Better/worse schools for disabled students?

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BostonOrBust

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Better/worse schools for disabled students?

Postby BostonOrBust » Fri Feb 10, 2017 9:19 pm

Hi everyone,

At the very end of undergrad I developed a disability that impacts my mental health/memory/focus/learning/sleep/occasionally my physical health, things like that. I took a couple of years off to learn how to manage this and am likely to go to law school in the fall.

I've gotten to a place where things are about as good as they're going to get, but it's something that I will continue to have to actively work on for the rest of my life. It's become fairly clear through the process of studying, taking the lsat, and applying that my disability is going to have a non-zero impact on my law school performance. This is pretty frustrating, especially for someone who has spent a lot of my life associating my value with high academic performance, etc. I'm having to adjust my expectations pretty extremely to suit what I am now capable of academically. But anyway, enough woe is me.

Just wondering if people know if there are certain schools which handle disabilities particularly well or particularly poorly? Anyone have any horror stories about places I ought to avoid?

Any other disabled applicants/students want to toss me some tips about selecting schools with a disability and getting the best possible accommodations?

Thanks fam.

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UVA2B

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Re: Better/worse schools for disabled students?

Postby UVA2B » Fri Feb 10, 2017 9:29 pm

Assuming you have everything documented with medical records, accommodations are pretty even at most schools I'm familiar with. They have to abide by ABA standards for accommodations.

The question you have to ask yourself, assuming you want this career badly enough, is how you can minimize its impact on your performance. Once you've done that, any school you attend will provide similar accommodations.

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bmathers

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Re: Better/worse schools for disabled students?

Postby bmathers » Sat Feb 11, 2017 10:30 pm

Every law school (and undergrad) offers an ODS (Office of Disability Services - or,, for smaller schools, they at least have someone specifically in charge of all of that stuff). I went to Penn State undergrad, and some of the accommodations that they could do at their ODS for disabled students was truly remarkable - everything you can think of. I simply used the quiet room that they offered for test-taking, but a school's ODS should be able to handle any accommodations that you need (as long as you have everything documented - documentation is necessary, obviously).

You can thank the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) for all of this. Literally any legitimate law school should be able to meet your needs

BostonOrBust

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Re: Better/worse schools for disabled students?

Postby BostonOrBust » Sun Feb 12, 2017 4:40 pm

I guess my concern is that there is a pretty big difference between, "we are begrudgingly offering a set list of accommodations because we are legally required to," and actually going the extra mile to personalize a plan that works for a student and give them the best chance of success.

The documentation will be no problem, and the disability is alluded to in my application.

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Re: Better/worse schools for disabled students?

Postby Npret » Sun Feb 12, 2017 5:19 pm

BostonOrBust wrote:I guess my concern is that there is a pretty big difference between, "we are begrudgingly offering a set list of accommodations because we are legally required to," and actually going the extra mile to personalize a plan that works for a student and give them the best chance of success.

The documentation will be no problem, and the disability is alluded to in my application.


This is tricky because it can depend upon who is in charge of the program and that can change. No one is going to begrudge you. I would assume that you will have to be your own best advocate as always.

Maybe once your admitted talk to the people in charge and get a feel for what they do and what it is like to work for them.

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Re: Better/worse schools for disabled students?

Postby bmathers » Mon Feb 13, 2017 12:47 pm

Every school I have visited, I specifically ask about their ODS. Some (read: larger schools) have a complete ODS office dedicated to services. Others just have a person who handles accommodations. I don't foresee anyone "begrudgingly" giving you accommodations bc they have to.

Did you receive accommodations in UG?

BostonOrBust

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Re: Better/worse schools for disabled students?

Postby BostonOrBust » Wed Feb 15, 2017 10:23 pm

bmathers wrote:Every school I have visited, I specifically ask about their ODS. Some (read: larger schools) have a complete ODS office dedicated to services. Others just have a person who handles accommodations. I don't foresee anyone "begrudgingly" giving you accommodations bc they have to.

Did you receive accommodations in UG?


I didn't because it was a disability acquired my senior year, and it took a while to completely understand what exactly it was and what impact it was having. By the time everything was understood I was essentially graduating. I did get extensions here and there while I was trying to figure out what was going on, but it was done professor by professor rather than through a disability office or anything.

I don't think it should be an issue to get general approval because the disability and its educational impacts are well known and accepted in medical and educational communities, and it's been diagnosed, documented, and consistently treated by multiple medical professionals over the last few years.

