It is important for graduate students with disabilities to communicate with their graduate advisors about their disability-related needs and specific accommodations. Mentoring contracts and annual evaluations are two tools that can help facilitate these conversations.

In a mentoring contract, a student and an advisor can spell out specific expectations of both the student and advisor in regards to meetings and other communications, work hours and location, deadlines, feedback, accommodations and more. Some graduate schools can provide students with a sample agreement, and many examples can be found online.

Similarly, an annual evaluation provides an opportunity for a student and advisor to initially establish expectations and goals, reflect on accomplishments in the previous year as well as areas that need improvement or adjustments, and establish plans for the upcoming year.

These tools serve to encourage explicit communication about expectations and needs.