are provided for students with disabilities? 

    Each student with a disability is invited to meet with the Student Disabilities Office to review documentation and discuss accommodations based on the disability and need.  Some standard accommodations include brailed or recorded materials, sign language interpreters, note taking services, reading services, extra time on exams, physical access, and assistive technology.  Additional accommodations and services will be determined on an individual need. 

    What other services are available?

    It is important to ask about other support services.  The university provides tutoring and study skills assistance for all full-time undergraduates, and special advising for both full-time undergraduate and graduate students with disabilities.  In addition, some students can benefit from counseling support or the health center.  Again, it is important to ask about the availability and location of these services. 

    Does your school give unlimited time on exams?

    No, we do not give unlimited time on exams. However, based on the disability and the need for exam accommodations, extra time may be appropriate. The amount of time is typically 1.5 times but some students may receive double time depending on the situation.

    How do I get a note taker? 

    Usually, note takers are paid and are other students who are in your classes.  What is important is to start this service as early as possible in the semester so you do not get behind.  Request note takers from SDS.

    What do I do if I have special housings needs?

    It is important to identify these needs to the Director of Student Housing as soon as possible. Limited alternative living facilities are available but it is important to discuss this with the Director. It will be necessary to provide documentation and evidence of the need for alternative housing before any decision is made.

    Is assistive technology available at your school?

    Yes, assistive technology is available through SDS at no charge to the student.

    Types of Assistive Technology:

    Screen and Text Enlargement

    Speech to Text Software

    Text to Speech Software

    Audio and E-text Books Support

    Braille Embossing

    Kurtzweil Reader

    Assistive Listening Devices and Systems

    If one of my accommodations is a recorded textbook, where do I go to get these books? 

    The University of Maryland Eastern Shore recommends the use of Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic as its primary source for recorded materials.  E-books may be obtained from publishers and can be read aloud by computer software (JAWS, Kurzweil Reader or Zoom text).   Students may request a reader at times if the situation warrants.

    Are services available for graduate students, pharmacy students or physical therapy students? 

    Yes, services are available for any qualified individual with a disability.  All students are eligible for services again depending on the documentation and need.  SDS provides services for graduate students in all disciplines offered at UMES.

    What if I need a sign language interpreter?

    It is important to request interpreting services in a timely manner.  Typically, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore contracts out for interpreters.  There are few interpreting agencies on the Eastern Shore. Contact SDS as early as possible.

    Can I take a reduced course load?

    For some students with disabilities this is a suggested accommodation.  It is important to discuss this with the advisor and SDS for appropriate advice.