Determining the Functional Limitation of Your Disability

Do you know how to describe your disability and how it impacts you? Most students don’t. One skill that all students with disabilities should develop is the ability to talk about his or her disability and need for accommodations. Most students aren't sure where to start or what information is relevant.

The first questions you should ask yourself are “How does my disability affect me?” and "How am I struggling in my studies?" The answers to these questions will usually lead you to the modifications that you need to accommodate your disability.

Here are some questions that can guide you:

When thinking about your past:

  • What problem situations can you attribute to your disability?
  • What tasks have you done well?
  • How have you modified tasks or environments to compensate for your condition in the past?
  • What adaptive devices or assistive technology has been helpful to your success?
  • What support services have been helpful in the past?

When thinking about your disability:

  • Can you name your disability?
  • When were you diagnosed with the condition?
  • Are there any cyclical or episodic flare ups?
  • Are there any known triggers - environmental, emotional or otherwise?
  • Do you have ongoing medical treatment for your condition? If yes, what is the treatment and what impact does it have on your ability to function?

How does your disability impact:

  • Listening?
  • Reading?
  • Keyboarding/typing?
  • Writing narratives?
  • Manipulation of objects?
  • Speed of reaction or bodily movements?
  • Sleep?
  • Social interactions?
  • Research in a library or via the Internet?
  • Mathematical calculations?
  • Ability to meet deadlines?

When thinking about learning and taking studies:

  • How do I learn best?
  • What are my assets?
  • What are my challenges?
  • What accommodations have I used in the past?
  • When I have done well in the past, what strategies or resources did I use?
  • What have I tried that hasn’t worked?

If you are still having difficulty, contact your center's disability representative or the Office of Collegewide Disability Services.

Return to the Student Handbook or continue to Documentation: What Is It? When Is It Required? Why Should I Consider Assessment or Reassessment?