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  • Eckerd College Disability Support Services
  • Disability Support Services (DSS)

    Understanding and accessing the support services available to students in institutions of higher education can be challenging. Each institution has its unique procedures and available resources. This brochure is designed to help you understand the philosophy, procedures, and typical accommodations available for students at Eckerd College with documented disabilities.


    Simply put, Eckerd College is devoted to providing support services that enable students with disabilities to participate in, and benefit from, all College programs and activities. Eckerd College has placed Disability Support Services (DSS) in Counseling Services to ensure that otherwise-qualified individuals with disabilities are protected from discrimination in the educational setting.

    How does the law define "disability"?

    The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 define disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities (e.g., seeing, hearing, walking, learning). These statutes use the average person (rather than peers) as a benchmark when considering relative strengths and weaknesses. This distinction is important in the determination of diagnosis and recommended accommodations for, individuals with disabilities.

    Are DSS at Eckerd College different from my high school?

    To fully understand how services differ for high school and college students, you must be aware of the differences in philosophy behind the laws that govern the educational mandates. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) entitles children with disabilities to an appropriate education that allows for achievement during their secondary education. This "special education mandate," which attempts to ensure a positive outcome, differs significantly from the antidiscrimination, outcome-neutral ADA, which governs higher education. Thus, in college, the law is designed to ensure that an individual with a disability has equal opportunity rather than focusing on the achievement of particular academic outcomes. Consistent with the many other freedoms found in college, the responsibility for learning and successfully meeting the academic requirements of each class belongs to the college student. However, reasonable accommodations are provided for students with documented disabilities to ensure that measures of their performance are based on their ability, not their disability. Since the responsibility for learning and succeeding in college is borne by the student, we recommend that students become strong self-advocates to access the variety of supports available to them and to meet their academic goals at Eckerd College.

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