Steps for an effective negotiation: Requesting an accommodation
How do I make a request for an accommodation?
Now we are at the heart of the matter – actually making a request for an accommodation. Here, you will not only learn the skills you need to request an accommodationfrom a staff member but also renegotiate your accommodation if the staff member rejects your request or suggests something that will not work for you. Most of the time, the staff member will try very hard to meet your first request. However, for a number of reasons, a problem may emerge. We want you to be able to handle obstacles, and therefore, we provide additional steps to give you the tools to help you respond if the first answer doesn’t meet your needs.
We want you to have an alternative plan that will help you get what you need and learn to be a good advocate for yourself. The flow chart below shows how the three skills work — if you get what you need from “making a request,” you can go directly to Section 3 (closing the meeting); if you don’t, then you can ask for suggestions. If you get what you need from “asking for suggestions,” then again, you go to Section 3. If that doesn’t work, then you can ask for a referral. The point is, you should not walk away from a meeting empty handed or at a dead end. You have the power!
Making your initial request
The first goal when making a request for an accommodation make the initial request. Making the request for an accommodation is one of the most important negotiation skills you will learn because it is where you provide the staff member with important information related to your request. Making the request for an accommodation consists of five steps. They are:
- Describe your personal situation
- Describe your personal strengths
- Describe the challenge you are facing
- Make specific request for an accommodation
- State the potential benefit of the accommodation
Step One: Describe your personal situation
The first step when making your initial request is to state your personal situation. Stating your personal situation means providing some general information about you and your disability.
- “I am a student with ADHD that is majoring in English. My ADHD means I have trouble concentrating sometimes.”
- “I use a wheelchair most of the time to get around and am a Chemistry major. Sometimes it is hard for me to navigate through the labs.”
- “I am a student with a visual impairment. One of my classes requires several library research projects.”
- “I am a student with a learning disability and this semester I am taking an English and a History course that require a lot of reading.”
Describing your personal situation is important for two reasons:
- It provides the staff member with contextual information about why you need an accommodation.
- It helps them understand that you are eligible for accommodations.
Step Two: Describe your personal strengths
Step two of making your initial request is to describe your personal strengths. Describing your personal strengths means stating your specific strengths related to the class or situation.
“I have always done very well in math classes.”
“I am an extremely hard worker and really enjoy reading and writing.”
Describing your strength is important because:
- It shows the person that you are serious about succeeding.
- It shows that you have the ability to do the work of the class or other situation.
- It shows that you are not just looking for a “free ride.”
Step Three: Describe the challenge you are facing
- Next, you should describe your challenge to the staff member. Describing your challenge consists of a statement that provides the staff member with very specific information about how your personal situation creates a challenge in the specific class or other problem area you are requesting an accommodation for.
- “When I am in class, I have trouble lifting heavy items and carrying them to the work table.”
- “When I am in class, I have trouble reaching items that are very high.”
- “I have trouble concentrating when I am working on an assignment for longer than 30 minutes.”
- “Sometimes it is hard for me to complete exams because the room is too noisy.”
- “I cannot read printed materials with a font size of less than 12 points.”
- “I have trouble understanding you when you are not facing the class.”
Providing the staff member with this information is important because:
It tells the staff member exactly why you need an accommodation.
How is describing your challenge different than describing your personal situation?
- You may notice some similarities between describing your challenge and stating your personal situation. Keep in mind that when you described your personal situation, earlier, you may have mentioned your disability. The person may not be familiar with that disability and may not understand what that has to do with your ability to be successful in his or her class. Therefore, when you describe your challenge, you are stating specifically what parts of the course requirements, or other campus situation, will need to change.
Step Four: Make specific request for an accommodation
This is one of the most important parts of the negotiation process because you are directly making your request for an accommodation>
Requesting a specific accommodation means you state the accommodation you feel will help you solve your challenge and be successful in your post-secondary education.
When making your request for an accommodation you must remember to be as specific and detailed as possible.
Doing so will help the university staff member better understand your needs as they relate to the request for accommodation.
- “Would it be possible for me to get help with my laboratory assignments in the chemistry lab? Some of the chemicals are too heavy for me to lift.”
- “May I have an assistant to help me read and record on tape the research articles I need for my assignments?”
- “Would it be possible for me to take my exams in a room with less distractions so that I may more easily complete my exams?”
- “May I please get a copy of the course videos captioned so that I may complete the homework assignments?”
Making the specific request for an accommodation is important because:
- When you say what specific accommodation you think you need, it means you are in charge and you know your own needs. You provide the staff member with information about what you need and what the potential solution may be.
- The more specific you are in requesting your accommodation the more likely the person will understand your needs and the more knowledgeable you seem about your understanding of your disability.
Step 5: State the potential benefit of the accommodation
- The final step when making your initial request is to state the potential benefit of the accommodation. When stating the potential benefit of the accommodation, you provide the staff member with information about how/why the requested accommodation is important to you and how it will help you succeed academically
- “The assistance would help me complete my lab experiments without spilling dangerous chemicals.”
- “The recorded tape will give me access to the research articles I need to complete my assignments.”
- “Having a note taker will really help me complete the homework assignments and study for tests.”
- “Extended testing time would be great because it will allow me to concentrate and finish my exams.”
Stating the potential benefit of the accommodation is important because:
- It helps the staff member understand your position and the nature of your request even better.
- You may also benefit from making this statement because the staff member may more willingly grant your request.
- This statement will also help the staff member match your needs with the available resources.