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Student Accessibility Services

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Bridgewater State University is committed to ensuring all individuals equal access to its programs, services and community. Student Accessibility Services supports this commitment through its work with students, faculty, staff, and the Bridgewater community to identify and remove barriers to full participation in the University experience. 

Student Accessibility Services collaborates with matriculated students that have documented learning, intellectual, or cognitive disabilities; medical diagnoses or physical challenges; psychological diagnoses and autism. Through Student Accessibility Services, students may receive classroom or campus-community accommodations, access to assistive technology, and referrals to additional resources. Student Accessibility Services is also available to assist students with opportunities such as registering for classes and degree-planning as appropriate.

Student Accessibility Services Philosophy

Our mission is to empower students to access a meaningful university experience and become well-informed self-advocates.

Our vision is to bring together the BSU Community to reduce barriers and foster an inclusive and accessible experience for all.

Empower advocates. Promote equality. Enrich community.

Bridgewater State University is committed to ensuring all individuals have equal access to its programs, services, and community. Should a student experience a barrier to full participation related to a documented disability, they should collaborate with the Student Accessibility Services to explore what accommodations they may be eligible for.

Determining Eligibility for Accommodations

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Amendment Act (ADAAA) of 2008, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 shape how Bridgewater State University ensures that students with disabilities have the same access to the comprehensive college experience as students without disabilities. In the classroom, for example, accommodations are meant to guarantee that a student is able to access all learning requirements for the course in a manner that is equivalent to their peers. Accommodations are not a guarantee of success, should not give a student with a disability an advantage over their non-disabled peers, nor should they fundamentally alter the core learning objectives of the program or experience. To determine what, if any, accommodations a student is eligible for, an interactive process between the student and Student Accessibility Services is utilized.

Establishing Student-Specific Reasonable Accommodations

Students seeking accommodations must first self-disclose the nature of their disability or need for accommodation to the Student Accessibility Services. The student must provide specific documentation that evidences the need for accommodations. Guidelines for Documentation are based on national standards, and are meant to promote a comprehensive and current understanding of the students needs. Once all required documentation is submitted to the Student Accessibility Services, it is reviewed by a qualified member of the team. The student must set up and attend an appointment with an Accessibility Specialist to engage in further discussion of how their disability/disabilities impact their unique experience. Informed by the student’s description of need and the supporting documentation, eligibility will be determined. If found eligible, the student and Accessibility Specialist will then collaborate to create a Letter of Accommodation as well as identify additional resources as needed.

Please note that accommodations granted may be different than services/supports provided in High School via the students IEP or 504 plan. Additionally, once accommodations are granted, if a student continues their enrollment at Bridgewater State University with no changes to their diagnosed disability/disabilities, supporting documentation generally does not need to be re-submitted for continuation of accommodations.

Implementing Accommodations

Once a student receives their Letter of Accommodation, they are responsible for communicating those accommodations to their professor(s) and other members of their community as needed. For classroom accommodations, students should meet with their faculty members during office hours to discuss how the specific accommodations will be implemented in each class. For accommodations within the Residence Halls, it may be appropriate for students to schedule time with their Area Coordinator, Resident Director or Resident Assistant to discuss accommodations. Students must individually disclose their accommodations in the areas they are granted and wish to receive those accommodations in. The Student Accessibility Services team will assist students to understand their responsibility for and best approach to communicating their accommodations with others.

Timeframes for Requesting Accommodations

Over one-thousand students at Bridgewater State University request and receive accommodations. While requests for accommodations are considered on an ongoing basis, it is important to note that accommodations are not retroactive and should therefore be requested as early as possible. The earlier accommodations are requested, the more time we have to prepare for successful implementation.

Academic Accommodations
  • Accommodations within this category must be requested each semester, as they should reflect the unique experience of the specific classes in which the student is enrolled.
  • Students should submit their request for classroom accommodations by mid-July for Fall Semester, mid- December for Spring Semester, and mid-May for Summer session.
Classroom and Campus Environmental/Physical Accommodations
  • Accommodations within this category must be requested each semester, as the implementation of these accommodations often requires modifications to classroom locations or equipment, or the attainment of services outside of the Bridgewater State University community.
  • Students should submit their request for Classroom and Campus Environmental/Physical Accommodations as soon as they have enrolled in their courses. Note that late enrollment in courses may delay the successful implementation of these accommodations.
On-Campus Residential Accommodations (e.g., Emotional Support Animal Accommodations)
  • Students should submit their request for On-Campus Residential Accommodations by end of June for Fall Semester, mid-December for Spring Semester, and mid-May for Summer session.
  • To promote successful implementation of accommodations for the start of each semester, the above timeframes should be followed, though requests are accepted at other times/on an ongoing basis. Speak with a member of the Student Accessibility Services team or Office of Residence Life and Housing for additional guidance.
University Community/Experiential Accommodations (e.g., Reduced Enrollment Accommodations)
  • Timeframes for requesting accommodations in this area are situationally-specific. Students should speak to a Student Accessibility Services team member to discuss their unique case, or see existing policies/procedures as applicable.

