I hear this phrase often from disability service providers in postsecondary education:

I hate it when students wait until things have gotten bad before they come to our office for help.

My thoughts? Perhaps part of the problem is how the services of the disability office are being framed.  Requesting access should never be framed as requesting help.

Is an elevator help?

Is an accessible website help?

Is an unlocked door help?

No. These are means of achieving access.  So are accommodations.

Students may indeed be hesitant to “ask for help.”  Many of us are. But if we frame what we do as removing barriers and providing equal access rather than “helping people with disabilities to succeed” we may actually be removing the barrier that is keeping people from walking through our door.

Students should feel confident to demand access, rather than feeling as if they have to request help to get the access they so deserve.

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