For Families

Developing Self-Advocacy/Passing the Baton from Parent/Guardian to the Student

Transition to college can be both exciting and overwhelming for students and their family supports. Students will be advocating for themselves and exploring what it means to be an adult with a disability; some for the very first time. As there are changes in disability processes regarding the law, procedures, and expectations at the college level, students will be navigating this without direct family involvement. This page will help family members better understand how best to support their student during this critical time in their lives.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • For Families of Prospective or Admitted Students FAQ

    My student is considering coming to UMass Lowell (UML), can we have a meeting with Disability Services ahead of time to know if this is the right fit and they will get their accommodations?

    Our office always has representation at University-wide events such as Open House and Admitted Students Day. We are happy to meet you and your student at these events and give a general overview of our office.

    Additionally, our team provides a webinar about the transition to college at UML on a regular basis, previous recordings can be found on our UML Disability Services YouTube Channel.

    Full/In depth discussions about a student's individual accommodations occur during their Intake meeting. It is legally required to uphold a thorough interactive process which includes reviewing documentation and directly conversing with the student. This process can only occur for a matriculated student.

    When can my student register with Disability Services?

    Students can register with Disability Services once they are matriculated (admitted and enrolled in the University).

    We prefer students to meet with us prior to their first semester so they can start with academic accommodations in place.

    As our academic year is focused on supporting the currently enrolled students, most of our incoming students meet with us over the summer.

    However, our office is available to meet with students year-round and anytime during their academic career.

    Accommodations are activated for students upon the instrutor’s receipt of their semester letter.

    How can we know more about the process to register?

    Our website outlines the three-step registration process and shares in-depth information about many of our resources and offerings. Students are welcome to complete our Prospective / Admitted Students Form to receive more information and stay connected with us once they are matriculated.

    I’m pretty sure my student sent documentation in with their application to UMass Lowell, do you have it? Do they automatically get registered with your office?

    Admissions does not share information sent with applications with other offices. Students need to follow the registration process in order to move forward with academic accommodations. Students receive emails via their UMass Lowell (UML) email with updates to their registration status once they begin that process.

  • Supporting My Adult Student: Family Involvement at the College-Level FAQ

    How can I prepare my student to register with Disability Services?

    • Encourage your student to register with our office.
    • Family members can be available to answer any questions a student has when filling out the Public Accommodation Request Form however, students must be the one to independently complete the form through their UMass Lowell (UML) login and in their own words.
    • Family members can help the student obtain a copy of documentation to submit to our office.
    • Prior to the Intake meeting, the student is sent a copy of the Resource Guide along with questions for discussion. Family members may go through those materials with the student and help them think about how they may answer the discussion questions.
    • To help students understand their disability documentation, families may review it with their student.
    • Families can work with the student to create a list of points/questions to address during the Intake meeting.

    How do the Disability Services staff work with a student who may not be well-prepared or comfortable talking about their disability and accommodations?

    The Disability Services staff understands that many students may not be well prepared to meet with a new support person to share about their disability and what they might need entering college. During the Intake meeting, we collaborate with the student to identify their strengths and challenges and determine academic accommodations. Our staff members ask questions to gain a deeper understanding of the student’s personal experience. We use a Resource Guide to walk students though the content of our meeting. This guide can be referenced at any time by the student after the meeting.

    Can I come with my student to their Intake meeting?

    At the college level, the interactive intake meeting is designed as a 1-1 meeting with the student and the staff member only in order to empower the student, allow for self-advocacy and autonomy, and reduce disability stigma. Authentic conversations are made complex with others in the room. At the start of the Intake meeting, students may alert the staff member if they wish for a family member to briefly attend the end of the meeting for a summary. Follow-up meetings are also designed to be on a one-to-one basis.

    What happens after the Intake meeting? How will I know if everything my student needs was addressed?

    Students can review their materials with their family supports including the Student Resource Guide and their Record of Approved Accommodations, both of which will be in the student’s UML email inbox. At any time in their academic career, students can schedule a meeting with us to seek disability-related guidance, revisit their accommodations, or share a change in their disability needs.

    Can I help my student by making appointments, doing the registration process, and sending letters for them?

    In general, at the college level, the process is student driven. Additionally, our Accommodate system utilizes single sign-on through the student UML credentials. This system is utilized to manage the registration process, send accommodation letters, and book appointments with our office. Therefore, others are not able to complete these tasks for the student. However, one of the most supportive roles a family member can have is to encourage their student to register with us even if they aren’t sure they will utilize accommodations (it’s much faster if they change their mind than to have to start the process). Family members can also encourage students to check their UML email regularly and know how to filter to make sure they see and respond to the most important information.

    Can you tell me if my student is registered and/or what is going on with them? And what if they don’t want to register?

    At the college level, all interactions are directly with the student. Only the student can choose who to share with that they are registered with us and what has occurred in the meetings. If they don’t want to register, unfortunately we must respect their choice and remain available at any time if they change their mind. It is the student’s choice to opt-in to any support services on campus, including Disability Services.

    How do instructors know that a student has academic accommodations?

    Each semester, the student will receive an email from our office reminding them to complete the Semester Request Process. Students follow this simple process to send accommodation letters to the instructor(s) of their choosing. Students are CCed on the faculty notification that the Accommodation Letter has been sent. Students and faculty are highly encouraged to discuss the details of the accommodations in the letter.

Other Helpful Resources