Upper Iowa University Disability Services (UIUDS) values self-advocacy. In fact, it is central to the services we provide to our students. Strong self-advocates acknowledge their disability and understand how it impacts their lives, express both their strengths and limitations, and ask for assistance when necessary. Students need to be proactive immediately following their acceptance to UIU. This involves contacting the Director of Disability Services (DDS), submitting a Voluntary Disclosure—Request for Services Form, and submitting current, appropriate documentation completed by a licensed professional. When students receive their letter of acceptance for services from UIUDS, it is their responsibility to contact the DDS to set up the first in-take appointment, during which an academic contract will be cooperatively completed for each of the students’ upcoming courses. Students should schedule additional appointments each term to continue receiving accommodations. If at any time during their learning experience at UIU students feel they are not receiving reasonable accommodations, they should contact the DDS to discuss necessary modifications.
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
Another reason UIUDS encourages self-advocacy is a result of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, commonly known as FERPA. FERPA is a federal law that protects the privacy of students’ education records. Although parents had access to their child’s rights during their years of K-12 schooling, these rights transfer to students when they reach the age of 18 or attend a postsecondary institution. As a result, UIUDS cannot legally share any confidential information with parents without the consent of the student. If a student chooses to complete a Release/Exchange of Information Certifying Disability Form, then the DDS can communicate with parents/guardians (this form is completed by the student in the presence of the DDS). Otherwise, confidential information can only be discussed with the student.
How Can Parents Help?
By offering the right balance of challenge and support, parents can significantly impact the growth of students during their learning experience at UIU.
Challenge students by…
- Allowing them to make mistakes
- Encouraging them to meet with their professors outside of the classroom
- Suggesting they get involved in at least one new extra-curricular activity
- Advising them to stay at college for the first few weeks as they may be tempted to return home the first weekend
- Questioning them in an effort to help them find their own answer, rather than simply providing an solution to problems
Support students by…
- Maintaining regular contact, but not too often (checking-in with your son/daughter is beneficial, even if they say otherwise)
- Offering advice when asked and simply listening when they need to vent
- Encouraging them to utilize the multiple services offered at UIU
- Sending notes/letters of encouragement throughout the semester
- Reminding them that it is common for college students not to have all of the answers, that’s why there are so many resources on campus
Letter from Assistance Secretary for Civil Rights on Transition from High School to Postsecondary Education