I'm more worried about like, professors, for example, giving me a hard time, thinking I'm making it up or making it a bigger deal than it is. Or even people at ODS just not taking my needs seriously. IDK what your disability is, but if you also have a disability that isn't visible, I'm sure you'll understand. Most of my close friends don't even know I'm disabled, and I'm so good at hiding it that sometimes I feel like it's hard to be taken seriously when I actually do need help.

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UVA2B

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Re: Better/worse schools for disabled students?

Postby UVA2B » Wed Feb 15, 2017 10:43 pm

BostonOrBust wrote:
bmathers wrote:Every school I have visited, I specifically ask about their ODS. Some (read: larger schools) have a complete ODS office dedicated to services. Others just have a person who handles accommodations. I don't foresee anyone "begrudgingly" giving you accommodations bc they have to.

Did you receive accommodations in UG?


I didn't because it was a disability acquired my senior year, and it took a while to completely understand what exactly it was and what impact it was having. By the time everything was understood I was essentially graduating. I did get extensions here and there while I was trying to figure out what was going on, but it was done professor by professor rather than through a disability office or anything.

I don't think it should be an issue to get general approval because the disability and its educational impacts are well known and accepted in medical and educational communities, and it's been diagnosed, documented, and consistently treated by multiple medical professionals over the last few years.

I'm more worried about like, professors, for example, giving me a hard time, thinking I'm making it up or making it a bigger deal than it is. Or even people at ODS just not taking my needs seriously. IDK what your disability is, but if you also have a disability that isn't visible, I'm sure you'll understand. Most of my close friends don't even know I'm disabled, and I'm so good at hiding it that sometimes I feel like it's hard to be taken seriously when I actually do need help.


I'm not personally dealing with a disability like you are, but I have a hard time imagining any professor, administrator, or even fellow law student holding your disability against you. Everyone I've encountered has been completely understanding of those with disabilities and their extra needs. And besides, if you experience any sort of administrative discrimination, you have a potential ADA claim on your hands, which schools would never want to get involved in.

Please don't take this as belittling your condition, but I think your concerns over how you'll be treated are overblown. I personally know people with somewhat distracting disabilities in classes, and they aren't in the least discriminated against because of those disabilities. Some made their disabilities known, others only confided in friends about it, but all were/are respected for it. Correct me if I'm wrong, but is this a case of feeling self-conscious about your disability? Professors are professionals expected to conduct their classes professionally, and could face administrative problems if they become a part of an ADA claim, which I'm sure they are fully aware. They won't discriminate against you, and they won't question you in the slightest about your disability and needs. They are there to facilitate your learning, and have likely seen disabilities across the spectrum that make them particularly sensitive to giving help to those in need.

Your biggest battle will be making sure you are comfortable with your disability and don't let it preoccupy you as classes start. If there is an outward manifestation of your disability, people may ask about it as they get to know you, but try to avoid assuming people are judging you because of it. Law schools, to the extent I know/have heard from friends, are incredibly welcoming environments, and your disability will only be a detriment to you personally to the extent you let it.

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Re: Better/worse schools for disabled students?

Postby BostonOrBust » Wed Feb 15, 2017 11:55 pm

UVA2B wrote:
BostonOrBust wrote:
bmathers wrote:Every school I have visited, I specifically ask about their ODS. Some (read: larger schools) have a complete ODS office dedicated to services. Others just have a person who handles accommodations. I don't foresee anyone "begrudgingly" giving you accommodations bc they have to.

Did you receive accommodations in UG?


I didn't because it was a disability acquired my senior year, and it took a while to completely understand what exactly it was and what impact it was having. By the time everything was understood I was essentially graduating. I did get extensions here and there while I was trying to figure out what was going on, but it was done professor by professor rather than through a disability office or anything.

I don't think it should be an issue to get general approval because the disability and its educational impacts are well known and accepted in medical and educational communities, and it's been diagnosed, documented, and consistently treated by multiple medical professionals over the last few years.

I'm more worried about like, professors, for example, giving me a hard time, thinking I'm making it up or making it a bigger deal than it is. Or even people at ODS just not taking my needs seriously. IDK what your disability is, but if you also have a disability that isn't visible, I'm sure you'll understand. Most of my close friends don't even know I'm disabled, and I'm so good at hiding it that sometimes I feel like it's hard to be taken seriously when I actually do need help.


I'm not personally dealing with a disability like you are, but I have a hard time imagining any professor, administrator, or even fellow law student holding your disability against you. Everyone I've encountered has been completely understanding of those with disabilities and their extra needs. And besides, if you experience any sort of administrative discrimination, you have a potential ADA claim on your hands, which schools would never want to get involved in.