Documentation is one resource used to understand a person’s disability and its impact. Paired with the student’s self-report and the interactive process, we use documentation to make informed decisions about appropriate accommodations.

All requests for accommodation should be supported by documentation that meets the following criteria:

  • A specific ICD-10 or DSM-V diagnosis assigned by a qualified professional must be included
  • Testing or other evaluation(s) used to inform the diagnosis must be current (within 3 years)
  • Documentation must be on professional letterhead and include the license information of the evaluator
  • A statement from the qualified professional regarding the severity of the condition, how it substantially limits life areas, and expected prognosis must be included
Additionally, requests related to Learning & Cognitive/Intellectual Disabilities should also include:
  • A clinical summary with diagnostic interview
  • Assessment of aptitude, achievement, and information processing 
  • Actual test scores from standardized instruments

Additionally, requests related to Temporary Conditions should also include: 

  • Treatment plan and follow up care 

Additionally, requests related to Emotional Support Animals should also include: 

  • Treatment plan that includes ESA

Note: In general, an IEP or 504 Plan is unlikely to meet all the criteria above. If you do not have documentation that meets these guidelines, please reach out to our team (SAS@lkmjfh.com) to discuss options.

The following “Rights & Responsibilities” of students, faculty, and Student Accessibility Services are offered to ensure equity in obtaining and implementing reasonable accommodations at Bridgewater State University.

Students have the right to:

  • Seek assistance through SAS by following the defined process for exploring services.
  • Voluntarily self-disclose a diagnosis. If a student wishes to request academic or community accommodations, they must inform the University through SAS or other defined method (such as the Housing, Meals, and Parking Exceptions process). If a student is not requesting accommodations, they do not need to self-identify.
  • Equitable access to academics, spaces, services, benefits, co-curricular activities, housing and transportation, and University programs.
  • Receive reasonable, appropriate, and effective accommodations if approved through the interactive process.
  • Decline an approved accommodation at any time.
  • Expect confidentiality regarding documentation, diagnosis, and treatment.
  • Receive information in accessible formats that are available in a reasonable timeframe.
  • Expect protection from discrimination.
  • Initiate a grievance, appeal, or complaint following University procedures.

Students are responsible to:

  • Know and follow reasonable procedures to implement approved accommodations.
  • Review and respond to communication from SAS.
  • Initiate contact with SAS in a timely manner, as approved accommodations are not retroactive and may take time to implement.
  • Follow SAS accommodations request and other procedures, including periodic interactive meetings to discuss accommodations.
  • Submit appropriate documentation for each diagnosis requiring accommodation.
  • Provide current Letters of Accommodation directly to Faculty to initiate approved accommodations.
  • Notify SAS in a timely manner if an approved accommodation is not working, is no longer needed, or is not being implemented in the manner that was expected.
  • Follow University procedures when filing a complaint.
  • Follow the University’s Student Code of Conduct.
  • Meet BSU’s qualifications, essential academic and institutional standards, which are expected of all students.

Faculty have the right to:

  • Determine course content and methods of teaching.
  • Ensure that course standards are not lowered or compromised.
  • Expect students with disabilities to adhere to community standards and classroom conduct expectations.
  • Deny a student’s request for an accommodation if it has not been approved by SAS.
  • Ask a student to meet to discuss how approved accommodations will be implemented.
  • Discuss concerns with SAS that an approved accommodation may constitute a fundamental alteration.
  • Request assistance from SAS to understand and/or appropriately implement approved accommodations.
  • Ensure that a student receives a grade that accurately reflects their performance related to the essential course requirements.

Faculty are responsible to:

  • Direct student questions about accommodations to SAS.
  • Require students to complete the SAS accommodations-request process before providing reasonable accommodations.
  • Provide an Accessibility Statement directing students to SAS on course syllabus.
  • Implement the approved reasonable accommodation(s) unless the student agrees otherwise.
  • Maintain confidentiality about a student’s accommodations and conduct related conversations privately.
  • Respect a student’s right not to request or use an accommodation.
  • Maintain the integrity of academic standards.
  • Evaluate students on their abilities, not their disabilities.
  • Contact SAS with any questions or concerns about accommodations and how they will be provided.
  • Act in accordance with Federal and State laws that prohibit discrimination based on a disability.

SAS has the right to:

  • Require appropriate, professional documentation by a qualified professional demonstrating the nature and extent of the functional limitations of each diagnosis requiring accommodation.
  • Deny a request for accommodations for reasons such as failure to submit required documentation, or when the documentation does not indicate that the accommodation is necessary.
  • Deny a request for an unreasonable accommodation or one which would alter an essential element of a course or degree program.
  • Select among equally effective accommodations for an individual with a disability.
  • Discuss specific disability-related information with BSU faculty or staff on a need-to-know basis.

