Tips for Advisors

Strategies for Advising Students with Disabilities

When advising students with disabilities it is helpful to consider the impact a student’s disability and need for accommodations may have on their academic progression. Disabilities may present challenges in obvious or in obscure ways. Below are some strategies for guiding students with disabilities during the advising process.

General Communication Suggestions

Be Mindful

Refer to a person’s disability only if it is relevant to the conversation.


Ask a person with a disability if that person needs help before providing assistance.

Talk Directly

Talk directly to the person with a disability, not through their companion or interpreter.


Understand that not everyone uses eye contact.

Use Student First Language

Use student first language. For example, “a student who uses a wheelchair” is more appropriate than “wheelchair student”.

Use a seated position

Carry on a long conversation with an individual who has a mobility impairment from a seated position.

Provide Alternate Means

Provide information in alternate means (e.g., written, spoken, diagrams).

Ask Permission

Do not interact with a person’s guide or service dog without permission.

Ask Permission

Do not touch mobility devices or assistive technology without the owner’s consent.

When developing a schedule, consider:

  • If the disability impacts mobility it may be difficult for students to have courses scheduled back-to-back; the student may be less able to travel across campus quickly.
  • Students who utilize extra time on tests as an accommodation also need to avoid scheduling courses back-to-back.
  • If the disability impacts alertness or requires a student to take medication, the student may need to schedule courses during certain times to align with medication effects.
  • If the student has a learning disability or ADD/ADHD, the impacts of the disability may be mitigated by teaching style, course structure or organization. When multiple instructors are teaching the same course, it is helpful to suggest students look at course syllabi before choosing which section to take.
  • Help students construct a balanced course load. This can make the term more manageable and promote student success. For example, a student with dyslexia may want to avoid taking several classes simultaneously that require extensive reading and/or writing.

Questions to Ask Students Experiencing Academic Issues

Additional Information

For Additional Assistance:

  • Call us 206-296-5740
  • Email us
  • Join us in the Zoom Disability Services Virtual Lobby (between 9am-3pm Mon-Fri)
  • Visit us at our Disability Services Office at Loyola 100 (open Mon-Fri 8am-4:30pm, except holidays)

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