Disability services: Extra time

Disability services offers students extra time to complete exams in the tutoring center. Photo illustration by Chloé Arrouye.

Disability services offers students extra time to complete exams in the tutoring center. Photo illustration by Chloé Arrouye.

Taking a test that’s not been studied for can induce anxiety. But for some students, that anxiety can come even if they feel prepared.

“I got the accommodation form back when my anxiety wasn’t well controlled and I wasn’t medicated yet,” said Taylor Reynolds, a junior digital arts major. “I haven’t used the extra time option yet, but I’ve utilized the form a few times to miss class when I’m having an anxiety attack.”

For Chapman students with disabilities or limitations, extra time, quiet testing places and accommodation letters can be requested through Disability Services. These disabilities can range between four different categories, physical, psychological, learning or medical.

“Tests are designed for students without any limitations,” said Jason McAlexander, the assistant director of Disability Services. “So, when a student has limitations that are legitimate (diagnosed), and there’s documentation to prove it, which I evaluate and make judgments on, then I want to approve an accommodation/an alteration so that the student isn’t harmed and their grade isn’t harmed because of their disability.”

McAlexander said the most common limitation in students is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The accommodation given is usually 50 percent more test-taking time, or 100 percent more time in more severe cases.

“My ultimate goal is to provide a level playing field for a student with a disability,” McAlexander said. “I want to raise them up so they can, in theory, have the same opportunities to succeed or fail as a student without a disability.”

Students must show documentation from a doctor or psychiatrist proving that they have a limitation and then set up a meeting with McAlexander, who can grant disability accommodations.

“I don’t only look at the documents provided, I talk with students as well so I can understand their story and decide what accommodation would be best for them,” McAlexander said.

Senior psychology major Jillian Strong thinks that maybe documentation isn’t always the best option when deciding disability status.

“I’d hate to see people lie about disabilities because that would be unacceptable, but I’m inclined to go off an honor system since there are many invisible disabilities,” Strong said.

Although Reynolds hasn’t used the extra time option yet, she’s thankful that it is there in case she needs it.

“Once I started my medication, my anxiety became controlled and I didn’t really need it (extra time) anymore,” Reynolds said. “But it’s nice to know I could utilize it if I get back to being in a bad spot.”

Leave a Comment