What tools can facilitate conversations between students with disabilities and their advisors?

Date Updated

It is important for students, including those with disabilities, to communicate with their  advisors about their disability-related needs and accommodations. Several tools can help facilitate these conversations. They include mentoring contracts, annual evaluations, and individual development plans.

In a mentoring contract, a student and an advisor can spell out specific expectations of both the student and advisor in regard to meetings, work hours, deadlines, feedback, and more. Some  schools will provide students with a sample agreement, and many examples can be found online. An annual evaluation provides an opportunity for a student and his/her advisor to reflect on the previous year, considering successes and accomplishments, areas that need improvement or adjustments, and plans for the upcoming year. Many departments may require students to complete such an evaluation.

An individual development plan is a tool that can be used for a student to evaluate their skills and interests and develop a plan to help them prepare for their career. This plan can be used as a conversation starter between a student and their advisor to ensure that students are developing appropriate skills and are gaining experience that will help them in their career paths.

These tools all serve to encourage explicit communication about expectations and needs. Students can return documents produced during these processes in order to revisit conversations about disability and accommodations