Disability Resources

Bridgewater State University is committed to ensuring all individuals equal access to its programs, services and community. The Disability Resources Office (DRO) supports this commitment through its work with students, faculty, staff, and the Bridgewater community to identify and remove barriers to full participation in the University experience. 

The DRO collaborates with matriculated students that have documented learning, intellectual, or cognitive disabilities; medical diagnoses or physical challenges; psychological diagnoses and autism. Through the DRO, students may receive classroom or campus-community accommodations, access to assistive technology, and referrals to additional resources. The DRO is also available to assist students with opportunities such as registering for classes and degree-planning as appropriate.

Disability Resources Philosophy

To empower students to:

  • Become well-informed self-advocates
  • Enhance their independent learning skills
  • Experience an array of opportunities within the university and community
  • Exercise personal responsibility in the attainment and application of accommodations

The Disability Resources Office is located on the ground floor of the Maxwell Library within the Academic Achievement Center.
Tel: 508.531.2194
Fax: 508.531.4194
10 Shaw Road
Bridgewater State University
Bridgewater, MA 02325

Obtaining Accommodations through the Disability Resources Office

Bridgewater State University is committed to ensuring all individuals have equal access to its programs, services, and community. Should a student experience a barrier to full participation related to a documented disability, they should collaborate with the Disability Resources Office to explore what accommodations they may be eligible for.

Determining Eligibility for Accommodations
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Amendment Act (ADAAA) of 2008, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 shape how Bridgewater State University ensures that students with disabilities have the same access to the comprehensive college experience as students without disabilities. In the classroom, for example, accommodations are meant to guarantee that a student is able to access all learning requirements for the course in a manner that is equivalent to their peers. Accommodations are not a guarantee of success, should not give a student with a disability an advantage over their non-disabled peers, nor should they fundamentally alter the core learning objectives of the program or experience. To determine what, if any, accommodations a student is eligible for, an interactive process between the student and the Disability Resources Office (DRO) is utilized.

Establishing Student-Specific Reasonable Accommodations
Students seeking accommodations must first self-disclose the nature of their disability or need for accommodation to the Disability Resources Offices (DRO). The student must provide specific documentation that evidences the need for accommodations. Guidelines for Documentation are based on national standards, and are meant to promote a comprehensive and current understanding of the students needs. Once all required documentation is submitted to the DRO, it is reviewed by a qualified member of the team. The student must set up and attend an appointment with an appropriate team-member based on the nature of their disability to engage in further discussion of how their disability/disabilities impact their unique experience. Informed by the student’s description of need and the supporting documentation, eligibility will be determined. If found eligible, the student and DRO team member will then collaborate to create a Letter of Accommodation as well as identify additional resources as needed. Please note that accommodations granted may be different than services/supports provided in High School via the students IEP or 504 plan. Additionally, once accommodations are granted, if a student continues their enrollment at Bridgewater State University with no changes to their diagnosed disability/disabilities, supporting documentation does not need to be re-submitted for continuation of accommodations.

Implementing Accommodations
Once a student receives their Letter of Accommodation, they are responsible for communicating those accommodations to their professor(s) and other members of their community as needed. For classroom accommodations, students should meet with their faculty members during office hours to discuss how the specific accommodations will be implemented in each class. For accommodations within the Residence Halls, it may be appropriate for students to schedule time with their Area Coordinator, Resident Director or Resident Assistant to discuss accommodations. Students must individually disclose their accommodations in the areas they are granted and wish to receive those accommodations in. The DRO team will assist students to understand their responsibility for and best approach to communicating their accommodations with others.

Timeframes for Requesting Accommodations
Over one-thousand students at Bridgewater State University request and receive accommodations. While requests for accommodations are considered on an ongoing basis, it is important to note that accommodations are not retroactive and should therefore be requested as early as possible. Additionally, some accommodations must be requested within certain timeframes to promote the most successful implementation.

Academic Accommodations

  • Accommodations within this category must be requested each semester, as they should reflect the unique experience of the specific classes in which the student is enrolled.
  • Students should submit their request for classroom accommodations by mid-July for Fall Semester, mid- December for Spring Semester, and mid-May for Summer session.

Classroom and Campus Environmental/Physical Accommodations

  • Accommodations within this category must be requested each semester, as the implementation of these accommodations often requires modifications to classroom locations or equipment, or the attainment of services outside of the Bridgewater State University community.
  • Students should submit their request for Classroom and Campus Environmental/Physical Accommodations as soon as they have enrolled in their courses. Note that late enrollment in courses may delay the successful implementation of these accommodations. As such, the opportunity to participate in early registration is available in many cases. This must be pre-arranged with the Disability Resources Office.

