The Office of Disability Services (ODS) welcomes new and returning graduate students in the School for Social Work (SSW) and other graduate programs. ODS provides resources, information, and support on an individualized basis to students who choose to register with our office. The instructions for registration can be found on this section of our website. Please follow the steps outlined to submit your information through Workday, contact us to set up an appointment, and be in touch directly with any questions.
ODS works in close collaboration with graduate administration, staff, and faculty to facilitate necessary accommodations and modifications in policies and procedures as appropriate to the class, field placement, and/or the general program.
In collaboration with SSW specifically, 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.
New SSW Students
If you have been newly accepted to the School for Social Work, please make every effort to contact our office well before you arrive on campus. Without sufficient advance notification and proper documentation, we may not be able to meet your requests or there may be delays.
Be aware that all housing accommodation requests, including requests to bring an Emotional Support Animal, should be made no later than April 15. Academic accommodation requests for summer courses should also be made by April 15. Field placement requests should be made by July 1 for the following academic year. Please call us by the end of March if you need supports such as sign language interpreters, alternative print materials, etc., so that the appropriate services are in place when you arrive. If you need an exception to these dates, please contact us to discuss.
Returning SSW Students
If you are requesting new accommodations, please make every effort to adhere to the dates posted above for incoming students. If accommodations have been established and require adjustments or changes, please contact us to discuss right away, any time of the year. If you do not need to make any changes to your accommodations, you do not need to complete any new forms with our office.
All Other Graduate Students
If you are requesting accommodations through our office for the first time, please refer to the registration page. If accommodations have been established and require adjustments or changes, please contact us to discuss right away, any time of the year. If you do not need to make any changes to your existing accommodations, you do not need to complete any new forms with our office. Please make every effort to register in advance of beginning your program so that we can properly prepare for your arrival.
Accommodations and Services
Please refer to the general Accommodations and Services page, and contact us with questions about what is available for your course of graduate study. Accommodations are provided unless they create a fundamental alteration to the program.
As part of SSW's universal access commitment, and the institution's commitment to accessible materials, all videos used in classes are captioned.
Assistive technology (all grads): more information about the Assistive Technology Lab (ATL) in Neilson Library can be found on our Campus Resources page. Please note that not all centers listed on the resources page are open during the summers, but the ATL is available.
Housing (SSW-specific): the Office of Disability Services works with SSW to identify and coordinate needed housing accommodations. This includes requests to bring an Emotional Support Animal which must be approved in advance by ODS. Individuals with a service dog (dogs trained to perform specific disability-related tasks) are asked to notify Disability Services, which will help us coordinate the needs of other disabled students and to be aware of the presence of the animal in the event of emergency. Please view the college policies on Support and Service Animals linked from the corresponding section on this page.
Dietary/food accommodations (SSW-specific): 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 (all grads): 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. The PVTA bus has ramps on every route and also runs a paratransit service; please contact them directly for more details.
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 which must be approved in advance by ODS. Individuals with a service dog (dogs trained to perform specific disability related tasks) are asked to notify 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 - 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 - 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. Some options to do so 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 your time here. We look forward to supporting you.
Continuity of Medical and Psychological Supports
All students 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 the first weeks of adjustment.
Check with your insurance company to find providers in the area and contact them in advance to set up appointments 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. All graduate students, including SSW students, may request support from ODS 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. 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.