Parent & Family Information

“How will my student be supported and what services are available?”

A student’s college search process is often guided by questions pertaining to the academic, social and co-curricular life they will find at a particular institution.  For parents of students with learning differences or physical/medical disabilities, the key question is often, “How will my student be supported and what services are available?”  We encourage parents to help their student explore their answers to these questions and to identify the type of support service they will need and feel comfortable utilizing.

Click here to view the SAS Service Model.

This document, Differences Between High School and College, is designed to help students and parents understand and be prepared for the differences in support-service terminology in college vs. high school.

Click on “Parent Facts” below to learn more...

Parent Facts

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Students with documented disabilities who are registered with Student Accessibility Services make up nearly 10% of the Roger Williams University student population. This fact sheet is designed to help parents understand the rights and responsibilities of students with disabilities as well as the policies and procedures that have been established for this group at the University.

What is Student Accessibility Services (SAS) at Roger Williams University?

Roger Williams University is mandated by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 to provide equal access to facilities, educational and co-curricular programs, campus activities, and employment opportunities to qualified individuals with disabilities. To provide said access, the Student Accessibility Services office was created more than a decade ago.

How does SAS provide equal access?

Student Accessibility Services ensures that students with disabilities have physical and academic access to the educational experience here at RWU by providing reasonable and appropriate accommodations. Student Accessibility Services believes that the most successful students are self-advocates who identify their own needs, take personal initiative in problem-solving and decision-making, and effectively use all available resources to fully participate in the educational experience.

How do students qualify to use the services of SAS?

Services are available to all students with documented disabilities that substantially limit a major life activity such as: learning, hearing, seeing, reading, walking, and speaking. It is the student's responsibility to provide current documentation from an appropriate professional (physician, psychologist, etc.). Students must request academic accommodations in person in the SAS office each semester.

How does SAS learn of students with disabilities?

SAS learns of students with disabilities in a variety of ways. Most students and their families send documentation of the disability as the student begins his/her academic career at RWU. Other students come to SAS without having been diagnosed. SAS provides these students with resources for obtaining diagnostic evaluations that may warrant the provision of accommodations. Members of the campus community (Counseling, Health Services, faculty members) also refer students to SAS based on their interactions.

Are SAS students "flagged" for the RWU population?

The students who are registered with SAS are NOT flagged anywhere in the RWU community (i.e. class rosters, Datatel, etc.). Disability related information is confidential and is not shared outside the SAS office without a student's permission.

How will students with disabilities tell their professors that they are eligible to receive academic accommodations?

Having met with a member of the Student Accessibility Services staff to discuss accommodations for the current semester's courses, eligible students request accommodations through the online request form, and submit the request to Once the request is received, an authorization will be sent to the student's RWU email address. It is the student's responsibility to deliver the Authorization form to the faculty member in a timely manner and to make arrangements for accommodations (this might include reminding a professor to deliver a test to SAS). Instructors are not expected to provide accommodations "on demand" or "after the fact."

Can faculty members approach the topic of students with disabilities at the start of a course?

Students' disability information is confidential and should never be discussed or referred to in front of classmates or other individuals. To preserve students' rights to privacy and to indicate a willingness to provide accommodations, instructors may include a statement on each course syllabus such as:

  • "If you are a student with a disability which requires academic accommodations, you must first register with Student Accessibility Services on the second floor of the University Library in the Center for Academic Development."
  • After receiving an Academic Accommodation Authorization form, an instructor may invite the student to an office hour to discuss any special circumstances related to a disability.

What are common accommodations?

The most commonly requested accommodations are: extended time for test taking, testing in a distraction-free environment, and note taking assistance. Accommodations are not intended to guarantee success. They are intended to "level the playing field" so students have equal access and are assessed on their learning and not on the impact of their disability in the educational environment.

What is extended time for testing?

Extended time for testing is an accommodation that grants the student the right to spend additional processing time on an exam. Time-and-a-half is a common guideline or starting point, but each student's allotted time is determined on a case-by-case basis. Extended time does not mean unlimited time. After receiving the Academic Accommodation Authorization form from a student who wishes to use the SAS Testing Center, the faculty member is responsible for delivering the test to the SAS office located on the second floor of the University Library in the Center for Academic Development. The test is accompanied by a completed Test Cover Sheet (a.k.a. "blue sheet") which supplies SAS with such information as: materials students can/cannot use while testing, special instructions, latest date test can be taken, where to deliver test, etc.

What is note taking assistance?

Note taking assistance is a common accommodation provided for students who have auditory processing or fine motor skills deficits, attention issues, seizure disorders, or similar disabilities. Students seeking note taking assistance are expected to attend class and take their own notes. The note taker's notes are intended to supplement the notes taken by the student with a disability. Students are responsible to make the initial request for a note taker with SAS. Requesting students provide their professor with the note taking accommodation request form. Faculty members are asked to identify strong students in the course and/or make a general announcement to recruit a note taker. A student enrolled in the course who has demonstrated a strong ability to take clear and thorough notes then provides the note taking service. The requesting student and the note taker then meet and arrange for the transfer of notes.

Can a faculty member review a student's documentation/file before agreeing to accommodations such as extended time for a test?

Only the SAS staff has access to the files containing students' documentation. From time to time, SAS will confer with faculty who are concerned about a student. SAS can supply only general information to the faculty member along with strategies to meet the learning needs of the student in the classroom and explanations of the accommodations to be provided.

What types of disabilities do RWU students disclose to Student Accessibility Services?

RWU students disclose a variety of disabilities including, but not limited to:  physical disabilities (e.g. Muscular Dystrophy, Cerebral Palsy); learning disabilities (e.g. dyslexia, language disorders, dyscalculia); psychiatric disabilities (e.g. depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder); chronic health disabilities (e.g. asthma, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome); Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD); Blindness/Visually Impaired; Deafness or Hard of Hearing.