Please don't take this as belittling your condition, but I think your concerns over how you'll be treated are overblown. I personally know people with somewhat distracting disabilities in classes, and they aren't in the least discriminated against because of those disabilities. Some made their disabilities known, others only confided in friends about it, but all were/are respected for it. Correct me if I'm wrong, but is this a case of feeling self-conscious about your disability? Professors are professionals expected to conduct their classes professionally, and could face administrative problems if they become a part of an ADA claim, which I'm sure they are fully aware. They won't discriminate against you, and they won't question you in the slightest about your disability and needs. They are there to facilitate your learning, and have likely seen disabilities across the spectrum that make them particularly sensitive to giving help to those in need.

Your biggest battle will be making sure you are comfortable with your disability and don't let it preoccupy you as classes start. If there is an outward manifestation of your disability, people may ask about it as they get to know you, but try to avoid assuming people are judging you because of it. Law schools, to the extent I know/have heard from friends, are incredibly welcoming environments, and your disability will only be a detriment to you personally to the extent you let it.



Thanks for the encouragement!

Without getting into too many details as it would be somewhat identifying, my disability is pretty severe PTSD from domestic violence/sexual assault I experienced in college.

The reason that I am so panicked about not being taken seriously or given accommodations is because my UG screwed me when it came to helping me deal with the situation I was in, despite that the law required them to behave in a much different way than they did. I wasn't diagnosed at the time so I didn't go through ODS things, but I was legally entitled to Title IX accommodations. The appropriate accommodations weren't made, and some professors flat out refused to work with me on extensions, attendance, etc. It was bad enough that it got to the point where legal action actually did have to be taken.

You would certainly think they would be covering their butts because it is the law, but my experience has shown me that that isn't always the case. Because I had such a bad experience, I am scared of getting into a situation where the school claims that they provide ADA accommodations because it's the law and then find that they similarly skirt around the law or do only what is convenient for them. I guess you could say that I'm not so good at assuming the best when it comes to these things anymore. My panic around this is ironically probably due to my PTSD, but I just want to know that I've done all that I can to make sure I end up in a good situation where I'm going to be supported and have a better chance at success then I did at my UG.

It does seem like from the comments here things are pretty standardized across the board though when it comes to ADA compliance? I really, really hope so.

BostonOrBust

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Re: Better/worse schools for disabled students?

Postby BostonOrBust » Wed Feb 15, 2017 11:59 pm

And yeah, I'm not too worried about other students! It's not something that is obvious about me, and people tend to be pretty cool about it when I share, so I think I'll be fine on that front. :)

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UVA2B

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Re: Better/worse schools for disabled students?

Postby UVA2B » Thu Feb 16, 2017 12:00 am

BostonOrBust wrote:
UVA2B wrote:
BostonOrBust wrote:
bmathers wrote:Every school I have visited, I specifically ask about their ODS. Some (read: larger schools) have a complete ODS office dedicated to services. Others just have a person who handles accommodations. I don't foresee anyone "begrudgingly" giving you accommodations bc they have to.

Did you receive accommodations in UG?


I didn't because it was a disability acquired my senior year, and it took a while to completely understand what exactly it was and what impact it was having. By the time everything was understood I was essentially graduating. I did get extensions here and there while I was trying to figure out what was going on, but it was done professor by professor rather than through a disability office or anything.

I don't think it should be an issue to get general approval because the disability and its educational impacts are well known and accepted in medical and educational communities, and it's been diagnosed, documented, and consistently treated by multiple medical professionals over the last few years.

I'm more worried about like, professors, for example, giving me a hard time, thinking I'm making it up or making it a bigger deal than it is. Or even people at ODS just not taking my needs seriously. IDK what your disability is, but if you also have a disability that isn't visible, I'm sure you'll understand. Most of my close friends don't even know I'm disabled, and I'm so good at hiding it that sometimes I feel like it's hard to be taken seriously when I actually do need help.


I'm not personally dealing with a disability like you are, but I have a hard time imagining any professor, administrator, or even fellow law student holding your disability against you. Everyone I've encountered has been completely understanding of those with disabilities and their extra needs. And besides, if you experience any sort of administrative discrimination, you have a potential ADA claim on your hands, which schools would never want to get involved in.