On-Campus Residential Accommodations (e.g., Emotional Support Animal Accommodations)

  • Students should submit their request for On-Campus Residential Accommodations by end of June for Fall Semester, mid-December for Spring Semester, and mid-May for Summer session.
  • To promote successful implementation of accommodations for the start of each semester, the above timeframes should be followed. Situationally specific accommodations may be accepted at other times/on an ongoing basis. Speak with a member of the DRO Team or Office of Residence Life and Housing for additional guidance.

University Community/Experiential Accommodations (e.g., Reduced Enrollment Accommodations)

  • Timeframes for requesting accommodations in this area are situationally-specific. Students should speak to a DRO team member to discuss their unique case, or see existing policies/procedures as applicable.

Documentation Guidelines

Documentation Guidelines for Students with Learning, Intellectual, or Cognitive Disabilities (Some examples may include AD/HD, Dyslexia, Language Processing Disorder, etc.,)

  • Evaluation conducted by a qualified professional.
  • Testing must be current (within 3 years of date of admission).
  • Documentation should be comprehensive:
    • Diagnostic interview.
    • Assessment: aptitude, achievement, and information processing.
  • Documentation must include a specific diagnosis.
  • Actual test scores from standardized instruments, and clinical summary should be provided.

Documentation for Students with a qualifying Medical Diagnosis or Physical Impairment (Some examples may include Blindness/Low Vision, D/HOH, Paraplegia, Diabetes, etc.,)

  • Must be recent within three years of admission to BSU and be from a licensed physician.
  • Must state the nature and severity of the condition as well as the expected duration, or progression of the condition.
  • All active treatments, medications, or devices currently prescribed must also be noted, as well as how they may impact learning or participating in the college experience.
  • Letter should be submitted on professional letterhead and must contain the names, titles, and license information of the evaluator.

Documentation for Students with a qualifying Psychological Diagnosis or Autism (Some examples may include Anxiety Disorder, Major Depression, OCD, Schizophrenia, etc.,)

  • Must be based on DSM-IV criteria.
  • Show evidence of a disability which would substantially limit access to learning or fully accessing the college experience.
  • Must be recent and show the actual evaluation date.
  • Must state the nature and severity of the condition as well as the expected duration or progression.
  • All active treatments, medications, or devices currently prescribed must also be noted, as well as how they may impact learning or participating in the college experience.
  • Reports should be submitted on professional letterhead and must contain the names, titles, and license information of the evaluator.

Documentation for Students with Physical/Medical Disabilities

  • Must be recent, within three years of admission to BSU and be from a licensed physician.
  • Must state the nature and severity of the condition as well as the expected duration, or progression of the condition.
  • All treatments, medications, or devices currently prescribed must also be noted.
  • Letter should be submitted on professional letterhead and must contain the names, titles, and license information of the evaluator.

Rights and Responsibilities

Students with disabilities have the right to:

  • Equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from the academic community. This includes access to services, benefits, co-curricular activities, housing and transportation, when viewed in their entirety, that are comparable to those provided to any student.
  • Information regarding the availability of auxiliary aids and possible accommodations as well as procedures for making requests for either.
  • Request reasonable accommodations which provide equal access.
  • Confidentiality of all information and the right to choose to whom information about their disabilities will be disclosed.
  • Availability of information and access to university's grievance procedures.

Students with disabilities have the responsibility to:

  • To self-identify to the Disability Resources office and provide documentation regarding your disability from an appropriate, qualified practitioner.
  • Meet with disability resources staff each semester to review course requirements and obtain accommodation letters for instructors.
  • Request all services in a timely manner, and follow established procedures.
  • Meet with faculty to review accommodation letter each semester.
  • Report any concerns that you have regarding accommodations as soon as they arise.
  • Treat all university personnel with respect.
  • Meet the university's graduation requirements and academic standards for completion of any academic program.

The University has the right to:

  • Identify and establish the abilities, skills, and knowledge that are fundamental to academic programs/courses and to evaluate each student's performance against these standards. Fundamental program and course standards are not subject to modification.
  • Request and receive documentation that supports a student's request for accommodations. The University has the right to deny a request if the documentation demonstrates that no accommodation is necessary, or if the student fails to provide such documentation.
  • Select among equally effective accommodations for an individual with a disability.
  • Refuse an unreasonable accommodation or one that imposes an undue hardship on the University.

