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Confused About Usa Disability


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#1 drago

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 04:43 PM

Hello All:

I am currently in a state of abject confusion on US Disability... and Accommodations.

According to my Neurologist, if I go to graduate school and have a doctor report my needs, they will meet them. This is the same for a job, I just have to request accommodations. Further speculation into these vague terms has gotten me no where, and that makes me nervous. I understand that each situation is different, but I would like some information about 'accommodation requests' and so on.

When I heard 'filling for disability,' I originally thought that that meant a person was filing for the option of being legally declared 'disabled,' thus winning them guaranteed accommodations. However, all the information I can find seems to link the term 'filling for disability' to 'filling for Social Security/Disability.'

I am young (early twenties) and trying to start off a career, also trying to move into graduate school before 30 in hopes I'll be awake enough to complete it. However, getting into a graduate program will do me no good if the school rejects my accommodations and/or refuses to consider Narcolepsy a disability... or otherwise makes it impossible for me to complete the program.

I am applying for an MFA in Directing (Theatre), and I know that many places have the "if you cannot survive the work here, you'll not survive in the real world" attitude. I am concerned that my requests for time-specific testing, or even nap times, might be rejected. And I can't seem to find any information about what I can expect, and what I cannot expect. And I also cannot find out what kind of hoops I have to jump through in order to set up accommodations at work or at school.

Any advice?

drago

#2 Rob

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 05:42 PM

The only thing i can tell you is that schools and jobs have to give you the accommodations. Narcolepsy is a disability, I'm going through something similar. I'm in the military and they are gonna medically separate me and i will get put on disability through VA. As far as school goes, I started school this past dec and about the middle of dec i got diagnosed with N w/o Cataplexy. I thought to myself i can push through the two classes i'm taking now and take a break and go back later. well its very hard for me with my schooling becuz all of my degree is online and i have fallen behind becuz of N. I can't stay focused on the assignment. so i have put in for a class extension for 30 days to give me some extra time to complete my assignments. after i finish these classes i'm not goin back to online i will continue my degree at an actual school, where if i'm in an actual classroom i can bring a tape recorder just incase i doze off so i won't miss anything. as far as a job goes, if you have been working somewhere and you get diagnosed they CANNOT fire you becuz of your disability, and if they do you should stop at nothing till you either get your job back or they give you compensation. getting a job after you have been diagnosed may be alittle bit harder with the economy and all that, but its not impossible just have to be persistant. I haven't experienced what its like to get a job now days cuz i was in the air force when i got Dx but since the military is gonna medically separate me, i will be finding out how hard it is to get a job. Good luck! be sure to keep us informed and keep ur head up!Posted Image

#3 Saraiah

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 10:26 PM

Hello All:

I am currently in a state of abject confusion on US Disability... and Accommodations.

According to my Neurologist, if I go to graduate school and have a doctor report my needs, they will meet them. This is the same for a job, I just have to request accommodations. Further speculation into these vague terms has gotten me no where, and that makes me nervous. I understand that each situation is different, but I would like some information about 'accommodation requests' and so on.

When I heard 'filling for disability,' I originally thought that that meant a person was filing for the option of being legally declared 'disabled,' thus winning them guaranteed accommodations. However, all the information I can find seems to link the term 'filling for disability' to 'filling for Social Security/Disability.'

I am young (early twenties) and trying to start off a career, also trying to move into graduate school before 30 in hopes I'll be awake enough to complete it. However, getting into a graduate program will do me no good if the school rejects my accommodations and/or refuses to consider Narcolepsy a disability... or otherwise makes it impossible for me to complete the program.

I am applying for an MFA in Directing (Theatre), and I know that many places have the "if you cannot survive the work here, you'll not survive in the real world" attitude. I am concerned that my requests for time-specific testing, or even nap times, might be rejected. And I can't seem to find any information about what I can expect, and what I cannot expect. And I also cannot find out what kind of hoops I have to jump through in order to set up accommodations at work or at school.

Any advice?

drago


Hi Drago,

It's confusing. I've worked with people with disabilities as a vocational counselor and in college academic settings. So, here is my understanding (with hopes that others will correct any mistakes):

As a graduate STUDENT, you are protected against discrimination AND afforded accomodations you need as a result of your disability, once you notify your university or college in writing of your diagnosis and provide to them any needed documentation from your doctor. So, like Rob above mentioned, you might be entitled to extra time to take tests, extra time to finish assignments, be allowed to record all lectures, and possibly have a note-taker as well, etc. etc. So there's no state or federal government involvement as long as the university/college abides by the law and acts appropriately once you've notified them.

As an EMPLOYEE, you are protected against discrimination AND afforded accomodations you need as the result of your disability, again, once you notify your employer in writing of your diagnosis and you provide a letter from your doctor. Then it is incumbent upon your employer under the law to provide you with any accomodations you may need to do your job. There is no one type of accomodation that must be provided; instead, it's your job to request what you need. People with narcolepsy might request, say, 1) two 30 minute breaks per day to take naps somewhere suitable, with the understanding that you'd make up the missed time at the end of the workday; 2) to be allowed to carry with you a digital recorder to record meetings and conversations; 3) the ability to wear a device behind your ear that will sound if your head nods; etc. Your employer is required to pay for any needed accomodations, as long as they are reasonable. And again, there is no state or federal government involvement, as long as you're happy with what your employer is doing.

