For Parents

The Center for Disability Services (CDS) understands that parents have been closely involved in planning their student’s educational goals, experiences and accommodations for many years. As a student enters college, it is important for them to manage their disability, needs and responsibilities. Only the most extreme circumstances, such as those that seriously threaten the health of the student, allow for direct parental or familial involvement.

Students may sign a release of information form in the CDS office that allows CDS to communicate with their parents on the student’s behalf; even with this form signed, CDS will only discuss information with parents in the presence of the student. In the spirit of the “nothing about us without us” disability identity mantra, CDS communicates with the student as the consumer of CDS services and resources.

How to Help Your Student

CDS welcomes a partnership with parents and will promise respectful communication and expect the same in return. CDS staff have the right to a calm and respectful environment that facilitates productive conversation. 
  • Helping your student advocate

    As a parent, you can play a crucial role in encouraging your student to request accommodations in college. The following list should be considered while you support your student with the process:

    Encourage self-advocacy

    You can help your student develop self-advocacy skills, which will be essential for navigating the accommodations process in college. This includes discussing the impact of disability with your student, so the student is prepared to articulate their needs, communicate with professors and CDS staff, and take responsibility for following through on accommodations.

    Gather documentation

    Students will typically need to provide documentation of their disability to Center for Disability Services in order to request accommodations. You can review CDS documentation guidelines with your student and help gather the necessary documentation.

    Offer emotional support

    The transition to college can be challenging for any student. As a parent, you can offer emotional support to your student and encourage them to seek out resources on campus that may help them succeed in college.

    Know the laws and regulations

    Parents should be familiar with the laws and regulations that protect students with disabilities in higher education, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. These laws require colleges to provide accommodations to students with disabilities to ensure that they have equal access to education.

  • Behaviors to Avoid

    While you play an important role in supporting your student with a disability during the transition from high school to college, there are some behaviors you should avoid:

    Speak for your student

    You should avoid speaking for your student during the college application process or when requesting accommodations. It's important for students to develop self-advocacy skills and learn how to communicate their needs effectively. 

    Do everything for your student

    While it's natural to want to protect and support your student, it's important to avoid doing everything for them. Students need to develop independence, resiliency and self-management skills within the college environment. 

    Ignore your student's wishes

    Avoid ignoring your student's wishes in the college selection process or accommodations. It’s important to respect the student’s autonomy, listen to their needs and work collaboratively to determine the student’s best course of action.

  • Parent FAQ

    Should my student indicate disability when they submit an application to the College?

    Center for Disability Services is not involved in the College admissions process, and we cannot help your student become admitted. Once admitted to the College, students are encouraged to follow processes outlined about how to become registered with CDS and we will be delighted to begin discussions with your student about their requested accommodations once they matriculate.

    Disability is not considered in the admissions process; however, some students may choose to share information related to disabilities in admissions essays at their own discretion. Any information sent to the Offices of Admissions or Graduate Admissions about disability will not be forwarded.

    College Admission Questions

    Please contact the Office of Admissions or the Graduate School with questions about admission to the College of Charleston.