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Student Disability Services

Advising Students with Disabilities FAQ

Academic advisors are integral to fulfilling the teaching and learning mission of Butler University, and as such are valued partners in our joint efforts to support and empower students with disabilities. The office of Student Disability Services offers the following questions and answers to concerns often shared by academic advisors working with students with disabilities.

How do I advise a student with a disability?

Students with disabilities have qualified for admission under Butler University's regular admission requirements, and as such will require the same support and services offered to any of your advisees. If the student is registered with the office of Student Disability Services and has given SDS written permission to do so, advisors will receive a copy of the student's accommodation letter each semester. This letter will document the accommodations the student is eligible to receive including accommodations that may impact class scheduling such as a reduced course load or the need to schedule classes with regard to regular mealtimes.

Is a student required to divulge the nature of the disability?

No, students are not required to tell advisors or instructors the nature of their disability or to provide copies of their disability documentation. Some students are comfortable sharing with their advisors the functional limitations of their disability; some students are not.

If a student says he or she is registered with our office, but you have not received a copy of his or her accommodation letter, please contact Michele Atterson in Student Disability Services at 317-940-9308.

What are some guidelines regarding confidentiality of disability-related information?

Any information, documentation, or issues related to the student's disability including a student's accommodation letter must be considered confidential. This information cannot be shared with a third party without the student's written permission. You should not expect to see diagnostic information for a particular student. Any discussion that you have with a student about his or her disability and/or accommodations should be in a private setting.

What might be some disability-related reasons my advisee requires a reduced credit hour load?

Typically, extended time for degree completion results from a legitimate disability related need for reduced course loads. For some students, reducing the number of credit hours attempted in a given semester is an accommodation that gives them the "equal access" guaranteed by the law. There are many reasons why students with disabilities may need to request a reduced course load.

  • Students with physical/medical disabilities may have to devote an unusual amount of time or effort toward the activities of daily living and may request a reduced course load to have adequate time for studying, projects, term papers, etc.
  • Students with chronic medical disabilities may request a lower credit hour load in order to ensure they have time built into their daily schedule for medical treatments, physician's appointments, and clinic time. 
  • Students with sensory impairments may rely on alternate media for processing their assignments and thus will require additional time to complete course requirements.
  • Students who have learning disabilities, traumatic brain injury or Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder may need to enroll in fewer courses so they can focus their energies and attention and work with tutors on coursework that directly impacts their particular disability.

Not all students with disabilities need reduced credit hour loads, nor do they necessarily require these reductions every semester. There is no reason to grant an academic load below the usual number of credit hours for full-time status if a student's disability does not impact his/her academic courses.

What do I do if I suspect one of my advisees has a learning disability?

If you learn that your advisee is experiencing academic difficulty, and you suspect it may be due to an undiagnosed disability such as a learning disability or Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, you are encouraged to privately refer him or her to the office of Student Disability Services, Jordan Hall 136. You might ask the student if it would be helpful to speak with someone to explore the possible reasons for the academic challenges the student is experiencing but never attempt to diagnose or imply that the student has a disability.

The student would then make an appointment with Student Disability Services to discuss his or her academic difficulties by calling our office at 317-940-9308 or stopping by our office, JH 136. If warranted, we will suggest that the student pursue a full evaluation with an outside professional. We do not test for learning disabilities or Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder at Butler University, but we do have a number of resources and referrals we can share with the student. We may also refer the student to campus resources such as the Learning Resource Center or the Butler University Counseling Center.

As with other aspects of college life, it is ultimately up to the student to contact SDS. Once the suggestion is made, he or she is free to follow up or not.

What do I do if an advisee discloses that he or she has a disability but has not registered with Student Disability Services?

Advisors are encouraged to refer students to the office of Student Disability Services if any aspect of a student's university experience is adversely affected by a disability. However, students with disabilities cannot be required to register with Student Disability Services.

Students who are experiencing difficulties and who do not have a documented disability will need to seek documentation in order to be eligible for accommodations and services through the office of Student Disability Services. SDS can help a student with the procedure for documenting a disability.