Getting appropriate accommodations is a make-it-or-break-it factor for college students with disabilities.
By Mary Niederberger
Freshman Makala Ruffin had a happy ending to her spring 2021 semester at the University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg. Her final grades were good. She had figured out how to balance her school work and personal life.
It was a very different experience from her first semester when Ruffin fell behind in her studies and had to drop her biology class and lab.
The contrast between the semesters was the amount of access to the accommodations Ruffin had to help with her reading and learning disabilities. For the first few weeks in the fall, Ruffin worked without notetakers, without extra time on exams and with no other supports. She fell behind quickly.
Dropping her biology class and lab was devastating.
“It was one of those touchy moments where I ended up crying about it because this is my major class,” Makala,19, said.
She said her accommodations were delayed because initially she wasn’t aware they were available. Once she learned about them, she didn’t understand that she needed to start the process to access them before the semester began.
“I honestly didn’t know you could get accommodations in college. I had said to myself ‘this is going to be a really big transition to having all of this support (at East Allegheny High School) to not having it at all (in college),’” Ruffin said.
Read the rest of this story here.
This story is the second in a series titled “Leveling the Playing Field” published by the Pittsburgh Institute of Nonprofit Journalism and was made possible through a fellowship from the Education Writers Association.
Mary Niederberger covers education for the Pittsburgh Institute of Nonprofit Journalism. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
This story was edited and produced by Brittany Hailer. She can be reached at Bhailer08@gmail.com
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