Examples of Accommodations Considered by the Disability Resources Office

Each students accommodations are individually customized through a collaborative, interactive process that considers the students documented disability/disabilities as well as how they experience their disability/disabilities in the context of the University environment . Often, accommodations that are granted at Bridgewater State University are different than services/supports provided in High School via the students IEP or 504 plan.

Some examples of accommodations include:

Auxiliary Aids

  • Assistive technology hardware and software (see additional info)
  • Accessible tables in classroom and dining areas
  • Audio recorders
  • Assistive listening devices

Test Accommodations

  • Use of a Reduced Distraction testing area
  • Extended time
  • Use of a computer
  • Use of a scribe

Communication Access

  • ASL Interpreting
  • Video Remote Interpreting
  • Remote Real-Time Captioning (CART, C-Print, Typewell)

Classroom Accommodations

  • In-class note-taker
  • Recording of Lectures
  • Preferential Classroom Seating

Environmental/Physical Accommodations

  • Elevator access
  • Relocated classroom(s) to appropriately accessible space
  • Paratransit

University Community/Experiential Accommodations

  • Reduced course load
  • Priority/Early Registration for courses

Assistive Technology and Alternative Texts

Bridgewater State University offers a wide range of Assistive Technology (AT) tools and devices for students to access. Accessibility software is located on computers in Maxwell Library, Moakley Lab, and the DRO Adaptive Lab. Many different AT tools are available to rent or download through our office. Consultation and training are provided to ensure students are matched with the appropriate supports.

Students with reading barriers may benefit from access to digital versions of their textbooks. BSU students may request alternative format versions for their class reading material. Students who need accessible versions of their textbooks should contact the DRO prior to the start of the semester for further instructions.

Any questions regarding assistive technology, accessible class material, and recommendations for digital supports can be directed to Sarah Parker, Assistive Technology Specialist, at 508-531-2194.

Special Programs

Fall Preview Days
The Admissions office at Bridgewater State University holds several open houses during the fall to provide prospective students and their families with information on the admissions process, financial aid, academic and student life. Our Disability Resources Office staff will be in attendance at these open houses to talk with prospective students and their families about the services of the office as well as provide helpful handouts and descriptions of programs. Please find more information about Fall Preview Days at http://bridgew.edu/campus-tour .

Prospective Students Open House
During the April school vacation week the Disability Resources Office hosts a special program designed to help students with disabilities, who have self-identified during the process of admission, make a decision about whether Bridgewater is a good fit for them. Disability Resources staff members discuss the variety of programs and services available and current students share their experiences. Tours of the campus include stops at the learning assistance areas, adaptive computing labs, library and other areas of particular interest. Please contact our office to register for the event at 508-531-2194.

Pre-College Workshop for Students with Disabilities
Pre-College Workshop (PCW) is a two-day program for new students with disabilities which takes place prior to the start of fall classes. These two days consist of student workshops, informational tours, a family workshop, welcome lunch, and other exciting activities for new students to become familiar with Bridgewater State University prior to the arrival of the university community. PCW gives new students with disabilities an opportunity to talk with upper-class students with disabilities about what BSU offers. Students will work in small groups and will have a lot of time to ask questions, to discuss concerns about policies and procedures, and to learn how to negotiate classroom accommodations.

Leadership and Peer Educator Training
Leadership and Peer Education Training is offered to students collaborating with the Disability Resources Office or other university programs.

Peer Mentoring
Mentors are upper-class students with disabilities who complete the Leadership and Peer Education Training Program. The peer mentors assist freshmen students with disabilities with their academic needs, such as time management, study skills, testing strategies. In addition, the mentors help with self advocacy, independent learning skills, and use of on campus resources. The Disability Resources staff collaborates with students to determine who will be invited to the Peer Mentoring Program.

Erika Pinault Memorial Scholarship
The Erika Pinault Memorial Scholarship is awarded at Honors Day in memory of a longtime devoted member of the university facilities staff by The Bridge Center (formerly known as Handi-Kids Chapter II of Bridgewater).

Students Accepting a Challenge
Students Accepting A Challenge is a student group which welcomes students who are concerned with the many aspects of dealing with disabilities within the university community.

The Challenger Newsletter
This newsletter is published periodically for students with disabilities and their allies to learn more about topics and events relevant to the disability community at BSU and beyond. Although it is directed to our students, it also brings awareness to the university community at large. Students, alumni and staff often contribute to this publication.

Disability Resources Staff

Jenna Shales, MS
Associate Director

Pamela Spillane, EdM, CAGS
Learning Disabilities Specialist

Sarah Parker, MSEd
Assistant Technology Specialist

Nicole Leblanc

Case Worker

Jen Bagdon

Graduate Assistants