Bridgewater State University is committed to ensuring all individuals equal access to its programs and services. Bridgewater offers a number of services to students who have a documented medical condition, are physically challenged, or have psychological or learning disabilities.
Disability Resources Philosophy
To encourage and assist students:
- to assume their personal responsibilities
- to become self-advocates
- to become independent learners
- to benefit from array of experiences within the university
This website provides information regarding the policies and procedures for student with disabilities to receive services through the Disability Resources Office as well as information regarding many of the services that are provided.
The Disability Resources Office is located on the ground floor of the Maxwell Library within the Academic Achievement Center.
10 Shaw Road
Bridgewater State University
Bridgewater, MA 02325
Disability Resources Program Requirements
Determining Eligibility for Services
Students seeking services or accommodation must set up an appointment to meet with a member of the Disability Resources staff. During the meeting the student’s expressed requests for service and/or accommodation and the disability documentation will be reviewed. Eligibility for services is determined through an examination of the student’s description of need and the thoroughness of the disability documentation. If the student is eligible for services, a plan for accommodation will be developed which includes training in the use of the recommended accommodations or services.
Determining Reasonable Accommodations
Reasonable accommodations are based on students’ documentation to provide access to courses, program, service, activities or facilities that enables a qualified student with a disability to have an equal opportunity to attain the same level of performance or enjoy equal benefits and privileges as are available to similarly situated students without disabilities. The University is obligated to provide accommodation only to the known limitations of an otherwise qualified student with a disability. To determine reasonable accommodations the Disability Resources staff may seek information from appropriate University personnel regarding essential standards for courses, programs, services, activities and facilities.
Documentation Guidelines for Students with LD/ADHD
- Evaluation conducted by a qualified professional.
- Testing must be current (within 3 years of date of admission).
- Documentation should be comprehensive.
- Diagnostic interview.
- Assessment: aptitude, achievement, and information processing.
- Documentation must include a specific diagnosis.
- Actual test scores from standardized instruments, and clinical summary should be provided.
Documentation for Students with a Medical Diagnosis of ADD/ADHD
- Follow guidelines for documentation for Students with Physical/Medical Disabilities.
Documentation for Students with Psychological Disabilities
- Must be based on DSM-IV criteria.
- Show evidence of a disability which would substantially limit access to learning.
- Must be recent.
- Must show the actual evaluation date.
- Medications should be noted and how they may impact on learning or attendance.
- Reports should be submitted on professional letterhead and must contain the names, titles, and license information of the evaluator.
Documentation for Students with Physical/Medical Disabilities
- Must be recent, within three years of admission to BSU and be from a licensed physician.
- Must state the nature and severity of the condition as well as the expected duration, or progression of the condition.
- All treatments, medications, or devices currently prescribed must also be noted.
- Letter should be submitted on professional letterhead and must contain the names, titles, and license information of the evaluator.
Right and Responsibilities
Students with disabilities have the right to:
- Equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from the academic community. This includes access to services, benefits, co-curricular activities, housing and transportation, when viewed in their entirety, that are comparable to those provided to any student.
- Information regarding the availability of auxiliary aids and possible accommodations as well as procedures for making requests for either.
- Request reasonable accommodations which provide equal access.
- Confidentiality of all information and the right to choose to whom information about their disabilities will be disclosed.
- Availability of information and access to university's grievance procedures.
Students with disabilities have the responsibility to:
- To self-identify to the Disability Resources office and provide documentation regarding your disability from an appropriate, qualified practitioner.
- Meet with disability resources staff each semester to review course requirements and obtain accommodation letters for instructors.
- Request all services in a timely manner, and follow established procedures.
- Meet with faculty to review accommodation letter each semester.
- Report any concerns that you have regarding accommodations as soon as they arise.
- Treat all university personnel with respect.
- Meet the university's graduation requirements and academic standards for completion of any academic program.
The University has the right to:
- Identify and establish the abilities, skills, and knowledge that are fundamental to academic programs/courses and to evaluate each student's performance against these standards. Fundamental program and course standards are not subject to modification.
- Request and receive documentation that supports a student's request for accommodations. The University has the right to deny a request if the documentation demonstrates that no accommodation is necessary, or if the student fails to provide such documentation.
- Select among equally effective accommodations for an individual with a disability.
- Refuse an unreasonable accommodation or one that imposes an undue hardship on the University.
Disability Resources Program Support Services and Accommodations
Reasonable accommodations are defined as all adjustments, alterations, or modification that allow a student with a documented disability or impairment to have equal access to college programs and activities. After providing appropriate documentation, the student will meet with a Disability Resources staff to create an accommodation letter, review the accommodations or services that will be important and appropriate. Students who would like an accommodations letter from the Disability Resources Office must make a request in writing each semester. Students need to meet with their faculty members during office hours to discuss the accommodations that are on their letters.
Accommodations will be made on a case by case basis and may include, but are not limited to:
Students needing auxiliary aids should contact the Disability Resources Office to evaluate the request, determine the appropriate accommodation to be provided, and identify how it will be obtained (i.e. purchase, lease, hire, etc.). A number of aids are available at no charge, including assistive technology hardware and software, TTY's, accessible tables in classroom and dining areas, tape recorders, and assistive listening devices. Every effort will be made to provide the auxiliary aid or find a reasonable alternative that will allow the student full participation, unless the request is determined to be unreasonable or will impose an undue hardship on the University.
It is the student’s responsibility to request test accommodations based on disability documentation. Test accommodations may include, but are not limited to:
- extended time
- reduced distraction environment
- taped test or Brailled test
- enlarged materials or alternate type size
- dictated or oral exam
- reduced distraction testing area
- use of a computer
Requests for interpreter or CART services must be made as early as possible prior to the start of the semester. The University employs only appropriately credentialed and qualified interpreters. Students utilizing interpreters or CART during the fall or spring sessions may be authorized for advance registration by the Disability Resources Office.