Please don't take this as belittling your condition, but I think your concerns over how you'll be treated are overblown. I personally know people with somewhat distracting disabilities in classes, and they aren't in the least discriminated against because of those disabilities. Some made their disabilities known, others only confided in friends about it, but all were/are respected for it. Correct me if I'm wrong, but is this a case of feeling self-conscious about your disability? Professors are professionals expected to conduct their classes professionally, and could face administrative problems if they become a part of an ADA claim, which I'm sure they are fully aware. They won't discriminate against you, and they won't question you in the slightest about your disability and needs. They are there to facilitate your learning, and have likely seen disabilities across the spectrum that make them particularly sensitive to giving help to those in need.

Your biggest battle will be making sure you are comfortable with your disability and don't let it preoccupy you as classes start. If there is an outward manifestation of your disability, people may ask about it as they get to know you, but try to avoid assuming people are judging you because of it. Law schools, to the extent I know/have heard from friends, are incredibly welcoming environments, and your disability will only be a detriment to you personally to the extent you let it.



Thanks for the encouragement!

Without getting into too many details as it would be somewhat identifying, my disability is pretty severe PTSD from domestic violence/sexual assault I experienced in college.

The reason that I am so panicked about not being taken seriously or given accommodations is because my UG screwed me when it came to helping me deal with the situation I was in, despite that the law required them to behave in a much different way than they did. I wasn't diagnosed at the time so I didn't go through ODS things, but I was legally entitled to Title IX accommodations. The appropriate accommodations weren't made, and some professors flat out refused to work with me on extensions, attendance, etc. It was bad enough that it got to the point where legal action actually did have to be taken.

You would certainly think they would be covering their butts because it is the law, but my experience has shown me that that isn't always the case. Because I had such a bad experience, I am scared of getting into a situation where the school claims that they provide ADA accommodations because it's the law and then find that they similarly skirt around the law or do only what is convenient for them. I guess you could say that I'm not so good at assuming the best when it comes to these things anymore. My panic around this is ironically probably due to my PTSD, but I just want to know that I've done all that I can to make sure I end up in a good situation where I'm going to be supported and have a better chance at success then I did at my UG.

It does seem like from the comments here things are pretty standardized across the board though when it comes to ADA compliance? I really, really hope so.


Your best bet would be to meet with Student Services early and often to set yourself up for success. Generally speaking, student services will be your advocates in establishing what you need to deal with your disability. Anything they grant you based on your condition professors will respect. I'm not at all well-versed in what PTSD disabilities are afforded under ADA, but Student Services should be. I'd even go so far as to meet with Student Services before matriculating to get a sense of what they will do for you as a student needing accommodations. That'll give you a better gauge than anecdotal evidence from those of us on here offering advice.

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Re: Better/worse schools for disabled students?

Postby bmathers » Thu Feb 16, 2017 6:18 pm

Yes, meet with those in charge of accommodations ASAP. I would advise, either as soon as you are accepted or visiting a school, meet with the appropriate people to calm your fears.

Mine is invisible as well - severe TBI (yet, I compete athletically), ADHD profile from that, and PTSD. The last thing profs in my 4 years of UG did was hold it against me. They were beyond great to work with, as long as I met with my disability specialist (ODS) before every semester and met with each teacher after the first day of class or in their immediate office hours.

I totally understand going into this feeling a bit self-conscience about being taken seriously, but you really have nothing to be worried about.

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Re: Better/worse schools for disabled students?

Postby Shema » Sun Mar 12, 2017 1:50 am

BostonOrBust wrote:Hi everyone,

At the very end of undergrad I developed a disability that impacts my mental health/memory/focus/learning/sleep/occasionally my physical health, things like that. I took a couple of years off to learn how to manage this and am likely to go to law school in the fall.

I've gotten to a place where things are about as good as they're going to get, but it's something that I will continue to have to actively work on for the rest of my life. It's become fairly clear through the process of studying, taking the lsat, and applying that my disability is going to have a non-zero impact on my law school performance. This is pretty frustrating, especially for someone who has spent a lot of my life associating my value with high academic performance, etc. I'm having to adjust my expectations pretty extremely to suit what I am now capable of academically. But anyway, enough woe is me.

Just wondering if people know if there are certain schools which handle disabilities particularly well or particularly poorly? Anyone have any horror stories about places I ought to avoid?

Any other disabled applicants/students want to toss me some tips about selecting schools with a disability and getting the best possible accommodations?

Thanks fam.


I struggled with ADHD in law school. You are right to consider accommodations as you go about selecting a law school. Because of my own background, in law school I ended up being an advocate for students with learning disabilities. As a result, students reached out to me from various schools so I have observed the best and the worst when it comes to accommodations for law school students with learning disabilities. Here are a few things I would look out for.