Now of course, if you are NOT happy with what your college/university or employer is doing after you ask for accomodations, this is where the state or federal government might get involved. If you complain to the appropriate agency, they can do an investigation if they feel it's justified. And of course, you can file a lawsuit if things are grossly out of hand.

Finally, if a person finds he/she is UNABLE TO WORK, that's when the person would file for Social Security Disability Income (SSDI). That's what people tend to mean when they say, "I had to go on disability."

I hope that helps a bit.

Saraiah

#4 Saraiah

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 10:28 PM

Drago - I forgot to say that if you look up the Americans with Disabilities Act, you'll see the law that undergirds these rights.

Saraiah

#5 jenji

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Posted 29 January 2010 - 09:31 PM

Drago,

I'm currently working on my MFA and I actually had to bite the bullet and ask for help from the university's office of disability services. My department had no clue about my situation until I had to finally tell my chair and some of my professors. Now, I certainly didn't need to tell them the details of my disability, that is what my condition is, in fact an individual is not required to do so, however you do need to tell the disability office on campus of your specific disability and then have the proper documentation/proof to back up your claim. My doctors wrote letters to the disability office detailing my specific challenges and possible needs, wherein upon receipt of the proper documentation the disability office on campus approves your claim and then the department is required to accommodate you accordingly depending upon your situation, it's the law. By the way, N is considered a disability.

You can make specific requests for most anything within reason. My ODS were fantastic in that they were very supportive of me and they also assigned a psychotherapist to work with me as well so that I could also vent when needed. ODS acts as a go between in some schools, in others you may have to bring in the approved documents from ODS to your department directly: ie: my doc drafts a letter to ODS, ODS approves the documentation and then they draft a letter to my department and then I deliver the letter to my chair and discuss it further should I feel the need to do so. Depending on the size of your department you may want to make specific requests via your chair or professors, however all they are required to know is that you are to be accommodated for x, y, and z.

My problem is this: the university's policy regarding disability is as follows: reasonable accommodations can be made (and there are many), however certain departmental regulations cannot be changed despite a disability. Example: I received a full scholarship to grad school, however the caveat is that I must carry 9 credit hours AND teach a basic production class throughout grad school. In essence this would add up to 9 credit hours/week of my own grad classes and 20 hours of required work for the teaching, which would include 6 hours/wk in class teaching, 6 services hours (editing room assistance to students and so on) and 8 hours prep time/wk to teach those classes, and this is before factoring in any study/prep time for my own grad classes. Well, try as I might, my body simply cannot do both, carry on such a schedule and be both healthy and functionally efficient. In fact, I quickly became quite ill and thus tried to negotiate my teaching schedule in that I offered to first absolutely finish up my teaching responsibilities for the fall semester, although I'd have to take "I" in my three classes, which was okay with me as long as I could arrange for the remainder of my time there to take classes during fall/spring and then teach all summer, which I thought might work because they're always hard up on finding instructors for the summer, especially in the film department. However, the parameters of the "funding" could not be adjusted to meet my needs and so my scholarship was revoked (or in fact I had to resign it) and so I took a leave of absence to re-assess my situation. How do I say this? Oh right, it sucks. Overall, my department, which is quite small, was quite lovely and supportive. My sense was that the grad dept simply could not get around this rule. My other sense is that if I were to hire an attorney and sue for discrimination, I'd absolutely win. But who wants to go to grad school in a small department after having sued them to get the right to a scholarship? A scholarship you offered to a talented, qualified individual of your choice, who you elected and yet once you realized she couldn't carry on such hours due to her documented disability, well she was no longer eligible. It's a catch-22. My award letter said that my scholarship was "based upon academic merit and that there was no service requirement." Well, it turns out that's not really all that true.

Anyway, why did I burn out so fast? Well, remember that I have other autoimmune conditions as well that can make me quite ill at the drop of a hat. Therefore, if you're dealing with just N, I'm sure that reasonable accommodations can be made for you like naps, alternate test times, note takers etc. My only advise is that you don't allow yourself to think that you aren't worthy of trying to accomplish what you are rightfully entitled to accomplish. You simply cannot worry about what others may think or else you'll run yourself ragged with stress.

Look up the Office Of Disability Services on your campus website and make an appointment. They will know exactly what it is you need to do. Good luck.
jenji

#6 wardbennett

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Posted 30 January 2010 - 05:17 PM

Also I would add, that you are not required to notify the university or employer when you are applying for admittance to college or a job. It is illegal to discriminate on the basis of disability. However, there may be an issue for a job with drug testing if you are on stimulants. There is some privacy afforded I believe in that the testing lab cannot divulge your condition to a prospective employer. I suppose you could be taking Adderall for ADD for instance.

Once you are admitted to college you would contact their Office of Disability Services to determine their requirement of proof, usually just specific forms an accredited specialist must complete stating your diagnosis, how the diagnosis was arrived at and your specific limitations, not just general limitations for the condition. In other words, if you have a mild case you may have few limitations whereas someone with severe EDS and cataplexy would have more. This is an interesting topic for me. I'm just learning as I have a son currently an undergrad and am helping him navigate through these issues. I would love to learn more.

Tina