The Office of Disability Services (ODS) welcomes new and returning students in the School for Social Work (SSW) and provides resources, information, and support on an individualized basis to students who choose to register with our office. ODS works in close collaboration with SSW administration, staff, and faculty to facilitate necessary accommodations and modifications in policies and procedures as appropriate to the class, field placement, or the general program. We also strive to proactively identify and mitigate structural barriers that might limit opportunities for full participation and inclusion as part of SSW’s Universal Access commitment. While the unique academic structure, condensed course time frame, and rapid pacing of the School for Social Work academic program offers many benefits, it can also pose challenges for students with learning, mental health, and other disabilities. It is important to prepare and plan well for your success at Smith by contacting ODS well in advance of your arrival. All students must take time to consider a range of factors in determining the type of graduate program that best supports their individual learning needs.
Please note: Due to COVID-19, day-to-day operations of the Office of Disability Services are being performed remotely. As such, all corresponence, forms and medical/educational documentation must be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org in order to ensure timely receipt.
Accommodations and Services:
Accessible instructional materials: All required reading posted on moodle should be available in accessible formats which can be enlarged or read by screenwriting software. Students who need books in a digital format must contact ODS with at least a week's notice or more if possible to allow time for staff to assist you in obtaining books or other materials in accessible formats.
Assistive technology: Information Technology Services (ITS) maintains an assistive technology lab on campus and provides individual consultations to students regarding technology accessibility concerns. All students can contact email@example.com with questions or for assistance with technology related to online learning. Contact ODS@smith.edu if you would like to discuss a disability related need for support, evaluation, or training. Students may also choose to work with the ODS Peer Assistive Technology Coordinator for more help. Contact Cassie Lepoutre at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sign language- Students needing sign-language interpreters must contact ODS at least six to eight weeks before the start of summer classes and at least two weeks before a special event. Such lead time is necessary to evaluate your request and identify qualified service providers or contractors.
Captioned videos - As part of SSW universal access commitment, all videos used in classes are captioned.
Closed Captioning - “Auto transcription” is available for all Zoom sessions and may be turned on by clicking on the live transcript button at the bottom of your Zoom screen. It runs like captioning across the bottom of the screen or select view full transcript so it runs down the side of the screen with the names of the speaker. Participants must speak one at a time to avoid speaker overlaps.
Housing - Office of Disability Services works with SSW to identify and coordinate needed housing accommodations. This includes requests to bring an Emotional Support Animal (untrained pets) which must be approved in advance by ODS. Individuals with a service dog (dogs trained to perform specific disability related tasks) are asked to register with Disability Services. This will help us coordinate the needs of other disabled students who might be impacted by being in close proximity to a dog due to allergies and other physical or mental health challenges.
Dietary/food accommodations- (not available for summer 2020) Students may register with ODS for specific dietary accommodations needed as part of a health or disability related prescribed diet due to allergies, medication contraindications, and other disorders related to food and eating. Dining Services will work to identify appropriate meal items and develop a food plan with you to be implemented during the summer. Meal plan exemptions may be considered if Dining Services is not able to meet your specific needs.
Transportation (not available for summer 2020): Students with HP plates or placards may park in any designated parking spots on campus. If you have a temporary condition and need a short term pass, please contact ODS@smith.edu. Limited on campus van transportation may be available with advanced notice. The PVTA bus service is accessible with lifts on all routes. PVTA also runs a paratransit service.
Getting Evaluated for LD or ADD/ADHD
It is strongly recommended that students get evaluated before coming to Smith, as finding a clinician and navigating insurance can sometimes be a problem while taking classes in the short summer months you will be on campus. Some options include:
- checking in with the disability services office at a local college for a possible recommendation of clinicians in your area. Many colleges maintain lists.
- a primary care doctor or mental health professional should be able to make a local referral or provide medication based on their own clinical assessment.
- you may find a list of clinicians who do neuropsychological testing on the website of your insurance company. (It is more likely that your insurance will cover all or some of the testing where you live, rather than out of state while you are at Smith.)
- contacting the vocational rehabilitation agency in your state concerning testing and services.
By getting evaluated before you arrive, you will be able to begin working on any recommended strategies as soon as possible, rather than attempting to make adjustments once you are in the middle of classes. This will also help the Office of Disability Services plan for what accommodations you might need during the summer.
Continuity of Medical and Psychological Supports
All student are encouraged to think through the types of supports and resources they will need to be successful at Smith. The condensed nature of the SSW program can be very stressful physically, mentally and emotionally, so it is important to consider your own needs carefully in advance. Arranging medical and psychiatric care, in particular, will require some forethought and planning to assure continuity of care. Arranging for new local providers in advance of arriving will smooth the transition during those first stressful weeks of adjustment.
Check with your insurance company to find providers in the area and contact them in advance to set up appoinments and confirm that they accept your insurance and are taking new patients. Keep in mind that this is a rural area and those needing specialty medical care should confirm that the level of care needed is available here before committing to the program.
Enhanced Strategies for Learning Success
The School for Social Work and the Office of Disability Services collaborate closely during the summer and throughout the year to assure that all students have full access to the curriculum. Any SSW student may access support from our Learning Specialist, Jeannette Landrie, to enhance their learning and organizational skills, such as developing new strategies for goal setting, prioritization, time management, reading, writing, project management, pacing, focus, retention, presentations, group work, etc. Individual sessions and group sessions may be offered. You can also read up on some organizational strategies here.
Students who have been out of school for several years and away from the process of using disability accommodations or specialized learning and organizational strategies are encouraged to seek consultation before starting the program to determine how best to prepare for re-entry to an academic setting. Many students find that the academic demands of graduate study require new or enhanced strategies for learning. Making efforts to strengthen/upgrade your studying, writing, reading and organizational skills before beginning graduate school will prove to be very beneficial.