Disability Services

Everyone has different strengths.

If you have a documented disability or disorder that affects your ability to succeed in a college setting, you may be eligible for Disability Services.

Here’s what we can do for you:

Class/Campus Accommodations

Sometimes, a little adjustment can make a test or assignment less daunting. If you have appropriate documentation, Gerry Volpe, Coordinator of Disability Services, can find ways to make learning and living at college easier for you. 

More information is available on:

Summer Transition Program

Nervous about taking the big plunge into college? We offer a five-day program right before first-year orientation. You’ll have fun, make new friends, and start your first semester with confidence.

Academic Counseling

Assignments, essays, presentations, tests, exams, deadlines – making the transition from high school to college can be tough. In one-on-one and small group sessions, our counselors will discuss how you can manage your time and meet your goals.

Technology Loan Program

Sometimes, the right tool can make learning easier. We offer Smart Pens for short-term loans and a Kurzweil in our center.  

Send any documentation regarding your disability or disorder to:

Gerry Volpe
Coordinator of Disability Services
Castleton University
Castleton, VT 05735

Students with Disabilities Transitioning to College: Solving the Puzzle

The transition from high school to college presents many challenges for all students and their families. It can be exciting and confusing, happy and stressful, fun and fearful. Those feelings are normal and are all part of the process of growth and change.

For students with disabilities there is the added challenge of figuring out the differences between the services they received in high school and the rights and responsibilities they will have as college students. There are some significant differences between high school and college.

The responsibilities of the University differ significantly from those of school districts. No "special education" system exists at the college level, but colleges do provide services to students with disabilities.

You will have responsibilities as a college student that you did not have as a high school student. In college, the student is responsible for initiating a request for an accommodation. To do so, the student must declare that he/she has a disability and must provide current documentation.

Colleges are not governed by the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act); however, colleges are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of disability and are required to ensure equal access for otherwise qualified students with disabilities. "Equal access" includes providing students with reasonable accommodations.

All students, including those with disabilities must meet the same academic standards. Accommodations are meant to "level the playing field," not lower standards.

For an overview of tips that can help prepare you for college, please read our Tips for Students with Disabilities Planning to Attend College

Legal Differences

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the law which covers students ages 2 to 21 who need special education in public schools. This law has no authority after a student graduates from high school. From then on, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) become the guiding laws. The biggest differences between IDEA and ADA & 504 are as follows:

  • There is no specific list of disabilities covered by the ADA. Criteria for determining disability include having any physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; having a record of such impairment; or being regarded as having such an impairment.
  • Under the ADA it is the responsibility of the individual with the disability to self-identify and provide documentation. The cost of any evaluation is the responsibility of the individual not the university.
  • AN IEP (Individual Education Plan) does not follow the student from high school to college. Services, auxiliary aids, and accommodations are arranged by a designated University staff person. Accommodations must not pose an "undue hardship" to the university.

Standards and Accommodations


Colleges are not required to modify admission requirements or academic requirements for a student with a disability. In fact, a student with a disability must participate in the university's standard admission process and must be otherwise qualified for admission. Otherwise qualified means that the student with a disability must meet the same admissions standards and have academic credentials equivalent to their peers without disabilities.

The University is not required to lower or substantially modify essential academic requirements. For example, the University may provide extra time to complete a test, but it is not required to change the substantive content of the test.

Section 504 and the ADA are considered outcome neutral, that is, they ensure that a student with a disability has an equal opportunity for access but they do not require the university guarantee success.


If a student with a disability wants to request an accommodation, that individual must disclose his/her disability to the appropriate university official and must provide appropriate documentation. Documentation may include educational or medical records, reports and assessments created by health care providers, school psychologists, teachers, or the educational system. This information is inclusive of documents that reflect education and accommodation history, such as an IEP, Summary Of Performance (SOP), and teacher observations. IEP’s and 504 Plans may be irrelevant in the postsecondary context, but if provided, they must show the current impact of the condition and identify a connection between the disability and any accommodation request. Documentation will vary in its relevance and value depending on the original context, credentials of the evaluator, the level of detail provided, and the comprehensiveness of the narrative. (Additional documentation may be requested.)

At Castleton this disclosure and documentation are provided to Gerry Volpe, Coordinator of Disability Services, in the Academic Support Center at (802) 468-1428.

Appropriate academic accommodations are determined by the designated university official based on the specific disability and the individual needs of the student, as well as on the essential requirements of the specific course.

The university is not required to make modifications that would fundamentally alter the nature of the course, or would result in an undue financial or administrative burden.

Faculty Rights and Responsibilities

Faculty have the right to:

  • Documentation - If a student requests an accommodation, faculty should ask for verification of disability in the form of an accommodation letter from the Coordinator of Disability Services that states the specific accommodations that a student is eligible for, signed by the Coordinator of Disability Services and the student.
  • Expect the student to initiate the accommodation request/process.

Faculty have the responsibility to:

  • Use a syllabus statement and class announcements to invite students to disclose their needs.
  • Upon receiving an accommodation letter, implement the accommodations.
  • Confidentiality – Treat all disability-related information as confidential
  • Provide accommodations only to students who provide a letter from the Coordinator of Disability Services, stating which accommodations are recommended. It is not your responsibility to provide accommodations to students who are not registered with the Coordinator of Disability Services at the Academic Support Center.

Student Rights and Responsibilities

Students have the right to:

  • Confidentiality – Expect that all disability-related information will be treated confidentially.
  • Accommodations – Receive appropriate accommodations in a timely manner from faculty. Students should have the opportunity to meet privately with faculty to discuss needed accommodations and any other concerns.
  • Appeal decisions regarding accommodations.

Students have the Responsibility to:

  • Provide faculty with an accommodation form from the Coordinator of Disability Services when requesting accommodations.
  • Initiate the accommodation process

Disabilities Access Committee

The Disabilities Access Committee (DAC) exists to address issues for all Castleton students and employees. The DAC provides a forum for addressing the needs of Castleton's students and employees in a consistent, comprehensive way.

In many cases, a person with a disability will have contact with several campus departments in an attempt to resolve a variety of issues. The membership of the committee includes representatives from those departments which have responsibility for some area of disability services.

The goals of the Disabilities Access Committee

  • To educate the University community about disability-related issues
  • To share up-to-date information from various perspectives
  • To discuss specific inquiries and requests for accommodations
  • To address long and short-term ADA compliance issues

Members of DAC are available to facilitate class discussions, make classroom presentations and present workshops on a variety of topics including the Americans with Disabilities Act, universal design, learning disabilities, communicating with the differently abled, and adaptive and assistive technologies. In addition, DAC members are available for individual consultation, assistance, and support.

The DAC welcomes your input. Please direct your questions, concerns, or ideas to Victoria Angis, Assistant Dean for Campus Life and Chair of this Committee, or call (802) 468-1231. Thank you for your support!