SAS is responsible to:

  • Review requests for accommodation, including documentation provided by qualified professional.
  • Respond in a timely manner to student requests for accommodation.
  • Provide a student with rationale when a request is denied.
  • Maintain confidentiality of student documentation and communications.
  • Provide reasonable academic, community, and technological accommodations for BSU students.
  • Collaborate with faculty and staff to support implementation of accommodations.
  • Act in accordance with Federal and State laws that prohibit discrimination based on a disability.

Each students accommodations are individually customized through a collaborative, interactive process that considers the students documented disability/disabilities as well as how they experience their disability/disabilities in the context of the University environment.

Accommodations that are granted at Bridgewater State University are, at times, different than services/supports provided in High School via the students IEP or 504 plan.

Some examples of accommodations include:

Auxiliary Aids

  • Assistive technology hardware and software (see additional info)
  • Accessible tables in classroom and dining areas
  • Audio recorders
  • Assistive listening devices
     

Test Accommodations

  • Use of a reduced distraction testing area
  • Extended time
  • Use of a computer
  • Use of a scribe
     

Communication Access

  • ASL interpreting
  • Video remote interpreting
  • Remote real-time captioning (CART, C-Print, Typewell)
     

Classroom Accommodations

  • Assistive technology for note taking
  • Recording of lectures
  • Preferential classroom seating
     

Environmental/Physical Accommodations

  • Elevator access
  • Relocated classroom(s) to appropriately accessible space
  • Paratransit
     

University Community/Experiential Accommodations

  • Reduced course load
  • Accommodated registration

Bridgewater State University offers a range of Assistive Technology (AT) tools and devices for students to access. Accessibility software is located on computers in Maxwell Library, Moakley Lab, and the SAS Adaptive Lab. Many different AT tools are available to rent or download through our office. We focus on low or no cost technologies to help promote ongoing access for all of our students. Consultation and training are provided to ensure students are matched with the appropriate resources.

Some of the resources currently in use at BSU include: 

Blackboard Ally: Available in your Blackboard courses, this tool automatically converts documents uploaded to your blackboard classroom in to multiple alternative formats.  

Glean: A wonderful resource for notetaking, these help the user to create visual blocks from audio, which can then be edited for meaningful use in a number of ways.

Echo Livescribe Smartpens: The handheld Echo Smartpen from Livescribe permits the user to write while also recording audio that can be played back through the pen itself. When paired with the specialty notebook, written notes are digitized. 

ZoomText: A technology for low-vision users, ZoomText can read, magnify, or otherwise enhance text.

Assistive Listening Systems: These general-use devices vary in form, but generally permit a specific orator to transmit their amplified voice directly to a receiver unit used by a student wearing headphones. 

Speech to Text solutions: Various resources are available to convert speech to text, including Read & Write. 

Additionally, some students may benefit from access to digital versions of their textbooks. BSU students with a related accommodation may request alternative format versions for their class reading material. Students who need accessible versions of their textbooks should contact the Student Accessibility Services prior to the start of the semester for further instructions.

ACCESS Extravaganza (Adapting to College, Co-creating Empowered, Successful Students)
This optional Fall program is designed specifically for newly enrolled students that intend to collaborate with SAS. Participants and their families will learn about navigating their unique roles in the higher education environment and what resources are available to promote their success.

SAS Peer Mentoring
Our mentors are experienced undergraduate students that have utilized SAS as a student with a disability. They assist their mentees with various aspects of creating a successful experience at BSU, focusing on identifying and meeting academic and social needs. First-semester Freshman are prioritized for this program, with additional requests fulfilled as we are able. Capacity is limited.

Peer Connections for Course Registration
Offered to returning students during course registration week, the Peer Mentors host drop-in sessions so students can get additional support navigating the registration process. Students are encouraged to consider aspects such as how much time they need between classes, scheduling courses during peak performance hours, etc.

Service Animal Planning 
If a student will be accompanied by a Service Animal on campus, they are welcome to collaborate with Student Accessibility Services to plan for the semester. This planning may include ensuring that classrooms, residence halls, or other campus locations -such as science labs- are prepared to safely welcome you and your Service Animal.  

Erika Pinault Memorial Scholarship 
The Erika Pinault Memorial Scholarship is awarded by The Bridge Center of Bridgewater, MA to a qualifying student who demonstrates a commitment to and accomplishment in their academics, models good citizenship, and demonstrates success in managing their disability. 

Preview Days, Admitted Students Days, Crimson & White Days, Bear Plaza, Transfer Welcome, etc.
Throughout the year, SAS participates in numerous events to help prospective and admitted students understand what our office can do to best support them at BSU. 

Graduate Assistantship
In partnership with BSU’s College of Graduate Studies, Student Accessibility Services hosts three Graduate Assistantships each academic year. These competitive opportunities provide matriculated graduate students the ability to work toward their master’s degree while receiving valuable work experience and reduced tuition and fees.

 

Contact Us

Student Accessibility Services is located on the ground floor of the Maxwell Library within the Academic Achievement Center.

Student Accessibility Services

Academic Achievement Center
Maxwell Library
10 Shaw Road
Bridgewater, MA 02325
United States

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