Supporting Students with Disabilities

The StAAR Center supports all undergraduate and graduate students in the Schools of Arts & Sciences and Engineering, as well as students in the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. StAAR Center assists in the implementation of reasonable accommodations for students who are eligible based on their diagnosed disability and its functional impact on their experience. We also work with students to build their self-advocacy skills around their disability and support an inclusive environment in the Tufts community for students with all levels of ability.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can my student request accommodations?

Students register with the the StAAR Center in order to request accommodations:

  • First, the student should complete our Accommodation Request Form, which gives them the opportunity to practice advocating for their needs and provides the StAAR Center with an idea of the kinds of resources that may be useful during their time at Tufts.
  • The second piece of information that should be submitted is diagnostic documentation of their disability from the treating clinician who supports the student in the management of their disability. These forms can be found on our Accessibility Services webpage.
Can I register with the StAAR Center on behalf of my student?

All requests for accommodations must come directly from the student. The StAAR Center staff is available to assist students while they register: we have preliminary conversations about the StAAR Center, can discuss the transition to college-level accommodations, and can walk your student through the documentation requirements. We understand that the transition from high school to college often involves a transition for the entire family, and we are here to support your student as they learn to navigate the accommodation process independently for the first time.

How recent must the diagnostic documentation be?

Diagnostic documentation of the student's disability must help the StAAR Center staff understand how a student is currently impacted by a disability. The documentation should provide clear, substantial evidence that supports the need for higher-education accommodations. If a disability fluctuates or is progressive, updated documentation may be required.

In addition to medical documentation, a student may also want to include their high school 504 or Individualized Education Plan (IEP) to provide information about accommodations they have used in the past.

What can I do before my student matriculates to prepare them for navigating college life with a disability?

This is a very exciting time! During the transition from high school to college, students make the transition to independent adult life. As a parent or family member, you can support the development of their skills by encouraging your student to begin advocating for themselves and managing their own schedules (including making appointments and developing a personal organizational system). The process of gathering their own documentation, submitting it to the StAAR Center, arranging a meeting with someone at the StAAR Center to discuss accommodations, and looking up where the meeting will take place is a great exercise to practice these important skills.

Discussing life skills such as doing laundry, healthy nutrition and sleep habits, management of finances, and self-accountability are very beneficial for independent living as well. Providing a safe space for your student to face adversity throughout this process, navigate solutions to challenges, and, in turn, build resiliency skills, will aid in their development into adulthood.

Students who are not from the Greater Boston Area may also need to connect with new medical or mental health clinicians who practice in the Tufts area for continued support of their condition during the academic year.

How do services for college students with disabilities differ from services provided in high school?

There are a number of differences between high school and college that families should be aware of. The most important thing to know is that college students are expected to advocate for themselves. That means meeting with staff from the StAAR Center to discuss their disability and accommodations, talking to their professors when they have a question or concern, and managing their own schedules.

There are other important differences between high school and college. In high school, some of your student’s work may have been modified. In college, course assignments cannot be modified. Students with disabilities will be expected to learn all the information similar to their classmates. But how they learn that information may be different. In college, students with disabilities can use accommodations to support their learning once they register with the StAAR Center. Accommodations might include things like using audio recorders to tape class discussions, reading an electronic version of a textbook, or having more time to finish a test or quiz.

What is my role as a parent of a college student with a disability?

Appropriate parental involvement should take place within the boundaries set by law while also keeping the long-term best interest of the student in mind. An important part of the growth process for your emerging adult includes learning important self-advocacy skills, which can be utilized both during and after their time at Tufts. This includes independent communication with professors and deans, requesting assistance, and reporting any issues or concerns. You can best support your student by encouraging them to practice self-advocacy.

What other support does the StAAR Center provide in addition to accommodations?

In addition to the implementation of academic, housing, dining, and parking-related accommodations, the StAAR Center also provides support to students throughout their time at Tufts through individual meetings, workshops designed to assist in academic skills (note taking, time management, and study strategies), and educating the larger campus community around disability-related topics.

What other on-campus academic resources are available?

The StAAR Center offers academic support through one-on-one academic coaching, writing consultations, tutoring, study groups and study strategies and discipline specific workshops. Our programs promote engaged, collaborative learning that build on students’ strengths while addressing their concerns and questions.