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Welcome to Accessibility within the Academic and Career Development Center at Fairfield University!

Promoting self-advocacy and independence to prepare our students for the workplace are primary goals for our department. We provide students with the tools to enable them to feel on equal ground with their peers, while giving them the freedom to develop more self-esteem and confidence in their abilities to succeed. Our office can help to enhance a student’s development socially, cognitively and academically to give them the extra support they need to achieve success at Fairfield University.

It is crucial that students become knowledgeable about their responsibilities and their rights in post-secondary education, as now the student has more responsibility to request and design their own accommodations. For many students with disabilities, good self-advocacy skills will be the likely success at Fairfield University.

Accommodations And Support Services

After being accepted into the University and confirming their attendance, current students are responsible for self-identifying to Accessibility to request accommodations. All accommodations are determined on a case by case basis.

Although all accommodations are determined on a case by case basis, there are several on campus resources which offer support services to all undergraduate and/or graduate students.

In addition, Accessibility (ACDC) staff are available to meet with students with disabilities registered with our office regarding:

  • Time management
  • Boosting study skills
  • Organization and planning
  • Effective note taking
  • Assistive Technology

Students with medical disabilities (ex. Food Allergies) and mental health needs (ex. Anxiety) are encouraged to visit the respective websites for the Health Center and Counseling and Psychological Service for additional information regarding on campus services and resources.

Consideration For Accommodations

Any student who is currently taking classes at Fairfield University may complete the registration procedures outlined below to be considered for accommodations.

After May 1st: Confirmed students with disabilities who will be starting classes in the fall semester who wish to be considered for accommodations must complete the following registration procedures.

  • Log onto "my.fairfield"/Single Sign On
    • Student will need to have already claimed their NetID
  • Go to ACDC Portal or search “Accessibility & Accommodations”.
  • Click on the "Accessibility & Accommodations" Task Bar for Registering.
  • Complete the online student intake profile.
  • Upload all supporting documentation.
    • This can be your initial diagnosis and any additional psychological testing you may have had to complete in high school. You can include copies of your IEP or 504 plan, however, these will be used as aides to understand your high school accommodations and may not carry over into your post-secondary education.
    • Our policy is that accommodations are provided based on existing and current information, rather than the history of accommodations received in the past or in another setting. Such information is helpful in making determinations, but we make decisions about accommodations here based on the information before us now.
  • Email to request a meeting (appointment times available starting in July) with the Director of Accessibility to:
    • Discuss accommodations and requests
    • Review rights and responsibilities
    • Review campus resources available
    • Review procedures for implementation

Institutional Differences

Institutional Differences

Services in college differ significantly from services in high school and are impacted by legal rights as well as the parents’ role in the educational process.

Legal Rights

High School

  • The student’s rights are protected by the IDEA
  • Teachers and Administrators use IEPS
  • Guarantee SUCCESS
  • The SCHOOL is responsible for identifying students and initiating services
  • Parents are HIGHLY involved
  • The SCHOOL organizes and provides updated testing
  • Decisions about the student’s education are made by the IEP team


  • The student’s rights are protected by SECTION 504 and the ADA
  • IEPs are NOT used
  • Provides ACCESS
  • The STUDENT is responsible for identifying themselves and contacting the DRC to set up services
  • Parents only have access to what the student allows
  • The STUDENT is responsible for organizing and obtaining updated testing
  • Decisions about the student’s education are made by the STUDENT

High School vs. College Responsibilities and Expectations

What are the differences between high school and college disability services?

Transition to college can be challenging for students with disabilities. The laws governing disability services for individuals with disabilities in post-secondary institutions are significantly different than those mandated for K-12 education. It is important for students and families to understand the major differences between these two learning environments.

At the elementary and secondary levels, the IDEA- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act- mandates the school districts to provide support services including: identifying students with special needs, evaluating them, and providing accommodations. It is the special educator’s responsibility to meet with parents and faculty, draw up an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for each student, and attempt to help students meet their goals. Classroom teachers work closely with the special educator to implement IEP goals and objectives. The overall objective of K-12 education is academic success.

At the college level, however, procedures change dramatically. The responsibility shifts to the student and the student becomes more responsible for self-identification. While Fairfield University is responsible for providing students with reasonable accommodations, students must demonstrate eligibility by providing appropriate documentation, ask for services, and fully participate in the process.


High School College

Services provided under IDEA or Section 504. School district identifies and evaluates disability at no cost to the student or family.

Services provided under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. You must self-identify and provide documentation of disability. You must pay the cost of evaluation. The college is responsible for most, but not all costs involved in providing accommodations and/or essential auxiliary aids. The college is not legally required to provide special programs with comprehensive support services.

You have fewer responsibilities.

You are expected to live more independently.

You are assisted with decisions.

You become responsible for an increasing number of decisions. You are expected to make independent decisions.

Limits and goals are set for you by parents and teachers.

More self-evaluation and monitoring required. More independent reading required. You are responsible for managing time commitments. You establish and attain your own goals. You determine when you need help. Interest in learning must be generated by you, the student. You must motivate yourself to succeed.

Attendance and progress is well monitored.

You are responsible for attendance and awareness of your progress or lack thereof.

Your time is structured by home and school.

You manage your own time.

Special education teacher is the liaison between students, parents, teachers.

You are responsible for self-advocacy.

Summary for High School
Students with disabilities are placed in “special education” and possibly served separately from other students.

Summary for College
You must self-identify disability and request services from postsecondary institution. You are required to provide recent documentation of disability and documentation must clearly support desired accommodations. You are not labeled or served separately from others. Other students and faculty will not know about your disability unless you choose to reveal such information. Faculty is only notified about required accommodations.


Adapted from Lynchburg College and St. Louis Community College. Compiled from: Claire E. Weinstein, Karalee Johnson, Robert Malloch, Scott Ridley and Paul Schuls, Innovation Abstracts (vol. X No. 21; Sept. 30, 1988); National Institute for Staff & Organizational Development; the University of Texas, Austin, Texas, 78712 F. Shaw, L.C. Brinckerhoff, J. Kistler and J.M. McGuire, 1991, Learning Disabilities A Multidisciplinary Journal 2, 21-26;The Postsecondary Learning Disabilities Primer, Learning Disabilities Training Project, Western Colina University, 1989; Vogel, S.A. Alderman, P.B. 1993, Success for College Students with Learning Disabilities; Brinckerhoff, L.C., S.F. Shaw and J.M. McGuire, 1993, Promoting Postsecondary Education for Students with Learning Disabilities.

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