Going into my second semester of college, I’d just like to give some friendly blind wisdom. If you know the school you’re going to be attending, make sure you call the disability office before hand and as questions as if you’re life depended on it. This is so that you develop a smashing retour with disability services and also see how much they know. Ask them a bunch of questions where they have to give detailed answers. Yes, act like it’s a job interview. See if they will be there for you when you need them or learn early on, that you’ll have to rely on other means of advocacy and access if needed. The below are just SOME questions that I’ve asked my new disability support supervisor. I’ve had people tell me that I sound pompous, but I want to be a good student. I really want to be the best that I can be, so I don’t want to have you lie to me, showing off one area and then once I get inside, I find out that you’re a hindrance rather than a help. I need the support from the disability support services for tests, and I’d like to know early on if I can turn to you for advocacy and support. I also want to know if I should, perhaps, focus my energy in building an accessible relationship with my new professors. Below are some questions that I’ve asked. You don’t have to be so Frank if it makes you uncomfortable but I feel these kinds of questions tell me exactly what I want to know.
What is your process for taking tests with a reader and a scribe? How would I schedule tests with your office?
How many years have you worked in your position, and what sort of advocacy work have you done to inform staff about the rights of students?
How many computers on the campus are equipped with screen reader technology? How available is this equipment?
How knowledgeable are you about using adaptive software on computers? Can you assist with a student’s explanation to a teacher why a PDF document might not be accessible, if need be?
Is there a disability club or outreach group?
How would I, as a blind student, schedule for a scribe and or no taker for a semester?
What is the availability of scribes, note takers, and readers?
How many services, in regards to alternative accessible textbooks, are you familiar with?
In case a source of accessible textbooks doesn’t have the particular book, how many other resources can you tell students about?