Self-advocacy is a key skill for college students with disabilities. It involves understanding the impact of your disability, being able to communicate your needs, understanding your rights and responsibilities in the accommodation process, problem-solving, and utilizing support systems. Self-advocacy is about self-determination.

Steps to becoming a self-advocate:

  • Understand your disability, how it will affect your life as a student in and out of the classroom and be able to discuss it as needed to utilize support systems.
  • Understand your rights under the Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act as Amended (ADAAA) 2008, NY State Human Rights Law, and other applicable laws.
  • Take the initiative to seek assistance for academic and other problems as appropriate.
  • Keep in regular communication with parents, friends, instructors, academic advisors, and your Student Disability Services (SDS) counselor. 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!
  • Lett your instructors and your SDS counselor know how accommodations are working for you. While you have the right to reasonable accommodations, if they are not working, you have the responsibility to inform your SDS counselor.
  • Recognize that living with a disability can be challenging at times and the transition to college can be especially difficult. Cornell is a caring community! Reach out to your SDS counselor, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), your RA or RHD, your instructors, course staff, friends, and roommate(s). And be there for others when they need a helping hand. We all need a helping hand from time to time.