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Self-Advocacy

As an individual with a disability, it is essential that you develop the skills of self-advocacy so that throughout your life you can communicate clearly about your strengths, your disability and your need for specific accommodations. In a secondary educational environment it is entirely your choice whether you disclose your disability. However, if you wish to receive accommodations, it is necessary. Disclosing to your instructors how your disability impacts you in the classroom will create an opportunity for her or him to work with you for optimal accommodation.  The following characteristics are helpful for success in the area of self-advocacy:

  • Knowledge of the nature of your disability, how it impacts your performance and the kinds of strategies, tools, and services which best help you to compensate joined with the ability to explain both your talents and the needed compensatory strategies clearly and frankly to others.
  • An understanding of your rights under the Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
  • Initiative to seek assistance for academic and other problems as appropriate.
  • Regular frequent communication with parents, friends, classroom professors, academic advisors and support services personnel. Know what you want and how you are going to ask for it before you begin a conversation. If it helps you, practice in advance!
  • A willingness to update professors and SDS about how accommodations are working for you. While it is the law that you receive appropriate accommodation, expressing a little appreciation makes a big impact.

While you are at Cornell, you will have many opportunities to develop these skills as you work with new professors each semester. SDS is here to support you that process. Please let us know how we can help you.