Peer note-taker services are provided to students who have received authorization from the LD Specialist or Assistant Director for Disability Resources Office. Generally note-takers are students who are enrolled in the class, who are identified directly by the student requesting the service or through the assistance of the course instructor. Note-takers must register with the Disability Resources Office and the Student Employment Office at the beginning of the semester and will receive a stipend at the conclusion of the semester for providing the service on a consistent basis.
Students may also be permitted to use tape recorders in class as an accommodation. Cassette recorders and blank tapes may be borrowed from the Media Service Department, Maxwell Library, ground level, on a semester loan basis.
Reduced Course Load
As a general principle most students with disabilities are expected to maintain a full-time course load of a least 12 credits per semester. A student who is deemed appropriate to take fewer than 12 credits must talk with a member of the Disability Resources staff to determine if this is an appropriate accommodation and to consider the effect, if any, on financial aid, medical insurance, housing status, athletic participation and the like.
Assistive Technology and Alternative Texts
There are several computer labs on campus where assistive technology is available. At the Adaptive Technology Labs at the Moakley Center, the first floor of Maxwell Library, and the Disability Resources Office, print materials can be scanned into digital formats. Print magnification, speech-to-text, Braille translation and other access enhancing technologies are also available. We offer the following pieces of software in our Adaptive Lab:
Dragon Naturally Speaking
In line with the University’s recommended specifications for laptops our assistive technology strategy revolves around the Microsoft Windows operating system. While we will make every attempt to assist students who use other operating systems, we can only fully support Windows machines. Unfortunately, there are pieces of assistive software that will only work with Windows. One of these is MathPlayer, software that allows screen readers to access math material. For more information regarding the compatibility of assistive technology, please contact the Disability Resources Office at 508-531-2194.
Alternative Texts and Materials
Students who are blind or vision impaired, or who have learning disabilities, may benefit from textbooks in a digital format that allows the text to be read aloud. Students using alternate format texts should actively seek text title, author and edition information from academic departments and instructors well in advance of the semester to ensure that the text will be available at the start of the semester.
The primary source of audio and digital texts is Learning Ally (formerly RFB&D), 20 Rozel Road, Princeton, NJ 08540, 1-800-221-4792. You can view the on-line catalog at https://www.learningally.org . Students who have not already registered with Learning Ally are encouraged to do so if they suspect that they may benefit from digital texts. Other services that students should use to procure accessible texts are:
Bookshare ( https://www.bookshare.org/ )
CourseSmart ( http://www.coursesmart.com/ )
National Library Service ( http://www.loc.gov/nls/ )
Project Gutenberg ( http://www.gutenberg.org/ )
If a text is not available in an alternate format, it normally takes at least two months to convert a text to an alternate format. Note: Prior to the registration period for spring and summer classes, students may request authorization from the Disability Resources Office to register in advance if they will be using alternative format texts.
Fall Preview Days
The Admissions office at Bridgewater State University holds several open houses during the fall to provide prospective students and their families with information on the admissions process, financial aid, academic and student life. Our Disability Resources Office staff will be in attendance at these open houses to talk with prospective students and their families about the services of the office as well as provide helpful handouts and descriptions of programs. Please find more information about the 2013 Fall Preview Days at http://bridgew.edu/campus-tour .
Prospective Students Open House
During the April school vacation week the Disability Resources Office hosts a special program designed to help students with disabilities, who have self-identified during the process of admission, make a decision about whether Bridgewater is a good fit. Disability Resources staff members discuss the variety of programs and services available and current students share their experiences. Tours of the campus include stops at the learning assistance areas, adaptive computing labs, library and other areas of particular interest. Please contact our office to register for the event at 508-531-2194.
Pre-College Workshop for Students with Disabilities
Pre-College Workshop is a two-day program for new students with disabilities which takes place prior to the start of fall classes. These two days consist of five workshops, informational tours, family workshop, welcome lunch, and other exciting activities for new students to become familiar with Bridgewater State University prior to the arrival of the University community. PCW gives new students with disabilities an opportunity to talk about what BSU offers with upper-class students with disabilities. Students will work in small groups and will have a lot of time to ask questions, to discuss concerns about policies and procedures, to learn how to negotiate classroom accommodations.
Leadership and Peer Educator Training
Leadership and Peer Education Training is offered to students identified with the Disability Resources Office who are interested in pursuing leadership opportunities with the Disability Resources Office or other university programs.
Mentors are upper-class students with disabilities who complete the Leadership and Peer Education Training Program. The peer mentors assist freshmen students with disabilities with their academic needs, such as time management, study skills, testing strategies. In addition, the mentors help with self advocacy, independent learning skills, and use of on campus resources. The Disability Resources staff determines based on the students’ documentation who will be invited to the Peer Mentoring Program.
Erika Pinault Memorial Scholarship
The Erika Pinault Memorial Scholarship is awarded at Honors Day in memory of a longtime devoted member of the University facilities staff by The Bridge Center (formerly known as Handi-Kids Chapter II of Bridgewater).
Students Accepting a Challenge
Students Accepting A Challenge is a student group which welcomes students who are concerned with the many aspects of dealing with disabilities within the University community.
The Challenger Newsletter
This newsletter is published once per semester for students with disabilities regarding activities and current events for individuals with disabilities. Although it is directed to our students, it also brings awareness to the University community at large. Students, alumni and staff often contribute to this publication.
Disability Resources Staff
Pamela Spillane, Ed.M., C.A.G.S.
Learning Disabilities Specialist
Assistive Technology Specialist