HomeVeterans Employment and EducationSelf-Advocacy: Knowing Your Rights and ResponsibilitiesSelf-Advocacy at School, Work, and in Your Community

4.2. Self-Advocacy at School, Work, and in Your Community

As a veteran with a disability, you may find it necessary to seek out and request different resources and services at school, at work, and in your community. 

a. Self-Advocacy at School

Postsecondary schools (universities, community colleges, and technical schools) do not have a duty to find veteran students with disabilities.  Rather, it is incumbent on a student to notify a school about veteran status and/or any disability that may require an academic adjustment or reasonable accommodation. 

    1. Extending time on examinations (this does not mean extended preparation time, except in rare instances)
    2. Providing exams in alternate format (If appropriate to subject matter), and might involve a reader or a taped version of an exam or an alternative to computer-scored answer sheets
    3. Providing a note taker or allowing a note taking device for class
    4. Taking exams in a distraction-reduced setting and/or in a different format (oral, taped, or typed)
    5. Arranging for students with a hearing loss to have sound amplified – this may require faculty to wear a voice amplifying microphone

Before, during, or after admission, if you believe you will need academic adjustments, find out which office provides services to students with disabilities (this may be referred to as Academic Support Services, Disability Support Services, or something similar).  Contact the office as early as possible and determine what supporting documentation is required to establish that you have a disability and are eligible for academic adjustments [Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability rating paperwork will often suffice].  You should expect the school to work with you in an interactive process (e.g., begin a conversation) to identify what you need and how it can be provided.  If you do not actively participate in the process, you are much less likely to receive appropriate academic adjustments.

b. Self-Advocacy at Work

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers are only required to provide accommodations for employees who are experiencing workplace problems because of a disability.  Therefore, unless you disclose to your employer that you have a disability and need an accommodation, the employer is not obligated to consider accommodations under the ADA.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, you only have to let your employer know that you need an adjustment or change at work for a reason related to a medical condition.  You can use "plain English" to make your request and you do not have to mention the ADA or use the phrase "reasonable accommodation."  Here are some examples:

Two resources available to you regarding self-advocacy, accommodations, and employment include the VA's Veteran's Readiness and Employment (VR&E) program's VetSuccess and the Job Accommodation Network (JAN).

c. Self-Advocacy in Your Community

You may find yourself needing assistance in accessing services and resources within your community – aside from at school or at work.  Maybe you need help locating accessible or affordable housing, or maybe you are in need of services related to your veteran status. Remember, you are both a veteran and a citizen of your community – so you have generic, community-based services available to you, as well as any veteran-specific services you may already be receiving.  Some of these resources include, but are not limited to:

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