ADA Accommodations When Advocating in Your Child’s School

NCLD’s Parent Advisory Council Field Organizer, Susan Reynolds, shares her personal story advocating for ADA accommodations for her child, as a disabled parent, who also needs accommodations. Please watch below.

Below is a transcript of the video that has been lightly edited for clarity:

Earlier this week, I recorded a video talking about the ADA and how it changed my life as a disabled person. I’m a first-generation beneficiary of the ADA.

However, there are accommodations, accessibilities that are provided for me because of the ADA, and I’m sad to admit this-I forget about them.

I receive accommodations at my son’s school when I advocate for him. Every meeting, all written correspondence, everything must be accessible for me because of my disabilities.

Let that sink in for a minute.

Because of my disabilities, I am not only protected by IDEA and my parental rights, I am protected by the ADA as well.

My accommodations tend to be: 

  1. Record meetings. Recording meetings helps me focus on what is being discussed. If I must take notes, listen to what is being said, and try to ask questions, something is always missed. I am ADHD, so I need to limit my distractions, and recording helps me with that.
  2. All written materials or correspondence need to be printed, in a larger font, and I ask for these written materials 5 business days before a meeting. I have a learning disability that impacts my reading and my reading comprehension. I need time to read and understand so I can be a better-informed advocate for my child.
  3. I ask for seating away from a door or window, so I won’t be distracted. 
  4. I bring someone with me, who does not have my disabilities to basically be another set of eyes and ears. 

There are more accommodations that I could ask for, but so far these have helped me. I also let my son’s school know in advance that I will need ADA accommodations. I want us to be collaborative when talking about the best way to educate my child. Advance notice of ADA accommodations is one way I can be more collaborative.

The ADA protects all parents with disabilities. Make sure you talk with someone in the school first so they know what accommodations you might need.

If I get any push back from someone in my son’s school, which I have, I remind everyone involved that the ADA protects me from discrimination and allows for my accommodations.

I ask, “How can I be the best advocate for my son, when the information is not accessible?”

So far, I haven’t had to ask for policies, but I have noticed the changes in attitudes towards me when I say that I am disabled and require ADA accommodations when advocating for my child.

That’s the work that still needs to be done. The changing of people’s perceptions and attitudes. The misperceptions of people with disabilities is disheartening. And while I find myself frustrated and angry at times, I know that I am right when asking for ADA accommodations.

If you are a parent with a disability, advocating for your child; talk with the school to let them know that you will require accommodations. The ADA protects you and your child.

For more history on the ADA, follow along with NCLD’s ADA Week of Action.