2020 has been a hard year, but I am thrilled that I am returning to school this fall. I planned to return in a year (when I could move back out there), but the one silver lining of the pandemic is that all my classes are virtual and I can take them safely from my home (which is not in the same state as my school).
While I am thrilled beyond measure and am not at all worried about my academic abilities, I am a little apprehensive about returning as a “student with disabilities”. I’ve never been one before and the unknown factor is a little scary!
A student with physical disabilities
My biggest concern was how it would affect my chances of getting into vet school. While they cannot deny me entry because of disability, there is a disclaimer (especially for physical disabilities) that an applicant needs to be sure they can keep up with the physically intensive course work.
Now that I have the official disability title, I wonder if I’ve just shot my chances at going to vet school. Also, would veterinary schools want to go through the extra work of setting up accommodations when there are plenty of able-bodied students they could admit, instead?
Well, there is one thing for certain. I better be a h*lluva lot better than every other applicant so schools are begging me to join their programs! :: insert strong arm emoji here::!!!
What would school accommodations look like?
But, let’s take it one step at a time. What would my accommodations look like right now?
I had to speak to a person at the Student Disabilities Center to talk about what would help me succeed at school. Then, I wrote down what would be helpful to me and sent it to my rheumatologist to go over and decide whether, in fact, my disease activity warranted such accommodations.
So, what did I come up with?
Types of accommodations I may need for my studies
For about a month leading up to my appointment with the SDC, I practiced studying, looking at the screen, and “taking tests” to get a clear idea of what I needed:
- I can’t stay in one position for too long so the school provides me with double testing times so I can get up and stretch.
- I am also allowed to get up during lectures for the same reason.
- I can set up a proctored exam in which I dictate to a person who fills in the answers for me if I am flared and cannot handle a writing implement.
- I can record my lectures, in class, so I can have access to them later on and annotate them since a) I cannot write or type very fast and b) sometimes brain fog happens and I cannot focus properly on the lesson.
- I have access to my lectures before class so I can look through them and start annotating them (see my previous point) and hopefully nix the need to carry extra materials to class.
- I can use the transportation van (currently unavailable for obvious reasons) to help me get to class.
- I have access to dictation software, text to audio translators, and other technical assistance programs that lessen the physical strain of note-taking.
The semester is just getting started so I am not sure how these will work out. I think those are all accommodations I need while taking classes virtually but it’s nice to know that they can be amended and changed or added to if I need extra support.
So, here’s to a new experience. Let’s see how it goes!
On a scale of 1(low) to 5(high), how difficult is it for you to talk about having RA?