Students with Disabilities

Students with apparent and less apparent disabilities or health conditions, including mental health.

Tips for Advising

Human beings are diverse in bodies and minds.  Abilities shift through our lives, settings, cultures, and roles.  College is often a time when students become aware of a pattern of barriers that persist across certain environments and relate to a disability or health condition.  Advisors can be good partners in connecting students to resources and supports when students are beginning to report these kinds of barriers.

What Advisors Need to Know

  • Many students have disabilities that may not be apparent to you and/or may have multiple disabilities or health conditions.
  • Students use a range of language to name and describe their disabilities.  Use the language that a student uses to describe themselves; for example, disabled person or person with a disability.
  • Be aware that the nature of disability-related barriers and impacts can change over time.  Students may have a range of experiences across semesters, which can vary in different elements of the academic environment or program.
  • Health and disability may affect students’ coursework in a number of ways, including:
    • The time of day in which a student can take courses
    • The credit load that a student can sustain while maintaining their health
    • A student’s need to plan their schedule in advance, for example, to have breaks during the day, plan for health-related needs, account for additional travel time, avoid classes at certain times of day, or to arrange additional accommodation services, such as document conversion or Access Assistants.
  • Students registered with the Disability Resource Center (DRC) are responsible for sharing their accommodation letter.  They may not always share their accommodation letter with their advisor but advisors can ask if a student is comfortable sharing their letter as a means to better understand the kinds of barriers that affect their coursework.

Making Referrals to the DRC

The Disability Resource Center facilitates access and accommodations for students who experience barriers in University environments related to health or disability.  The DRC looks at the intersection of the barriers in the environment and the student’s experiences to explore accommodations, strategies, and supports to enhance equitable access.  

Considerations for Advisors when Making Referrals

  • If a student has or thinks they have a disability, they can visit drop-in or make an initial appointment with the DRC to explore their options and next steps.  Students can make an initial appointment or ask to speak to drop-in by calling 612-626-1333 or emailing drc@umn.edu.
  • Initial appointments are up to 50 minutes in length. It is helpful but not essential for the student to bring documentation of disability or health barriers to this appointment.
  • DRC drop-in meetings are intended to be 10-15 minutes in length and will require a follow-up appointment if accommodations need to be explored.  Daily drop-in hours can be found on the DRC website.
  • Drop-in can also be used by advisors who have general questions or consultations.  The consultant on drop-in may not be able to provide specific information but they may be able to provide general guidance.  If you have questions about a specific student and you have a copy of their accommodation letter, it is best to reach out to the access consultant named in the letter.
  • Students with short-term disabilities, such as a broken arm, can often work with instructors to minimize classroom barriers. In situations where additional assistance is needed, students can contact the DRC for assistance with exploring and coordinating accommodations.
  • The DRC does not diagnose disabilities or provide treatment or counseling but can provide referral information for on and off campus providers.
  • The DRC is just one of many supports for students with disabilities.  Other important on-campus referral options may include Boynton Mental Health, Student Counseling Services, and Student Academic Success Services (SASS).

More information can be found on the DRC website and DRC Information for Students and Student-Serving Offices resource document.

Contact information:

Phone: 612-626-1333
Fax: 612-626-9654