1) Usually law schools that are a part of a larger University have better accommodations because they already have an established system in place that makes the process for applying for accommodations easier to follow.However, this doesn't mean you should not still keep an eye on what they offer you. At schools like, one advantage is that they clearly lay out the applicable paperwork that must be submitted. When you come across a school without a clear process or a staff dedicated to these services it is usually an indication that there are fewer resources available and you will have to actively advocate for the best accommodations. Often times the level of detail on the law school's websites tells you a bit about how committed they are to serving students with disabilities.

2) For the best accommodations you really want to make sure that your doctor gives guidance as to what services you need. If the diagnosing doctor is exacting with their recommendation then you are more likely to receive the testing conditions that you need to put you on as equal a playing field as possible. I can give you more detail as to how to go about interfacing with both your doctor and the law school if you get to this point but my advice is not to merely accept the accommodation the school gives and to utilize your doctor. It really comes down to buzz words and helping your doctor to understand law school testing so that s/he can give specific recommendations. Sometimes it is important to ask for more than what the law school ordinarily gives law school students because it can be rather cookie cutter. When you have a sincere diagnosis its important that the services are precise and right for you because law school is taxing on folks with LDs especially and you must put yourself in the best position to do well.

3) Law schools and law school students can be very limited when they think of accommodations. They tend to only think of more time on exams. But when accommodations are carefully considered with the student's needs in mind there are more options to be considered than merely more time on exams. Recently a peer of mine even received accommodations for a program that specialized in tailoring the first year content to her learning style (she suffered from ADHD and PTSD and the mode of instruction was not a good fit for her disability). There are a host of other accommodations as well that the law school will not overtly tell you about and you'd have to informed enough to inquire. Once you do inquire because of the federal law (American Disabilities Act) the law school is likely to comply because accredited schools receive federal dollars and wouldn't want to risk losing funding.

4) lastly I encourage you not to be ashamed to immediately file for services. Too many law school students, because of shame or pride, don't take advantage of their right to accommodations. As a consequence, their grades suffer and so do there job prospects. In my opinion, law school is too great an investment to not take advantage of rights that could put you on an equal playing field to compete for top grades. In fact, I have seen students with Learning disabilities perform at and near the top of their class so please don't go into this pessimistic. If you approach accommodations well and take on the resources available you can do well even in the face of a learning disability.

Good Luck out there!

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Re: Better/worse schools for disabled students?

Postby ms2dai » Sun Jul 09, 2017 11:41 am

You've gotten some good advice already. I would suggest meeting with Student Services or the Office of Disability or Accessibility Services as soon as possible. Unlike the other posters, I've run into a rough time with my accommodations and the implementation of them. I'll even have to do a grade appeal in the Fall because of what I believe is arbitrary and capricious reasons for one professor basically failing me and treating me differently once I asked for accommodations. Not sure what will come of it but I should have done more leg work in the beginning. And you're right, there is a big difference between individuals being forced to comply with the laws and actually helping you navigate your law school career "nicely." So do the leg work now and choose wisely. Make sure they have background and knowledge in working with what you may need as accommodations, etc.

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Re: Better/worse schools for disabled students?

Postby UBETutoring » Sun Jul 09, 2017 11:58 am

1.) Apply as you normally would, and then let your discussion about accommodations be a factor in your school choice. Once you're admitted, the focus shifts to recruiting you and at that point they'll be more than happy to answer address any questions you have.

2.) Why disclose it now? It's not supposed to affect your application, but no decision process is perfect or 100% free of bias. Why not wait until it has maximum benefit - when they want you to sign the dotted line and minimal risk - when you're already accepted.

3.) If it can affect your grades - can, not necessarily will - absolutely get that hooked up before you start. If you need it after you start, you lose the time you don't have them for. If you're at all concerned with social stigma, the stigma would be worse if you waited a semester because people may assume you're gaming the curve. It doesn't seem like a readily apparent disability, and the forced curve can make people competitive and paranoid.

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Re: Better/worse schools for disabled students?

Postby mcmand » Sun Jul 09, 2017 3:35 pm

I'm not sure if this is consistent across the board, but my law school had anonymous grading for all final exams. The rare exceptions were skills-based classes (clinics, negotiation, interviewing & counseling, etc.), but the vast majority of coursework had anonymous grading.

If the law school you matriculate to does not do this, it might be worth inquiring why they don't, especially since you're concerned about stigma.
Last edited by mcmand on Fri Jan 26, 2018 3:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Better/worse schools for disabled students?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sun Jul 09, 2017 6:15 pm

All law schools do anonymous grading for exams.



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